Keep Features in WordPress Core to Keep it User Friendly

I’ve read about features being shuffled off into plugins instead of keeping them as part of the main WordPress (core files) which can be downloaded and installed for free (web hosting/ domain required). The problem with features being taken out of WordPress is where they go from there.

Premium versus Free

WordPress itself is still free. Plugins are less often free these days. There could be a free version, a limited version, and in a few cases just a pretty free face advertising the premium plugin. This is what I see happening to any features taken out of WordPress and left to develop as plugins instead. Wave good-bye to your features.

I do understand plugin developers want to be paid too. I have paid for plugins and usually lived to regret it. Paid plugins need to be supported. This does not mean people need to keep buying them, keeping the developer happy with a lot of sales. No, once I buy a plugin (or other software) I like to know it will be supported (if not actively developed it should at least continue to work). Paying for a plugin does not guarantee it will be there, functional, when you want it.

Features in WordPress core tend to be more reliable that way.

Software Conflicts

Another problem with plugins is discovering they are not what you expected and then trying several others hoping to find that one magic plugin that does the job. All plugins are not created equal. They conflict with other plugins and, they don’t always work smoothly with your site theme. Trying several plugins is risky, all that installing, activating and deleting leaves a load of junk on the back end of your site. You don’t see it, but it’s there, lurking, a possible conflict of interest when you least expect it.

Software Evolution

Features in WordPress core are far more likely to keep evolving and getting better than features taken out of it. That is just simple logic.

Look at post formats. They were taken out of WordPress and have been left as an empty little icon you can add to your posts, signifying nothing really because you can’t add style to the post formatting unless you modify the CSS/ HTML of your site files. Not everyone wants to do that. So post formatting is kind of a dead fish. It could be a better solution than page building plugins. It could have meant we did not need page building plugins.

Instead, page building plugins have evolved and page formatting has stalled out somewhere along the way. Formatting would have been less complicated, more user friendly. But, WordPress is run by developers who sell plugins. There is that bias towards being commercially friendly and less user friendly.

 

Considering a Change from WordPress

Not for any special reason but, I am seriously considering changing my sites from WordPress. There are several reasons not to do this: transferring content, themes and plugins I have bought will no longer work, learning (and installing/ setting up) new software. But… I feel WordPress has lost individuals like myself. I’m not a web developer or designer. I don’t have clients to set sites up for. I just have my own sites and WordPress keeps feeling limited.

I am not so keen on changing. Though I do like change for the sake of change, sometimes. I don’t like being in a rut or following the pack.

It is not an easy decision to fully commit to. I’ve been looking at other software. I’m always interested in alternatives and options and new things when it comes to web publishing. But that’s more like window shopping than making a serious plan.

If you publish a site, with something other than WordPress (or Blogger/ Blogspot or other freebies which don’t run on your own domain) let me know. I’d like to set up Typo3 but so far it just will not install. Fancy installations are a hard limit for me. If I can’t even get the software set up I’m not confident in using it afterwards.

At least, it will be an interesting month – or however long it takes me to either change or decide not to rock the boat.

Has WordPress Jumped the Shark?

I think WordPress is in danger of “jumping the shark”, becoming too complicated and loaded with too many features. Google has mostly forgotten all about Blogger, but it may become a better alternative for a lot of people who just want a simple business site. WordPress seems to be something for people who want to spend time and money on a fancy site with a lot of features. How many businesses really need all of that? Not many.

As someone who has kept sites for many years and used WordPress most of the time, I’m not planning to use a lot of customized posts. I don’t need them. I want to focus on content, not spend a lot of time on formatting.

I will add that if people are building a site to function as a web directory, job board, or any of a hundred other things – WordPress isn’t an essential element. It may even be a hindrance. WordPress is still a customized blog at heart.

Note: I posted this as a comment on WPTavern. The post there was about new custom formatting for WordPress posts. It got me thinking about how WordPress is used, who uses it and whether it is really still sustainable for the general blog user – people who are not web developers and may not want to spend that kind of time or money on a site for their business, or hobby, etc. Most of us have a limited budget. How important is it to have a fancy site with a lot of features versus just having a site up and functioning?

Is WordPress still a good option for putting up a site? Or, do you need to be (or pay) a web designer/ developer to work with WordPress?

WordPress Calendar Plugins

I wanted a holiday calendar. I did not find anything which really did what I wanted. (Just a simple way to keep track of holidays and all those odd international and national days for odd, but interesting and sometimes relevant, things). But, today I found a new list of reviews. Quite sure I have already looked at most of them, but there might be something new.

Chronosly looks good but it has a lot of features I don’t need and that could make it complicated to work with when I just want something simple.

I’d recommend The Events Calendar (Pro, or not) for most people who want a way to list or track events. The developers were quick to write back when I had a question when I tried the plugin earlier. It has good features and I might try it again. Last time it wasn’t quite right for me but I know it hasn’t been left to stagnate in the mean time.

Premium Calendar Plugins

  • Events Calendar Pro
  • Community Events
  • Facebook Events
  • Event Calendar WD
  • EventOn WordPress Event Calendar
  • Business Calendar – WordPress Internal Calendar
  • WordPress Pro Event Calendar
  • Sugar Event Calendar
  • StacheThemes Event Calendar

Free Calendar Plugins

  • Google Calendar Events
  • The Events Calendar
  • Chronosly Events Calendar
  • All-in-One Event Calendar
  • My Calendar

List via  wpmayor.com – Best Calendar Plugins for WordPress (2016).

Plugins to Manage WordPress Multi-Author Blogs

Note: The original post was from 2014. Likely there is a fresher list of plugins but I like to see plugins which have been around for some trial and error.

I don’t run a multi-author site (but I do write for a few). Still, in my experience, Edit Flow is excellent. I did try it myself but decided it had a lot of features I didn’t need (due to the fact that I’m the only one here). From the list, Post Forking, sounds like the one I’d try. But, it hasn’t had an update in three years.  An interesting plugin, but I decided not to try it because it’s not something I’d use very often anyway.

Maybe something on the list will be just what you need. Get the links and reviews from the post at WP Beginner below.

1. Capability Manager Enhanced
2. Co-Authors Plus
3. Restrict Author Posting
4. Revisionary
5. Simple Local Avatars
6. Author Avatars List
7. Edit Flow
8. Author Spotlight (Widget)
9. Post Forking
10. Require Featured Image
11. TinyMCE Spellcheck
12. Email Users
13. Adminimize
14. WP User Frontend
15. Moderator Role
16. Content Progress
17. Cimy User Extra Fields
18. User Submitted Posts
19. Error Notification
20. User Notes
21. Role Based Help Notes

Source: 21 Plugins to Efficiently Manage WordPress Multi-Author Blogs

Six Steps to Starting a Creative Blog

Whether it’s a creative blog, a lifestyle blog, a business blog… most posts with this title end up disappointing me. They are all about getting a domain, setting up your site on their web host and starting WordPress. I’m never looking for those things when I click on a post about starting a blog.

I want to know what makes a creative blog tick, what keeps it going, how they find juice for new ideas and what inspires them.  So, as a long time blogger, however good I may be, I will give my own version of how to start a creative blog.

1. You need a focus.

One niche idea which you can sustain (and promote if you are hoping to get noticed). Finding the right idea is more important than anything else. Your niche is what will keep you going when you run dry, lose patience, or give up on keeping your site. It is also how you will find kindred spirits among the masses of people online.

2. Brainstorm ideas.

Before you buy a domain and set up web hosting, push yourself to come up with a list of at least 100 posts you could make about your niche topic. Don’t skimp and don’t settle for half baked post ideas. Really work your brain muscles and make a great list. Think about the type of posts you would read yourself. Take a look at other people writing the same topics, not just online. Come up with an excellent list – posts you almost want to stop and start writing right now.

3. What can you sell?

Yes, it does come down to commercialism at some point. If you are going to create a site it will help you to see it get readers and make some money. Traffic alone won’t sustain you and reader comments occur far less often these days. So you will be happier if you can find your numbers coming from another source and money is nice.

You may think you have nothing to sell. But, put on your thinking cap and see what you can do. Think digital content. If you have art, illustrations or photographs you can sell those, or create digital downloads with your art on calendars, stationery, etc. You can sell information by having a paid membership site – but you need some authority in your topic for that. You can sell patterns for craft projects. See what other people in your niche topic are selling. As a last resort consider putting together an ebook and offering that to your readers. (In my opinion, ebooks have had their day in the sun).

You can also sell a service to creative people. Like workshops and courses they can download or have sent to them each week in email. You might offer to proofread for other writers. You might offer yourself as a reviewer and social media poster for book writers. Avoid making yourself a spammer but a lot of creative people would like help with the marketing side of things.

4. Build your site.

Design your site before you start looking at themes and templates. Get an idea of what you want – then find a way to make it work. If you are new to running a site consider Blogger, it’s simpler and you can always convert a Blogger site to WordPress later. (There are a lot of good plugins to make the change over easy). If you want to use WordPress, don’t use WordPress.com. It’s ok, but it is only ok and has a few too many limitations and options you can pay extra for. If you want WordPress, get WordPress on your own domain.

A website is all about navigation. Content may be king but navigation is what will make or break a site. Keep it simple, easily found and make sure it all works. Navigation starts by having a link back to your own site as a “Home” link in the navigation bar. Categories, tags and labels are also great to help people find their way around the contents of your site. Don’t forget an “About” page to tell readers who you are, what you are writing about, what you’re selling, and what your plans are for the site.

A pretty picture is nice but not enough. Make your site look nice but keep it readable. Pick fonts which are not too light or too complicated. Pick colours which keep your site readable. You can find out a lot more about readability and standards for things like alternate tags in image files.

There is a lot of work, planning and DIY (learning) behind a site. Invest in a good guide book, and if you use it, you aren’t likely to regret it. Try to build your own site because it can be done, without paying someone else to do it for you.

5. Start talking to yourself.

Write your first post, to yourself. Give yourself goals and a to-do list as your first post. Afterwards start using an editorial calendar to keep on track with goals and ideas as they come along. Use the draft post feature to keep ideas saved as posts while you work on them.

Everything you would have written as a first post would work as your “About” page, the introduction to your site and yourself.

6. Write your second post.

Pick your favourite idea from your list of 100+ post ideas and write that post. Proofread it before you publish it. Don’t take too long to write it, don’t make it overly dramatic or particularly perfect. (You can always go back and edit it later).

Post and go look at your blog, from the reader side (not the admin/ edit side). Admire what you have accomplished and plan what you will do next.

Useful WordPress Widgets from 2014

This is a list of widgets from 2014. I like to see how the widgets fared over time. One I had looked at fairly recently. Some don’t apply to me, like the Opening Hours widget, which would be really good for a brick and mortar business website.

Source for the full list: 20 Incredibly Useful WordPress Widgets | Elegant Themes Blog.
I’m going to try Biographia. It hasn’t been updated in 3 years but… it sounds interesting, if a bit complicated from the description in the review.

biographica

8. WP Biographia

WP Biographia allows you to add a biography box to your website. It is, by no means, a simple plugin. The settings area has seven different pages. It allows you to define whether the bio is displayed before or after the content area on posts, pages, RSS feeds, archives, and your home page. It can also be displayed in widget areas.

Found an Auto Post for WordPress

I just found this and I’m hoping it will work. There are times I would like to find something new to post about. I have seen other auto posting software but it tends to be very outdated, or not free. I’ve paid for Curation Suite but I don’t really get as much out of it as I thought I would. This looks simpler, and that’s a big plus for me.

Capture
Source: WordPress Auto Poster Download

Killing Third Party Cookies on WordPress?

I don’t know how I have so many third party cookies on my sites. I did not put them here deliberately. In particular, I have dozens of cookies from Linked In. I don’t use Linked In and I don’t like it either. So, how are they here? I would like to get rid of them but I don’t even know how they have parasited into my site.

I found this post on the WordPress forums. An old post. I don’t know if it would work. It might, at least for people visiting my site. Ideally, I’d rather kill the cookies instead of just covering them up.

cookieblockerSource: WordPress › Support » How can we control cookies with new EU legislation?

Dear JetPack…

Can we have a feature to mass update JetPack’s modules for all our WP sites? I have had to reinstall JetPack due to update problems and each time my modules need to be re-set. This is time consuming and a little aggravating to do for several sites. Today 6 of them need to be reset and I can’t find any enthusiasm at all for the job. Could JetPack set this up as WP.com has made it work for updating plugins for all my blogs now?

PS- JetPack should not be on the WP.com updates. It does not work well with others there. The time before I forgot not to update it and this last time I was optimistic and thought it would work this time… But, no. JetPack has some kind of conniption each time I update it on WP.com, especially if I have other plugins to update. Why not just have JetPack update from JetPack and keep module settings there too? Please. The multi-bloggers will love you. For a few minutes at least.

I sent this request to JetPack tonight. I’m sure someone will read it but, tonight, I am still fixing/ adjusting modules cross checking between sites and wishing there was an easier way to do this.