Major WordPress version updates come a few times a year, and we now have version 4.8, named after Jazz Pianist Bill Evans. We call it the Widget edition.
For those of you who don’t know what widgets are, they started as the way to put stuff on the sidebar- the thing on the side of your blog, that’s there all the time…
wait? Does that sound a little foreign to you? It should. Because with the Theme Universe exploding, and responsive design (that resizes to any device size) widgets have become the way to put things anywhere on your site- from the front page to the sidebar, to the footer etc.
Other than stock widgets, many widgets are installed by Plugins, and some by themes and theme builders.
What used to require a bit of a hack, is now easy with these new widgets:
Adding an image to a widget is now a simple task that is achievable for any WordPress user without needing to know code. Simply insert your image right within the widget settings. Try adding something like a headshot or a photo of your latest weekend adventure — and see it appear automatically.
A welcome video is a great way to humanize the branding of your website. You can now add any video from the Media Library to a sidebar on your site with the new Video widget. Use this to showcase a welcome video to introduce visitors to your site or promote your latest and greatest content.
Are you a podcaster, musician, or avid blogger? Adding a widget with your audio file has never been easier. Upload your audio file to the Media Library, go to the widget settings, select your file, and you’re ready for listeners. This would be a easy way to add a more personal welcome message, too!
Rich Text Widget
This feature deserves a parade down the center of town! Rich-text editing capabilities are now native for Text widgets. Add a widget anywhere and format away. Create lists, add emphasis, and quickly and easily insert links. Have fun with your newfound formatting powers, and watch what you can accomplish in a short amount of time.
Source: WordPress 4.8 “Evans”
And of course, with the customizer as the WordPress answer to SquareSpace, Wix and whatever other WYSIWG proprietary website solution- you can now do a drag and drop element in your site.
Just remember to always use a child theme to make your customizations. There are plugins that can help you set that up (right now, Child Theme Configurator seems to be the most popular)
Some of our favorite Widgets are:
Source: Ad Inserter — WordPress Plugins
WordPress Popular Posts is a highly customizable widget that displays the most popular posts on your blog.
Source: WordPress Popular Posts — WordPress Plugins
And the SiteOrigin widget installer – which bundles a bunch of useful tools:
SiteOrigin Widgets bundle:
- Google Maps Widget that’s going places.
- Button Widget that you’ll love to click.
- Image Widget that’ll let you add images everywhere.
- Call To Action Widget that’ll get your users performing the actions you want.
- Slider Widget that slides images and HTML5 videos.
- Price Table Widget that’ll help you sell more.
- Post Carousel Widget that displays your posts as a carousel.
- Features Widget that lets you display a set of site or service features.
- Video Widget to get your videos out there.
- Headline Widget to get you noticed.
- Social Links Widget to show you’re active.
Source: SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle — WordPress Plugins
The beauty of WordPress is that there is a complete selection of vetted tools on WordPress.org to extend and expand the capabilities of your site. Come to our next Websitetogy Seminar and learn about widgets, plugins, best posting practices and a whole bunch more.
WooThemes, the team behind the wildly successful WooCommerce WordPress plugin, is getting themselves a new bankroll. Namely Automattic–yes, that Automattic–the company we can thank for WordPress itself.
The decision was detailed in a press release by WooThemes:
Over the past year, in response to the growing and more sophisticated requirements of the WooCommerce community, we have been exploring ways to accelerate our growth to be an even more accessible, easier to use, and enabling platform for our customers. We’ve met some very powerful and influential companies and potential investors, but none more ambitious and aligned with our values than the team at Automattic.
Source: WooThemes Joins Automattic
What are the implications of this move? We can easily expect to see baked-in integration with WooCommerce and the sites that are being hosted on the massive WordPress.com service.
And as for those who are hosting our WordPress sites independently like us, this likely means WooCommerce has cemented itself as the defacto eCommerce solution on WordPress in terms of theme and cross-plugin support.
This is something that was becoming true on its own prior to this announcement, so if you’re currently using any other WordPress shopping cart solutions out there like WP-Ecommerce or MarketPress, the time may come in the near future where you’ll need to move your operation to Woo.
Your WordPress installation is made up of several parts:
- The WordPress software
- A MySQL database
- A Theme
Each does different things. And when it comes to updating, and auto-updating, you want to make sure you don’t break things.
First tip- always backup your site before doing any updates, theme changes or plugin installs. We’ve fallen in love with the UpdraftPlus backup plugin. We consider it an essential plugin for every installation- and you don’t need to buy the premium version, the free one works fine.
So, now that you have your installation backed up, it’s time to make a child theme. What is a child theme? It’s a copy of a few key files from your theme that hold your customizations. This way, when you update a theme, you won’t lose any of your custom files.
Now, that’s not to say updating a theme will lose customizations- many themes come with theme options for customizations and these files won’t be touched in an update, however, best practices still say create a child theme. If you’ve mastered FTP and a file management tool, you could do this manually- but there are plugins that will do this for you faster and easier.
The one we’ve come to like is Child Theme Creator by Orbisius although it’s not always perfect. Some of the “premium themes” have additional files that are required- and even come with their own installable child themes. Carefully look at your themes installation notes to see if yours falls into one of these categories.
Once you’ve created your child theme- you activate it, and go about your merry way modifying your theme in any way you like.
The safety and security of being able to upgrade your parent theme, without losing customizations is now yours.