What is a Plugin?

A plugin is a package of software/code that gives you the opportunity to add new features.  The plugin extends the function to your website beyond the base core code of WordPress.  The base WordPress code is designed to be lightweight and avoid code bloat.  Rather than a one-size-fits all solution that adds lots of code you do not need, use WordPress core code and then customize your website’s function through plugins.  This allows you to have the functionality you want your website to offer, such as a slideshow, photo gallery or a contact form without a lot of unnecessary bloat to slow your site down.

What is a Plugin?

Written in the programming language PHP, plugins work with WordPress code.   They often have other assets such as images and may incorporate other coding languages.  Using them allows you to increase your website features without needing to write code on your own.  You can use free or paid/premium plugins through the WordPress repository or other online resources.  Be careful where you get your plugin so that you can be sure it helps rather than hurts your site with unwanted malicious code.

Where to Find a Plugin?

WordPress offers a repository of plugins that are vetted by WordPress core developers.  At this writing, there are 51,937 plugins in the repository.

So, Where Do You Start?

Well, decide what feature you want to add to your site.  Is it a slideshow or a contact form?  Use the search feature provided in the repository to narrow down the results.  Looking up slideshow left me with 71 pages of plugins to chose from.  Don’t despair if you get this many results back.  Here are some things to think about before making your choice:

  • Has the plugin been tested with the most current version of WordPress?  Not sure?  Check this link to find out the current version off WordPress.
    • As of this writing, WordPress is at version 4.8.1.  If you are looking at a plugin that was tested with WordPress 2.5, it’s probably not going to be as stable with the current code as you’d like it to be.
    • Developers that are keeping up-to-date with the WordPress core code are more likely to be maintaining their plugins, making them safer and more reliable to use.
  • How many active installs?
    • Each plugin tells you how many installs are active on websites.  Some will have a few hundred, few thousand, hundred thousand, or a million or more.  The numbers are rounded:
      • 30+ active installs
      • 50,000+ active installs
      • 700,000+ active installs
  • What kind of reviews and how many?
    • A plugin with 4 stars and 1,952 reviews v. a plugin with 5 stars and 3 reviews.  Read the reviews.
  • Support
    • While on the plugin repository, pick a plugin and then click the support tab.  Has the developer answered the questions?

Still not sure?  See if WP Beginner or another, similar, site has any reviews before you decide.

 

User Roles

WordPress uses a concept of User Roles, designed to give the site owner the ability to control what users can and cannot do within the site. A site owner can manage the user access to such tasks as writing and editing posts, creating Pages, defining links, creating categories, moderating comments, managing plugins, managing themes, and managing other users, by assigning a specific role to each of the users.  https://codex.wordpress.org/Roles_and_Capabilities

WordPress comes with six roles with varying capabilities:

  • Super Admin – gives access to the site network administration and all features
  • Administrator – gives access to the administration features within a single site
  • Editor – gives the ability to publish and manage posts, including posts of other users
  • Author – gives the ability to publish and manage their own posts
  • Contributor – gives the ability to write and manage posts but cannot publish
  • Subscriber – gives the ability to manage their own profile

Creating a New User

Creating a new user role in WordPress.

To add a new user, navigate to Users in the left hand sidebar of the dashboard.  When you click on Users in the menu, a carrot will appear on the right of the menu bar and the Users option will drop down revealing three options:  All Users, Add New and Your Profile.

As with creating pages, posts or adding another image to your Medial Library, simply click on the Add New link under Users to create a new user.

 

Image showing the form fields for adding a new user.

After you click on that Add New link, you’ll be brought to a page called Add New User.  Here you will have the opportunity to input:

  • Username, which is required
  • Email address, also required
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Website
  • Password – WordPress will generate one for you – just click on the Show Password to see and copy the password.  Remember to save this somewhere safe!
  • Role – here is where you choose the new user’s role.  The system automatically defaults to the subscriber role.  If you want to grant someone  more privileges than that, click on the caret and select a different role for your new user.

You also get the option to send the new user an email notification about their new role in your WordPress website.

Once you’ve completed all the form fields, click on the Add New User button to complete the process and make the new user an official part of your website.  Added bonus:  as an administrator, you’ll also get an email from WordPress letting you know a New User has been registered.  A great way to keep track if you have multiple administrators.

Changing a User Role

If sometime in the future you’d like to change a user’s role, here is what you can do (assuming you have the administrative privileges of an admin user):

  • Navigate to Users >> All Users
  • Hover over the User you want to change.  Below their username an Edit link will pop up
  • This will bring you to the Edit User ___________ page
  • In the name section, immediately below the username is the Role option with a drop down list.  Change the role and scroll to the bottom of the page to Update User.

 

Adding Links to Widgets

How Do I Make A Link Inside The Text Widget?

We’re faced with the same issue as the last question, there are no text editing tools inside the Widget area.  We’ll have to use HTML code to create a link for the visitor to click.  Before creating the link, make sure you have the URL of where you want to link to.

The HTML code we are going to use is <a href=”www.coolexample.com”>Text You Want Linked</a>

To break this down, the anchor tag

<a

tells the browser hey, this is the beginning of a link.  The

href=

tells the browser where the link will take a visitor.  Remember to tell the browser to shift gears by adding a closing bracket > after the link and quotes.

The text between the anchor tags, Text You Want Linked, will be the link your visitor sees.   And finally, you need to tell the browser to end the link with a closing anchor tag.

</a>

While this may look complicated, as an example, we could create a link to Google.

Look up movie quotes on <a href=”https://www.google.com/”>Google</a>.

Will give you:

Look up movie quotes on Google.

 

What is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme, or template, is a collection of files that work together to create the layout and design, ie your sidebars, font styles and colors.  The Theme may give images a border or change the font style for a caption on an image.  Your theme changes how your website looks without changing any of the core WordPress code (that is the heart of your website) or any of the information contained within your website.

Where do you get a WordPress Theme?

You can get WordPress themes from the WordPress Theme Directory.  These themes have been inspected and checked for compliance with the WordPress core code.  They are free for downloading.  The directory allows you to search by popular themes and latest themes.  You can also search by layout, features and subject with the feature filter.

WordPress Theme directory.

How do I download a WordPress Theme?

You can download a theme into your own theme directory using the Add New Themes option in the Appearance sub-menu.

  1. Add new WordPress theme.Log into your WordPress dashboard/admin panel
  2. Select Appearance from the left side menu
  3. In the menu that pops up, select Themes
  4. Select Add New
  5. You are now looking at the WordPress theme directory.  Use the search or filter options to find the Theme you want to use
  6. Click the Preview link to preview the Theme’s features or Install Now to upload the theme to your Theme Directory

If you have downloaded a Theme to your computer, you can use the Upload link in the top row to upload a zipped copy of the Theme you want to use.  This will upload the Theme into your directory.

Learn more about Themes at the WordPress Codex.

Ok, you have a Theme, how do you start using it?

  1. WordPress Theme Details, Activate and Live Preview.Log into your WordPress dashboard
  2. From the left sidebar menu, select Appearance then select Themes
  3. From the Themes panel, hover over the Theme thumbnail image for the Theme you want to use.  You can learn more information about the theme by clicking Theme Details.
  4. Continue hovering over the thumbnail to:
    1. Click the Live Preview link to see a live preview of your Theme, using your website content or
    2. Click the Activate button to active the Theme you want to use.

Your Theme selection will become active immediately.

Note:  If the Theme preview is blank, do not activate the new Theme without looking into this issue.  There could be a problem with the Theme’s code and your website may not display properly.

HTTP Error and WordPress

Have you ever receive the incredibly unhelpful HTTP Error while trying to upload an image to your WordPress media library?  If you have and called tech support, was the issue easily solved?

I purchased a new compuHTTP Error and WordPress.ter and imported my browser settings into Chrome.  While working on a new WordPress website, I found the staging site I just created incredibly slow. Then I started getting HTTP Errors when uploading an image no matter the size, .jpg or .png.  Calls to tech support over several days did not resolve the issue, though support truly tried.

During this process I sent an email to my IT specialist at API Technology and he suggested I make the webhost’s website a Trusted Site with Chrome.  I did make this webhost a trusted site and the issue was resolved.  I thought I’d post the info here in case it is helpful to someone else.

Creating a Trusted Site in Chrome

If you need to create a Trusted Site in Chrome, here are the steps:

  1. Click the Chrome Menu icon on the far right of the Address bar (icon of three short horizontal lines).
  2. Click on Settings, scroll to the bottom and click the Show Advanced Settings link.
  3. Click on Change proxy settings (under Network)
  4. Click the Security tab > Trusted Sites icon, then click Sites.
  5. Enter the URL of your Trusted Site, then click Add.
  6. Click Close > OK.

I hope you never come across the HTTP error, but if you do, I hope this helps you out!