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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Scheduling Made Easy!

Which One to Use?

Setting events and reminders for yourself (and others, even!) is very useful. Having events “etched in stone” on a calendar within a website can prevent a lot of confusion. For example, a business has an upcoming event for their co-workers and said co-workers realize it’s coming up. If no one knows when exactly it is (maybe not even the higher ups. I mean, you never know…), being able to check the website for all the information you need is pretty darn swell.

The next question is, as the heading says, which one to use? When it comes to WordPress websites, there are tons of different types of plug-ins; and calendar plug-ins are no exception. One I found to be particularly interesting is called Calender.

Don’t let the rather unimaginative name fool you, it’s pretty nifty.

The Reason to Use it

Alright, the first thing when comes to looking for a good plug-in is to check its credibility. After some searching some websites, I’ve realized that some people think pretty highly of it. Not only that, but the plug-in itself has over 200,000 downloads. I mean really, if it’s that popular, it’s gotta be pretty good, right?

Well, it’s also got some pretty good features.

  • It lets you look through each month of the year with simple drop down menus.
  • Each event is color coded for ease of identifying.
  • Hovering over the event makes a small little bubble pop up with more in depth information.

In Conclusion

Using calendars not only for yourself, but especially so for businesses are really necessary to keep everyone up to speed. The one I would recommend is the plug-in called Calender for WordPress websites. Just like the subject of this blog, I’m going to keep this short and sweet. It’s a good plug-in with plenty of features, so go use it!

Which Contact Form is the Best?

Built-in?

Contact forms; forms in which you can contact the people of the website via forms. It’s very convenient, as you can contact them without the need of backtracking to your email service of choice just to tell him/her of how a good job they’re doing(Just an example, ooobviously).

From messing around with it, WordPress can do contact forms itself, but from doing all the coding yourself. This is a simpler route (or a more complicated one, depends on how filled your cup is), but then comes the main attraction to plug-ins. Spam blocking! No one likes being spammed, and I’ve seen many contact forms advertised for their spam blocking abilities.

What plug-in to use?

The one that I would recommend is one called Clean Contact! It’s a very simple contact form, and well, this little snippet from the website says it all:

“The plugin has minimal configuration and can be used out of the box. It is intended to be a simple contact form that is familiar to your users, and doesn’t require them to jump through hoops to send you an message.”

Not only is it simple, but it’s also capable of advanced spam blocking. Really, that all that needs to be said.

Why use it?

The way I figured, everything I’ve stated above is enough of a reason why to use it. Of course, because of its simplicity, it can’t do some of the fancier things without quite a bit of tinkering, but that simplicity is amazing if you just want to get one going.

As I’ve also said a dozen times, them advanced spam blocking capabilities; they’re pretty nifty to have. Lastly, this blog recommends it near the top of the list, so it’s got some credibility behind it (along with the 50 some-odd thousand downloads).

In Conclusion

Clean Contact is the contact form to use. It’s simple, easy to use, with good spam blocking capabilities. So, just like that there contact form, I’ma keep this short and sweet: Go use it!

Taking the Easy Way Out… Or Maybe Not?

WordPress Themes

Alright, so I mentioned in my previous blog that templating for WordPress is a bit on the complicated side. In my opinion, if you ever want to be taken seriously as a web designer, then learning how to do this can be a good start.

Now, when it comes to templating, how do you start on such an endeavor? I would recommend a good start is to start Googling (I will post some more specific resources on the basics later on in the blog). Another good way to get started is to take a look at other templates. Taking a look at the code and all the files will be overwhelming, but it’ll help you with my next point: taking a template and modifying it.

Taking a pre-existing theme and modifying can help greatly, and fiddling around with them can help you realize how the template system for WordPress works. If anything however, I should use this as a training exercise. If you were to use a template for  anyone else, or for yourself (maybe), then I would say creating your own would be better.

Why is Designing Your Own in the End Better?

Well, for starters, it gives you more credibility. If you were looking for a job, and your only method of dealing with WordPress templates is modifying pre-existing ones, it wouldn’t look as good as making your own. Plus, it’s a good learning experience, as it’s kind of like the next step above modifying templates. Much like everything else, the only way to get good at it is to actually do it.

Once you have successfully made your own, that means you’re also able to help others as well! For example, you can be helping others with your resources, and your own methods and shortcuts for creating the theme. I mean, you never know, you might end up teaching a group of your very own students one day the basics of templating for WordPress!

Good Resources

As I mentioned earlier, here are some good resources to use:

This is from the main WordPress website. This is a good place to read up on the different parts of making a theme from whom better than the creators themselves?

This place I found to be pretty good for an actual in depth look into making a theme, rather than discussing it.

This place is a collaboration of tutorials, with the first couple really catching my eye. Those talk about making a bare bones template, which is a really good place to start for building a theme.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, WordPress theme creation can be on the complicated side. With how big the community is, there’s tons of places to look out there for tutorials and resources to look at. For starting however, I would recommend also taking a look at and modifying pre-existing templates; if only just familiarize yourself with the templating structure. The most important thing about being a templating beginner?

Keep It Simple. If there’s one thing to keep in mind when starting out, is making a bare bones template. So out of all my resources, I’d say take a gander at that last link there. Starting simple will help you not feel overwhelmed when making a template, and from then you can expand your knowledge, and therefore, template making capabilities.