Simple Banner Ad Management For Your WordPress Site

Ad Management Plugins for WordPress

Running advertising on your WordPress site can get pretty complicated and so can the plugins available. This particular post is aimed at those whose needs are on the lower end so I’m only looking at free plugins here. If you’re really serious about advertising and need robust features, chances are you’ll need a fully featured paid plugin such as OIO Publisher or Adsanity.

For my situation, the criteria is:

  • The chosen plugin must be easy enough for my client to manage themselves
  • It must have a widget for easily displaying ads, or at least have an easy short code that will work in a widget
  • It must be able to handle either uploading a banner image, or pasting in ad code from a 3rd party such as Google AdSense, BlogHer, etc.

I tried out a bunch of plugins and below are the only ones worth mentioning.  

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Best Way To Add Blank Lines & Space In WordPress Editor

Add Extra Space In WordPress EditorIf you’ve used WordPress even just a little bit,  you’ve probably come up against the fact that it’s really hard to add extra space into the editor. You can only hit “return” a couple of times before it starts eating those extra line spaces you’re trying to create. So if you want to create extra empty space in your page or post – anything beyond a paragraph break or two, you’ve probably pulled your hair out. There’s several workarounds you can use if you happen to know HTML but that horrifies many non-techie WordPress users. Well the best way I have now found is an awesomely simple and to-the-point plugin called Spacer.

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WordPress Twitter Plugin Stopped Working Recently? Here’s Some That Work

Twitter Plugins For WordPress

You may have noticed your Twitter feed stopped showing up on your WordPress site just recently. This is because Twitter changed their API. An API is something that various web services like Twitter provide in order to allow developers to tap into the service and work with information from it. So a WordPress plugin that pulls information from Twitter needs to utilize their API. When Twitter changes their API as they did recently, that will affect the plugin.

Hopefully the Twitter plugin you have been using has a developer that stays on top of such changes and provides an update to the plugin. With this recent Twitter update however there’s some steps that you as the site owner need to take to make sure the plugin will work. You basically have to create your own Twitter app – but don’t worry,  it’s not as scary as it sounds.

Here are my current favorite Twitter plugins that have been updated to work with the new Twitter API.

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Alternatives to The Social Media Widget Plugin

Alternatives to the Social Media Widget Plugin

Last updated: April 2013

Another recent WordPress security scare  involved the popular plugin, Social Media Widget. This was one of my favorite plugins and was dismayed to hear it had been compromised and could inject malware into a website. As soon as WordPress.org found out about the problem an update to the plugin was issued to correct it, and it was yanked from the repository so it could no longer be installed. Since then, the developer of the plugin has profoundly apologized (scroll down the thread to read his response) and explained that he hired some programmers to work on it and they committed the evil deed without his knowledge. The safe version of the plugin is now back in the WordPress repository and available for use. However this has left many people skeptical about using it, and therefore looking for alternatives.

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Mobile Plugins For Your WordPress Site

WordPress Mobile Plugins

I recently had to find a mobile solution for a client. Their theme had been custom made a while ago and was not responsive so the easiest route (and the one that fit their budget) was to use one of the many available mobile plugins for WordPress.

What’s the Difference Between A Responsive Theme and A Mobile Plugin?

A responsive theme adapts to the size of the screen it is being viewed on, so it retains a consistent overall look and feel. The mobile plugins work in various ways – some of them do let you use a responsive theme of your choosing, but oftentimes they install their own mobile theme which could look significantly different than your standard theme, but it may have some handy mobile-specific features. A mobile plugin will detect the actual device being used (rather than just the width of the screen) and show a different display based on that. It’s a quick and easy way to get a mobile solution for your site. Retrofitting an existing theme to make it responsive requires custom coding, so for many people, a plugin is the easier way to go.

Criteria for Comparing Mobile Plugins

As I played around with various plugins, several key distinguishing factors emerged. So before you start looking at plugins you may want to think about these factors and how important they are for your circumstance so you can make an informed decision:

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Swiftype – WordPress Plugin For Enhanced Search

swiftype enhanced wordpress search

Swiftype is a new plugin on the block. It is designed as a replacement for the in-built search feature on your WordPress site. The main thing that’s cool about it is that it has an autocomplete feature which is commonly found on many modern websites such as Amazon, Google etc. That’s where you start typing something and before you’re even finished, you see a list of possibilities that would complete your search. This is how it looks on Amazon.com:

amazon autocomplete

It’s a pretty slick feature that will give your site a more modern feel. I tested it out on my local installation of WordPress and it works pretty nicely. It wasn’t quite as fast as I would have liked initially, but then, sites like Google and Amazon have trained me to expect almost psychic levels of autocomplete. However I will say that it seemed to get faster over time, meaning that if I searched for the same or similar thing multiple times, it produced autocomplete faster after the initial search.

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