What Can I Do To Help WordPress?

I think there are a number of things we bloggers all have in common, and for the readers of this website, I hope that a love for WordPress is probably the biggest one. Have you ever wondered what you can do to help WordPress grow?

Here are a few ideas of things that just about anyone can do to help:

  1. WordPress Plugin – This one requires you to be pretty fluent with PHP.   If you know coding well, though, this is probably the best thing you can do to improve WordPress.
  2. WordPress Theme – Releasing a theme for the WordPress community to use is another great thing most people can do for WordPress.   If you look around, many of the more popular themes are fairly simplistic and don’t require an advanced design or a lot of features to be popular.
  3. WordPress Blog – Building a WordPress niche blog seems to be the popular thing to do these days.   It is a lot of hard work, but if your passion runs deep the interaction with the WordPress community can be very rewarding.
  4. WordPress Forums – Lorelle recently wrote a great post over at Blog Herald about helping out at the WordPress forums and how rewarding this can be.   If you don’t want to do any of the three above, give this one a shot.   I can quickly become addictive!

Anything else you would add to the list?

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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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  • How To: Add Breadcrumbs to Your WordPress Blog

    Over the past couple of years, breadcrumbs have really taken off around the internet and it seems like all sorts of major websites are now using them. Unfortunately blogs in general, and WordPress in particular, haven’t really adopted the use of breadcrumbs, which is a huge shame in my opinion. Breadcrumbs are great for improving both reader navigation of your website while at the same time assisting the search engines with determining the structure of your website. In other words, breadcrumbs are super sexy and great SEO for your blog.

    So, does your WordPress theme have breadcrumbs built into it?   Whenever I’m picking a new WordPress theme to start designing a new site with, breadcrumbs are one of the first things I always look for.  With the exception of Brian’s Revolution themes, I’ve found that there really aren’t many (if any) other premium themes that come with breadcrumbs built into them (directly or via a WordPress plugin).  I also have yet to find any free WordPress themes that come with breadcrumbs built into them.

    How to Add Breadcrumbs to Your WordPress Blog

    Fortunately many WordPress plugin authors have come to our rescue. For those of us that want breadcrumbs in our themes, there are now a number of WordPress plugins out there that you can use to easily accomplish this. Probably the most popular is the Breadcrumb Navigation XT WordPress plugin, but I just noticed today that a new WordPress plugin was released by Joost de Valk called the Yoast Breadcrumbs plugin. Joost has a great reputation as a plugin developer, so I have a feeling this plugin will work great as well.

    If you decide to go with the Yoast Breadcrumbs plugin, you just need to upload and activate it, then place the following code where you want the breadcrumbs to display (usually above your post title or the content hook):

    <?php if ( function_exists('yoast_breadcrumb') ) { yoast_breadcrumb('<p id="breadcrumbs">','</p>');
    } ?>

    Then you can use the plugin settings to get the breadcrumbs to behave how you wanted it to.

    Call to Theme Designers

    Where is the breadcrumbs love?   If you are working on a new free or premium WordPress theme, why not take a few seconds to build breadcrumbs into your theme?

    If you’d like to see breadcrumbs built into more WordPress themes by default, leave a comment below so designers know there is a demand for it!

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  • How to: Create an Archive Page for your WordPress blog

    In my opinion, all blogs should have an archive page: It allows your readers to quickly browse your blog and find what they’re looking for, and this page is also very good for SEO.

    Here’s how to create this page on a WordPress blog:

    Archive WordPress Plugins

    There’s many plugins which allows you to automatically create an archive page. The good thing is that you’ll have (almost) nothing to do, and the bad thing is that you will not be able to customize it a lot, or you’ll have to edit the plugin files, which is sometimes a bit too hard if you’re not a developer.

    On my blog in French, I use the Smart Archives plugin. Even if it gives me satisfaction, the loading time of the page is very long due to the amount of posts to be displayed simultaneously.

    If you want to use a plugin, you shall also give a try to Clean Archives, or Extended Live Archives, which allows numerous personalizations.

    Do it yourself

    WordPress allows you to create page templates, so it’s possible to create manually an archive page. This is what I chose to do on my blog in English, CatsWhoCode.com.

    Before starting to code, you’ll have to choose between two different kinds of archive page. The first one will list all your posts, and will allow a direct access to every article you wrote. The only bad thing is that when your blog will have many posts, the list may be a bit too long.

    The second template, which is better for blogs that have been online since more than one year, will list your posts monthly and by categories.

    Your choice is made?  So let’s go coding!

    First we’ll have to create a new file and name it archives.php. At the beginning of the file, paste the following lines:

    <?php
    /*
    Template Name: Archive page
    */
    ?>

    This php comment define a name for our template, and will later allows us to select it on WordPress Dashboard, when we’ll create a new page.

    First template: Listing all posts

    <?php
    $posts_to_show = 100; //Max number of articles to display
    $debut = 0; //The first article to be displayed
    ?>
    <?php while(have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>
    <h2><?php the_title(); ?></h2>
    <ul>
    <?php
    $myposts = get_posts('numberposts=$posts_to_show&offset=$debut');
    foreach($myposts as $post) :
    ?>
    <li><?php the_time('d/m/y') ?>: <a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></li>
    
    <?php endforeach; ?>
    </ul>
    
    <?php endwhile; ?>

    Second template: Archives by months and categories

    <?php while(have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>
    <h2><?php the_title(); ?></h2>
    
    <h2>Categories</h2>
    <ul><?php wp_list_cats('sort_column=name&optioncount=1') ?></ul>
    
    <h2>Monthly Archives</h2>
    <ul><?php wp_get_archives('type=monthly&show_post_count=1') ?></ul>
    
    <?php endwhile; ?>

    After you chose one of the templates I shown you above and pasted it to your archives.php file, you just have to upload it on your wp-content/theme/yourtheme/ directory.

    Then, in WordPress dashboard, create a new page, name it “Archives” (or whatever you want) and select Archive page as page template.

    That’s all! You now have an archive page, which is good for both your reader and search engines crawlers.

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  • Top 3 Most Underrated WordPress Plugins

    Yesterday I got the heads up that I was tagged in a recent post by John Lamansky of The WordPress Expert.  I normally don’t partcipate in these types of “blog games”, but after reading John’s post, I really think it is a great idea and allows us to spotlight a few WordPress plugins that are underrated or somewhat unknown.

    John choose to highlight the following 3 underrated plugins in his post (click over for a description):

    1. Broken Link Checker
    2. WP-Project
    3. WP SEO Master

    Here are 3 plugins I would like to add to the list that I think are useful, yet underrated:

    1. Blog Metrics – This is a wonderful plugin by Joost De Valk that was designed for multi-author blogs like this one.   It tracks all sorts of unusual analytics by individual authors that I find extremely helpful.
    2. Digg This – I think this plugin used to be fairly well known, but I don’t see it on many blogs anymore.   This plugin does nothing normally, but when it recognizes that a post has been Dugg, it will create a digg-style button and display it within the post to help encourage people to Digg your post. They can Digg the post without leaving your website!
    3. Math Comment Spam Protection – It adds an extra step for people leaving comment, but it stops spam cold in its tracks.  I use this on many of my blogs and haven’t really had any spam troubles since.

    Hopefully some of you will find a use for some of these plugins.

    I suppose now I should continue this by tagging three more people.  How about Michael at WPCandy and Leland of ThemeLab.  If you haven’t been tagged yet, but would like to participate, feel free to do so on your own blogs to help highlight some relatively unknown plugins.

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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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  • WordPress Plugin: RSS Footer

    If your website offers a feed and you care about protecting your copyrighted content, one thing you should make sure to do is have some sort of copyright notice within your blog’s feed.

    There are a variety of WordPress plugins out there that allow you to create a footer for your WordPress feed, including Feed Footer, which we have previously reviewed here. Some offer rotated feeds, others allow you to use HTML to display whatever you want, but for the average person with a blog this is mostly fluff.

    If you just want the ability to basically add a copyright notice or use a small amount of HTML to promote a product/service, then you will want to check out the RSS Footer WordPress plugin. It allows you to easily plugin in a line of code and choose where in your code it should be displayed.

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  • Improve Reader Navigation With The Breadcrumb Navigation Plugin

    Comments Off on Improve Reader Navigation With The Breadcrumb Navigation Plugin

    A couple readers have commented on how they like the navigation menu that you’ll find at the top of each page on this blog and wanted to know how to do this on their WordPress blogs.

    I really love the improved navigation it gives readers, and doing something like this on a WordPress blog is actually really easy, thanks to the incredible community WordPress has. All you need is the Breadcrumb Navigation XT WordPress plugin and some simple code to place where you want the navigation to display.

    Once you’ve got your plugin uploaded and activated (activate the Core version), you can place the following code where you want the navigation to display:

    <div class="breadcrumb"> <?php if (class_exists('bcn_breadcrumb')) { // New breadcrumb object $mybreadcrumb = new bcn_breadcrumb; // Assemble the breadcrumb $mybreadcrumb->assemble(); // Display the breadcrumb $mybreadcrumb->display(); } ?> </div>

    You can style it to look how you want using .breadcrumb on your stylesheet.

    Enjoy!

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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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