Monthly Archives: February 2011

Contact Form 7 for WordPress Tutorial

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There are a few “forms” plugins available for WordPress. This short tutorial is on one of my favorite, Contact Form 7, and the database plugin which extends it.

Contact Form 7 may be downloaded from the administration plugin panel or from the WordPress library. The database extension for Contact Form 7 may be downloaded from the WordPress plugin library as well.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn3KrUDDmwQ

Finally! WordPress 3.1 is here

We’ve been playing with it. As developers we’ve checked our themes, plugins and widgets. We’ve talked about it in the WP develoepr community. We’ve seen things we really liked and saluted. We’ve seen things we didn’t like and submitted them for changes … and finally, after months of hard effort – WordPress 3.1 is live!

wordpress 3.1 releasedWhat does this mean for you?

If you host on the free WordPress.com site it means you’ll see a few new features like I wrote about at WordPress 3.1 – Developers get ready. That’s really about it.

Email abuse! How do you manage your inbox?

No, I did not see your email

A few weeks ago I received an important email from a connection of mine. They had asked me to contact a prospect, a small business needing a website that “does stuff”. The email message included the important note that the owners were anxious, had already done some shopping and had their budget ready and available.

It was the developer’s dream. They had graphics, had cash, were ready to add their own content, and needed it all in a reasonable time period for the person who could start by the beginning of February. I missed the message.

Had the man told me he won the lottery and was handing out $1000 bills I still would have missed the message. Why? Every day, at least two or three times a day, he forwards a funny picture, a joke, a sappy story, a slideshow, a link to a YouTube video, or something else he finds interesting to a list of about 80 people. How do I know? Because he never BCCs, he just sends.
email inbox management
I stopped reading his emails months ago not because there is never anything of value in them but because I, like many of you, receive somewhere upwards of 1,500 emails every day. Of course my entire life is spent “online” because that is where I work, quite literally, since I manage several WordPress sites, a few social media accounts and a handful of online referral banks for my company and some private clients. This means my emails are crucial.

So what to do about it?

WordPress – the website you can update yourself

Repeat after me, “WordPress is NOT a blog!”

Back between 1995 and about 2000 one of the most costly website jobs to program was a dynamic and interactive website the user could update and maintain on their own. During that period I was able to create some pretty amazing sites, or extensions to sites, for companies like Loomis&Fargo, Shari’s Restaurants, SiGARMS, CrossGeneration Comics, The American Outdoorsman, and many more. Honestly my team and I worked quite diligently to create those sites, mostly eCommerce solutions, to allow the company’s webmasters to update and make minimal changes to the site.

If WordPress had existed back then instead of a few thousand dollars for each site the companies could have had a much more powerful solution for a few hundred or at the most a couple thousand. They also could have been online in hours instead of weeks. So when you try to comprehend what WordPress is just think of a website you can update yourself by adding pages, images, videos, calendars, mailing lists, appointment scheduling, online stores … so much more.

How to Change Themes in WordPress

Making your entire website look completely different has never been easier. Unless, of course, you have hire me to do so for you. Here is the 1-2-3 look at changing themes in your WordPress website. This applies to either WordPress.com or WordPress.org (self-hosted) sites and uses the Themes link inside of the Administrator’s Control Panel (Admin Panel).

Log in to your WordPress Admin Panel (it will be found at http://yourwebsite.tld/wp-login.php or straight to http://yourwebsite.tld/wp-admin/) [Figure A]

Figure A - WordPress Login

Once logged in to your Admin Panel look in the left tool bar for “Appearance”. If it does not look like the image [Figure B] click on the word “Appearance” to activate the script to open the submenu. Then click on the word “Themes” in the submenu. [Figure B]

Figure B - Themes Access

When the screen loads you will see two tabs. One says “Manage Themes” and the other “Install Themes”. Click on “Install Themes” [Figure C]. Now you can search by typing in key words, the author’s name or tags the author used when uploading to the Themes directory. You can also use the check boxes to make selections. The more terms and boxes you choose the less likely you are to get a result. When the search engine sees check boxes it looks for a theme that matches all of the check boxes you have ticked. Check one color, a theme layout preference and click submit.

Figure C - Select a Theme

WordPress Hotfix plugin may be just the ticket

It happens. WordPress is updated then some other crucial component outside of WP is updated and WP “breaks”. In fact it happened with 3.0.5 just the other day.

Andrew Nacin addressed this issue in a developer group release just last night: “WordPress 3.0.5 was released at the same time as jQuery 1.5. Unfortunately, 1.5 has some backwards incompatible changes that appears to break a number of areas in the admin. The timing is awkward and it looks like it was us. It wasn’t.”

Even prior to this announcement Nacin had addressed issues to 3.0.5 in an update to the Akismet install but not everyone runs Akismet on every installation. So thanks to the quick thinking of Mark Jaquith for putting together a plugin called Hotfix which can be used to address corrections between version and minor version releases.

Brand Tightening – Online strategy for local business

Let’s face it. A real estate agent in Omaha does not, generally, benefit their business by getting hits from around the world – or nation for that matter. Likewise Montgomery County Plumbing and Electrical probably doesn’t care too much about hits from Fairbanks or Denmark. The question arises, however, “what does it hurt to have hits from around the world to my local site?”

Take off your hat that says it’s cool to have a lot of visitors and think like a robot. Well, actually, think like an indexing engine like the one at Google. Remember, no matter what you learn about SEO or who is talking to you about SEO all of the indexing is performed by a program. That program evaluates every link based on a few key components which include content, relevance to the search term, number of inbound links, number of outbound links, what sites the inbound links come from, and how relevant the inbound link is (which reminds me to write a post about themed links and bounce rates).

SEO exampleOne factor even some SEM and SEO “professionals” fail to consider is geographic relevance of the address on the website to the searchers geolocation and the geographic relevance of the sites linking to the target site … your site. In other words is your site close to the searcher, at least as close as the search engine can determine, and are the sites you link to and which link to you also in the general vicinity of the searcher?

What can you do with WordPress?

Repeat after me, “WordPress is not a blog.” WordPress can be used as a blog because it’s just that powerful. It can also be used as a user community, an online store, a matchmaking service, an inventory control system, a static website (old school), a photo album community, a real estate site, an auction site … seriously.

WordPress is a Content Management System. If you can send an email you can run one of the most robust websites available.

What is WordPress?

This is a question most WordPress developers, hosts and pundits usually skip past. When moving WP into a new market, like real estate agents and small business people, it is a question which must me answered and really should be presented with “Why You Need A WordPress Site”.

WordPress is, for all practical purposes, a web based application which allows anyone who can type and send an email with an attachment to run a robust website.

WordPress for Real Estate

Don’t get ripped off. Don’t pay hundreds of dollars for what is only worth maybe $300 at max.

First question from most people’s mouth: do you have any sites you can show me?

WooThemes - WordPress themes for everyoneHere’s the thing – it’s WordPress. The theme is the site.  You pick your look. Click on the link to the right and choose from hundreds of looks. (Don’t let the word “membership” confuse you. Call me if it does 877-700-0536) Or you can give me $1500-$2000 and I will choose for you. (That’s a joke that many people fall for – by getting burned paying for someone to install one of these themes for that price.)

ANYBODY CAN INSTALL A THEME. If you are paying someone to install a theme it should not be more than about $35. Even to customize a theme’s looks you should not pay more than about $150 including the creation of a custom header/banner image for most cases.