How To: Using a Custom Page as Your Homepage

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Most WordPress blog themes come with a standard homepage that displays a designated number of posts (which you control from your dashboard), but not everyone wants to use their recent posts as their blogs homepage.   If you’ve ever wanted to display something different on your homepage, Blogging Experiment has put together a very detailed post explaining how to use a custom page as your blogs homepage.

The best part is that there isn’t any hacking or code changes involved.  You can do everything from the dashboard!

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  • How To: Prevent Google From Indexing Your Images

    For most of us, traffic is the driving force behind our blogs and motivation to blog. Therefore, it may seem silly to think that you would want to prevent a lot of potential traffic from Google’s image search.

    However, some bloggers like to post personal pictures, or custom make their pictures and don’t want others to take them when possible. If you fit into this category, you can easily prevent Google from indexing your pictures by placing the following code into your blog’s header file above the < /head > tag:

    <meta name="robots" content="noimageindex">

    If your site has a problem with people taking your content (including the pictures), then there is a chance Google will still index them when they index that person’s website. Another route you can take is to place images into a folder then add a disallow to your Robots.txt file. For WordPress users, this is fairly easy as by default, we already have pictures in either our Images folder of our theme, or the uploads folder (unless you’ve assigned a custom path for your images). You can add something like the following to your Robots.txt file:

    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /images/

    or

    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /uploads/

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  • How To: Creating a Robots.txt for a WordPress Blog

    For those of you unfamiliar with Robots.txt, it is a file that webmasters use to help control what aspects of their websites are indexed by search engines and what parts are not to be indexed. This is a great way to give you full control of how they view your website and help avoid duplicate content penalities, but using a Robots.txt has to be done properly and responsibly in order to avoid making matters worse or accidentally preventing your website from being indexed all together!

    There are a lot of posts out there that talk about a Robots.txt file, how to set one up, etc. Unfortunately, many of these posts don’t apply specifically to WordPress and can often get confusing when you are trying to implement one for your website. Others tend to leave out a lot of important information that most people should have prior to attempting to add a Robots.txt file to their blog’s root directory.

    Ask Apache is offering a Robots.txt file and updated Robots.txt file that you can download and use for your blog. You’ll of course want to customize it to meet your needs, including adding any directories that you have created since installing the base WordPress install that you don’t want them to be indexed.

    I recommend you bookmark these posts if you plan to tackle adding a Robots.txt to your blog at some point in the future. Both posts provide a lot of valuable information and, as mentioned above, includes actual templates you can use for your website.

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  • How To: Add Bio Info To Your WordPress Blog Posts

    Ever wanted that ability to show your bio information within your WordPress profile at the bottom of every post? For single user blogs, this might not be practical. But for multi-authored blogs, adding the bio info of each author at the bottom of their respective posts is a good way to give props to the author as well as providing information to the readers as to who that person is without having to refer to an about me page. The good news is that, you don’t need to install a plugin to have this functionality.

    BioInfo

    Inside of a user profile is this nifty little box where you can place information about yourself. As you can see, I have already placed some info into the box for reference later on in the tutorial. We are going to take the information in this box and display it at the bottom of every post that is under my name.

    The template tag we are going to focus on is <?php the_author_description(); ?> This tag doesn’t accept any parameters, so don’t bother trying to do anything funky with this tag. Now, head to your templates Style sheet and add this to it:

    .postauthor { }

    This will give us the opportunity to style the postauthor bit when it’s published in the post. Now that we have the template tag in order, we will need to place it within the loop.

    I’m not going to delve into the specifics of the loop, but in general, it deals with the information related to posts. Browse to your themes index.php file and look for something like this:

    < ?php the_content('Read the rest of this entry »'); ?>

    That is what it looks like in my theme, it may look different in yours, but this is the function that displays the content of the post. Underneath of this content function is where you would want to place the following code:

    < div class="postauthor ">< ?php the_author_description(); ? >< /div>

    Please keep in mind that if the code does not work, it is most likely due to the spaces which I had to add in order for the code to properly appear within this post. Simply remove the spaces, and the code should be just fine.

    Now that you have the author description function in place, this is what it might look like on your blog:

    WhatItMightLookLike

    If you ask me, this looks bland and boring. We need to fix that by editing the div class called Postauthor within the CSS file and give that Div class a nice look. You can style it to match your blog design, but for the sake of this tutorial, I’ll display the CSS code which makes it appear like the TAG div container shown below the Post Author.

    .postauthor {
    color: #222222;
    font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
    font-size: 14px;
    font-weight: normal;
    background: #EAEAEA;
    border-top: 2px solid #000000;
    border-bottom: 1px solid #000000;
    width: 640px;
    padding: 3px;
    margin-bottom:5px;
    }

    This CSS style code turns that small black text into something like this:

    AllDone

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  • How To: Displaying Content Only For The Admin To See

    Roughly four months ago I talked a bit about how to set up your blog so only the admin can see an edit button on blog posts. For whatever reason, I’ve always set this up on each of my websites and really get a lot of use out of it. Much along those same lines, Michael of WPCandy has written a post explaining how to display content so only the admin can view it. This goes well beyond the edit button and allows you to setup just about anything to display for the admin.

    In hist post, Michael provides some code that looks at the user id to determine if the user has admin privileges and then displays whatever you tell it to for that user. Here is the code:

    <?php global $user_ID; if( $user_ID ) : ?>
    <?php if( current_user_can('level_10') ) : ?>
    <a href="http://yourdomainurl.com/stats/">Stats</a>
    <?php else : ?>

    <?php endif; ?>
    <?php endif; ?>

    If you run a multi-author blog and would like to make this stuff available to editors, authors, contributors, and more, you can easily adjust the user level to determine who sees your display.

    Great find Michael!

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  • How To: Display the Recent Posts of Specific Categories

    Most WordPress themes, by default, come with Recent Posts displayed automatically. Depending on the type of blog you run, it is possible that you would prefer to display Recent Posts per category. If this is the case, here is what you need to do to only display recent posts for specific categories.

    First, you’ll want to find your Recent Posts code, which is usually found in the sidebar. It will look something like this:

    <h2>Recent Posts</h2>
    <ul>
    <?php get_archives('postbypost', 10); ?>
    </ul>

    As always, make sure you have a backup of the file in question before making any changes. You’ll then want to replace the above code with the following code:

    <ul>
    <?php $recent = new WP_Query("cat=1&showposts=10"); while($recent->have_posts()) : $recent->the_post();?>
    <li><a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>" rel="bookmark">
    <?php the_title(); ?>
    </a></li>
    <?php endwhile; ?>
    </ul>

    Where is says cat=1, you’ll want to insert the number assigned to the category that you want to display the posts from. You can find this from your Manage -> Categories page. You can also adjust the number of posts to be displayed where it says showposts=10.

    This could be useful to someone who wants to display the most recent few posts from a few different categories in their sidebar.

    [via ReadyWPThemes]

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  • Tips For Highlighting Author Comments in WordPress

    In the past we’ve gone over some methods for setting up your theme to separate your author comments in WordPress. By default, most WordPress themes check the e-mail address to determine who the person is that is leaving the comment. By adjusting the code to check for the user id instead, you can set up your theme to recognize if you are the author of the post. This is also beneficial for blogs with multiple authors.

    In addition to separating trackbacks from comments, this is another way you can easily help improve the readers experience when trying to follow a conversation in the comments. Most people use a different background, but some choose to instead display a logo. The important thing is that readers can recognize which comments are coming from the author of the post.

    Today I noticed Matt Cutts has written his own tutorial explaining how to highlight author comments in WordPress. His post also includes the code needed for CSS styling. If you still haven’t gotten around to doing this on your theme yet, I recommend you check it out!

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  • How To: Display WordPress Categories in a Horizontal Drop-Down Menu

    One thing more WordPress bloggers have been doing lately is moving their categories over to a horizontal menu, rather than displaying them in the sidebar. Depending on the type of blog you run and how well you keep your categories organized, I think this can be a great idea to help manage the website and improve overall navigation. Doing something like this allows for a much better use of sub-categories, and gives you the option of displaying them in a drop-down to give your blog a much more professional feeling.

    If you are interested in moving your WordPress categories into a menu and then displaying sub-categories in a drop-down menu, Anthology of Ideas has taken the time to write a detailed post explaining how to display WordPress categories in a horizontal drop-down menu. You can also view their menu to see if you like it. I recommend you check it out before attempting this on your own.

    Of course doing this will require the use of Javascript, but the author does a great job of detailing the process and provides the CSS required to style it properly. Once you have everything up and running correctly, you can then adjust the colors and margins to give your new menu the look and feel you want it to have, as well as fully integrate it into your WordPress theme.

    I like the idea of having the sub-categories be drop-down menus, but one downside I see is that displaying categories in a menu sort of eliminates using a traditional menu for your pages. It would be hard, in my opinion, to achieve a good look with more than one menu, so you then have to find a different way to display your blog pages. I think you are probably best off using this method mostly if you are trying to achieve a magazine-style look or some sort of a content management system (CMS).

    What do you think of moving your categories to a menu and displaying your sub-categories in drop-down boxes?

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  • How To: Showing Only a Post Excerpt in WordPress

    Depending on the type of blog you run, you may at some point have an interest in only showing only a short excerpt of a post on your blog’s homepage. This could be for a variety of reasons, ranging from attempting to increase page views to trying to make your homepage more easily navigated and organized.

    Another really popular place for using the post excerpt is for your archive pages, which helps you to avoid being penalized for duplicate content by the search engine spiders.

    No matter what the reason is, if you are interested in switching some of your templates to show post excerpts, it isn’t very difficult to do. Go to the template you want to make the change on and find the following code:

    < ?php the_content(); ?>

    Depending on your theme, it may include something in the parenthesis. Change this code to the following:

    < ?php the_excerpt(); ?>

    This will cause your blog theme to only display the first 55 words (and strip pictures/formatting). If you’d like to add a link to allow readers to then click over and read the full post, you can instead use something like the following excerpt code:

    <?php the_excerpt(__('Continue Reading This Entry'));?>

    You can of course adjust the wording to fit your personal needs.

    If you’d prefer to show an excerpt longer than 55 words, or want to display your pictures and formating, you’ll have to do a little manual work. You currently have two choices:

    More Excerpt

    1. Use the More tag – Once you’ve written your post, you can switch over to Code view in your WordPress Write panel, click where you want the excerpt to stop and click the More button.  (See the screenshot above)
    2. Optional Excerpt field – Paste the part of the post you’d like to display as an excerpt in this field of your WordPress Write panel. It should correctly display everything in the excerpt including links and specific formating.

    If you use either of these methods, you’ll notice that your feed is only displaying partial posts. If you’d prefer to have the feed display the entire post, but keep the partial post on your actual website, I recommend using the Full Text RSS Feed WordPress plugin to override this and have the feed display the entire post.

    Questions?  Let me know in the comments below.

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  • How To: Add Smilies To Your WordPress Blog with Smilies Themer

    Have you ever noticed those cute little smilies that some WordPress bloggers use to show emotions within their posts? Offering these has become quite the trend around the blogosphere.

    As a user of WordPress, there are a few WordPress plugins available for you to easily offer smilies to commentators on your blog. My plugin of choice to accomplish this is the Smilies Themer plugin. Once uploaded and activated, you can then pick a smilies theme to use.

    A variety of people have submitted smilies themes for this plugin, and many come in a variety of colors. My favorite was provided by Nyssa J Brown called the XPressions Emoticon Pack. You can choose from a variety of colors:

    XPressions Emoticon Pack

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