How to use forms to gather information on WordPress

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People have paid me good money to do exactly what I’m about to show you how to do … for free. Of course if you don’t have time you can still pay me money – or if you want it done right. Just kidding, I’m sure all of the readers here are highly skilled (tech savvy they call it in the real estate biz) and fully capable of doing it on you own. Seriously.

It’s not rocket science!

If you have WordPress you can do this yourself in just about 8 to 10 minutes after watching the video. There is a slight learning curve but it’s really just about as simple as creating your first Word document was. The plugin we are going to be looking at can be installed through your Dashboard and is called Contact Forms 7.

There is also an extension to Contact Forms 7 we are going to use called Contact Form 7 to Database. Go ahead and install both of those before watching the short video and you will be up and flying in no time. And, as always, if you can’t or don’t want to do it yourself, hire me!

There are several ways to accomplish everything I show you how to do here so if you want to recommend another for the readers please feel free.

How to exclude yourself from Google analytics

When you have a website that is receiving only a couple of hundred “visits” per day and you account for 20 of those you are going to greatly skew your Google analytics results. Excluding yourself from being counted in the stats is really quite simple and can be easily accomplished by using the filter tool inside your Google analytics account.

The following video will show you how to easily exclude your own visits from your Google analytics.

The problem with not excluding your own activity from your Google analytics results is that if you account for 10% or even more of your site traffic, and many of you do, your results are going to be in error by 10% or more. It will affect your time on site, pages viewed, bounce rate, and other statistics as well.

You can accomplish this task in less than 4 minutes even if you have never done it before. Once you create your new filter it can easily be applied to all of your sites linked with that same account.

How to create a clickable image map online

You may never find a need for a clickable image map. In case you don’t know what they are I would discribe them thus: a single image with multiple URL links defined by areas created by establishing regions of co-ordinates within the image and assigning a URL value to each of them. Or in more plain English, “an image that has a bunch of links to a bunch of different pages”.

Image maps have been around for a long time. In fact they pre-date the web. For HTML purposes, however, they are just as old as the web. Uses for them vary so we’ll simply discuss why I chose to use one today and let you come along for the ride in the video.

I wanted a banner for http://socialmediaedge.com/itunes-frame.php to allow the creation of links to all of the regular contributor’s sites. Instead of having┬ámultiple┬ásingle images I simply wanted one image with multiple links. While there are many ways of accomplishing this task there is one way, for sure, that requires no downloads or special skills and has an extremely small learning curve.

I apologize for the audio and video getting a little out of sync near the end. I just didn’t have time to re-record the video. It’s not too terribly bad but it’s annoying to me since I made it!

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

For the purpose of this tutorial I selected “Blue” and “Right Sidebar” from the check boxes and you can see part of the results which were returned to me [Figure D].

Figure D - Theme Search Results

I like the one called “Pool”. Before installing it I can see a “Preview” by clicking the word “Preview”. This will open a preview so you can see what it would look like full screen. After that simply click on the word “Install”. The newest versions of WordPress (we are at 3.0.5 right now) will present you another option to “Install Now” or “Cancel”. Hopefully you do not need an explanation of those. Keep in mind you are only installing at this point and you will still need to activate the new theme in a coming step. Click “Install Now” and the theme will install into your WordPress theme directory [Figure E].

Figure E - New Theme Installed

Now that your new them is installed you can choose to Preview, Activate or Return to Theme Installer. You would return to the installer if you wanted to download another theme. You may download as many as you like without worrying about them interfering with one another. Only the active theme interacts with the WordPress core. When you click on the “Activate” link the theme will be activated and visitors will see your WordPress installation with the new theme installed and all of your content in place. The Admin Panel will tell you the new theme has been activated, show you the thumbnail and the description [Figure F]. Below that you will see all of the available themes on your installation.

Figure F - Newly installed theme

Now you can view your WordPress site with the new theme installed but you may have a couple more steps. Your sidebar may need to be reset to the way you like it. Chances are if you did not know how to install a theme you did not know how to organize your sidebar using the widgets panel so the default setting may be just fine for you. If not, search for a “How to Organize the Sidebar Widgets in WordPress”.