52 – Feature a podcast in your sidebar via RSS

This week I have a great bundle of plugins to share in WordPress Tips & Tricks.

First off, if you are a podcaster and want to feature your latest podcast in a sidebar along with your iTunes artwork then Podcast Player Widget will do the job.

This week I have a great bundle of plugins to share in WordPress Tips & Tricks.

First off, if you are a podcaster and want to feature your latest podcast in a sidebar along with your iTunes artwork then Podcast Player Widget will do the job.

This is a podcast feed widget that displays the iTunes set image for the episode and uses the default WordPress audio player.

This is ideal for the sidebar of a podcaster’s website or for any WordPress site owner who wants to feature a podcast in their sidebar – WordPress Tips & Tricks would be a great edition to any website 🙂

Easy Instagram Feed

Instagram feed is a plugin to show your Instagram stories on your posts, pages or in a widget.

There’s no need to find Instagram access token, all you need do is enter the Instagram username.

The plugin is responsive and search engine crawlable. It is also customisable so you can get it to match the colours of your website.

Publishing conditions

Have you every published a post and then realised you forgot to select the category?

Publishing conditions helps make sure you don’t publish your post before all your ducks are in a row.

Out of the box it makes sure you do not publish under the Uncategorized category and forces you to add at least one tag.

Just by the by, I normally rename Uncategorised to a name I do want.

Floating Video Plugin

Put a video on your site and as people scroll the page the video disappears off the screen out of sight.

However, with the Floating Video Plugin your video remains on the screen all the time.

It works with ogg and mp4 files as well as YouTube.

This plugin creates an effect such as that seen on the websites of CNN, Daily Mail, and the new material design version of YouTube.

The video is inserted using a shortcode.

Finally….
Hello Phil

WordPress admins will have seen the Hello Dolly plugin that comes with every installation of the CMS.
If you activate it you will see a son quote from Louise Armstrong.

Now, fans of Phil Collins get their own plugin with Hello Phil which shows random lines from the song In The Air Tonight.

Create a blank page in WordPress and add new skins to the default audio player

Find out how to create a blank page in WordPress with no header, footer or sidebar, plus I look at two audio players, one that will also work for streaming audio (for internet radio stations). Learn how to create a blank page, make it into a popup window and add an audio player to it.

Every now and then you may need to create a blank page in WordPress.

I had just such an occasion last week. The issue I had to overcome was creating a popup window that would feature a streaming audio player for a radio station.

In this case, the normal Modal popup window was not suitable as I wanted the popup page to be moved anywhere on the screen and to remain if the user clicked away the station’s website altogether, and have the player working in the background.

This is not the first time I have needed to do this, and previously I had created an HTML page in Dreamweaver, added the audio player embed code and uploaded it to a folder via FTP. For the record I used AudioIgniter.

But last week two things stopped me doing what I have normally done in these situations.

1)      The owner of the site didn’t have their FTP details to hand and needed the popup window urgently
2)      We had settled on using Audio Igniter as the audio player and so needed to place its shortcode on a WordPress page for it to work.

So, I needed to create a blank WordPress page that did not feature a header, footer or widget sidebar.

At first blush this still required access to the site’s folders via FTP – to access a Page I had created, open it in  Dreamweaver and strip out all the code I did not want.

But could there be a plugin that could create the blank page I needed? I mean, the number of times anyone would need a blank page must be quite small.

Thankfully there is just such a plugin. It’s called Blank Slate  – although Blank Page would be more accurate.

The Blank Slate plugin creates a blank page so only the content of the page is displayed. Header and footer are totally empty.

You create a blank page by installing and activating the Blank Slate plugin, creating a new page and on the right hand side selecting Blank Slate under the Template option.

You can then add the content you want. With the page saved I used its URL in my popup code.

Blank Slate has 6,000 active installs and 10 five star reviews (11 now).

This is the  plugin that you never knew you needed and it works flawlessly.

This worked so well I even used it on one of my sites: www.CoolNights.co.uk.

However, you can’t create a blank page and then delete the Blank Slate plugin – if you do, your blank page will no longer be blank.

Another audio player worth a look

Another player that is working very well is mb.miniAudioPlayer.

This plug-in let you transform any MP3 file uploaded inside a post / page into a  small HTML5 audio player with volume control, seeking control, title bar, rewind button, mute button and play button (of course).

See an example at www.SteveHart.co.uk

Highly recommended.

Here is the code I use to create a popup window (Ignore square brackets [ ] )

[ <a href=”javascript:void(0)” onclick=”window.open(‘https://www.YOUR POP UP PAGE .html’, ‘newWin’,’width=500,height=240′)”><img src=”https://YOUR IMAGE URL .png” alt=”pop up window” width=”200″ height=”84″ class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-160″></a> ]

Adjust width and height sizes to your liking.

 

Let’s speed up your WordPress website

This week I am looking at ways in which you can serve up your WordPress website faster to your viewers. It involves basic house-keeping, optimization and two plugins that I talk you through how to use.

This week I am looking at ways in which you can serve up your WordPress website faster to your viewers.

But there is a warning first;  there is an element of risk when adding any plugin to a website, so while you should always act with caution – by backing up your website and database at regular intervals and just prior to adding a plugin – it is especially important when adding plugins that can modify your WordPress database (which we will be covering in this podcast).

So tread carefully and review any plugin you want to install before pressing the button. Ideally  you have a test WordPress website that you can play with so you don’t risk pulling down your live site.

Now, every time someone visits your website a ton of work goes on in the background to send your website pages, posts, words, photos and layout instructions to the viewers’ screen.

This operation can suck up a lot of  processing resources and can mean a lot of data is sent across the web – every time a person visits your site.

Processing time can be sluggish due to the number of plugins  you have installed, as well as the file sizes of any images, audio and videos embedded on your  site.  And given people won’t wait 5 seconds for a website to load  the need for speed is imperative.

If you have never given this any thought before you can start by asking a friend who doesn’t normally visit your site to take a look to see if it loads fast for them. Remember that the vast majority of people use their phones to look at websites today.

You can also use any one of a number of page load speed test sites  such as the one run by Google (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/)

Enter your website’s URL and see how fast your site loads. Hopefully you’ll get a pass mark. If not, read on (or play the podcast).

There are some basic things you can do to speed up your site, among them is to ensure any images on your site are optimized for web delivery – that means the file sizes need to be as small as possible, and the images themselves not one pixel larger than you need them to be.

These images include your site’s logo, header image and all the photos. If any images are larger than a few hundred kilobytes, then they are likely too large.

Plenty of imaging apps have web export features that you should be using, but Smush Image Compression and Optimization may be worth a whirl [https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/ ]. Take it from me, nearly every website I visit has images that are far larger than they need to be, and this is down to user error, and the loader not spending time optimizing their images for web delivery.

If you have audio files look to see if they can be made smaller. This can be done by making them mono (halving the size of an MP3), the bit rate for speech files should be 80k – 96k and if they feature lots of music use 128k stereo. Do the same for video – optimize, optimize, optimize.

With your site and its contents as teeny weeny as can be, your next stop is your WordPress database.

WP Optimise [ https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-optimize/ ] – there’s that word again –  is one of a number of plugins that will remove a lot (all?)  of unnecessary data from a bloated  database. This not only speeds up your site, but will likely reduce the amount of space your database requires on your server – which may or may not be an issue for you.

If you have just installed your WordPress site there may not be much fat to trim, but if it’s older than a few months then you may have built up some database flab that can be deleted.

You might also want to contact your hosting company to ensure it has optimized its servers with technology such as GZip Compression. My host had not activated this following my site’s transfer to newer servers it had installed.

Next we come to site caching. Caching involves a plugin making static HTML versions of your pages and posts and delivering these lightweight versions to you site’s visitors.

There  are dozens of web cache plugins around, and like database plugins, they need to be installed with caution and configured only after you understand what you are doing – read the instructions and tread carefully.

Cache Enabler [ https://wordpress.org/plugins/cache-enabler/ ]  is one option for you and WP Super Cache [https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-super-cache/ ] is monster cache plugin with more than 1 million active installations.

Listen to the podcast for a step-by-step guide to using two of the plugins mentioned.

OK, that’s it for this week’s WordPress Tips & Tricks podcast. Next week……

Please do share the podcast among friends and colleagues across social media and give us 5 stars on iTunes.

If you have any recommendations on plugins or ideas to speed up websites, then do share.

Minimal maintenance page and a sidebar for Twenty Seventeen

This week, three new WordPress plugins to provide a sidebar for the Twenty Seventeen theme, a light-weight maintenance page plugin and Buttonizer – a cool call to action button.



WordPress Tips and Tricks

Looking for a quick way to have a maintenance page?

Easy Minimal Maintenance is an easy way to display a maintenance page while editing or building your site.

You can easily enable/disable, change header colour and text and you can use your own template (if you are so inclined).

Light and easy to use, this plugin will ad a holding page to your site while you beaver away in the background.

Want a front page sidebar in Twenty Seventeen?

The Twenty Seventeen theme is really awesome, but unfortunately it has no way to display a sidebar on pages.

This tiny plugin will add the Blog Sidebar to all the pages, including the front page. You don’t have to touch a single line of code, and it works for Twenty Seventeen child themes too.

For best results; Install, activate, then go to Customize > Theme Options and set Page Layout to One Column.

If you want your page sidebar to differ from your post sidebar, try Content Aware Sidebars . This plugin will let you show and hide widget areas based on a wide range of conditions you select – giving you complete control over your sidebar.

Content Aware Sidebars even allows you to combine conditions. This means that you can display a custom sidebar on all posts in Category X written by author Y. You could feature the author’s photo and short bio.

Buttonizer

From making a simple call to action button, to a navigation button to open Facebook messenger, Buttonizer is a new way to give add a little panache to your WordPress site.

With the Buttonizer it’s possible to add buttons to a select number of pages with “page rules”, decide for each button if it shows on mobile and/or desktop, style your button with your own icons & colors, add social sharing buttons, Show the button on opening hours and make use of many more rules.

And the beauty of all: All actions are hidden in one button. The moment a visitor clicks on your Floating Action Button it will pop all specific buttons you’ve set for that page. Track each single button in Google Analytics so you can see which actions your visitors prefer.

Podcasting book!

My book Podcasting Made Easy is due for release 30 September 2017. This book is for people who have no experience in broadcasting or podcasting and who want a step by step guide to hosting their own podcast without spending a penny more than you need.