WordPress 101 Video – Understanding Core WordPress Concepts

WordPress 101 - Orange County WordCamp 2013

I recently had the honor of presenting at WordCamp Orange County 2013. I was asked to give a “WordPress 101” talk which may sound simple, but is deceptively so! It’s actually quite a challenge. I teach WordPress every day so the material is second nature, but in a presentation you only have about 30 minutes, so it’s impossible to convey all the information that WordPress 101 could potentially encompass.

My approach was not to go the mechanical nuts n’ bolts route of “this is how you install WordPress, here’s how you make a post” etc. Instead I focused on the understanding of basic concepts in WordPress which are absolutely necessary – differences between posts and pages, understanding what menus are and how they work, how themes work, the difference between a plugin and a widget etc. These are all areas that I see beginners grapple with understanding at first. If you don’t get these core concepts down, you’ll have problems with WordPress. 

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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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How To Use Shortcodes In WordPress

How To Use WordPress Shortcodes

WordPress shortcodes are a powerful feature that theme and plugin developers use to give users advanced tools at their disposal, but they continually confuse people. They are infinitely easier than writing actual HTML and CSS but can still freak out the typical user.

Why are shortcodes useful?

Using only the WordPress editor, one’s options for laying out a page or post would be limited to one block of text, perhaps interspersed with an image, video or maybe a photo gallery. What if you want to create a more visually interesting layout? Such as splitting your content area into columns, for example? Or including buttons, highlights and other fancy visual styles?

To write that kind of HTML and CSS would be quite tedious and beyond the abilities of most users. It would also create a lot of messy code in your WordPress editor, muddying the lines between content (which is primarily what you should be editing in WordPress) and code.

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Win An Elegant Themes Membership!

Win An Elegant Themes Membership

UPDATE: Donna Fontenot is the lucky winner of a Developer account at Elegant Themes!

Looking for a fancy new theme for your WordPress site? Today might be your lucky day. Elegant Themes has been kind enough to let me give away some developer memberships. I have 3 to give away in total and I plan on doing multiple contests. This is part one in which I will give away 1 of the 3 memberships. So if you don’t win this one, you’ll have more chances in the future. Read on for the details.

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How To Collect User-Submitted Testimonials On Your WordPress Site

Gravity Forms, Testimonials Widget

Just recently I’ve worked on two sites that needed a way to display testimonials and a way to collect them from clients via the website itself. With WordPress there are several ways you could achieve this, this is just the method I happened to come up with recently.

Most of the time, for testimonials I end up using the Testimonials Widget plugin. Mostly I like the widget that comes with it which rotates individual testimonials. It’s pretty user friendly to get up and running with as well.

Since I use Gravity Forms (cupcake, AKA affiliate link ) on pretty much all my client sites, it made sense to put the two plugins together to create the submission system. Gravity Forms comes built-in with the ability to have a user submit a form which gets saved in your WordPress site as a post. The Testimonials Widget plugin uses Custom Post Types to create a customized edit screen for adding new Testimonials. Fortunately there is a free plugin for Gravity Forms which extends that capability of saving form entries as posts,  to custom post types as well. It’s appropriately named Gravity Forms + Custom Post Types. Once the plugin is activated it integrates seamlessly with the usual Gravity Forms creation process. 

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4 WordPress Podcasts To Help You Sharpen Your Skills

WordPress Podcasts

Seems like podcasts, especially of the video variety, are having revival at the moment. Here’s a few WordPress-related ones worth checking out. They are all feature some very smart developers and other members of the WordPress community so it’s a great way to learn about best practices and generally what the latest trends are within the community.

WP Watercooler

This weekly WordPress-centric Google Hangout is the brainchild of my friend and WP multimedia expert Jason Tucker. Every Monday at 11am PST, up to 10 WordPress developers, designers and consultants gather on Google Hangout to discuss a WordPress topic. Sometimes they even stay on topic ;) Hilarity and wisdom ensue.The hangout is streamed to YouTube so you can watch live or catch the archived episodes on WPWatercooler.com. If you prefer audio you can subscribe to the audio-only version via iTunes and Stitcher.

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