Web Design Huntington – WordPress – Website – Huntington Nursery & Florist

In this screencast we’re going to show you a website we’ve built for a Huntington nursery and florists this was a website we built in WordPress and we set up social automation so when they blog and they use the special hashtag that we set up for them social it’ll go ahead and generate it send it all across the web.

And when people click it when it would go to Facebook Twitter what not Google+ it would actually bring them back home to the website so really good use of social automation as you see here it’s a beautiful website that kind of mimics the the feel of a nursery and a.

Array of different products and and so forth their team our team page is you know it’s got a slide as well we took the pictures of inside and out of the facility we went and took their team pictures got the profile information from each of them and you know like for instance Wayne he’s been there since 1969 you know there’s anything about the nursery of business and floral business he doesn’t know.

You’ve got your phone number right at the.

Top for a quick call to action somebody touches that under our telephone mobile phone it just goes right to it here’s their products page once again took these pictures put a slide there for them in one of the slides it’s a little slower than if you know.

You didn’t have a slide but in this particular case we wanted to really give a great job of displaying that nursery and it’s just so beautiful and I thought we thought the.

Slide would do it well and you get there can view more of their their garden for instance there now the florist section of the site beautiful vibrant pictures inside this slide that just really give a good.

Example of what kind of quality products they offer HR working hours and and once again call to actions throughout the whole site and that is one of those they.

Call the parallax feature and we’ll.

Scroll to the top here we’ve got the landscape section when you hover.

Over it’s got a real nice effect as it.

Drops down and predominantly all the landscaping services look like this so we’ll go ahead and go to the the next section which is the bulk and bag mulches and we put a little widget in here that allows for them to calculate you know the thickness of mulch and inches and you know the total surface area the gallery is just an assortment of pictures that you can click and it does a blows them up and Gray’s out the background there so you can kind of go through the different.

Pictures and see different things you know get their blog once again the blog when they would type the hashtag social it would then automate to web now this is the contact page but on any one of these page let’s say you’re on the home page you could always click the contact us and it would drop down the kind of a widget of a from the top arrow that’s a Contact Us page so.

It but then of course on every single page you could access this Contact Us page so if we’re on the annuals of the.

Products page there we could hit contact us and it would open up so this is it folks it’s the Huntington nursery and florists website that we built in WordPress if you have a desire for web design or development.

How To Use Scribefire To Write Quick Preformatted Blog Posts

blog post templatesLike many people who have very full and busy lives, finding the time to write a blog entry is very difficult. There are a lot of Firefox plugins available for blogging, such as the three Joel previously outlined in his article. However, when I discovered ScribeFire and wrote a review of the software, one of the things that I mentioned being impressed with is the ability to create a blog post template.

For me, this feature is worth its weight in gold, because a lot of effort during writing a blog entry is spent correctly formatting my post with Google Ads and images. In this article, I’m going to configure ScribeFire to handle the formatting automatically. This way, all you have to do is pop open ScribeFire and whip together the content – all of the formatting and ad placement will be inserted automatically, and you don’t even have to think about it.

Setting Up ScribeFire

You can install the ScribeFire plugin for Firefox, Chrome or Safari – so hopefully you’re covered. You can either access ScribeFire from the Tools menu item, press F8, or you can click on the ScribeFire icon at either the top or bottom toolbar of your browser.

blog post format

I’ve already covered all of the blogging features in my previous review of this software, so if you’re not sure how to use ScribeFire, make sure to check that out first. What I really want to focus on here is the setup section where you can pre-format posts when you click the “blog this” button for a particular webpage. You can access that feature by clicking on the setup button.

How To Use ScribeFire To Write Quick Preformatted Blog Posts scribe3

This opens up the page where you can develop your blog post template. In my case, I’m going to do two things – set up the Google Ad template, and I’m also going to incorporate a selected word from the webpage to insert and format the first images in the post.

blog post templates

The text in the template field above is the default template you’ll find after first installing ScribeFire. Basically it is set up to quote the URL ($U), page title ($T) and the text on the webpage that you’ve selected ($S). In my case, the template will insert a dynamic header image, content fields that you can fill out, and then the Google Ad alongside another image.

Here is how that Google Ad setup looks on my existing blog (currently I have to copy and paste this every time I write a new entry).

blog post format

These are the two elements you need to dynamically create with ScribeFire – the Google Ad and the image, which will change depending on your post. Since you can highlight text on a webpage and that becomes the $S variable in your ScribeFire template, you can exploit that and use it to generate a different image name in every template.

Here is how that would look.

blog post format

In the template you can link to images in your upload area using the $S variable, which lets you name your image by first highlighting a word on a webpage and clicking the ScriptFire “Blog this” link. In my example I’ve used $S_intro and $S_ad, so now if I highlight the word “computer,” the blog entry will automatically name the intro image “computer_intro.jpg” and the ad image “computer_ad.jpg” – all you need to do is upload images with those names and the post will display them properly.

Here is what a ScriptFire post looks like after I highlight the word “Alerts” on a webpage and then click “Blog this”.

blog post formatting

There is no need to enter this code every time you write up a blog entry. The images and Google Ad code is automatically generated, and all you have to do is write your post. Here I’ve uploaded the files with the proper names into my blog’s media section.

blog post formatting

Once I fill out the fields in the blog post template for the content, it’s just a matter of publishing and everything is properly formatted automatically. It’s one of the fastest and easiest methods to write up a well-formatted blog entry with the click of a button.

Here’s the blog post after publication from ScribeFire.

blog post templates

Now that the template is set up properly, creating a new post is just a three step process. First, highlight a word on any webpage that you’d like to name the images and click “Blog this” in the ScribeFire menu.  Second, upload the images with the correct names to your upload area. Finally, fill in the content fields with your writing. No need to worry about formatting, just write!

If you wanted to, you could get creative using the title and URL variables as part of your template – maybe you could create a generic introduction that mentioned the link and title for that web page. However you configure your template, it will save you a lot of time in adding new content to your blog whenever the motivation strikes you.

Have you ever tried using the “Blog this” feature of ScribeFire? What’s your opinion of it? Has it saved you time with your blogging efforts? Share your insight in the comments section below.

8 Proven Tips To Make Your WordPress Blog Popular

how to make popular blogWordPress is a powerful blogging platform, and many thousands of people start a WordPress blog every day – whether it’s self-hosted on your own web server or with a free WordPress.com blog. Many bloggers give up after a few months though, often because their blog isn’t as popular as they would like it to be or they aren’t getting many comments. The problem is that even with great blog posts, your blog doesn’t automatically become popular. The saying “build it and they will come” simply doesn’t apply to blogs.

So let’s take a look at 8 strategies you can adopt from today to make your blog more popular without delving into the technical aspects of WordPress.

Focus On One Topic

Many people start writing a blog with the glorious plan of writing about their life and thoughts on the universe in general. The sad truth is that while one or two of your posts may appeal to some, the broad range of content will prevent many visitors from coming back for more.

If you want to write a popular blog, you need to focus on one or two topics, and stick to them. If you don’t feel like you can write about a single topic that much, then try broadening your topic up a level – for instance, your real passion is strawberry plants, but that’s hardly going to fuel a blog for more than a few weeks, so why not write about growing fruit trees – when you get sick of that, move on to gardening in general.

By keeping your content focused (and learning about the topic yourself in the process), you will keep people on your site looking for more of your content, and coming back for more next month.

Make Friends In The “Blogosphere”

Chances are you aren’t the only blog about gardening on the Internet, so find a few fellow bloggers and start participating and commenting on their blogs. Most will allow commenters to include a link with their name. You’ll not only get some visitors from their blog, but you may also build a rapport with the author and can consider a link exchange.

A word of warning though – make sure your comment is genuinely adding something to the conversation, providing useful information for other readers and relevant to the post you are commenting on. It is extremely frustrating to have someone say “hey, nice blog post” in an effort to simply self-promote, and it will quickly get your IP address marked as a spammer.

how to become popular blog

Join Blog Carnivals & Blogging Support Groups

For my past blogs, I’ve had enormous spikes in visitors by participating in so-called “blog carnivals”, where you write about a particular topic and submit it to the carnival host, who will include your post in their round-up of all the entires. Assuming the host is popular, or the carnival is correctly promoted by all participating blogs, it’s a very successful way to introduce readers to similar blogs and everyone benefits. The best place to find a carnival that suits your topic is to visit blogcarnival.com.

Join a blogging support group too, like bloggers.com. It’s another great way to find similar blogs, and all members get listed in the database as well as their latest posts highlighted on various pages.

how to make your blog popular

Keep Visitors On Your Blog

If you’ve got lots of related content, it’s fairly safe to assume any visitors will be interested in that too. We’ve covered a few plugins (LinkWithin, Best Related Posts, or SimpleTags which we use for MakeUseOf) that can do this automatically for you before, so be sure to read that as it’s all still relevant. Posts with a small preview image will do much better than simple text links (look at the bottom of this article for a great example).

how to make your blog popular

Write Outside Of Your Blog

Guest blogging on related blogs helps to establish you as an expert in a particular topic. In fact, we even accept guest submissions for MakeUseOf as long as they meet our stringent publishing standards. MyBlogGuest is an easy way to find blogs looking for guest writers, or even find guest bloggers for your own blog during those dry spells.

You might also want to consider writing a quick article or two on some of the free article aggregate sites such as EzineArticles, which lets authors include a link or two and push their content out to a large audience of subscribers.

how to make your blog popular

Engage Your Readers & Encourage Comments

If a reader comments on your post, they obviously have something to say – but they might not have bookmarked your site, or shared it yet. By replying to your readers and keeping them engaged, you foster a relationship that keeps readers coming back, as well as making them more inclined to post your story to their Facebook wall or retweet it.

Another way to encourage interaction is to reward commenters with a plugin like CommentLuv, which highlights a commenters latest blog post.

how to make your blog better

Add Social Sharing To Your Blog

While I’m personally against the rise of social sharing widgets everywhere on the Internet, some small unobtrusive buttons on your website can do wonders to increase your blog exposure. Stick to the basics with Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon buttons to avoid the clutter that can make some blogs look messy. AddThis is one easy WordPress plugin to help you do this.

how to be popular blog

Keep At It

Blogging is not a short-term thing; you really need to be in it for the long haul if you want to build a large base of readers. Keep publishing fresh new content, accept guest submissions, and work at building your network of blogging friends and link partners. You will get there eventually, and as your blog ages, it gains more and more trust from the search engines.

Image Credit: ShutterStock

3 Ways To Speed Your Site Up With The Cloud

speed up website cloudThe Cloud is the answer to all the worlds problems, it would seem – a buzzword technology that sends computing full circle right back to where it started – with a thin client model and all the power in a remote server. Economic downturn? No problem – just put it in the cloud! World peace? There’s a cloud app for that.

I joke, of course – but there are actually some legitimate uses for this “new” technology, so allow me to cut through the messy marketing speak and tell you exactly how making use of the cloud can speed up your website.

Do You Need a Faster Site?

Even if you have just a small blog or e-commerce with very little traffic, slow load times are undoubtedly hurting you. With a relatively good load time of 4 seconds, 25% of users would rather abandon the page than wait. Beyond that, and you need to have some pretty dedicated users.

Your site’s bad performance may also be affecting your placement in search engines – Google prefers fast loading pages that present a good user experience, and has admitted that page load speed is a ranking factor.

It’s in your interests – no matter how small your site – to have the page loading as quickly as possible. Want to test how fast your site currently loads? Head over to pingdom.com and type in the URL for a comprehensive report.

speed up website cloud

CloudFlare (Free)

CloudFlare encompasses a variety of services, but is best thought of as a firewall for your website. Sitting in between your servers and the public, it intercepts requests made to your site, and can therefore deny access to a variety of malicious bots and automated crawlers, or serve a cached version to legitimate users – including your entire website, should you go offline for some reason.

is cloud hosting faster

Activating CloudFlare is easy if you’re hosting with MediaTemple (who are sitting proudly on our Best Web Hosts page), since they now own the company. After logging in, from the sidebar select Add New Service or Domain, then Activate the CloudFlare option. You should now see a CloudFlare admin button on your overview dashboard – enabling or disabling the service is then a single click away.

is cloud hosting faster

If you’re not hosted with MediaTemple, head over to the article I wrote before – How to Protect and Speed Up Your Website With Cloudflare – for a full guide on setting the service up. It does require some fiddly work with DNS, so follow carefully.

Once set up, there’s no configuration needed so you can basically just let it run, safe in the knowledge that your site is faster and serving less requests. There are however some stats you can view at the CloudFlare site if you’re curious about just how much bandwidth is being saved.

is cloud hosting faster

Given that the service is completely free, there’s really no reason not to go and enable it for your site right now.

CDNs (Costs Depends On Traffic)

CDNs, or Content Delivery Networks, are cloud storage for static resource files – images and scripts generally – which are optimized to deliver files to the user much more quickly than a typical web server.

If you’ve ever visited a site and watched the images download one by one, bit by bit, it’s because they weren’t using a CDN. If they were, the images would be loaded almost instantly. This is in part due to the fact that browsers are limited in how much data they can request in parallel from a single domain. When using a CDN, images are stored on a different domain, and hence the browser can download more items in parallel. It’s also down to copies of the files being available on a fileserver more local to the user; as opposed to one central server that hosts the actual website.  It’s an astonishing difference, so if you feel your page is loading a little sluggish – particularly the images – then considering purchasing CDN services.

At MakeUseOf (and on my personal sites), we use MaxCDN – the basic plan is just $35/year which includes 1TB of bandwidth, with overage charges of $0.069/GB. In addition to the speed gains, you’re also going to save money if you’re currently going over the bandwidth provisions of your webhost – common if you host large files or videos.

Setting up a CDN is easy if you’re using WordPress, but requires a little work for other systems. Basically, you need to have URLs for resource files rewritten to your CDN domain. w3 Total Cache handles this all for you in WordPress – just click the CDN option from the Performance menu, and the “I have MaxCDN” button to get started.

Register a new application (don’t worry about callback URLs, just make up a name and description). Copy your Consumer key and Consumer Secret back to w3 Total Cache, then click Back to find your Alias on the right side of the dashboard (this is just the name you chose for your CDN when you signed up).

speed up website cloud

Host Non-Essential Files On Cheap Cloud Storage

If you host large downloads that aren’t critical to the page load – music, videos, PDFs etc – move these over to a cheap cloud storage solution like Amazon s3 services. Though not quite as blazing fast as a CDN, they still take the strain of serving large files away from your web host, leaving it free to concentrate on generating and serving the HTML pages. Though Amazon is a premium service, you might even consider using filelockers for very popular files, which can in fact make you money by showing advertising to users (though this isn’t exactly the best user experience, so consider your audience well).

Do you know of any more cloud services that help to speed up a website? If so, let us know in the comments – because as you can see from the performance report above my website is still appallingly slow. Sigh – must be all those fantastic WordPress plugins.

Focus On The Content, With Managed WordPress Hosting

Down time, server configuration, performance issues, software upgrades… running your own server can be a nightmare when all you want to do is focus on the content. Switch to dedicated WordPress hosting to focus on your content.

For a long time I’ve enjoyed owning and running my own virtual private server (not sure what that is? Different types of web hosting explained) – but being responsible for optimising the server yourself is quite a burden. Server configuration really isn’t my thing – I’d much rather focus on writing content and building cool stuff. Unfortunately this meant I was running a couple of expensive, poorly optimised servers that simply weren’t performing as best as they should be. With the sheer popularity of WordPress as a content management platform nowadays, hosting companies have begun to offer some rather specialist hosting options: managed WordPress hosting.

What exactly does that mean, what are the limitations, and why would you choose that kind of hosting? That’s what I’ll explore today. Specifically, I’ll be looking at the MediaTemple offering, but there are others which are similar.

Note: this isn’t a sponsored post, I just really love MediaTemple and you should too! I was particularly impressed with their Grid Service shared hosting, but this is even better for WordPress sites.

What is Managed WordPress Hosting?

If it wasn’t obvious, WordPress hosting is dedicated to one task, and to doing it well: hosting WordPress sites. Instead of overly complex CPanel or Plesk control apps for domain and hosting management, you’re provided with a simple control panel set number of slots, each of which holds a single WordPress site. The interface is in stark contrast to the usual plethora of buttons and settings. Don’t worry though – you still get full SFTP and PHPMyAdmin access for file and database management, should you wish to.

wp-hosting-control-panel

The control panel for each site is simple and clearly designed for those unfamiliar with hosting management: creating email addresses or adding the domain is a one-click process. But there’s also some incredible powerful tools hidden away, such as the ability to create staging sites, duplicate the site as a template for another, and automated site migration.

wp-hosting-simple-cp

Site migration allows you to quickly import a complete WordPress install, with database and uploads intact. We’ve talked about plugins to migrate WordPress before, but this is the easiest I’ve come across yet – assuming you know the correct access details for both FTP and the domain. Point, click, and wait – 2 or 3 hours later (depending on the size of your uploads), your entire site will have been imported and set up. You can then preview using the temporary domain, before making the necessary arrangements to point the actual domain over to MediaTemple.

Staging sites is completely new to me, but it’s a simple enough concept to understand. If you’re working on new features or want to try a new theme without breaking your main site, you can use a staging site to test things out. Create a new staging site to make a copy of your live (“production”) site – you’ll get a temporary URL, but everything else will be the same. You can log in, tweak settings, adjust the theme, install some new plugins – then when you’re ready, choose to Sync to Production. Note that posts you created on the staging site will not be transferred; nor will posts you’ve written on the live site be overwritten. Your content remains as it should be.

sync-to-production

If you have a popular site which you’ve been afraid to make changes to in case of downtime, this is a fantastic way to change things before you’ve gotten everything perfect – and it’s something that’s normally quite difficult to set up.

Managed WordPress hosting is also faster: very clever engineers have spent a good deal of time setting up and tweaking the servers to perform optimally for WordPress. Your site will scale to many thousands of visitors per day without any effort on your part, thanks to multiple layers of caching. On eCommerce sites this is particularly important when random server timeouts and unresponsive shopping carts can lead to abandoned carts.

What does all this cost? MediaTemple’s WordPress hosting starts at $30/month for 3 sites with unlimited bandwidth, and you can add additional slots for $10/month each. It isn’t the cheapest hosting solution out there, but for the speed and features you get it’s very competitive. By switching my main site from VPS to managed hosting, I actually reduced my monthly costs by 2/3rds, while at the same time achieving better performance (and less headaches, which shouldn’t be underrated!). For any site that’s been suitably monetized (how to monetize your blog), this shouldn’t be an issue.

Some Limitations

Apart from the obvious inability to install other random applications, the biggest limitation I’ve found is that you’re not allowed to install caching plugins such as w3 Total Cache. There’s a reason for this of course, in that the hosting already has it’s own internal WordPress caching enabled and optimised, so the w3 simply isn’t compatible. However, it does mean you’re at the mercy of your host.

mt-wordpres-hosting

You can’t install any additional server level optimisations like Google PageSpeed either – you get what you’re given. If you were using either of these technologies to automatically handle things like script minification, it’s best if you minimise files yourself with a local tool like Gulp.js. Since w3 Total Cache can’t be used, consider the simple WP CDN Rewrite to use your existing CDN services – though when I asked, MediaTemple said a CDN shouldn’t strictly be necessary.

In the interests of security, WordPress core is automatically upgraded for you. I’m listing this as a limitation, because it may break your site if a plugin or theme is incompatible – but the assumption is that you’ve used a modern theme and good plugins which are regularly updated to stay compatible. Still, it’s a risk – but well worth it, in my opinion.

Have you switched to a managed WordPress host yet, and what have your experiences been? Are there any features you really appreciate? If have any hesitation, ask away in the comments and see if I can help alleviate your concerns.

Contact Form 7: The Best Contact Form Plugin For WordPress

Believe it or not, finding the right contact form for you and your website’s visitors isn’t easy. I was stuck with a WordPress plugin that was alright for some time, but I became frustrated with it when I ran into an issue I couldn’t solve. Then I discovered Contact Form 7.

Contact Form 7, which is featured on our Best WordPress Plugins, stood out because it was so simple and easy to use. Due to being frustrated with an issue of the contact form plugin on my own website, I was eager to find out more about it. Needless to say, it went far beyond my expectations. It’s the best contact form plugin for WordPress that I’ve used yet.

What You Want And Need In A Contact Form

It may not seem like there’s much that would go into a solid contact form plugin. Search the WordPress plugin directory, however, and you’ll find a plethora of results. You’ll be overwhelmed, wondering where to start.

To help assist you, should you want to look for others besides Contact Form 7, here are a few characteristics of a good contact form. These characteristics in Contact Form 7 stood out to me:

  • Complete customizability for whatever your needs are
  • Simple “behind the scenes” interface and options for quick tweaking
  • Useful help documents to answer your questions
  • Incoming emails that are easy to read

In upcoming sections of this article, we’ll explore some of the options in Contact Form 7 that uniquely make it completely customizable – and easy to use for both the visitor and you, the site owner.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed

Once you install the plugin and start setting up your contact form, the task can initially seem a little daunting. “There are so many fields!” “What’s does this dropdown menu of ‘tags’ do?” “How do I change and add different functions?” These are all things I overwhelmed myself with. The key is to take in one thing at a time, and start familiarizing yourself with the plugin. It’s not complicated. But just like anything new, there’s an initial learning curve.

I promise you: this curve is very short.

Setting Up And Customizing

Step One: Familiarize Yourself With Contact Form 7

1 Contact Form 7 - menu link - settings

The above is what you should see once the plugin is installed. Among the other menu items in the sidebar, there should be “Contact”. Alternatively, you can go to “Plugins” and click the “Settings” link under “Contact Form 7”.

2 Contact Form 7 - WordPress Plugins - Settings Link

Once you open up the settings, you’ll see a message box displaying various “help” links. Don’t quickly dismiss this, as there are a lot of important tips and instructions, including a basic “Getting Started with Contact Form 7” guide, a page completely dedicated to using tags and how they work, as well as how to set up the email portion, and briefly describing each of the sections on the admin (settings) screen.

3 Contact Form 7 - Main Screen

You don’t need to have everything about Contact Form 7 memorized, but just know that there are resources available to answer your questions when one arises. Personally, I learn as I go and generally try to figure things out for myself, but like to have resources readily accessible when I come up against something I’m unsure of.

Step Two: Create A New Contact Form

To begin creating a new contact form, click “Add New”.. You’ll then be prompted with a page as seen below. If you’re using English, click the larger blue button. If you’re using a different language, choose the one you want, and click the light gray button on the right of the language menu.

4 Contact Form 7 - New Contact Form - languages

The first thing you’ll want to do is name your contact form.

5 Contact Form 7 - New Contact Form - name

The next section is customizing the actual contact form that will appear on your website. There are some tags already entered to give you a general idea of what it can look like, but you can add in and take out anything that you’d like. To the right of the text body is a dropdown menu titled “Generate Tag”, which contains all the tags to choose from.

6 Contact Form 7 - New Contact Form - body and tags

Once you click the desired tag, you will be prompted with additional options to customize it to your liking. You then copy the code and paste it into the “Form” text field.

7 Contact Form 7 - New Contact Form - Form tag

Next, you’ll add any text that you want to appear with the tag, as seen above.

This is how the tag translates to the actual form on the website.

8 Contact Form 7 - New Contact Form - Form tag live example

On a personal opinion note, I like the “acceptance” check box in combination with making the other text fields “required”, as to ensure I don’t get spam messages sent to my email.

Next you move on to the email message body, labeled “Mail”. The fields really don’t need to be tweaked much. The tags will automatically be added. You can choose exactly how you would like the message body to be laid out.

9 Contact Form 7 - New Contact Form - mail fields and message preview

The last option that you likely won’t have to do much with, but can if you’d like, is editing the different message responses.

10 Contact Form 7 - New Contact Form - customize messages

You can see some of the options above. This is great for communicating to your visitors that their message did, in fact, get sent. It’s also allows you to make the message a bit more personal to them.

11 Contact Form 7 - New Contact Form - status message example

A Feature I Recommend Using

When you are associated with various endeavors and receive a lot of emails every day, it can be difficult to sort them out based on importance. Of course, you can use labels and filters to manage your emails in Gmail, but I needed to go a step further. I discovered a tag in Contact Form 7 allowing me to do so. This is the “drop-down menu” tag.

12 Contact Form 7 - New contact form - featuring drop-down menu tag

Once you select and customize it (I recommend making it a required field and also including a blank), paste the code into the “Form” text box and format it as I have in the image, putting the various options (as many as you’d like) in quotations. You might wonder why I recommend including a blank entry, and the reason is because it forces your visitors to choose the appropriate reason for which they’re contacting you, rather than just leaving it as the first option.

13 Contact Form 7 - Live on website - dropdown example

To make it appear in the subject line, you must paste the code into the “Subject” field in the “Mail” form. Be sure to place it before the “[your-subject]” tag. I also added a colon after it.

13.1 Contact Form 7 - New contact form - featuring drop-down tag in mail form

Step Three: Add The Shortcode To Your Contact Page

14 Contact Form 7 - code

Once you have the bulk of your contact form set up to your liking, copy the shortcode at the top of the page and paste it into the “Contact” page on your website. Of course, if you don’t have one yet, you’ll need to create one.

15 Contact Form 7 code in contact me page

You don’t need to paste this in the “Text” view of the page,  the “Visual” view is fine – that’s the beauty of shortcode. Once you’ve pasted it in, just click the blue “Update” or “Publish” button.

Step Four: Preview It, Test It, Tweak It, Repeat

Once you save your Contact page, you can check out what your new contact form looks like.

16 Contact Form 7 - Live on website

If there are any tweaks that you want to make, simply go back into the Contact Form 7 settings, make them, click the blue “Save” button. That’s it: there’s no need to recopy and paste the shortcode into your Contact page again.

You’ll also want to test filling out the form and sending yourself an email to make sure all looks good on the receiving end.

17 Contact Form 7 - example email

Step Five: Check Out Additional Tips

18 Contact Form 7 - Additional Tips Links

Remember that message box I referred to earlier in the article, that contains the different helpful links on setting up Contact Form 7? It also links to some other helpful pages that you might want to look at. The topics include combining Contact Form 7 with Akismet for spam filtering, tracking with Google Analytics and others.

In addition, you can always refer to the official Contact Form 7 website, for all information, FAQs, troubleshooting, documents and updates regarding the plugin.

Step Six: Install A Theme (Optional)

If you you want even more customization, there are several themes available. Themeover.com has 13 free Contact Form 7 themes for you to choose from, if you want a custom look for your forms.

Conclusion

By now, you probably realize that WordPress isn’t just for blogging and can act as an awesome platform for any kind of website:  companies, personal and/or professional users, or anything else. And you likely will want to provide your visitors with an easy way to contact you. As someone who has a personal website for a professional online presence, I understood that providing my visitors with an easy method of contacting me was essential. Contact Form 7 filled all the gaps in communication between my website’s visitors and I, and continues to do so.

Have you used Contact Form 7? If so, what has your experience been with it? Did you keep using it, or did you ultimately move on to a different plugin? Whatever your experience is, we want to hear your thoughts, input and recommendations from you.

How To Insert Php Content Into The Loop Of Your Blog Excerpts

php insert into loopEvery now and then, I get a message from the good folks at Google to my Adsense account suggesting one ad modification or another that they propose may help to bolster my ad revenue. In many cases, the suggested change is pretty simple – just post a slightly larger ad, or move it just a little bit up further “above the fold”.

However, there are times when you realize that an ad or maybe some other content needs to go into an area of your blog that isn’t so easy to get to. Sidebar content is one thing, and usually fairly easy to modify, but when it comes to other areas of your website that might be dynamically generated by code, inserting single content isn’t so simple.

For example, in the case of a WordPress blog or a WordPress website, the central content of your home page is most likely a stream of excerpts from your blog posts. People can click on “Read More” to open up the post page itself. You can create a sort of a template for your blog posts to carefully insert the required ad in your post exactly where you want it to go, but inserting an ad into your main blog page is a little more difficult.

It’s difficult mostly because that isn’t a single flow of code that develops the page content. It’s actually a loop that goes through your most recent posts, pulls out the excerpts, and outputs the text, footer info about the article, and the “Read More” button.

Inserting PHP Content Into Your Blog Loop

So, what does that mean exactly? Well, let’s take my Adsense example. Google tells me that I’d do well if I added a third graphical ad closer to the fold. Now, the perfect location for such an ad is just slightly down the main section and to the right of the navigation bar. That’s right, dead center of the area where my blog excerpts are listed.

Ideally, the ad would go right after the first blog post excerpt, and right before the line separator between posts.

php insert into loop

With WordPress, there are a few places where this sort of post excerpt code takes place, but it really depends on your theme. Usually, you’ll see it in the “page” or “index” PHP files. Again, it depends on your theme, so your best bet is to run a simple, local web server for testing like XAMPP, and load your entire blog or website onto that server. Play around with the PHP file that you think is the right one and see if it changes the page.

php insert in loop

Typically, in WordPress, you’ll see the code that runs through your latest posts using a while statement, as shown below.

php insert in loop

Now, I use the Ikarus theme, which has several different layouts depending on your blog configuration. These are stored in a “layout” folder, and in my particular case, since I chose the “blog” layout, the code I’m looking for can be found in the “blog.php” file.

php insert into loop

There are a dozen and a half ways to force something to display only the first time through a while loop. Everyone is going to have their opinion, and everyone is going to feel their way is the best way. I’m not going to claim that – I’m just going to give you code that works.

Either at the start of your PHP file, or anywhere before the “While” statement, just paste the following code.

    

What this does is sets two variables to different values. That’s it. A is 1 and B is 2. Not equal, right? A is less than B.

So now, as you enter into the While statement, you’re going to check if A is less than B. The first time through the While loop, you know this is going to be true, so you display whatever you want to display, and then set A equal to B so that the next time through, the “A is less than B” check will no longer be true, and the thing you wanted to display only in the first time through will not be displayed again.

Here’s what that code looks like.

        
 

Now, if you think about it, you can use a similar approach to place something after the first 3 or 4 post excerpts, right? Your approach then would be to set A equal to 1, B equal to 4, and then every time through you would add 1 to A. Eventually, after 3 times through, A would equal B and your code snippet wouldn’t be executed for the rest of the times through the While loop.

Running the first example of code on my blog to insert a Google ad after only the first blog excerpt on the main page worked like a charm.

php insert into loop

Again, yet another way to do this would be to set A as a flag equal to “true” and then set it equal to “false” the first time through the loop. Like I said, six or a half dozen – one or the other. Whatever you choose to do, so long as the condition is true only the first time through the While loop, your code will work perfectly.

How do you do a php insert into a loop? How do you create such “one-time” conditions in your PHP code? Share some of your own techniques and tricks to doing this sort of thing in the comments section below.

Image Credits: PHP Coding via Shutterstock