Hack WordPress Rebrands as WPHacks.com!

Wow, what an exciting couple of weeks this has been!  This is a very exciting day for me personally as I have just finalized the move that took the blog formerly located at HackWordPress.com over to its new home at WPHacks.com.  

After months of trying to acquire a “WP” domain that I felt was suitable for this website, I actually ended up acquiring the best one I could have possibly hoped for at an affordable price.  I feel very fortunate as I had made offers much higher than what I ended up spending on domains that weren’t as good of a fit as this one.

So, what are the reasons behind the switch to this new domain name?  Here are a few reasons, ranked in the order of importance:

  1. Having WordPress in your Domain is Trademark Infringement – At the time I registered HackWordPress.com, I was not aware that the term WordPress was trademarked.   I was aware of trademarks of course and know that most products are trademarked, but WordPress was open source so I guess I just assumed it wasn’t.   A few months after launching this blog I found out that it was in fact trademarked, but there wasn’t a lot I could do at that point.   I had already established a blog and a brand of my own on that domain name.   I had a brief discussion with Matt Mullenweg & Lorelle and learned that they were unhappy with my domain name, though to their credit I have never been actually asked to move to a new domain name. 
  2. Better Domain Name – Though I will lose a little bit of that keyword value the old domain name carried (and all backlinks), this new domain name is a MUCH better domain in my opinion.   I’ve dropped from 13 letters down to only 7, and I feel having the word “hack” after WordPress (WP) sounds much better than having it before.   This new domain is also quick to type and very easy to remember.

A couple of things of note to our readers about the domain transfer:

  • The feed URL will remain the same (which I’m sure will be a relief to all the sites that steal our content via our feed each day). 
  • Monday I plan to publish a very detailed post on how to transfer your blog to a new domain, so keep an eye out for that. 

How Can I Help Your Transition to the New Domain Name?

From a readers perspective, nothing really should change.   You’ll still get our content via our feed and the old URL will redirect to the new domain.   The one thing you could do to help us out is to update your links on your blog to the new domain (or updating the domain part of the URL to the new domain if you linked to a specific post).   All permalinks remain the same with the exception of the domain name itself.

Questions about the change?   Thoughts on the new domain?   Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Premium Themes: The Elegant WordPress Theme Club

    The concept of a theme club has been around for at least a year now, but over the past six months theme clubs seem to of really found a home and a following from WordPress users.   The setup of the theme club, however, seem to differ at each place you go.

    One of my favorite theme club business models that I’ve seen so far is the one setup over at Elegant WordPress Themes.   Nick Roach has created a great club with a number of nice themes.

    Each theme is guaranteed to have the following features:

    • Widget Ready
    • Valid XHTML and CSS Code
    • Compatible with current WordPress version
    • Cross Browser Compatibility

    Elegant WordPress Themes is a great option for someone with a small budget or a large number of blogs.  You can get premium quality themes for all your blogs, but have them all look different, for one low price.

    To get an idea of what types of themes they offer, you’ll first want to check out the Elegant WordPress Themes Gallery page.  This page is growing regularly, as the author has committed to adding 1-2 new themes EVERY week!

    Here are a couple screen shots of my favorite EWT themes:

    GrungeMag Theme

    Influx Theme

    Studio Blue Theme

    The best part about Elegant WordPress Themes is the price!   For only $19.95, you get access to every theme Nick has released for an entire year.  Click here to join the Elegant WordPress Themes club.

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  • Integrating Forums Into a WordPress Blog

    Integrating forums into a WordPress blog is a topic I covered in great detail in the Hack WordPress eBook, Finding Success with WordPress, but I just realized it hasn’t really been discussed much here on this site.  Therefore, I decided to write up this post to kind of bridge that gap.

    Before I get into what you need to add a forum to your WordPress blog, I first want to share my opinion on forums in general.   Though you’ll often see WordPress bloggers adding a forum on a directory or subdomain of their established blog, I personally recommend anyone considering building a forum to do so on a separate domain (even if it is just your blogs name with the word forum/forums after it).

    If you look around at the most popular forums, an overwhelming percentage (probably 90%+) are hosted on their own domain name.  This is because forums rely heavily on direct traffic, rather than on search engines and other sources.   If you go this route, you’ll want to try to integrate the two sites in other ways.  Here are a few ideas:

    • Branding – Use the same logo as your blog (with the forums domain name) or a similar logo on your forums to help readers to know the two sites are associated.
    • Link Integration – Add a link to your forums from your established blog and add a link to your blog from your forums to show association.
    • Forum Theme – If you have the technical knowledge or use the method I will cover below, you can create a similar theme for your new forums.   This will also help readers to know that the blog and forums are affiliated with each other.

    I know many people would still prefer to build their forums into their existing domain name, so here is some information that will hopefully help.

    How to Integrate Forums Into Your WordPress Blog

    Setting up a forum for your blog is as simple as finding the right WordPress plugin or software to install.  Here are the primary three I recommend depending on your situation and needs:

    1. BBPress – This is a free and lightweight open source forum software that was designed specifically for WordPress users.  It is also currently owned and supported by the WordPress team (Automattic).   In order to use this software, you simply need to download the software, place it on your server where you want your new forums to be, then go to that website and use the installer to finish getting setup.  It comes with an admin panel so you can customize your forums to look and work the way you want them to.
    2. PhpBB – PhpBB is another free open source forum software that is known for its customizability.  The newest version, version 3.0, offers a great forum look for your website.  PhpBB also has a skins folder (themes) and many premium WordPress theme authors offer free forum skins if you buy their themes.  Examples of this include Brian’s Revolution themes and the popular WP Remix theme.  If you go this route, you can simply upload the skin and activate it within your forums control panel to make your PhpBB forums match the look of your theme!  If you’d like to get an idea of what a WordPress forum might look like when integrated with a blog, check out this post over at Profit Blogger.   It includes some information as well as screenshots of integrated WordPress forums, using the Revolution themes mentioned above as examples.
    3. VBulletin – This is by far your best option, and probably the forum software you see being used on most of the popular forums you visit regularly.  Unfortunately, though, you will have to purchase a license to use this software.  At last check, you can either lease your license or own a license.  Leasing is roughly $100.00 a year, but you can own the software for that domain for $180.00 (with a years support).   They also offer installation services and support for an additional fee.

    Once you’ve picked out your forum software, simply activate the plugin or run the install script that comes with the software.   Each option comes with its own admin/control panel, so you can set it up to look and function the way you want it to.

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  • Blogging Discussion: Registration Required to Comment?

    I’m not really sure if this is a trend or just coincidence, but over the past week I’ve noticed quite a few of the blogs that I stumble upon require you to setup an account before you can leave a comment.  Anyone know what is up with that?

    This is obviously a very useful WordPress feature for blogs that have a strong community built around their website, but I think most people should consider the consequences before they require you to register to comment.  A choice like this could keep truly hinder a new blogs growth or discourage a blogger who isn’t seeing the reader interaction they were hoping for.

    As with pretty much everything, there are some positives and some negatives to doing this.  Off the top of my head, here are a few positives and negatives of requiring registration to leave a comment on a blog:

    Positives of Registration

    • Spam Prevention – Requiring registration should stop spam completely.
    • More Options – Requiring registration opens up some interesting opportunities to customize comment appearance, allow you to create profiles, etc.   I’ve seen a few high profile websites do this, but the registration usually is optional instead of being required.

    Negatives of Registration

    • Less Comments – Some people value comments more than others, but I think most bloggers would find less comments to be a negative as the whole concept of blogging was formed around the concept of reader interaction with the writer.

    I personally do not leave comments on blogs that require registration because it just isn’t worth it to me.  I have enough accounts to manage without trying to remember my account information.   I also think things like spam can easily be avoided for WordPress users using tools like Akismet and Bad Behavior, Spam Karma 2, or Math Comment Spam Protection (which we use here).

    I’d like to hear what you think in the comments below.   How do you feel about blogs that require registration to comment?   Do you take the time to register or do you just decide not to comment at all?

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  • CSS Techniques: Using Sliding Doors with WordPress Navigation

    This sliding doors CSS hack allows you to create sophisticated tabs for your navigation bar. Sadly, WordPress core functions wp_list_pages() and wp_list_categories() don’t allow you to add the required span tag to use this technique.

    We are going to see how to proceed in order to use sliding doors in our WordPress theme.

    Sliding doors, why?

    There’s many articles available on the web about the sliding doors technique, so I’m not going to talk a lot about it. For people who don’t already know this famous hack, here’s a quick example.

    Let’s build a typical navigation list:

    <ul id="nav">
    <li><a href="#">link n°1</a></li>
    <li><a href="#">link n°2</a></li>
    <li><a href="#">link n°3</a></li>
    </ul>

    If we apply, via CSS, background images to our links in order to make this menu prettier, we’ll quickly see a big problem: We must add a fixed width to the links, otherwise the image will be truncated if the link is too short, or the link will overflow the image if its width is too long.

    That’s why sliding doors are very useful: We just have to add a span element inside the link, and then, in our CSS, assign a different background image to both the span element and the link.

    <ul id="nav">
    <li><a href="#"><span>link n°1</span></a></li>
    <li><a href="#"><span>link n°2</span></a></li>
    <li><a href="#"><span>link n°3</span></a></li>
    </ul>

    Our CSS should look like this:

    #nav a, #nav a:visited {
    display:block;
    }
    #nav a:hover, #nav a:active {
    background:url(images/tab-right.jpg) no-repeat 100% 1px;
    float:left;
    }
    #nav a span {
    float:left;
    display:block;
    }
    #nav a:hover span {
    float:left;
    display:block;
    background: url(images/tab-left.jpg) no-repeat 0 1px;
    }

    Please note, as this is only an example, the CSS above isn’t complete and only shows how to apply the sliding doors hack.

    You can see a live demo of a navigation menu which uses this technique on my blog here.

    Using the sliding doors hack within WordPress

    I saw many blog posts where some users told you to modify WordPress core in order to apply this technique. Personally, I never really liked this idea: First, the WordPress core wasn’t made for being modified. And secondly, if you do, when you’ll upgrade your WP version, you’ll have to re-modify the core. Not user friendly at all!

    Instead of this, let’s use a regular expression, by using the php preg_replace() function. We are going to get our pages (or categories) without displaying it, and passing it as a parameter to preg_replace(). The two remaining parameters will be, of course, our regular expression: The pattern we’re looking for, and this pattern’s replacement.

    To create this menu, paste the following code instead of the wp_list_pages() (or wp_list_categories()) function in the header.php of your WordPress theme.

    To list your pages:

    <ul id="nav">
    <li><a href="<?php echo get_option('home'); ?>/"><span>Home</span></a></li>
    <?php echo preg_replace('@<li([^>]*)><a([^>]*)>(.*?)</a>@i', '<li$1><a$2><span>$3</span></a>', wp_list_pages('echo=0&orderby=name&exclude=181&title_li=&depth=1')); ?>
    </ul>

    To list your categories:

    <ul id="nav">
    <li><a href="<?php echo get_option('home'); ?>/"><span>Home</span></a></li>
    <?php echo preg_replace('@<li([^>]*)><a([^>]*)>(.*?)</a>@i', '<li$1><a$2><span>$3</span></a>', wp_list_categories('echo=0&orderby=name&exclude=181&title_li=&depth=1')); ?>
    </ul>

    Right now, your new menu is ready. You just have to make it sexy with CSS. Have fun! 🙂

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  • How To: Moving WordPress to Another Server

    Yesterday I wrote a post explaining how to move your WordPress install within your website/server.  Today I wanted to cover how to move your WordPress install to a completely different server.

    Again, the flexibility of WordPress shines, making this not overly difficult to accomplish.  If you aren’t changing your domain name, all you need to do is update your wp-config.php file and upload all of your files to their new server.

    If you are changing your domain name with your move, here is the information you’ll need:

    1. Backup your WordPress database.
    2. Download the complete WordPress install to your hard drive and identify the folder as your OLD installation.
    3. Login into your old blogs dashboard and update the Settings to reflect the website and blogs new location (both fields should be the same).
    4. Now, download the complete WordPress install to your hard drive, but this time identify the folder as your NEW installation.  This will include the settings change you just made.
    5. Download a copy of your WordPress database (keeping the old one) and then upload it to the new server.  You’ll want to keep the same database name and recreate the user login information (you can use your same user name and password).  If you change the database name, you’ll need to update your wp-config.php file to reflect the change.
    6. Upload your NEW installation folder so that your blog is now working in its new location!

    If you want to keep your old blog, you’ll need to upload the OLD folder to the OLD location of your blog and readjust the General Settings tab.

    Another way to accomplish all of this is to simply make a fresh WordPress install and export/import your posts to the new location.   This isn’t the most ideal method, but it is much easier and will get the job done.

    For additional information, you’ll want to consult the WordPress Codex.

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  • How To: Skip Advertisements on Single Posts

    Comments Off on How To: Skip Advertisements on Single Posts

    If you look around at a large sampling of WordPress blogs, chances are you’ll find a majority of them monetize their blog in some form using Google AdSense.   Even this blog adds a single AdSense block to the top-right corner of our homepage and posts that are at least 3 days old.

    If you employ an AdSense strategy like this, it is more than likely that at some point you will have certain posts that you don’t want to display advertisements on.  This could be for a number of reasons, including posts where you have a sales strategy and don’t want readers clicking off the page for any reason other than by using your product/affiliate link.

    If you’d like to prevent AdSense or other ads from showing up on certain post ID’s, our friend Keith has posted over at Weblog Tools Collection an easy to follow guide on how to skip advertisements on single posts of your choice.  You just need to know the post ID’s and add a small PHP snippet around the advertisement code.

    If you prefer not to get your hands dirty by messing with the code, you can try the Who Sees Ads WordPress plugin.

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  • WordPress Plugin: Manage Your 125×125 Ads with Show125

    Like many other bloggers, I display 125*125 pixels ads on my blog, and earn some money with it. Currently, I own 6 different ads, and most of them change every week. I became bored of editing my sidebar template everyday, so I asked my friend X-OR to write a cool widget to manage those ads. Let’s review it together.

    What the Show125 widget can do for your blog

    I always loved the concept of widgets: drap n’ drop, easy to edit, easy to place, easy to remove. Most of todays themes can handle widgets, so there’s many chances that the theme you use haven’t any problem with it.

    In addition to the basic widgets advantages, Show125 gives you many option and a true control over your ads. Let’s see:

    • Display from 1 to 8 ads
    • Available in English (default) or French
    • Display all your ads together, or in an eye-candy Mootools slideshow
    • Optionally add the target=”_blank” attribute to links, if you want ads to open in a new tab.
    • Show (or not) a title for your ads block
    • Easy to install
    • Clean code
    • Add custom css class to links for styling it your way
    • And more!

    Installation

    Nothing hard here: First, download the widget. If you want to see a “live demo”, just have a look at x-or’s blog, where you’ll be able to see the slideshow mode of the widget.

    Once you unzipped the widget to your hard drive, upload the entire directory to your wp-content/plugins directory. Then, go to your WordPress administration panel and activate the plugin.

    In Design » Widgets, you’ll be able to drag n drop the Show125 widget to your sidebar (or any other widgetized part of your WP theme) and set the options.

    Once you filled the fields and saved your changes, you’ll see your ads in your sidebar. Managing your ads with Show125 really makes money earning easier!

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  • Gravatar Checkup: Have You Created Your Gravatar?

    Wow, it seems like it was just recently, but a quick search through our archives shows that it has already been four full months since I began my campaign to get people to support Gravatars on their WordPress blogs.

    That post was originally written shortly after Automattic acquired Gravatar and most WordPress bloggers were still using the MyAvatars plugin (which displays MyBlogLog avatars). I always enjoyed the MyAvatars plugin, but felt that it was important to show your support for WordPress by displaying Gravatars. That was about the time that this blog switched to Gravatars and hasn’t looked back (we’ve even gone as far as to integrate them into the recent comments in the sidebar).

    In the last six months since Automattic acquired Gravatar, it has already come a long way.  Gravatars load a lot faster now and people using the WordPress 2.5 branch (or using WordPress.com) now have built-in Gravatar support.   In other words, there has never been a better time to have a Gravatar and place Gravatars on your WordPress blog.

    Sadly, a quick glance at the Recent Comments section in our sidebar often shows a number of comments left by people without a Gravatar. If this sounds like it might be you, I recommend you register your free Gravatar account.  It is really quick and easy!

    I maintain a few Gravatar accounts (one for each website email address) so no matter what email address I use in my comment, an appropriate Gravatar should appear next to my comment. If you have several websites, you may want to consider setting up a few accounts so you are covered in any situation.

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  • Plugin: Turn Your WordPress Blog Into An Online Shop With WP-eCommerce

    I’m always surprised by the incredible extensibility of WordPress. We already knew that you can use WordPress as an online magazine, as a photoblog, or even as a Twitter platform. Now, it’s also possible to use your favorite blogging platform as an online shop, just by the use of a single WordPress plugin, WP-eCommerce.

    Installing WP-eCommerce

    Nothing hard: Just download the WP-eCommerce plugin here, extract the archive on your hard drive, and upload the wp-shopping-cart directory into the wp-content/plugins directory of your WordPress install.
    After activating the plugin, you’ll see a new tab named e-Commerce next to the Comments tab in your WordPress control panel. This tab contains all options needed for running an e-commerce website, right into WordPress.

    I must admit it, i was surprised – in a good way – by the number of available options: language, localization, tax rates, brands, products, paypal integration, and so on. Sure, this is not Amazon.com, but everything is here to create an online shop which will give satisfaction up to 90% of online sellers. You can easily manage products, payment methods…There’s also a sales journal available, which will help you a lot to manage orders.

    User Experience

    In addition to its powerful management panel, WP-eCommerce comes with no less than 6 widgets in order to make your clients purchases simpler, and more pleasant. I particularly loved the “Shopping Cart” widget and its ajax interface. Clean, easy, and pro, definitely. Some other available widgets: Categories & brands, Special products, donations…

    Conclusion

    I was really impressed by this plugin. WP-eCommerce has absolutely everything you need for starting an online shop. There’s also a non-free version of this plugin, which will give you, in addition to the “basic” plugin, a search engine for your products, a picture gallery and some others nice things.

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