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WordPress Articles

WordPress 4.9 Released

Well, the time has come to say hello to WordPress v4.9, so I thought I’d check in to see what you can expect to see with this new version.  I did some scouring of the internet to see what people are saying and the word is, it’s a big improvement over previous versions.

WordPress 4.9 is named Tipton, after jazz musician Billy Tipton.  All the major updates are named for jazz musicians and singers, if you didn’t already know that.  There are tons of features to help smooth work flow and make for a better user experience overall, particularly in terms of coding errors.

There are design drafts, scheduling, preview links and locking, the theme customizer workflow is greatly improved for collaboration between different bloggers or content creators.  Also, there’s code syntax highlighting and error checking.  That’s meant to make for a smooth site building experience.  Oh yeah, there’s also a slick looking gallery widget now too, which is very nice and it’s a great way to lay out your images.

Customizer Workflow Improvements

Draft and Schedule Site Design Customizations – Yes, you read that right. Just like you can draft and revise posts and schedule them to go live on the date and time you choose, you can now tinker with your site’s design and schedule those design changes to go live as you please.

Collaborate with Design Preview Links – Need to get some feedback on proposed site design changes? WordPress 4.9 gives you a preview link you can send to colleagues and customers so that you can collect and integrate feedback before you schedule the changes to go live. Can we say collaboration++?

Design Locking Guards Your Changes – Ever encounter a scenario where two designers walk into a project and designer A overrides designer B’s beautiful changes? WordPress 4.9’s design lock feature (similar to post locking) secures your draft design so that no one can make changes to it or erase all your hard work.

A Prompt to Protect Your Work – Were you lured away from your desk before you saved your new draft design? Fear not, when you return, WordPress 4.9 will politely ask whether or not you’d like to save your unsaved changes.

Coding Experience Enhancements

Syntax Highlighting and Error Checking? Yes, Please! – You’ve got a display problem but can’t quite figure out exactly what went wrong in the CSS you lovingly wrote. With syntax highlighting and error checking for CSS editing and the Custom HTML widget introduced in WordPress 4.8.1, you’ll pinpoint coding errors quickly. Practically guaranteed to help you scan code more easily, and suss out & fix code errors quickly.

Sandbox for Safety – The dreaded white screen. You’ll avoid it when working on themes and plugin code because WordPress 4.9 will warn you about saving an error. You’ll sleep better at night.

Warning: Potential Danger Ahead! – When you edit themes and plugins directly, WordPress 4.9 will politely warn you that this is a dangerous practice and will recommend that you draft and test changes before updating your file. Take the safe route: You’ll thank you. Your team and customers will thank you.

Tons of Widget Updates

The New Gallery Widget – An incremental improvement to the media changes hatched in WordPress 4.8, you can now add a gallery via this new widget. Yes!

Press a Button, Add Media – Want to add media to your text widget? Embed images, video, and audio directly into the widget along with your text, with our simple but useful Add Media button. Woo!

Enhance Your Site Building

More Reliable Theme Switching – When you switch themes, widgets sometimes think they can just move location. Improvements in WordPress 4.9 offer more persistent menu and widget placement when you decide it’s time for a new theme.

Find and Preview the Perfect Theme – Looking for a new theme for your site? Now, from within the Customizer, you can search, browse, and preview over 2600 themes before deploying changes to your site. What’s more, you can speed your search with filters for subject, features, and layout.

Better Menu Instructions = Less Confusion – Were you confused by the steps to create a new menu? Perhaps no longer! We’ve ironed out the UX for a smoother menu creation process. Newly updated copy will guide you.

Just for the Developers

Customizer JS API Improvements – We’ve made numerous improvements to the Customizer JS API in WordPress 4.9, eliminating many pain points. (Hello, default parameters for constructs! Goodbye repeated ID for constructs!) There are also new base control templates, a date/time control, and section/panel/global notifications to name a few. Check out the full list.

CodeMirror available for use in your themes and plugins – We’ve introduced a new code editing library, CodeMirror, for use within core. CodeMirror allows for syntax highlighting, error checking, and validation when creating code writing or editing experiences within your plugins, like CSS or JavaScript include fields.

MediaElement.js upgraded to 4.2.6 – WordPress 4.9 includes an upgraded version of MediaElement.js, which removes dependencies on jQuery, improves accessibility, modernizes the UI, and fixes many bugs.

Roles and Capabilities Improvements – New capabilities have been introduced that allow granular management of plugins and translation files. In addition, the site switching process in multisite has been fine-tuned to update the available roles and capabilities in a more reliable and coherent way.

And probably a ton more.  but that’s enough of a list for now.  What do you think, have you updated yet?  I have and love the experience so far.

If you’d like a great looking WordPress theme to install on your fresh update of WordPress 4.9, check out our WordPress video themes, WordPress personal blog themes or WordPress minimalist themes, which are three of our most popular posts.  Or, check out a free theme like Silverbow or Quartz.

 

 

WordPress Articles

What happened to my permalinks?

Hey folks, if you’re like me, once in a while, you may find that your permalinks get broken.  Sometimes, it’s because you’ve updated your WordPress theme and your nice looking permalinks have gone from something pretty like:

http://example.com/best-blog-post-ever

to something ugly like:

http://example.com/?p=123

So what’s the deal with that?  You never asked WordPress to revert to ugly permalinks, why did this happen?  More importantly, how do I fix these ugly permalinks?

Some folks find that the permalinks get broken after updating their Apache server.  Whatever the cause, the solution is often pretty simple.

Just log into your hosting account and delete the .htaccess file.  Don’t worry, this isn’t going to break anything at all.  You need to force the .htaccess file to flush itself out and recreate the rules.

Once you’ve deleted .htaccess, visit your permalinks again and make sure you’ve selected the proper permalinks that you want.

The .htaccess file should regenerate itself and you’ll be good as new.

If that doesn’t work, and occasionally it doesn’t, you may need to select a permalinks structure that you don’t want, then select the one you do want.  That will, again, force it to regenerate itself to the proper permalink structure.  Sometimes, that’s actually all you do need to do, the switching to something else and back again is enough to make permalinks act properly.

So, that’s pretty much it, it works 98% of the time.

 

WordPress Articles

Adding Bookly, Dynamic Booking Application to Your WordPress Website

If you’re looking for a great way to add a booking feature to your WordPress based website, maybe you should have a look at Bookly?  If you’ve got a hair salon or a dentist office, if you teach music lessons or driver’s education, run a yoga studio or a personal training business.  No matter what your field is, if you need to take appointments online, a booking app like Bookly is a wonderful choice to make your life easier and to help grow your business.  Bookly is a unique way to streamline the process of appointment setting, making it a pleasant experience all around.   It’s fast and simple to book an appointment with Bookly.

Many WordPress themes offer a booking plugin natively, but a lot don’t.  If you don’t feel comfortable switching your theme, you’ll need to install an add-on or plugin that can do the job of letting clients book appointments online.

If you’re perfectly happy with your current theme, whether it was a custom design or a premium theme that doesn’t offer a booking app to speed up the process of providing an online booking feature, Bookly is a way to extend your site’s functionality without having to re-code your existing website.  Having a great way for customers to book appointments, without having to call in or Email you, is a great way to free up your valuable time and a wonderful way to allow your customers to be able to book an appointment, even when your office is closed.

What are some key features of Bookly?

  • Bookly integrates with your Google Calendar, so your bookings can be viewed in real-time.
  • Bookly is WooCommerce ready, so you can use the wide variety of payment gateways and powerful WooCommerce extensions too.
  • Bookly is completely responsive, so it looks amazing on any screen size, any browser and any type of device.
  • Bookly comes with strong, detailed documentation and a wonderful support system, so you can get set up on the fly and if you end up stuck, help is just a few clicks away.
  • Bookly comes with a handy form builder, so you can craft a custom form with fields that you choose.
  • Bookly has a user friendly SMS and Email reminder system to help remind customers of their appointments, which reduces no-shows and saves you time.
  • Bookly accepts a wide range of payment gateways, like Stripe, Mollie, Authorize.net, 2Checkout and more.

So what’s the process like for a customer who wants to book an appointment on your website?

  1. Step one, when your customers hits on a webpage with a Bookly booking form, they will choose their desired service and staff member, if they so desire.  Also, they can indicate their preferred appointment date, which brings up the second step of the process.
  2. Step two, the Bookly form will offer a dropdown menu of available times, each one customized for the date and staff member, which is updated dynamically, so you won’t have a situation where a staff member gets double booked.
  3. Step three , the customer can enter their personal details, which can be customized by you, the site owner.  Whatever fields you need to offer to book an appointment will be there and there will be no extra information that you don’t need.
  4. Step four, the client can apply any coupons you may offer and select a payment method.  The client can pay via Paypal or a credit card, so the payments are very flexible.  If your service is completely free, you can disregard that step.
  5. Step five, after completing the booking process, the system automatically sends out a confirmation Email to your customer with all the details of their upcoming appointment.  They’re completely booked for their appointment.  It’s that simple.

Bookly is completely customizable.

After the simple and straightforward installation process is over.  You can change the style, structure and design of your booking for to create the professional look that you desire.  Choose how to display dates and times, add multiple custom fields to get the information that you need from customers and nothing you don’t need.  Change the colors too to fit your business’ brand.  The handy progress bar shows the client’s progress in booking their appointment online, from service chosen, time, customer details, payment and the completion of the process with confirmation Email.

Bookly is mobile friendly.

Bookly is completely responsive, just like your entire website should be.  Bookly adjusts on the fly to adapt it’s resolution to any size screen, from an iPhone or Android, to a tablet and of course a laptop or desktop computer.  That means your clients can book an appointment with any device, anywhere, anytime, as long as they have an internet connection.

Bookly has a modern, professional design and intuitive user interface.

The modern, clean and sleek design is fantastic for any sort of website, because it’s professional and clear.  You can adjust the visual style to fit your website, since Bookly is flexible.  The ease of use and perfectly tuned interface means you’ll get fewer drop-offs during the booking process, which makes everyone happy.

Bookly has a powerful, easy to use admin interface.

You may not be an expert in WordPress or coding websites, but the best part of Bookly means that doesn’t matter.  Bookly is easy to set up, even for a beginner.  The plugin simply installs and you create a booking form and customize it, all in just a few minutes.  You can create an unlimited number of staff members and an unlimited number of services too.  Each staff member can have their own custom list of services they provide, which reduces confusion and greatly reduces mistakes.  What’s more, each individual staff member can have a different rate for their services, so if one provider charges a different rate than another, that’s taken into account.

Bookly automatically synchs to your staff’s Google calendar.

With Bookly, you can synch up the pending appointments to your employee or staff schedules, so you won’t run into situations where staff gets double booked.  Times that have already been booked will not be allowed for selection.  The time savings of having the schedules synched to Google calendars is a real life saver too, giving everyone a simple, secure and central location to see their schedules.  Each staff member has their own customizable schedule so Holidays and days off are absolutely accounted for, and no bookings will be allowed on days off.  In addition, you can allow for variable appointment lengths and add optional padding time around them.  If the length of an appointment can vary greatly, this is a very handy feature to offer, keeping everyone happy.

Bookly offers completely secure online payment options.

You can maximize conversion rates by charging customers at the time that they book their appointment, using Paypal, iDeal, Stripe or dozens of other payment gateways.  On the back end, you can check on payment reports and use a variety of filters to take complete control over the management of all payments.

Bookly will Email or text your clients to remind them of their appointment.

You can build simple notifications to let your clients know about their upcoming appointments, greatly reducing the no-show rates and helping you and you customers have a positive experience.  Customers can also view and edit, even cancel, their appointments online.  Or, you can also limit the access to new customers to let them manage their appointments in a limited way.

Bookly is a stunning plugin that deserves to be trending.

That’s a direct quote from a satisfied customer.  Bookly allows businesses to simply and easily implement a booking system on their WordPress website.  Customers will love the easy with which they can create bookings online and business owners will love how much time it saves.  Whether your business is a beauty salon, a massage therapy office or other healthcare business; a sports or personal training business; an education business like a tutor or music teacher; a special events organization; or something like a photographer, stylist, dogwalker or babysitter; this plugin is a real timesaver, offering you and your customers, a great way to save time.  And it really doesn’t matter what style your website is, Bookly integrates itself in a stylish way, perfectly fitting just about any design or style, from minimalist and modern, to elegant and ornate.

Customer support is fantastic too.  Outstanding support, a strong knowledge base, prompt debugging and overall development are some of the key features that buyers of this plugin have cited as keys to why they recommend the Bookly booking plugin for WordPress.

Well designed, great value, responsive support, constantly updated, cleanly coded, attractive, modern…these are just a few more of the terms people have used to describe Bookly.   If you’re interested in more information about this powerful tool to expand your ability to take online bookings, why not check out the sales page?

Take The Full Tour of Bookly

So, what do you think?  Are you considering Bookly or another plugin for your website?  If you decide to use Bookly, we’d love to see what you do with it.

If it’s not really your think, we have compiled a great list of WordPress themes you can use for digital downloads.

 

 

WordPress Articles

How to Add a Forum to Your WordPress Website

How to Add a Forum to Your WordPress Website

WordPress is definitely one of the most conventional, and easy to navigate platforms to hold your website in. If you already have a WordPress site, chances are, you are able to reach out to a good number of readers—no matter how many they are—because of how easy it is to add tags, categories, and make your posts known in the cyber world.

Then again, if you already have a handful of readers, don’t you think that it would be nice to add a forum to WordPress? You see, even in this day and age, speaking in forums, finding people who like the same things that you do, and finding a community of people whom you can engage in honest, smart conversations with is still helpful. It is still a way of reaching out to others, and fostering your own community.

But just like a lot of bloggers and site owners, you may be asking the questions: Are there any WordPress forum plugins around? Can you actually add a forum to WordPress? Well, the answer to both of these questions is an absolute and resounding yes!

And how do you make it happen, then? Read on, and you will easily learn how.

Use BuddyPress

buddypress wordpress

First and foremost, you can make way for WordPress BuddyPress Forums by using the BuddyPress plugin, of course. This is one of the most well-known—and probably the most popular way—on how you can add a forum to WordPress.

One thing you should know about BuddyPress is that it is rich in a gallantry of amazing features. It is pretty much a great, powerful community plugin that can provide you with a forum, user profiles, notifications, activity streams, and groups that can keep you sane, inspire, and motivate you in the crazy online world.

Some of the best things that BuddyPress can do are the following:

  • Provide an internal communication tool for your website / company / service—so there will be no need to use the confusing Facebook messenger, or some of those very unprofessional chat apps that are better used for personal conversation, rather than professional ones;

  • A campus-wide social network for your college, school, or university—to keep conversation exciting, and safe, at the same time;

  • Focused communities for services and products—so that you will have a better idea of who are patronizing your niche, and get their opinions to help make your work better;

  • Niche / social specific groups, so you can foster camaraderie among your readers, and;

  • The best part is that it provides you with an intelligent, enhanced forum experience that you probably have not tried anywhere else!

WordPress BuddyPress Forums are also open-source, making sure that you will not have a hard time getting hold of them, and that you can turn your website into a more prolific, engaging community—definitely way better than just a simple blog.

However, if you feel like this is not the best thing for you, well, you will be glad to know that there are other WordPress Forum Plugins around—and you can get to know them below.

For a big selection of WordPress BuddyPress themes, click here.

Learn More About BuddyPress

Try BbPress

bbpress wordpress

Speaking of other WordPress Forum Plugins, maybe BbPress is more your thing—especially that it is currently one of the most popular plugins around, making it one of the most trusted, too!

One of the things that most WordPress users like about it is that it is easy to set up. And from there, you already know that you will not have a hard time moderating this forum because it would not be too cluttered for you—which is especially helpful if you are still a beginner in the online blogging community. It also makes use of the following philosophies:

  • That it will always stay open source ;

  • That simplicity will always be its main feature;

  • That less code is more—again, perfect for beginners, and;

  • That it will always be secure and speedy!

Aside from that, you can also be sure that you will be able to get a fully integrated central account—all in a one-click install process, which is something that most plugins cannot give! Upon doing so, you can then divide your site into sections—so members who have nothing to say about certain topics could just go and talk about what they want to—making sure that animosity would not rule your site!

Learn More About bbPress

Why not CM Answers?

cm answers wordpress plugin

Now, here is another one of those amazing WordPress Forum Plugins: CM Answers!

If you are the type who always likes to hear your readers’ opinions, or at least, get some gist of how they think by providing them with thought-provoking questions, CM Answers may be the right forum plugin for you!

Dubbed as WordPress’ very own Powerful Q & A Discussion Plugin, CM Answers would be able to improve your site because of its customizable mobile-responsive services. As you might know, most people read articles or blogs on their mobile devices these days—as they are often on the go—so it is important to make sure that your blog—and the resulting forum—would be optimized for mobile.

With the help of this plugin, you will be able to do that, and enjoy the following, too:

  • Be able to edit or have questions answered after posting;

  • Change templates so it would work well with your blog;

  • Great multiple file upload support so you could multitask and save loads of time;

  • Generate a list of logs and statistics to help you understand what is going on with your website, and understand the kind of readers you are dealing with, and;

  • Provide Geotags—to understand where your readers are coming from, and how impactful your posts are, for them.

If mobile optimization is your thing, and you really want to keep up with the times, this one is right for you!

Learn More About CM Answers

DW Question and Answer

dw question and answer

Another one of those amazing WordPress Forum Plugins is none other than DW Question and Answer!

More than just a forum, you would be able to create a Question and Answer site—ala Ask.Fm, Quora, or the early FormSpring. Sites, and forums like these often cater to the younger generation, which is good, because admit it or not, the youth has a lot of influence on people these days. It is also a means of learning more—and easily—about various topics, which means that gaining knowledge could be fun and never boring.

Some of the best features of this plugin include the following:

  • Email Notification System—to check if someone has posted either a question or an answer;

  • Vote and Pick Best Answer System—just like the classic Yahoo! Answers, so your readers would at least have a gist about which answer is right, and so the questions in their head could easily be cleared;

  • Submit / Filter / Order / Edit Question Ability;

  • Sticky Questions;

  • Questions / Answers Follow Function—same as following comments on websites so you will not have to follow what you do not want to;

  • Shortcodes—so that sharing would be easy and more professional-looking, and;

  • Answer and Comment Options, of course!

Basically, it is an easy way of allowing your readers—and you yourself—to give opinions and have good conversations on your website—and that is always something good as it increases traffic, and provides you with more followers!

Learn More About DW Question and Answer

Use AnsPress

anspress wordpress question answer forum plugin

Here is another convenient way for you to add a forum to WordPress: AnsPress.

AnsPress is a Q & A-like forum plugin that you can use to enhance your blog or website. As you can see—and as provided with the choices here—people these days are often looking for ways to express themselves, and one of those ways is to add a Q & A type forum to your site—and AnsPress can help you out with that!

The great thing about this plugin is that you can control or manage it both on the Admin Menu, and also on the Settings Page. It also has a great interface—which can add to the aesthetic value of your site! With this plugin, you will also be able to experience the following:

  • Custom Fields—so your readers could provide both questions and answers;

  • Various Categories—in pages and lists, so that questions and their corresponding answers could easily be found;

  • Email Notifications, so you will know what is going on—and so you can follow the questions and answers that you like, and;

  • Easy tagging features—so with the help of the right tags, your readers can get to find what they may have long been looking for.

Therefore, if you want more questions and answers, you can definitely go for this one.

Learn More About AnsPress

Try SabaiDiscuss

sabai discuss

Meanwhile, if you are looking for a premium option that can help you add a forum to WordPress, why don’t you try SabaiDiscuss?

While it also uses the Question and Answer format as its forum type, it is a more defined unit, and has this façade that looks like Yahoo! Answers or Stackflow—two of the most trusted Q & A forums on the internet!

With the help of this plugin, you will have chance to turn your website into a more community-driven place, which is important when it comes to building your list of followers, and making sure that you get great reputation in business. This way, you could have your very own helpdesk portal—courtesy of your website, and your readers could experience the benefits of the following features, too:

  • Easy search and filter forms created with Visual Editor;

  • Be able to search questions, keywords, and answers with the help of user-friendly features;

  • Flat and fully responsive design—which is one of the keys to having a great website these days;

  • The ability to reopen or close questions, as preferred;

  • Vote for questions/answers, as well as comments;

  • Add file attachments to enhance the way of answering questions, and providing more realistic answers to readers;

  • Make way for hierarchal categories—which means that everything would be properly segregated;

  • Auto-suggest tags;

  • Have questions and answers filtered the right way;

  • Create a good user reputation system—to make sure that your readers would come back and enhance their online profile;

  • Add user profile pages;

  • Flag questions and answers that are deemed derogatory, in one way or the other, and;

  • Have restrictions ready, among others.

As you can see, this plugin offers a lot of features, makes sure your site is aesthetically pleasing, and also makes sure that your readers get what they need from it—which definitely makes it one of your best bets!

Learn More About Sabai Discuss

WP SymposiumPRO

WP SymposiumPRO

This was first known as a social media plugin, but is mostly used to add a forum to WordPress. From WP Symposium, it is now known as WP SymposiumPRO, with its name giving you an idea that it provides you with all your forum needs—all in one place!

Aside from the usual email notifications, reply voting, favorite, and sticky topics, there are other things that this plugin could provide, and these include:

  • Updated Directory—to help you get in touch with, and get to know your readers more;

  • Easy compatibility with your blog—no matter what it is;

  • Multi-lingual features to work wherever you are in the world, and;

  • Loads of customization features to make this forum YOUR forum!

It does not have lots of features, compared to others, but it is still good in the sense that it allows you to create a forum for your website, without having to deal with problems when it comes to installation and updates. If a fuss-free plugin is your thing, you definitely have to go for this one!

Learn More About WP Symposium PRO

Groups Forums

groups forums wordpress plugin

Groups Forums is one of those WordPress Forum Plugins that you have to pay for, but the good thing about this is that it has a number of special features that you may want, especially if you have already been on the site for a long time. These features include:

  • Topic Asignees and Topic Moderators—creating the feel of a “real forum”—all in your WordPress blog;

  • Sticky topics;

  • User Support System, which can help readers provide feedback, and tell you if they are experiencing something wrong with the site;

  • Front and Back End topic submissions;

  • Various widgets, such as forums, topic tags, topics, and topic search, amongst others;

  • Theme template support—so you can easily customize both your blog and the forum the way you want to—and without having much of a hard time;

  • Published / Pending topic notifications that work for the site admin, the moderators, authors, and readers, and;

  • Various shortcodes that can be used, such as edit topics, let users submit, list forums, topic searches, topic tag clouds, and front end editing, amongst others!

And while you do have to pay for this blog, it might be good for you to know that having it would easily help you manage your website, which is good, especially if you are quite meticulous about your blog. However, if you are a beginner, you might want to try the free ones, first, but hey, if you like this one, then, why not?

Learn More About Groups Forums

BubLaa Forum and Comments

bublaa wordpress comments forum plugin

The next plugin on the list is Bublaa, and what you have to know about this is that it is somewhat different from its contemporaries, in the sense that it really makes way for an old-school discussion community. In short, you would have real-time discussions on your site, just like Twitter, which could also help your readers express themselves more, and know that their comments or questions are actually being heard.

It also has amazing features, such as the ones listed right here:

  • Unique forum interface, which makes way for the modernization and easy navigation of your blog—and can easily be appreciated by others;

  • A fully responsive forum—which is important in helping your readers and followers realize that your site is prolific, active, and definitely around to hear them out, and help them, too;

  • Rich text, links, video, and images previews;

  • Search-engine friendly mechanism to make navigation and use easy;

  • Social sharing—which also makes way for more traffic and free advertising for your website;

  • Admin and Moderation tools to help you take better control of your site, and;

  • Request and bugs support—so you could provide the best services for your readers!

If you like the kind of website that is modernized, and that most netizens today would like, it might be good for you to try this one out!

Learn More About BubLaa

ForumEngine

forum engine

Now, here is a fun way to add a forum to WordPress! You see, ForumEngine has that old-school forum feel, so aside from usual posts, and comments, users would also be able to create their own profiles—and badges—and over time, as they keep on using the site, they would notice various titled being handed to them. It is nothing extremely special, but it stays true to form, which is great if all you want is a proper forum for your readers. It also makes way for the following features:

  • Optimized discussion—so your readers would not find it a hassle to state their opinions on your website, and connect with fellow readers, too;

  • Frontend controls, for you to make sure that the forum is going well;

  • All screen size support, which means it would be optimized for whatever it is that people are using to access your website, and its forum;

  • Easy administrative tasks—so that managing the website—and the forum—would not be a hassle for you, and you would not be lazy about it;

  • Simple Interface, so reading and discussions would be easy, and;

  • Weekly updates—to make sure that the site is going well, and also to help you understand whatever is going on!

If you want to foster camaraderie between your readers and followers, this plugin might just be what you are looking for—and more!

Learn More About Forum Engine

Or, Go for Simple:Press

simple press

Finally, there is Simple:Press. And you know what the good thing about this is? Well, it has almost all the features of the other WordPress Forum Plugins combined into one—so you are definitely getting a lot if you would choose to have this installed on your blog—complete with widgets, badges, and smileys that make way for fun discussions—and user-friendly experience!

This plugin was one of the first plugins that were known to help create forums on WordPress. It has a lot of amazing features, such as:

  • Sub-forum support for any given level;

  • Features could be added by means of a simple plugin system;

  • User defined signatures;

  • Theme and template driven capacities;

  • Customizable icons for both forums and groups;

  • Online list, as well as other forum stats;

  • The ability to create hidden “spoilers”—to give that feel of excitement for your readers;

  • WordPress integrations and registrations, as well as log-ins;

  • Comprehensive Administrative Options—making way for that old-school feel, but with an enhanced, modern twist;

  • Coded to make way for WordPress security routines;

  • Private or Public forums;

  • SEO-friendly permalinks;

  • Page and Browser title settings;

  • Canonical URLs;

  • IM and Social Network identities;

  • Ability to set own user time zones, depending on where they are;

  • Data inspection tools, and;

  • Growing translation tools, amongst others!

This has most of the things you need, especially if you are new to blogging—and to the forum world—so you might want to start with this, just for sure.

Learn More About Simple:Press

Choose Your Type

Now that you know how to add a forum to WordPress, you just have to make your choice as to which of these plugins you would like to try. What matters now is that you have to know what your site needs, and what would work well with your readers. Once you have chosen what you want and you feel like it does not work the way you want it to, you can always go for something else.

Good luck, and have fun!

There are tons of great themes out there that could be perfect for building a website witha forum.  Maybe you find what you need in one of these collections?

WordPress Articles

Start Your Own Affiliate Website With WordPress And Affiliate WP

How To Get Started With A WordPress Affiliate Website

So you’ve got your next business website idea all ready to go or perhaps you already have your business website set up. You have an amazing product or service but there’s one BIG problem – you don’t have enough traffic coming through to your website to sell your product or service and make the business profitable.

Now there are a number of solutions to this problem but they are all pretty costly.

  • You could pay for offline advertising such as print media – COSTLY!
  • You could pay for online advertising such as Facebook/Google Adwords – COSTLY!
  • You could pay for someone to work on the search engine optimization of your website – COSTLY

Luckily, there is one cost effective solution that not only saves you money on all of the above, it delivers instant traffic and actually provides the benefits that all of the above methods provide. The answer to your needs is affiliate marketing.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is not new. In fact it has been around since almost the dawn of the Internet. However, the ease of setting up affiliate marketing for yourself has never been easier – but what is it?

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is the process of paying someone else a commission as a reward for them directing traffic to your website. The most attractive form of affiliate marketing from a affiliate marketer’s point of view is one that pays out on converted sales – in other words, you as the business owner would only ever pay out a commission based on what is sold and not just purely based on a lead or on traffic to your website.

Paying a percentage of a sale is a popular method of affiliate marketing and is the most common as it doesn’t benefit those who promote it to try and scam the system by using unscrupulous methods such as sending fake or automated traffic to your website.

So if we use the revenue share method of affiliate marketing it might look something like this. An affiliate of your product might have an agreement with you that they will earn 30% of your sales. They will send a customer through a unique link that is linked to their affiliate account and your website then tracks this customer as coming from the affiliate. The affiliate is then rewarded with commission payments once the sale is confirmed and after a period of time set by you to ensure there are not returns or refunds.

This method works so well because you gain a customer that you probably wouldn’t otherwise of had and the affiliate gains commission by selling a product or service that they don’t have.

The benefits of affiliate marketing

Let’s take a look at our other options that we already highlighted earlier:

Paying for offline advertising such as print media – Now we said that this is costly and it also very difficult to measure the impact of a campaign. It might create brand awareness but how often does that convert to a sale directly? Affiliate marketing can still create brand awareness and can in fact do a better job as it can place your brand across a number of online locations. What’s more, each and every click and sale can be measured.

Paying for online advertising such as Facebook/Google AdWords – Pay per click (PPC) advertising can be an effective advertising tool as can cost per impressions (CPM) but this can be a vacuum for your money if your website is not well optimized for conversion. Digital advertising like this can be effectively tracked and can be used particularly well when using retargeting but it can be tricky to set up and costly if not set up in the right way. Affiliate marketing is a lot less risky.

Paying for search engine optimization of your website – SEO is not cheap if done in the right way. Forget these fly by the night companies that offer SEO for pennies as it will quite simply not be effective and you will just end up spending money for nothing. SEO can be very effective but it will cost you in excess of $1000 per month for a good service and will take time to start to show a positive return on investment. Affiliate marketing can really boost your website’s SEO in a natural way as you will have a number of highly relevant websites linking back to your website through the use of the affiliate links. Affiliate marketing wins again!

AffiliateWP – Affiliate Marketing Made Easy

Until recently, you would need to have hired a very good (and costly) developer to set up your own affiliate marketing campaigns but luckily there is now a very cost effective and easy to manage solution. The AffiliateWP WordPress plugin allows anyone to completely set up and manage their own affiliate marketing website.

Allowing you to increase your website visibility, have higher levels of brand awareness through a heightened web presence, increase traffic to your website and ultimately gain more sales and make more profit – the AffiliateWP plugin is a ‘must have’ resource for anyone serious about using affiliate marketing to boost their sales.

AffiliateWP Plugin Review

There is quite simply nothing else on the market that comes close to offering what AffiliateWP offers unless you are prepared to spend tens of thousands on a top quality developer for your website. The feature list is packed to the rafters and no stone has been left unturned when it comes to offering a fully integrated system that just works – and it looks pretty nice too!

The fact that the AffiliateWP integrates seamlessly in to your WordPress dashboard is it’s first plus point. It looks great and looks like it is part of the furniture. Add to this it’s easy of use and it’s simplicity becomes its brilliance. You have complete control of everything from affiliate user management, real time reporting, registration and complete integration with a number of other platforms to make the user interface a dream to use.

Full Integration

No matter what plugins and systems you use on your wordpress website, the chances are that AffiliateWP will integrate with it easily. The following software packages fully integrate with this system:

  • Easy Digital Downloads
  • WooCommerce
  • WP e-Commerce
  • iThemes Exchange
  • Paid Mameberships Pr
  • Restrict Content Pro
  • Shopp
  • MemberPress
  • MemberMouse
  • Gravity Forms
  • Ninja Forms
  • WP EasyCart
  • Jigoshop
  • Formidable Pro
  • Sprout Invoices
  • S2Member
  • MarketPress
  • Zippy Course
  • LifterLMS
  • Wishlist Member
  • Event Espresso

The developers are constantly adding new integrations and it is highly likely that the systems you use will be fully supported by AffiliateWP – with world class support you are never on your own if you do encounter a problem so there really is nothing to fear.

Feature Packed Software Makes It Simple

AffiliateWP is easy enough to use for a beginner and feature packed enough for someone wanting more depth. The biggest concern for most affiliate marketers is that they have worries over the reliability of tracking. AffiliateWP offers completely reliable tracking on servers that employ very aggressive caching and when we tested the tracking it was 100% reliable based on a number of different IP addresses from different locations.

No matter which package you opt for, you will have unlimited affiliate accounts available meaning you can literally have millions of people promoting your product or service from the moment you launch.

The registration of affiliates is another feature that we particularly like with AffiliateWP. It offers an easy affiliate registration option that allows potential affiliates the opportunity to easily register to become an affiliate on the spot. Further to this though is the moderated registration option – this allows registration to be moderated by you so you can have more control over the types of websites that are promoting your product or service. You can also manually create accounts if you prefer to open new registrations with absolute control. If you are purely after numbers and want to make it as easy as possible for your affiliates then you can enable automatic account creation which will allow affiliates to be automatically set up from the moment they register.

Coupons Code Tracking

This is one of our favorite features and really showcases the professionalism of the AffiliateWP plugin. Coupon code tracking allows you to give your affiliates their own coupon codes and the referrals track via the coupon code rather than needing to click through a URL. This is ideal for having people promote your website offline or via webinars as they don’t require the customer to visit your site using the dedicated URL and your affiliates will love this. The only negative of this for your website is that you will lose the juice of the links pointing to your website from the affiliate website so it is worth using coupon tracking alongside URL tracking for your affiliates.

Migration From Other Systems

If you already use a competitor system (and none of them match up to AffiliateWP in our opinion) then it couldn’t be easier. With one-click migration for Affiliates Pro and WP Affiliate if you use either of these systems then you can easily migrate all of your referral data to AffiliateWP.

Unlimited Options

With the official Pro Add-ons that come packaged with the ultimate and professional license versions of AffiliateWP there really are an almost limitless amount of customizable options you can create.

Gravity and Ninja forms offer real flexibility for your sign up process and will allow you to create truly professional looking onboarding. Stripe and PayPal payouts can be set up to automatically pay affiliates on mass and you can create tiered referral commissions as well as lifetime commissions to really push your affiliates to incentivize.

Reporting

The options for reporting are excellent in AffiliateWP and there are real time reporting options as well as individual reporting options. You can track your affiliate sales at the touch of a button and you can either export this important data or view it in the easy to use dashboard with some great visualization options such as graphs that are excellent for spotting trends or peak times that can help with conversion optimization and planning of future marketing campaigns.

You can track via your creatives so you can easily spot which banners are converting best and you can easily add new creative and edit them as and when required. This will make it easier than ever for your affiliates to promote your products and the creative tracking will allow you to increase conversion rates and ultimately, your profits.

Pricing

With a variety of pricing options, AffiliateWP should be accessible no matter what your budget. The flexible pricing options start from just $49 per year which also includes full email support and 15 official free add-ons. If you have a number of websites that you want to install the AffiliateWP plugin on then you can take the professional package which is very reasonably priced at just $199 per year and allows the plugin to be installed on an unlimited number of websites and also includes the 15 official free add-ons PLUS the 11 pro add-ons.

With a 30 day money back guarantee for anyone who is not happy with the product there really is no risk to taking a look. A company that stands by their product with this sort of guarantee shows confidence in what they have created and we have to agree that it is highly unlikely you will look back once you use this.

The Verdict

There are other options available in terms of WordPress plugins when setting up an affiliate website but nothing comes close to AffiliateWP. A truly world class product that is affordable on almost any budget. The high levels of support that come with this feature rich product make it the market leader and the integrations with other software and services make it a no-brainer for even those internet marketers with the highest of standards.

If you are thinking of setting up an affiliate website (and we have already covered the reasons why you should) then there is simply no other option that you need to consider.

 

WordPress Articles

10 Top-Rated Anti-Spam Plugins Every WordPress User Needs to Discover

If WordPress is your content management platform of choice, chances are mighty good you have had to deal with spam on your site. From unwanted comments on your blog to bots attacking your registration forms, fighting spam is a duty all WordPress users face. Luckily for today’s webmasters, there are a growing number of powerful spam-fighting plugins available. You can now install a plugin on your site to protect your outgoing email from data-capturing spammers, stop spam bots from entering data on your ecommerce forms, and banish trackback-seeking spammers from your comments section.

If you are tired of spending precious hours deleting useless spam content from your site, check out the following roundup of 10 top-rated anti-spam WordPress plugins.

Alobaidi Captcha

alobaidi captcha

If you want to stop spam on your WordPress forms and blog posts, consider adding the Alobaida Captcha plugin to your site. This helpful plugin works on login forms, registration forms, and blog post comment sections too. You can disable the captcha request if a user is logged into your site and can even translate this captcha into your language of choice. With over 800 installs and a five-star rating, the Alobaidi Captcha plugin is definitely worth investigating.  It’s easy to install and has the option to allow logged-in users to avoid having to use captcha, so returning, register users will stay happy.

Alobaidi Captcha

Spam Protection by CleanTalk

spam protection by cleantalk

Offered by CleanTalk, the Spam Protection plugin stops spam without the use of captchas. Protect your site from spam bots and backlink-seeking spammers on everything from your purchase orders and newsletters registrations to your emails. This plugin works with numerous existing comment interfaces including JetPak and WordPress’ own commenting system, which means you won’t have conflicts.  You can stop spam comments as well as unwanted registrations, spam contact emails, spammy orders and more.  Spam Protection also checks existing comments for spam when you install.  Quarantine spammers to manually delete entries or automatically delete suspected spambot submissions. This plugin has 40,000+ installs and a five-star rating.

Spam Protection

SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam

si captcha anti-spam

The SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam WordPress plugin helps reduce spam by making site visitors enter a code that is placed atop an image. This captcha + image combination stops bots from entering data on your comment or registration forms and drastically reduces the amount of spam on your site. You can disable this plugin for logged in site visitors.  With over a quarter of a million active installations, this is a very popular plugin.  It’s actively updated and the support boards also seem active, so you should be secure knowing it will continue to be updated.

SI CAPTCHA

WP-Spamshield Anti-Spam

WP-spamshield anti-spam

If you don’t want site visitors to know you have spam protection installed on your site, the WP-Spamshield Anti-Spam plugin is must-discover WordPress tool. This powerful plugin helps stop multiple forms of spam including trackback spam and ecommerce registration spam. This helpful plugin works with WooCommerce, BuddyPress, MailChimp, Ninja Forms and numerous other third party WordPress interfaces. Visitors never have to enter a captcha on your site, yet your website will remain protected and free of annoying spam.

WP-Spamshield

Spam Destroyer

spam destroyer

With a 4.5 star rating, the Spam Destroyer plugin is worth checking out. While some users report false positives, the majority of users find this plugin stops almost all spam. Updated on a regular basis, this plugin has over 6000 happy users.  A lot of people say Spam Destroyer actually works better than Akismet and since this plugin is compatible with so many other WordPress plugins, it should remain a trouble free solution for spam problems.

Spam Destroyer

Email Encoder Bundle – Protect Email Address

email encoder bundle

If you want to safeguard your email recipient addresses from spam bots, add the Email Encoder Bundle – Protect Email Address plugin to your site. This handy plugin automatically encodes all outgoing email addresses spam bots can’t access them. With this plugin installed, you can also use shortcodes to protect plain text data within your emails.  This plugin doesn’t just protect Email and phone numbers though, it also works on RSS feeds and supports special characters like é, â, ö and even Chinese characters, so it’s a multi-language spam killer.

Email Encoder Bundle

WangGuard

wang guard wordpress spam blocker

The WangGuard plugin offers a SSL-enabled API to comply with European information distribution laws. This plugin can protect your site from content-stealing sploggers (spam bloggers who scrape other sites) and can stop unwanted spam registrations on your site’s forms. Whether you are using BuddyPress, bbPress 2.0, or WordPress, you can depend on the WangGuard plugin to keep your site protected.   There are some great addons for this plugin too, like a comprehensive list of ‘blacklisted’ words and more.  Free for personal use, but they do ask for payment if you earn more than $200 per month with your website.

WangGuard

Anti-Splog

anti-splog

For even more protection against sploggers, check out the Anti-Splog plugin. This plugin offers multiple layers of protection against unwanted sploggers attacking your site. Identify and blacklist nasty spam aficionados to reduce the amount of time you have to spend removing unwanted content and backlink attempts from your WordPress site.

Anti-Splog

Stop Spammers Spam Prevention

stop spammers spam prevention

If you want to keep your WordPress site protected against malicious hacker attacks while eliminating spam, check out the Stop Spammers Spam Prevention plugin. With multiple customization options, you can stop spam from 100+ countries. This plugin automatically completes numerous spam-detection checks and lets you instantly banish spammers who cannot complete captcha verification checks.

Stop Spammers Spam Prevention

Akismet

akismet wordpress anti spam plugin

Perhaps the most well-known of all anti-spam WordPress plugins, the Akismet plugin has over one million downloads. Use this plugin to not only catch suspected spam on your site but to find backlink URLs hidden within comments too. Review the history of each spam attempt on your site and block repeat offenders.

Akismet

Hide My WP

hide my wp

A lot of times, WordPress spammers will target your site by the footprint it leaves behind, which is why it’s a great idea to leave no trace that you’re even using WordPress.  If you want to completely obscure your WordPress installation to keep spammers from even finding your site in the first place, Hide My WP is a nice solution.  This is a premium plugin, so it’ll cost you around $23 right now, but it’ well worth it.  Sometimes you can get hacked or crushed with spam when a plugin isn’t completely up to date when a new vulnerability shows up.  That recently happened with Gravity Forms and even JetPack, so making your site invisible to spammers and hackers is a great line of defense, just in case.

Hide My WP

Protecting your site from spam is one of the unfortunate parts of being a webmaster. Whether you own an up-and-coming ecommerce site or blog occasionally on a lifestyle blog, spammers will attempt to attack your site regardless of your site’s popularity. The above-listed spam protection plugins can greatly reduce the amount of time you have to spend of spam-fighting. Will you be downloading any of these WordPress spam protection plugins?

WordPress Articles

A Guide to Getting Started on the Visual Composer WordPress Plugin

Currently the top-selling plugin at CodeCanyon, Visual Composer surpassed the 20,000 sales milestone just a few months ago. The plugin was created by WPBakery. The plugin is a plug and drop type of application that is bundled with over 300 premium ThemeForest themes. The product is currently installed in at least 65,000 websites the world over.

While there is no argument about the current popularity that the plugin enjoys simply because it makes putting together a WordPress website very convenient and simple, the question is: Is the plugin really worth the hype it is getting?

This Visual Composer review will attempt to answer the question. Likewise, it will break the WordPress plugin down in terms of the capabilities it brings to the table, how it lives up to the high expectations and hype, and provide a walk-through on how you can come up with unique webpages and stylish content using Visual Composer, among others.

Visual Composer Pros and Cons

The Pros:

  • The plugin is user-friendly.
    It comes with a wide variety of content elements.
    Visual composer offers both a backend and a front-end editor.
    Developer support is substantial.
    The content elements are easy to style.

The Cons:

  • The front-end editor can be tricky to use at times.
    There is no option to easily integrate widgets from third parties.
    In terms of cost, features, and support, Visual Composer outperforms most similar products on the market today. It also does well in terms of aesthetics, speed, and usability. Overall, the product is worthy of a 4-star rating out of 5.

What Is Visual Composer?

The plugin is a feature packed, drag and drop type of page builder. It has more than 40 built in content elements, and lets you style your webpages both on the front-end and back end. This means you can work on your pages right in your live website or at the admin area of WordPress with the same convenience.

While being able to work on both ends should offer a lot of convenience for website owners and developers, transitioning to the plugin’s front-end editor can be tricky at times. Some users complain of not having the module load properly from time to time. Because this is such an important feature, it can be quite disappointing if you cannot take full advantage of it.

Despite the problem, however, Visual Composer remains as one of the best all-around drag & drop solutions among all WordPress page building tools currently available to users. The interface is quite easy to use, it is priced reasonably, and it comes with a superior selection of content elements. Once you have familiarized yourself with the plugin’s interface, you can begin to style professional-looking pages in a matter of minutes.

Main Visual Composer Features

At this point, you may be eager to find out just exactly how the plugin works. Before that, however, it is important that you get acquainted with the product’s main features first.

By using the WordPress post editor, you can style your articles in many ways. You can use the editor to italicize or bold the text, and to add, images, links, codes, quotes, and lists. You can further add style to your articles by using the functionalities of a drag & drop page builder.

Drag and (&) drop is the common term used for WordPress plugins that allow users to design professional pages using a visual drag and drop interface. You are probably aware that the market for page builders today is saturated, resulting to a highly competitive environment. It is worth mentioning that Visual Composer blazed the trail for others to follow.

By using the building blocks of content or content elements that come with Visual Composer, you can create unique and stylish webpages. In other page building tools, these blocks, referred to as “content elements” in Visual Composer, are called widgets or modules. Regardless of what they are called, however, these blocks of content may be dragged, and then dropped anywhere you like on the page.

As previously mentioned, Visual Composer has more than 40 built in content elements. These include social media buttons, text blocks, image carousels, video players, charts, and post grids, among many others.

Visual Composer content elements are all responsive; thus, they will appear aesthetically pleasing whether they are viewed on a tablet, smartphone, or computer. You can further customize individual content elements to help you come up with better-crafted webpages.

Drag and drop types of page building tools typically allow you to create pages either from the front-end (right in your live site) or the backend (using the post editor). You can do both with Visual Composer.

Most page builders can be used with virtually any WordPress theme. This applies to Visual Composer, as well. It can work with oTranslate, a WordPress translation plugin, and it likewise supports multiple languages. Visual Composer is also compatible with WordPress custom post types.

The following section is a brief guide on how to use Visual Composer quickly.

Beginner’s Guide to Using Visual Composer

Designing Pages Using Visual Composer

After you have activated Visual Composer on your site, your post editor will display two new buttons. One can be used to call the backend editor, while the other will allow you to work on pages through the front-end editor. Simply put, the buttons in the post editor for Visual Composer will allow you to toggle among the default WordPress post editor (classic mode), the front-end editor, as well as the backend editor.

At the top portion of the interface, you will find 4 buttons. The plus (+) sign can be used to include a new content element. The symbol beside it or the grey box that has a white letter “T” inside allows you to load the template box. On the right side, you will find the cog symbol that you can use to load a custom CSS box where you can define the various CSS classes to use for that particular page. The button to the right of the cog will load up the front-end editor.

Upon first loading the backend editor, the first thing you will see is a welcome page that provides shortcuts to more frequently accessed options including ones that will allow you to add new elements, include text blocks (another type of content element), or select one from among 6 pre-set layouts (load a template, for example.)

If you click on the plus (+) sign, the element box will appear. All the available elements are initially displayed by default, but you can sort and browse the list by type of element if you want.

Previously, it was mentioned that more than 40 content elements are available on Visual Composer. While this is technically true, 12 of these content elements are default WordPress widgets. The rest are made up of 25 Visual Composer content elements, 4 social media elements, and 3 structure elements. Thus, the latest version of Visual Composer has a total of 44 content elements.

You can easily drag rows into other parts of the page. They can likewise be cloned, deleted, and edited. All the columns display similar buttons. If you hover over a particular content element, an option to move, customize, edit, or delete it will appear.

Each content element can be customized in Visual Composer. The settings you can use depends on the specific type of content element you are currently working on. The simpler content elements like the social media sharing buttons will let you define the button size only. On the other hand, the more advanced content elements like post grids will provide various settings and options.

You can add new rows by simply pressing the plus sign in the row header. You can find the option to put content in multiple columns next to the plus sign.

You can choose from any of the 11 available pre-set column layouts that include 5/6 + 1/6, 1/4 + 1/2 + 1/4, and 2/3 + 1/3. You also have the choice to make your own custom layout if you want. After adding the columns, you can now move content elements freely from other columns and rows into your newly created columns.

With Visual Composer, you can customize how you want your columns and rows to look and feel. You can use the general tab to set your preferred default font color as well as to define more CSS classes.

By using the design options tab, you can define the size of the borders, margins, and padding. The color of the backgrounds and borders may also be changed into your preferred color. Likewise, the border type can be defined. You can make it dotted, dashed or solid.

Columns come with an additional tab for settings that can be used for responsiveness and widths. These settings, however, are not available for rows simply because they are not really necessary.

The column widths can be resized to as small as a twelfth or to a particular size that will best suit the target device. This will make sure that the page content will not look too cramped when viewed using smaller devices.

At the top of the Visual Composer interface, you will find the template icon that can be used to load the templates box. Here, you can save your custom layouts so they can later be used by the other pages on your site. You can also load your previously saved templates here.

There are 6 default templates available in Visual Composer. This number is sufficient if you are just starting to create various pages like a landing page. This Visual Composer tutorial highly recommends that you load up these templates when you use the plugin for the first time. This way, you will immediately get acquainted with the workings of the plugin.

If you load a default template, the layout will be added after your existing customizations. All you have to do then is to supply your own text content to replace the dummy text.

Using the backend editor is quite simple. Like most other similar WordPress plugins, you can get a good grasp of how everything works in just around 20 to 30 minutes. Once you have gotten acquainted with all the content elements’ settings area, and have modified the columns and rows to your preferred style, you are ready to create new pages that are both unique and stylish.

The Front-End Editor

As previously discussed briefly, you can create and style pages right on your live website using the front-end editor. If you are currently working on your page using the backend editor, from your post editor interface, just click on the front-end button. This will lead you to the front-end editor interface. Just make sure you have saved your current work before you switch to another editor mode. Otherwise, all the changes you have made on your page will be lost.

Having said that, this Visual Composer tutorial finds it easier to structure pages initially using the backend editor. On the other hand, the front-end editor is better to use when you need to tweak your pages later. A lot of WordPress users, however, use the front-end editor from start to finish, meaning they do everything on the live website.

This way, you get to see immediately how the WordPress design you are currently working on will appear. It is therefore suggested to stick to whichever method works for you. If you find it easier to start with the backend editor and switch modes later for the finishing touches, that is fine. On the other hand, if you want to do everything using the front editor, it is fine as well.

Whether using the backend or front-end editor, pressing a content block will have the same result, meaning you will be provided with the same option settings. These include the options to insert new columns and rows, and options to include new content elements, load the template system, modify page settings, save your drafts, and publish your page. You can also find an option that will allow you to switch back to the backend editing mode as well.

The guides button found at the top portion of your front-end editor interface disables the options in the content element box. This will allow you to view the page without displaying the editing options in Visual Composer.

Likewise, there is an available option that will give you an idea on how the page will look in 5 device sizes or when the page is viewed using different devices including smartphones, tablets, and desktop computer. This tool is quite useful since you get the chance to preview the page you styled on different resolutions, so you can make sure that it will look good regardless of the device used to view it. This way, you can still tweak the page before it is actually published.

You cannot find a lot of drag and drop WordPress building tools that will offer options to style pages both on the front and back-ends. This is one of the features that make Visual Composer standout – its versatility.

Visual Composer Settings

The settings menu in Visual Composer has 5 tabs, the first of which houses the general settings.

On the top part of the page, you can select the types of posts that can be used with the plugin. In this section, you can enable or disable various types of active posts such as pages and posts. You can likewise disable content elements that are responsive, and select Google fonts.

The role editor is one of the more useful options you can find on this page. It is where you can set whether specific user groups can access bot the WordPress default editor and Visual composer, or restrict access to either of the two. For instance, you can allow only the editors and administrators to use Visual Composer.

You can likewise disable particular content elements for different user groups. This can come in handy if you want to restrict access to specific elements for a certain user group.

The second tab is used to modify the color scheme of the content elements in Visual Composer. You can also change the bottom margin of the elements, as well as the width of the mobile screen.

The third tab is where you can input custom CSS codes. Once done, you can proceed to styling the content elements by activating the classes you have defined in this box.

If you enter your license details in the fourth tab, it means that your Visual Composer is automatically updated. This will also entitle you to receive support. A lot of WordPress developers take the time to go through this process to make sure that illegal or unauthorized downloads of their products are averted, a necessary evil, if you may.

The final tab in the settings menu is used for mapping custom short codes as well as short codes from 3rd party plugins. This way, you can increase the number of available content elements that you can use.

That’s it. You can see that there are only a few settings that you need to configure to start using Visual Composer. You just need to pay particular attention to the license page because the automatic updates and support you will receive will depend primarily on the entries on this page.

An Honest Visual Composer Review

A Glimpse of What Visual Basic Brings to the Table

With Visual Composer, creating professionally-designed webpages will take only a matter of minutes. Likewise, it is easy to get a good grasp of how the WPBakery plugin generally works. In fact, it may take you a bit longer to get acquainted with all the content elements that are bundled with Visual Composer.

Take a look of a corporate page designed using the plugin.

Bottom of Form

Visual Composer Review: Create Professional Pages in Minutes

After you have gotten comfortable in using the styling elements, you will now be ready to begin creating unique and professional-looking pages. The 6 default templates that are built-in to Visual Composer will come in handy as you are still trying to feel your way around the system.

How to Extend Visual Composer

Simply put, Visual composer is developer-friendly. This means its content elements can be changed directly from the functions.php file of the theme. You can likewise add shortcodes that you created on your own. A lot of add-ons have also been designed as enhancements for Visual Composer, and there are many other plugins in WordPress that are compatible with it.

Visual Composer Downsides

If you talk to some website developers about using plugins, you will most probably hear them say that all plugins that they have used disappointed them to some degree. All plugins can use some improvements, one way or another, but this is not to say that they are not good and useful. Visual Composer is just like other plugins.

For this Visual Composer review, at least a dozen premium and free drag and drop WordPress website building tools were tested for comparison. In a lot of other plugins, you are allowed to use and insert all the available widgets as content elements. This helps considerably extend the functionality of a page building tool. With this feature, you can insert whatever WordPress widget you have that is active on your website.

Sad to say, this nice to have feature is lacking in Visual Composer. You are limited to the default plugins in WordPress, as well as a few plugins from 3rd party developers like Contact Form 7. Instead, Visual Composer offers a widgetized side-bar content element. While this should allow you, in theory, to add any widget into your pages directly, this is actually limiting and tedious to do.

The widgetized side-bar content element lets you choose the sidebar you want inserted into the element. However, you cannot create another sidebar or a new widget area. In order to include a custom widget into the page you are currently working on, you must create the sidebars each and every time. Although you can find WordPress plugins that help make the process of making new side-bars a little simpler, overall, it is still a tedious process.

To illustrate, imagine a content website consisting of around 100 pages. If you want custom widgets inserted into some of the pages, say in 30 pages, you have to create 30 custom side-bars just for the purpose. If you use another page building plugin tool, on the other hand, all you have to do is to drag the custom widget you want inserted, and drop it into the part of the content area where you want it to be.

That being said, WPBakery will hopefully take notice and address the concern in future releases of the plugin. This way, users will enjoy the convenience of directly inserting custom widgets into the page.

This Visual Composer review still contends that it is better to create and style pages using the backend editor, although it is understandable why a lot of users prefer to modify pages right on the live website. For one, this gives them the chance to immediately see the effects of the changes as they make them.

Switching to the front-end editing mode can be quite frustrating. While it works well once it has been loaded properly, a lot of times, it fails to correctly load. Sometimes, all you see is the loading icon displayed infinitely on your screen. To check if this is an isolated case, this review tried running the plugin on a test website. Twenty Twelve was used. There were no other active WordPress plugin activated. The results were the same. The frontend editor still did not properly load all the time. In fact, it was able to load correctly a few times.

There was a time when we tried to toggle between the backend to the front-end editor for about half an hour. We kept trying until we got the front-end editing mode loaded properly. Our persistence paid off. It finally worked on a blank website; to be specific, a blog site that contained no posts.

The next day, we noticed that we no longer had any problems loading the front-end editor. It caught us by surprise. For one, we did not make any changes to the website. We did a bit of research and discovered that a lot of other users encountered the same problems that we did. They were able to somehow find a solution to the problem. From what we gathered, there are times when the front-end editor does not load successfully because of some issues involving the pre-loader.

Beware of WordPress Plugins That Come Bundled with Themes

Visual Composer is the plugin of choice for a lot of WordPress theme developers primarily because of its drag and drop interface that allows users to conveniently create professional-looking webpages within a short span of time – within minutes, in fact. This is primarily the reason Visual Composer is bundled with a whole lot of WP themes on ThemeForest.

Sure, it is great to get a premium WordPress plugin like Visual Composer when you buy a WordPress theme. There is a problem, though. Not too many people are aware that a lot of theme developers do not pay attention to updates on the plugins bundled with their products. Thus, their theme zip file is not updated every time there are updates made on the included plugins. If you buy a theme with outdated plugin inclusion, you naturally end up using the plugin’s older version, making you quite vulnerable to attacks.

Next to Visual Composer, probably the most popular plugin for WordPress on CodeCanyon would be Slide Revolution. However security specialists discovered that Slider Revolution was saddled by a large, gaping security hole. While WP users who bought the plugin from CodeCanyon directly were able to get the plugin’s updated version with the security patch, thousands of other users who got their version of the WP plugin bundled with the theme they purchased, failed to download the new and updated version.

As mentioned, the problem lies with the theme developers who do not bother to check if new versions of their bundled plugins have been released. It has likewise been a common practice for theme developers to check for new versions of plugins ONLY when they are in the process of updating their own WP theme. While this is understandable, it still is not a sound practice that benefits the interest of their clients.

Now, if you got the Visual Composer version you are currently using from a WordPress theme package, you better check if you are not using the latest version. Having read the warning above, you are aware of the consequences of using an outdated version. You never know whether or not the theme developer is conscientious and proactive enough to update the plugin. Thus, it may be a sound move if you just buy your copy of Visual Composer from CodeCanyon itself. This way, you are guaranteed to receive automatic updates, as well as product support.

Visual Composer Review Ratings

Cost

No doubt, Visual Composer offers great value for your money. For a one-off cost of only $28, you get a cutting-edge WordPress plugin that is loaded with a lot of functional features.

For its retail price, Visual Composer costs significantly less than a lot of its competitors on the market. Velocity, another WP page builder plugin, for example, comes with fewer features. For a single website, the retail price is $97. You have to shell out $167 if you intend to use the plugin for 3 websites. The unlimited option, on the other hand, costs $247. Another competitor, Beaver Builder, uses the same pricing scheme.

Of course you can find drag & drop page builder tools for WordPress without requiring you to shell out a single cent. However, none of these plugins can approximate what Visual Composer has to offer both in terms of features and design functionalities. To put it simply, Visual Composer makes every cent you spent more than worth it.

Features

With Visual Composer, you can change the content of you website on either the front or backend. As mentioned time and again throughout this Visual Composer review, this is one area where the plugin excels and what separates it from other products in its category. Most other plugins with drag and drop interface will only allow you to create and modify pages using EITHER the front-end editor or the backend editor – NOT BOTH!

In addition, Visual Composer has a wide range of excellent content elements including multi-media elements for images and videos, social media buttons, as well as content-related elements like post carousels, post sliders, and post grids.

Empty spaces and separators can likewise be added into the pages for better page structure. Likewise support for buttons as well as calls to action are available.

As discussed in a previous section, perhaps the one major thing that may be considered lacking in Visual Composer is a good support for widgets from third party developers. By providing better support for third party widgets, Visual Composer developers, in essence, would significantly extend the plugin’s functionality. Other than that, however, majority of WordPress users will have no problems with the built in content elements. Users will likewise be happy about the user-friendly interface.

Aesthetics

Talking about aesthetics, there is nothing about Visual Composer that does not look good. Everything is just stunning – from the drag & drop interface to the various pages that the plugin helps you create and style for your website. Each of the content elements is responsive; thus, you have the guarantee that your page will look perfect regardless of the device it is viewed from, whether it is a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or a desktop computer.

Visual Composer also makes it possible for you to customize all the content elements as you please. The borders, padding, and margins can easily be modified. By using the settings box, you can likewise alter the background and font colors. You can even add custom CSS to the style elements in your arsenal.

In most other drag and drop page building tools, you are not allowed to modify the style of the content elements. They only give you the option to either use it or not. With Visual Composer, no such restrictions exist. You can do a lot more.

Usability

Visual Composer offers easy interfaces for both the front-end and backend editors. To give you an idea of how convenient it is to use the plugin, within 15 minutes of feeling your way around, you would already have a good grasp of how to include content elements, as well as how to position them in columns and rows.

However, it may be unreasonable to expect that you can come up with professional-looking pages right off the bat. While there is no argument that Visual Composer is quite easy to use and navigate, it will probably take you a couple of hours before you get comfortable enough to create the pages you want. You must first get acquainted with the various available options for each of the content elements.

The pre-packaged templates that come with Visual Composer definitely come in handy to speed up the learning process. Just load a default template and start trying things out, moving and tweaking content elements, and in no time, you will already have a good idea on how each piece of the puzzle fits.

Support

The plugin has been on the market for a number of years now, yet it still gets regular updates and fitted with new features. As the top-selling WordPress plugin on CodeCanyon, you can rest assured that you will enjoy active support for the product for a long time.

Learning how to use the WP plugin is likewise a non-issue. You can find a large knowledge base on the site of WPBakery, where you can get a walk through on using the plugin. The site also features a ticket support system where the developers field customer inquiries. Comments are likewise promptly responded to.

You do not have to pay annual fees to use Visual Composer. Once you buy the plugin, you automatically become eligible for lifetime upgrades and support.

Speed

Visual Composer was specifically designed in a way that the required Javascript files would be loaded if a particular content element is using them. This allows pages to load quickly, reducing the bandwidth at the same time. To cite an example, the Javascript required by a post carousel will only be loaded if a post carousel is added to that specific page.

Thousands upon thousands of fast-loading sites utilize Visual Composer; thus, you need not be concerned about the WordPress plugin dragging your website down. Each of the content elements is guaranteed to efficiently and quickly load.

Conclusion

In the highly competitive and crowded niche of drag and drop page building tools, Visual Basic can brag that it is the best and most popular option today for WordPress users, and probably, no one will raise a whimper. The plugin is user-friendly, the content elements are great, and you can work on your pages both on the front and back-ends of your site.

Perhaps its single main drawback is the absence of an option to easily incorporate widgets into pages. You may argue that there are more flexible, and free drag and drop interface page builder plugins available like Aqua Page Builder and MiniMax that let you easily insert widgets into pages. If you don’t need the functionality of inserting third party widgets into your pages, however, this is a non-issue.

A good majority of WordPress users would be satisfied with the quality of the content elements that Visual Composer brings to the table, as well as the option that allows you to style the content elements using custom CSS. With this, you can use the plugin to come up with stylish pages within a few minutes. Overall, Visual Composer is a solid WordPress page builder plugin that is worth recommending.

 

WordPress Articles

A Comprehensive Review of WooCommerce

A Review of WooCommerce

Ecommerce is something most of us do on a regular basis. Ecommerce is the term used to describe all of the commercial transactions conducted electronically or over the Internet, allowing us to buy everything from medicine and shoes to cars and antiques. It is a word familiar to most of us, even if we don’t often use it. Rather than saying you are doing a bit of ecommerce, you might say you shop online, and according to the statistics most of us do a lot of ecommerce!

Ecommerce Is the Way of Business Today and in the Future

After all, according to Statista, the amount of ecommerce sales worldwide in 2015 was $1,471 billion (http://www.statista.com/topics/871/online-shopping/). In the U.S. alone, there were more than 200 million digital shoppers. Clearly, ecommerce is a preferred way of getting the many things we want or need, but if you want to get in on the world of online shopping to sell products or services, it can feel overwhelming.

Why? The volume of online retailers has created an equal volume of resources for making online sales. Electronic storefronts, inventory managing software, dropshipping services, website designers…these are all issues that might get in the way of opening your own simple and profitable digital storefront. As one web sales expert warned:

If you’re considering launching an online store, you’ll be presented with many software options for building out your storefront. These choices, while initially feeling like a windfall, can quickly feel overwhelming due to the multitude of ecommerce options available.

(https://www.web-savvy-marketing.com/2016/04/what-is-woocommerce/)

Additionally, many of us hoping to enter the world of ecommerce as storeowners don’t have a lot of technical know-how, or massive budgets to get a store up and running. This leaves many in need of a low cost, or free, solution that can also address some very serious problems.

The Major Challenges to Basic and Easy Ecommerce

What sort of problems does the startup ecommerce business face? In terms of the actual storefront and website, you will discover it can begin to feel far outside of your capabilities.

For example, your ecommerce solution needs to provide a friendly user experience for your shoppers that makes them want to return. On the other hand, it is often far outside of most budgets to hire a “User Experience Designer”.

You need an affordable solution, but one that can be customized to indicate your brand, style, and overall message. The ability to customize a store, however, typically involves complex coding, or hiring a costly expert to tackle it for you.

Security is another issue, and no storeowner can ever afford any breaches, risks, or threats. Uptime is part of this issue, and you face the loss of return customers when you have to announce security breaches or they arrive at your site to see it is temporarily disabled. In fact, almost all online shoppers never return to a site if they receive an error message at the home page.

Lastly, you need to have access to analytical tools that document every possible statistic – including traffic and conversions as well as inventory and sales. However, many of us are unable to use even the free analysis tools, like those at Google, simply because we are not sure just what they tell us.

What to do about all of these needs and problems? That is actually easier to answer than many realize, and the solution can be found in a single, unusual word: WooCommerce.

What Is WooCommerce?

In a nutshell, WooCommerce is meant to enable anyone to quickly and easily begin to sell services or products through their WordPress powered site. Whether a blog or website, this plugin helps you to create your basic online store, allowing you to offer physical, digital, affiliate, renewable membership products, and more.

It is free, and uses open source code, meaning developers can, and do, introduce new features all of the time. It is one of the most user-friendly options because it has been designed to enable site owners to sell a range of goods, categorize products, design appealing pages easily, and even monitor customer activities. At the user-end, the WooCommerce plugin enables clients to look at their past orders, check on current orders, and make it easy and safe to shop.

Currently, it has been downloaded more than thirteen million times, and is behind roughly 37% of all of the online stores on the Internet. Using this “functional extension” along with your WordPress site and a WooCommerce friendly storefront (also known as a compatible WordPress theme), you can easily handle product management, a shopping cart function, and order processing. It also enables you to deal with taxes, it keeps all of your data in your hands, and comes with support for mobile device and offers easy scalability to grow with each of your business successes.

But just what is it? It was actually built specifically for WordPress. Currently, 51% of the top one million websites on the Internet are powered by WordPress, and this is why WooCommerce is such a smart choice. It integrates instantly with your WordPress pages and as one expert said:

WooCommerce users can build a fully functioning store within a professional website, alongside an integrated blog. All of these dimensions of a business’ online presence are harnessed in one place, and presented together seamlessly, and it’s all thanks to WooCommerce being a WordPress based platform.

(https://www.cmscritic.com/10-reasons-why-woocommerce-is-perfect-for-ecommerce-startups/#)

Is It Easy to Setup?

As you read above, you need your WordPress powered site or blog, the WooCommerce plugin, and a WooCommerce compatible WordPress theme. Because you may be unfamiliar with these things, let’s take just a moment to understand them, and see how easy it is to get an online store up and running thanks to WooCommerce.

WordPress can be installed in less than five minutes, but before this is possible, you need:

  • A website hosting company that gives you space for your site.
  • Your domain name or URL.

The top hosting companies can actually help you with the URL, and many have a one-click WordPress installation feature too. Once you get your account setup and purchased, you can use the host’s dashboard to do the instant WordPress install.

Once this is done, and you are looking at your WordPress dashboard, you can install WooCommerce. You can access it directly from WordPress, just like all of the WordPress plugins. And once the download is done, it then walks you through the setup, taking you through various points, like:

  • Page setup (where you load products)
  • Store locale
  • Shipping & tax
  • Payments

When you install the plugin, the first thing to do is follow the guide that walks you through the key settings. This allows you to enter all of the relevant details, but you will come back later to tackle things like products, payments and any other settings of importance. In fact, these may be ongoing tasks rather than setup only.

Before you can dig into setting up the store, you need to have a WooCommerce powered theme. This is actually the most important part because it is what all of your shoppers see and interact with, so take your time to choose one that is both WooCommerce compatible, but also a good fit to your products or service.

You can get themes directly from the WooCommerce themes page and in many other spots on the Internet. Keep in mind that the theme is not just for the sales pages but for your whole site, so it is key that you choose a design that really works for you and your products. WooCommerce makes selling online easier, but it cannot overcome a poorly designed or mismatched site.

Once you choose your theme, you just install it to your site and you can then go ahead and setup all of the features.

What are the Features of WooCommerce?

There are “core” and “extensions” features in WooCommerce. The core features include:

  • Mobile friendliness – WooCommerce is designed to enable your storefront to look and function as good on a mobile device as a computer. It is even possible to convert a store into a mobile app with some of their third-party tools.
  • Checkout controls – You can allow guest checkouts or disable this feature to gather data and ensure security. You can also block out buyers from specific locations and even determine the URLs handling different parts of the checkout process.
  • CRM – From the control of how customers register (including passwords and accounts), to refunds, product variables, and more, you will find almost everything you need to manage CRM.
  • Selling options – You can sell real products, but this plugin also facilitates your sales of digital downloads or subscriptions, content, and even services or time. As WooCommerce itself says, “simple product, grouped product, external/affiliate product, variable product and virtual/downloadable product” types are available.
  • Inventory management – Track levels, hold stock, hide stock that is out of stock, get notices about low inventory, and more.
  • Analytics – Reporting on sales and refunds, monitoring traffic, and orders, and exploring product performance are built into the plugin.
  • Pre-installed payment options – There are several pre-installed payment gateways that you can choose by simply dragging and dropping them as you arrange your site. They include direct bank transfers, check payments, credit cards via PayPal or Simplify Commerce, and even cash on delivery.
  • Scalability – As your business grows, it is amazingly easy to scale your WooCommerce features. You can sell one item this week and one thousand the next, and enjoy ease of use thanks to the design of the plugin.
  • Automated features – Geo location enables the plugin to auto-detect buyer’s addresses, ensuring accurate shipping and tax calculation. There is the default currency setting as well, and automated taxes that adjust to a buyer’s location are among the automated features.
  • Cart controls – Prevent reloading of pages each time something is added to the shopping cart, and choose whether to redirect to the cart page when something is added.
  • Security – We already considered how important this is, and WooCommerce is audited by the industry’s leading security firm, ensuring that coding standards are up to date and that there are no risks in the use of the tool.
  • Customer support – The WooCommerce help desk is available at all times, and has videos, ticketing for follow up, and full documentation available to cover all topics as well. Setup, Third-Party plugins, SSL and HTTPS, Cookies, and all of the other important topics are addressed in full documentation, and customer support is always there to help.
  • Shipping – One thing that WooCommerce is praised for is the way it makes shipping better and easier. You can use shipping calculations, offer flexible shipping destinations, and provide a range of options.
  • Marketing and SEO – Sadly, online selling is not like the famous “Field of Dreams”. You can build the store, but it doesn’t mean they will come. This is a reason that the marketing tools in WooCommerce are so helpful. It comes with features like SEO, product reviews, discount codes and other promotional features. Extensions can really boost this area, though, and should be used.

Although the core features are more than enough for anyone’s long-term needs and success, the Add-ons and Extensions really enhance the product.

What are the Add-ons and Extensions for WooCommerce?

In terms of WooCommerce Extensions, there are hundreds of free and fee-based options. They are available to enhance your store or grow your business. For example, some of the current “popular” and “staff favorites” include:

  • The free PayPal Powered by Braintree extension that enables you to accept credit and debit cards.
  • WooCommerce Bookings that is a fee-based extension enabling you to sell your time or create bookings. This is a solution for those who use appointments or offer services and/or rentals.
  • Product Add-Ons is a fee-based extension that allows buyers to customize products through the input boxes, dropdowns, checkboxes or other tools that you create.
  • WooSubscriptions is also fee-based, but allows you to create and manage any of your products that use a recurring payment option.

You can also use extensions like Amazon Payments to enable clients another payment option, a USPS API that gets shipping rates and handles parcels, and an Order/Customer CSV Export that enables you to export customer data and order information in a simple CSV file. The list goes on and on, and this has to be seen as one of the benefits and features of the plugin.

One of the most impressive extension elements is the ability to offer customize your product types. For example, if you have niche products, it is likely that there are extensions to accommodate you. The current list includes, add-ons, bookable products, bundled products, chained products, composite products, force sell, measurement based products, pre-order products and subscription products. You can also get dynamic pricing apps, create group extensions, name your price, and more.

Marketing and SEO with your extensions is a tremendous plus. The options include social media integration, follow up emails, wish lists, newsletters, rewards programs, cart notifications and more.

Analytics is also boosted via extensions, and you can use a lot of third-party service integrations as well as the extensions themselves to better understand all areas of your online business’ performance.

Enabling you to create a customized solution based on all of your needs, it is remarkably user-friendly with one-click functions and instant add-ons. The extensions give you applications that relate to all areas of business, including your payment gateways, marketing, accounting, reports, and so much more.

The core features and extensions available to those who use WooCommerce provide you with a comprehensive set of tools and solutions, and none of it is difficult to use. It takes only the time needed to create the WordPress site, choose the right theme, and integrate the WooCommerce plugin. After that, you can begin adding any extensions that facilitate your business needs.

What Are the Pros and Cons of WooCommerce?

To summarize the many benefits and pros of WooCommerce:

  • It is free and open source
  • It installs easily and seamlessly with your WordPress blog or website
  • There are abundant options for compatible WordPress themes
  • There are hundreds of extensions that make it easy for you to customize your software and make it remarkably functional and effective
  • It features the familiar WordPress dashboard. As one enthusiast said, ” past users of the platform will benefit from being able to recognize the user-friendly WordPress interface. That kind of familiarity when building an online store could easily save time and confusion, whilst bolstering creativity.” (https://www.cmscritic.com/10-reasons-why-woocommerce-is-perfect-for-ecommerce-startups/#)
  • It has far more positive feedback and reviews (evidenced by the fact that more than 35% of all ecommerce sites use it)
  • It is constantly updated or enhanced, and WooCommerce is very communicative about new features or additions
  • There are many developers ready to offer assistance, and the WooCommerce Help Desk is remarkably comprehensive

And what about the “cons”? We’ve looked at WooCommerce as a nearly flawless entity, but there are a few downsides that we should consider:

  • The extensions are abundant, and most stores need them. They are not all free, and some of the most popular are in the hundreds of dollars to purchase. They also need annual licensing to be renewed.
  • Setting up is easy, but it can take tremendous amounts of time to get the inventory loaded and displaying properly, to choose the settings for customers, orders, taxes, shipping, and more.
  • You may choose the wrong theme and it may not be as robust as you want or need. This is why you must dedicate a lot of time in the selection process and purchase you theme only from the top and most highly rated developers or from Woo itself.
  • Though the Help Desk is always available, it is known to have some lag times, and there can be lengthy periods when support tickets remain unanswered.

In Summary

What does this all tell us? The reality is that no ecommerce software solution is perfect. It is impossible to expect that, and looking at something like this review is helpful, but only if you already understand what you need.

The best approach to determining if WooCommerce is for you is to begin with a list of your unique requirements.

What sort of extensions might you need?

What sort of fees might this add on to your operating expenses?

How much time do you have available to tackle the setup of your WooCommerce site?

These are the only “cons” of choosing WooCommerce, but for some, they could be a reason to avoid the use of the plugin.

However, if you are eager to begin selling anything, anywhere in the world; ship anywhere without a lot of difficulty in calculating fees and printing appropriate labels; accepting many kinds of payments; having total control of the look and function of your online store; choosing your specific style and customizing it all; and being able to add extensions and grow the site easily, WooCommerce is the right choice for you.

As one reviewer claimed:

WooCommerce core includes all of the core features required to run an online store, with none of the bloat. From the simple action of adding and managing products, to advanced stock controls, tax rates calculations, and order management, WooCommerce handles all of this swiftly.

If, after all of this information, you still feel a bit confused, just take some time to visit the WooCommerce site and see what they have to say. Also take a look at the different galleries of themes, always narrowing down the options to those that are WooCommerce compatible.

It is likely that you will soon recognize that this plugin has a great deal going for it, and that you can start small and grow along with it. You don’t need to invest in lots of extensions or third-party services to begin with, and soon you will feel comfortable enough to get creative and enjoy customizing your ecommerce site powered by WordPress and WooCommerce.

 

WordPress Articles

How to Create a Multi Vendor Marketplace for WordPress Using Dokan

We’ve all seen a multi-vendor marketplace, right?  Sites like Etsy or Envato are great examples of what a multi-vendor or multi-seller site is all about.  What they do is allow a single website to let many people sell their products in one place.  It’s like a mini-mall on the internet, but way cooler.  The power of a community is a great marketing tool, so it really can be profitable for both the website and the individual sellers to use a multi vendor environment to sell products, services and subscriptions.  In the past, there have been a lot of very expensive ways to get a multi vendor website set up, and they’ve been popular over the years, each one offering a slightly different take on what makes a great multi-vendor website.  There’s CS Cart Multi-Vendor, which is very nice and has a lot of features, but it prices out at over $1400 for a license.  Yikes!  That’s simply too much for some small businesses and if you’re just getting started with creating a multi vendor marketplace, it can stop you even before you get started.  Magento Marketplace is another good piece of software and it’s more reasonably priced that CS-Cart, but the Multi Vendor extension is still $350, plus all the basic Magento license fees, which can certainly add up and add up pretty quickly.  That’s a lot of money and if you already know WordPress and would prefer to stick to a CMS you know, then there are only a few options.  So, if you want to stick with WP, there’s IXXO, which offers a multi-vendor extension for WordPress but again, it’s $1500 for a license.  Then along came Dokan, a WordPress multi-vendor theme solution that’s very reasonably priced.

Dokan costs $199 for one site.  Of course, if you need to use Dokan on multiple sites, that’s possible too. For $299, you can install on up to five domains an for $499, it’s unlimited.

how does dokan work

So how does all of this work, anyway?

Well, just like a normal multi vendor website, the process is the same.

  • A seller registers on your website.
  • The seller creates products.
  • They start selling.
  • You and the seller both make money.

It’s pretty simple.  It’s like Ebay or Amazon, your sellers can create their own store and begin selling products immediately.  Your marketplace will grow as your number of sellers increases too, since they’ll be doing their own promotion of their own personal store and you can really see an increase in traffic with all the fresh content they’ll be adding.

dokan individual marketplace store

Dokan is based on WooCommerce, so it’s stable and has been adopted by a wide variety of businesses, from affiliate sales, app and software companies to online magazines.  WooCommerce allows you to add on a multitude of extensions that will really come in handy for a multi-vendor business.  If you’re selling digital downloads like WordPress themes, music, eBooks or other products, an affiliate program may be a great way to boost business and earn more money for your sellers and for yourself.  WooCommerce has a powerful affiliate program available to help make that happen.  What if your sellers need multiple payment gateways?  WooCommerce has a wide range of payment types that can be easily implemented with a couple of extensions or add-ons.

WooCommerce is extensively documented and if you have experience with WordPress, then you’ve probably had some experience with WooCommerce as well, so you may already know how solid and stable it is and how simple it is to get started.  Other features available include:

  • Dynamic pricing, discounts for bulk orders.
  • United States Postal Service shipping rates for both domestic and world-wide shipping.  (FedEx and UPS too!)
  • Subscription sales for products with recurring payments.
  • Amazon payments
  • Product add-ons
  • Shipment tracking

And a whole bunch more great stuff.  There’s a lot of flexibility in how much you can offer with WooCommerce, but even the vanilla version is powerful.

Okay, back to Dokan.

So what is Dokan anyway, a theme?  Well, it’s actually a plugin, which is even better.  With Dokan, you can turn any existing WooCommerce theme into a full featured multi vendor website.  That means if you have a nice theme that you’ve already gotten familiar with, you can get started even quicker than you might have imagined.  Say you want to build a community to help with marketing and keeping your sellers informed of important information, training or something else…use a BuddyPress ready theme to grow a community of buyers and sellers who all share a common interest.  The point is, Dokan doesn’t limit you to one style or one set of features, there’s a massive variety of themes out there.  If one of those themes is perfect for your site, assuming it also supports WooCommerce, then it can utilize the power of Dokan to help create an online multi vendor marketplace.

dokan wordpress plugin multivendor marketplace

You do have the ability to use the Dokan theme that is included with the license and it’s a full featured WooCommerce theme, but I’m not going to get into that too much, because I think most people will enjoy the flexibility of being able to choose a theme that is exactly what they have in mind.  For some, it may be the Dokan theme, but there are so many options to choose from, why limit yourself?

As I said, each seller creates their own store that they manage themselves.  The seller has a dashboard that’s straightforward and easy to understand, allowing each vendor to manage inventory, pricing, discounts and promotions of their products.  They’ll be able to track traffic stats, sales and they have a simple way to see the status of every order, from the time the buyer makes their purchase to the time it’s delivered.  Reviews can be tracked too, a great way for sellers to see what they’re doing right, or wrong.  Sellers can create coupons for sales and much more, so you won’t have to decide what to promote and what goes on sale, each seller can make their own discount choices and even special event sales for the holidays!  This really is a feature filled admin panel for sellers.

How else can a seller customize the look of their individual storefront?  Well, each seller has access to a special SEO panel, allowing them to set their own personalized SEO title, meta description, keywords, Facebook description and title, for when people share their content.  Same goes for Twitter.  Each product and page gets the same treatment, making it really easy for a seller to create a package of SEO goodness that will help drive business.  And when a seller is able to drive traffic with such ease, everybody makes money.

So how do you make money?

Every time a seller sells a product, you take a small commission.  That’s a huge benefit for sellers who may be just starting out, as they won’t have to pay a large fee per month to run their own store.  For example, Shopify takes up to 3.5% per sale (plus 30 cents) and they charge $79 a month for the privilege of having a store in the first place.  That’s pretty expensive and for a business just starting out and trying to grow sales, it can be a burden.  With Dokan though, your site will charge a small percentage fee per transaction, one that you choose for yourself, and every sale will deduct that amount from the seller’s income and give it to you.  It’s pretty slick and everybody will be happy in the end.  (I should note, with the Subscriptions addon, you can choose to charge people a flat fee per month to use your platform to sell their products.  The choice is yours.)

multi-vendor marketplace dokan

Okay, back to the store.

Each seller gets their own storefront, each one can be branded to their own tastes, within the parameters set up by the theme you choose of course.  Each seller creates their own store settings, which makes it a powerful way for the sellers to differentiate themselves from the competition.  Shipping management, social networking, pending orders…it’s all there, customized for each seller. Sellers will love the way this theme allows them to have a professional, online presence without having to spend a lot of money up front on a theme of their own, plus hosting, plus site security and more.  Those services are what you provide them and it should be well worth it for almost any seller.

dokan comprehensive dashboard multivendor seller

What else can I do with Dokan?

There are a ton of awesome features available, in addition to the WooCommerce, WordPress and BuddyPress extensions that may be available.

  • Dokan Extension Bundle – Nice awesome Dikan extension tools in one fun bundle.  This is the best value for the money, giving you a bunch of the features below for a massive discount.  If you want more than a couple of these extensions, it’s probably the best bargain.
  • Dokan PayPal Adaptive Payment – If you’d prefer to pay your sellers on the fly, this is the addon for you.  When the customer pays, both you and the seller are paid immediately.  If there’s a refund requested, it’s up to the seller to handle it.  That keeps you from having to deal with paying sellers manually or having to deal with refunds.  Pretty cool.
  • Dokan Seller Verification – This helps you verify the legitimacy of your prospective sellers, making sure they’ve got a social networking profile and checks their phone number.  You can also require a photo-ID to verify sellers, which helps keep spam sellers to a minimum.
  • Dokan Store Support – Allow your sellers to create a support system at their own storefront, that really helps deliver a great customer experience.  It allows all the features of your front end with this add-on.
  • Dokan Subscriptions – This is another great way to reduce spam, you can opt to simply charge your sellers a subscription fee per month (or a flat commission) to sell their products on your website.  If you want to offer the best service possible with no spam, this is a wonderful option.
  • Dokan Stripe Connect – Want to pay your sellers in real-time, as sales are made?  Want to avoid handling the hassle of refund requests?  Stripe connect makes it so you can do both.  This low-fee payment gateway is legendary for their speed and reliability.
  • Dokan Ajax Live Search – This is sort of like having your very own private label Google search feature on your site, allowing buyers to use your theme’s built in seach bar to quickly narrow down the products they’d like to buy via tags and categories.
  • Seller Vacation – If your seller needs a break from raking in all that money, they can set their status to ‘On Vacation’ letting buyers know that they’re not available until the seller returns, which takes the products offline temporarily.  Pretty handy.
  • Dokan Product Enquiry – If you’d like to allow your customers to as about a product’s availability or feature set, the product enquiry tool is amazing, letting buyers connect to the seller right on the product page.  Just install it and forget it, the extension does all the heavy lifting here.
  • Dokan Simple Auctions – If you’d like you sellers to be able to create eBay style auctions, Dokan can freely integrate the WooCommerce Simple Auctions plugin to allow that, right in the seller dashboard.

And that’s not all, there are plenty more options Dokan offers buyers and sellers.

Check Out The Dokan Demo Here

Oh, hey, before I forget, you can check out the documentation and support forums to get an idea of how comprehensive they are.

Documentation Support

I’m not always that into product reviews, because the seller can really cherry pick the good ones, but I think this one sums it up.

 

Dokan is actually our 3rd plugin we invested in. We never had such good customer technical support in the past for any other plugins we bought. They usually answer questions very quickly. The solutions they offer are very precise.

Good Job Dokan Team

Alek S. JazzOle Marketplace

Okay, so let’s wrap this thing up, shall we?

In conclusion, if you want to create a multi-vendor eCommerce site, Dokan is well worth looking at.  For a fraction of the price of some of the other dedicated WordPress solutions, Dokan can offer similar, if not greater, options and extensions. There’s a reason this thing is incredibly popular, the flexibility of the extensions is a huge part of it.

I love that WooCommerce is at the center of this theme,WooCommerce has such a large market share and it’s development is consistent and strong, new features are constantly being added and the code is sharp with every update.  Sell electronic goods or set up a shop that acts like a brick and mortar mall with many products from a variety of sellers.  There are no limits to what you can do with this theme.  The integration with WooCommerce also means that your store or marketplace can sell digital or physical products without any problem. This makes Dokan a good choice for anyone who doesn’t want to be constrained by what type of products their store can handle.

Setup is very simple, since it’s a plugin for an existing theme, the templates are all there for you to use.  You can create a design that looks precisely like you want it to, fitting in with your company’s branding.  That means no matter what sort of products you and your sellers are showcasing, the website will act as a perfect frame, making them look their very best.  And since Dokan is so intuitive to use, it’s even simple for a beginner to use.  Overcoming that fear of starting out is huge, Dokan does it with style.

The reports and seller feedback section is incredibly robust, giving your sellers a very detailed view of how their hard work is paying off as they build their business.  The private dashboard is incredibly detailed and all of the relevant statistics are easily at hand for your sellers to pore over to find new, better ways to make sales and grow their business.

All in all, Dokan is a great little plugin, whether you use the Dokan theme or if you use it on your own theme, I think this one is destined to become a really great solution for a lot of people who want a powerful, full featured way to create a multi-vendor marketplace.

If you’re interested in learning more about Dokan, check it out here.

Dokan

So, there you go, all you need to know about Dokan.  Hey, let us know if you’re thinking about using Dokan for your multi-vendor project or what direction you decide to go, we’d love to hear more about it.  Also, if you find a great theme that works perfectly with Dokan, let us know, we’ll make sure it’s in our collection of the best multi vendor WordPress themes.

 

WordPress Articles

How To Improve Your WordPress Website’s Performance

If you haven’t been living on a desert island somewhere for the last fifteen years, you’ve been to a WordPress based website.  One thing that’s great about WordPress, it’s fast…or at least it can be if you play your cards right.  Sometimes, WordPress can get bloated and bogged down by some simple, common mistakes and we’re going to go over some of those mistakes to see what can be done to solve them.  Anyone that has used a WordPress website knows that it can be something that is absolutely amazing; a complete content management solution that can handle any sort of work you throw at it, at it’s completely free.  And as we know, free is a very good price.  It’s a great tool that many kinds of businesses use to express themselves, meet new people, win new customers, grow their business and expand their horizons.  That may sound a little over the top, but it’s true, WordPress is a valuable tool, which is why nearly a quarter of all websites on the internet today are powered by WordPress.  One thing for sure, WordPress is needed and many are glad this cool CMS exists.  Although it is something that is well liked by many, there has become a consensus on one particular part of WordPress… it can run really slow at times. While this can be something that you find extremely bothersome and it can be inconvenient at times, there is something that can be done about this. There are ways in which you can increase the speed at which the page loads and how quickly the work you are inputting into WordPress is being performed. But if you do not know what you can do to help the speed increase, how can it work for you? It cannot… that’s why you need to know how you can increase the speed of this remarkable site.

Generally speaking, anyone who is using a website, regardless of what the website is, expects the website page to load quickly. In most cases the expected time for a page to load is between two and three seconds. If a site has not loaded in that time, most users will leave the page… so loading time is of the essence. In most cases, if a website is having difficulty with the page taking too long to load the person visiting the site will not only leave, but they will not return back to the site; no one likes to try to deal with a site that has given them trouble. Not only do you have to deal with that person not returning to the site, but then you must think about the word getting around that problems have been had on the website; this fact alone could cause more people not to want to visit the site at all. This is not good… this means that you’re losing people that visit the site and you’re losing out on potential visitors because they will not visit the site at all. It is safe to say speed is a very essential aspect of your website and it can make a huge difference if the speed of your website is not going at a high rate like it should be. The speed of your site being slow is not good… but there is one aspect of it that is good; you know about it. Now that you know about it, you can do something about it!

Getting the speed of your site going at a faster pace is extremely important. Not just because of the reasons mentioned before, but also because you could lose out on people who have subscribed to the site and those that frequent the site to make it a success. It is important that you get the speed of your site up because it helps you with those that are visiting. When you have someone that is on your site for the very first time, if the speed is slow then you can lose their attention. The saying “first impressions are lasting impressions” does not just go for when you are meeting someone in person for the first time. The first time someone visits your website you are making a first impression on that person. You do not just want to impress them with the visual aspect of the website only… all things come into play with the impression that is made; and speed is a huge factor in this. No one wants to feel like their time has been wasted, and that includes when they are surfing the internet. Not only is the speed of your site important so you do not lose visitors; it plays a role in your site’s SEO… the slower your site is running the lower you will be ranked in search engines, and that’s never a good thing.

While your site may be running slowly, thankfully there are some things that you can do to help improve on the speed of your site. Some may think that it would be a difficult task to do, but small changes can make a huge difference, and in all honesty it’s not too hard to handle.

  • Make sure the framework is lightweight and quick. You do not need framework that is loaded down with a lot of features that you do not really need, every little bit of code helps. Too much extra will slow down the speed of your site; you want a solid framework so you can have more speed. Makes sense, right?  A good one to have that always has premium framework is Thesis Theme Framework.
  • Have all images automatically optimized. There are some free plugins that are available to handle this for you; you do not want to have to reduce the file sizes manually (it can be really time consuming). WP-SmushIt will automatically process the any image that you upload them and it will reduce the file for you. It will save you time, and you will not have to worry about your site being slow due to the fact that image sizes are too large and slowing everything down
  • Make sure you have LazyLoad added to all of your images. This is a program that will only load images that are visible the persons browser window that is visiting the website… so when you move on the website page the other images come into view and the previous images go away. This will allow speed to come to your website and it will save bandwidth because it loads less data for those that do not have to scroll all the way down the page.
  • Utilize a caching plugin that is efficient. It’s important that elements of your page are cached… if they are not then your page is probably running slow. Once you set up a program that caches your website you will see a drastic change in the load speed. It’s a easy way to make a great improvement to your website.
  • Pick a good host that is not a shared one. Using a shared host may sound like a good idea and you may feel like you’re saving because you’re getting a good deal but you’re really making it hard on your website. You’re going to cause it to be slow and no one will like that. You want your site to run fast… downtime on a site can be murder to your site.
  • Have a revision control put in place. You do not want too many post revisions stored on your website. You should have a program in place that will get rid of the drafts that have been saved to your device once the posts have been published. You do not need all the drafts that you have worked on leading up to the final published post. There are programs that you can put in that automatically delete the post once you have the published one posted to your site. When the site does not have to hold on to all of the drafts, it has less clutter within it and that will allow more speed to come to your site.
  • Make sure you do not have pingbacks and trackbacks turned on. WordPress has other sites and blogs that it interacts with; whenever any other blog mentions your site it will send a notification to your site which can slow down the speed on your site. If you turn the notifications that you will receive off then this will add in speed to your site.
  • Use a content delivery network on your website. What a content delivery network does is take the static files that you have on your site and allows those that are visiting your website download items with the highest speed that is possible for them to do so with. This happens by using having the files served on servers that are near them making sure it does not take a long time for it to download for you and so you do not have the speed of your site slowing down trying to download a lot at the same time.
  • Optimize your websites homepage to load at a quick speed. This requires you to do a few things that will make sure your homepage loads at a quick speed. This is important to have in place especially because any visitors you have will go to the homepage and it’s the most frequented page you have on your site. What you can do to make sure this happens is: show snippets of the posts on your homepage and not the full post; do not show so many posts on the homepage… have a limited number there; do not have sharing widgets on the homepage only put them in posts that you have; if you have plugins or widgets that are not needed have them removed; and keep only what is needed on the homepage, your visitors want content not a lot of extra unneeded content.

These simple steps can make a world of difference in your websites speed… try them out and see how much your speed increases!