Twitter updates for your sidebar

Twitter_IconHi there,

A bit of bad news, but a lot of good news when it comes to Twitter.

As you know, widgets are only as good as the developer that updates it and one of our widgets “Latest Twitter Sidebar Widget” is no longer functioning and the developer will not be updating the plug-in due to Twitter’s new API.  I will be removing it from the list of available plug-ins.

WordPress - Extra Sidebar Widget

 

Onto the good news!! We were using that widget because at the time when I installed it, WordPress did not offer a way to show your feed from the dashboard.  Jetpack, in one of its later releases, did just that and you will find in the Jetpack menu the following option for Extra Sidebar Widgets

 

With this widget you can add:

The RSS Links Widget lets you easily add post and comment RSS feeds to a sidebar on your theme.

The Twitter Widget shows your latest tweets within a sidebar on your theme.

The Facebook Like Box Widget shows your Facebook Like Box within a sidebar on your theme.

The Image Widget lets you easily add images to a sidebar on your theme.

Each of these widgets has a number of customization options. To use the widgets, go to Appearance → Widgets. Drag them into one of your sidebars and configure away.

As always, feel free to contact me if you need any help.

Easy Contact Form

I wanted to highlight the option built right in to your new posts and pages to create a very easy contact form.  This can come in really handy if you are looking for feedback, requesting basic information, or want to give your readers an option to contact you directly through your blog.

I used this form creator on the FIT Bloggers blog and is labeled in the menu as Have an Idea For This Site? In my example, I placed the form on a static page, however, this could be done in an individual post as well.

How to create a contact form directly in your post or page:

  • Type in your introduction to the form or any verbiage that should precede the form
  • Place your cursor where on your post or page you would like the form to start
  • Click on the “Add Custom Form” button just above your formatting toolbar (see screenshot)

WordPress - Custom Form Button

  • A new window will pop open and on the first tab “Form Builder” where you can decide what your form will look like. When you click on each field, such as “Name” two options will appear to either “move” or “edit”

WordPress - Edit Custom Form Field

  • The “move” feature allows you to drag and drop and fields into the specific order that you would like them to appear in.  ”Edit” will let you change the label name, choose the type of field information you are collecting, and also to decide if the information you are collecting for that particular field is required or not.  (In my example, I changed the email field to read “FIT Email Address” and also changed the website field to read “Name of FIT Blog”.
  • Remember to click “Save This Field” for each line you change.
  • You can also choose to use the option at the bottom of the form to create your own fields.
  • The second tab at the top of the form builder, called “Email Notification” allows you to decide who will receive the notification of a new comment.  This should be the Administrator of the FIT blog, or an author on the blog that you trust to check their FIT email accounts.  (General comments on the blog are all sent by default to the blog administrator).
  • If you made any changes, click “Save and go back to form builder.”
  • If happy with your form click on the blue button “Add this form to my post”
  • You see a bunch of new code on your page that will look like the below. You do not need to fo anything else other than adding any additional text below the new code if needed.

WordPress - Contact Form Code

There are more complex form building plug-ins for WordPress, and please contact the Technology Development Team (TDT) if you would like to explore other options.

 

Enable Blog Comments through Facebook or Twitter

Social Media CommentsIntegrate social media login options for your blog’s comments:

If you haven’t had the chance to review all of the recent changes in the Jetpack menu, I wanted to make you aware of an option called “Jetpack Comments.”  By default  all FIT blogs are enabled to use a spam filter requiring all commenters to fill out their name and email address before a comment can be submitted for approval.  And in most cases, an administrator must always approve the comment before it goes live.

Jetpack Comments allows the commenter to use their Twitter, Facebook, or WordPress account if they have one to automatically log in.  Once you activate Jetpack Comments through the Jetpack menu additional options will appear under Settings > Discussion at the bottom of the page allowing you to choose a greeting text and a color scheme.

 

Jetpack in your dashboard

wordpress-jetpackSo what’s the deal with having “Jetpack” in your dashboard other than knowing that is where you go to find your blog stats now?

Well, there is a lot of functionality there that you can take advantage of.  An extra tool box of goodies, if you will.  I will be taking a look at a few of its features in upcoming posts because the list of features is pretty long. Taken from the plug-in summary page, here is a list of those features:

  • Simple, concise stats with no additional load on your server. Previously provided byWordPress.com Stats.
  • Email subscriptions for your blog’s posts and your post’s comments.
  • Social networking enabled comment system.
  • Simple, Akismet-backed contact forms.
  • The WP.me URL shortener.
  • Hovercard popups for your commenters via Gravatar.
  • Easily embedded media from popular sites like YouTube, Digg, and Vimeo.
  • For the Math geeks, a simple way to include beautiful mathematical expressions on your site.
  • A widget for displaying recent tweets. Previously provided by Wickett Twitter Widget
  • Your readers can easily share your posts via email or their favorite social networks. Previously provided by the Sharedaddy WordPress plugin.
  • Your writing will improve thanks to After the Deadline, an artificial intelligence based spell, style, and grammar checker. Previously provided by the After the DeadlineWordPress plugin.
  • With Carousel active, any standard WordPress galleries you have embedded in posts or pages will launch a gorgeous full-screen photo browsing experience with comments and EXIF metadata.
  • A CSS editor that lets you customize your site design without modifying your theme.
  • A mobile theme that automatically streamlines your site for visitors on mobile devices.
  • Mobile push notifications for new comments via WordPress mobile apps.
  • and many more to come!

I would love to hear how you are using any of these features and please feel free to comment on what you think about this new functionality.  Is it too much?  Not enough? Too Confusing or overwhelming?