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.

 

Hidden Font Options

Depending on the theme that you are using for your blog you will have different options on how you can (or can’t in some instances) manipulate the fonts in your posts.  If you are using the original FIT template and a few of the others there is a button in the tool bar when composing a new post called the “kitchen sink.”  And clicking it will either hide or reveal the kitchen sink of font options available such as font color, pasting text directly from MS Word, removing formatting, custom characters, and more.

Below is a screenshot of the kitchen sink button for reference.

Kitchen Sink Button

Automatically Post to Twitter, Facebook and More

In the past you had to jump through some hoops to get your posts sent directly to your affiliated Facebook or Twitter accounts.  Well, not anymore.  Jetpack was upgraded today to version 2.0 which includes a very powerful sharing tool that allows you to choose what social networks you want your information to post to automatically for you.  You also have the ability to choose by each post which networks to activate/deactivate.

Click on Jetpack in the left-hand navigation, and from the Jetpack menu find the option for “Publicize” and then click on “Configure.”  Connect your account one by one for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumbler, or Yahoo.  If you are already logged into any of these networks, it should pick up the account right away.  Just be wary of what account you are signed into if you have more than one. Also be sure to save the setting changes at the bottom of the page.


After linking your networks you will now see a difference when you go to publish a new post.  You will have a few new options.

 

Publicize on WordPress

Just above the “Publish” button, all of your linked accounts will appear by default.  If you would like to disable one or more of your networks for a single post then choose “edit” to customize which networks to send to as well as the customized message sent.

Easy right?

 

Changing your “by-line” name in your posts

Do you have a nickname you prefer to go by? Or do you want just your first name to show when you post? No sweat.

Click on your name on the upper-right corner of the page from the dashboard to edit your profile and you will see that about half way down your profile there are a few options for you to play with on how your name will show.

If you have a nickname fill that in the “nickname” text box and then when you click the drop down menu next to “Display name publicly as” option, select the name that you want and be sure to save your changes.

WordPress - Edit Profile

WordPress - Change your screen name

Need a Proofreader?

eyeglassesI recently stumbled upon this proofreading option within the profile options in WordPress.  I tend to write a post when the moment strikes and even though my computer’s OS picks up on most typos, I am loving the build in option to proofread a post before publishing.

To activate the option hover over your name on the upper right corner of the window and select “Edit My Profile.”

WordPress -Edit Profile

Locate the section for Proofreading and make a selection of having your post proofread before you publish a post and/or when you update a post.

WordPress Proofread Option

I tried it out on my last post and after I clicked “Publish” a window popped up asking if I wanted to review the spelling/grammar errors found.  All of the items in question were underlined in red and very easy to find.

 

Disabling Comments on a Static Page

commentWith our recent theme additions, you may have noticed that not all themes are created equal when it comes to functionality and options.  A question that I have been getting is:

How can I turn off comments for a static page?

This option used to appear on the post page while you were writing/editing.  Most of the new themes do not have this option.  Not to fret.  There is a way to enable/disable comments.  From the navigation menu, click on “Pages” to give the list of your current (or draft) pages for your blog.  Hover over the page that you would like to first work with until the quick edit menu appears.  Click on “Quick Edit.”WordPress Quick Edit MenuThen locate the checkbox to enable/disable comments on the page.

WordPress Allow Comments

That’s it!

The quick edit menu has other features that may be useful to you such as a fast way to change a post title or author.

 

Simplify Your Blogging Workspace

WordPress has so many options that every once in a while I wish I could just simplify things a bit.  Well, this post form WordPress can help.  By accessing your “Screen Options” you have the ability to choose what options show on your post pages.

See the instructions on this WordPress Post.

Happy Wednesday.

Page not loading? Delete your cache

I have noticed that there are times in WordPress where one particular page will not load, especially the “new post” page.  This can sometimes be fixed by simply deleting your cache within WordPress.  Always try to refresh your browser page first, but if that doesn’t work, sometimes we need to take it to the next level.

Every time you access a page, your browser will store a copy of the items needed to display that page to you.  This is usually a good thing becuase it means that the pages you browse more commonly will load faster the next time you visit.  Where this can be a problem is if the page is not loading properly because the cache is storing older supporting files and the page can no longer run.

Right within WordPress, there is a new Delete Cache feature located on the toolbar at the top of any WordPress window.

Delete Cache

If you find you are stuck or a page is not loading correctly, this could just do the trick.

 

Adding Special Characters

You are typing along and realize that you need to add a trademark  ™ character to your post, or maybe a copyright  ©  character to a brand, or may be you are writing about the FIT Bloggers blog and you want to say how much you ♥ WordPress.  How do you do it?

Symbols Pod

When you are adding a new post, notice on the lower right side of the window there is a new option for HTML Special Characters.  Instead of trying to figure out keyboard shortcuts, or the HTML code for a symbol, follow these easy directions.

By default, you will only see a small preview of available characters.  Click on the “See More” link at the bottom of the HTML Special Characters window to expand the options.

Place your cursor in your post where you would like to insert the character

Click the character in the HTML Special Character window.

Done! You should now see your special character in your post.