WordPress Plugins A to Z Podcast and Transcript for Episode #291
It’s Episode 291 and we’ve got plugins for Embedding Twitch, Birthday Emails, Theme Style Switching, WooCommerce Document Previews, and a gret new lazy plugin that is a “must install” for any new WP installation. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!
John: Okay, the first plugin I’ve got this week is called AH About Widget. This is a new plugin and it allows you to set up an about widget on your website. It’s one that I’m going to be using to replace the About widgets that are up on the WP Plugins, because what we have right now was kind of a convoluted mess. This one is much simpler and cleaner. It goes in, it uses the bio from your profile settings to display in the widget area and then it pulls in a Gravatar image – whatever Gravatar image you have tied to your email address, and then it has a nice link to your about page in the widget area.
So it’s much cleaner and simpler than any about widget I’ve ever used and it also has several prebuilt layouts that are really nice. You’ve got three or four different choices for prebuilt ones. Or, if you want to get in there and customize it, you can a little bit. Other than that, it looks like a really great plugin. It’s very simple and easy to use. Check it out – it’s called AH About Widget and I gave it a 4-Dragon rating.
Marcus: What I noticed is that there are many different kinds of layouts to it and that it’s responsive, which is pretty cool. I think I’m going to use this one.
John: Yeah, it’s —
Marcus: I’m redoing my personal site.
John: Well, I’m always trying to improve the WP Plugins site, so this is one of the pieces that I’m going to replace on there.
Marcus: Awesome! Well, if you are a BuddyPress user, I’ve got a great plugin for you. It’s called Birthday Mail BP and what this does is it’s an automated function that your members when they sign up, they put in their date of birth and this actually expresses your birthday wishes to them on their birthday. Those are always nice to get. It’s good to see who’s actually on top of their marketing when it’s your birthday and you get some birthday wishes. It’s also a great opportunity to present a coupon or a discount or just provide some sort of a statement on how you’re there for them, even on their birthday. So it’s pretty cool – Birthday Mail BP is what it’s called, and I rated it a 4 out of 5.
John: Sweet. One of these days, I’ll get around to building a BuddyPress website and see how it all works.
Marcus: It’s very interesting – and frustrating.
John: I imagine. Okay, the next plugin I’ve got here for everyone is one of those sweet plugins that we just thoroughly enjoy. It’s an ultimate lazy plugin.
John: It’s called WP Tasks After Install. It’s a very nice plugin. It’s an awesome plugin for when you have to set up a fresh install of WordPress. It takes care of some of the essential items, saving you a few minutes of time by doing the following: it removes the Hello World post, removes the Example page, it changes the name and slug of uncategorized default category to blog, it sets the permalink structure to post name, it removes Hello Dolly and a Kismet plugin – yay!
It disables comments and pings, it deletes the WP Config sample file, it deletes the Readme HTML file, it deletes all themes except the default one, and it deactivates the plugin itself. It is just a really sweet plugin; you install it, turn it on, activate it, it cleans up your mess, then turns itself off, and all you’ve got to do is delete it. So it’s one of those really sweet, perfect, lazy plugins and it had to get a 5-Dragon rating.
Marcus: Okay, I reviewed this also.
John: Oh, did you?
Marcus: Yeah – not on this show —
John: Oh, okay.
Marcus: — but on WordPress Weekly last week. This is the – how do you say it? I’d have to ask your son that speaks French. It’s the coup d’état of lazy plugins.
John: Oh, yeah.
Marcus: It’s the laziest of the lazy that I’ve ever seen.
John: Oh yeah, it’s going to become a permanent fixture for all of my fresh installs.
Marcus: Absolutely, absolutely.
John: Because I go through and do every one of those things manually, currently.
Marcus: Yup, and it does it quick.
Marcus: And by the way, it does it the second that you hit Activate on the plugin. You’re not going somewhere else and then saying, “Start.” No, you activate this plugin, it does its business, and then deactivates itself.
Marcus: It’s the laziest of lazy. It’s the most beautiful plugin I think I’ve ever seen.
John: Yeah, it’s well worthy. That one will be listed up in our new WP Support Store.
Marcus: Yeah, that’s in the hall of fame, absolutely.
Marcus: Okay, I have frequently kind of complained about the customizer, even to the people that have worked on the customizer itself, as to you can do all these settings and all these things, but you can’t save it. I can’t save a version of the customizer if I tweak the theme a little bit and then want to save that file and maybe export it or import it into some other site that I’m working with.
John: Oh! Yeah, okay.
Marcus: It doesn’t let me do that.
Marcus: What if I have a staging site and I’m playing around with the customizer and all I want to do is change the settings on the other site – on a different site?
Marcus: It doesn’t do it. You have to migrate the entire site. How stupid is that? Well, this is called TM Style Switcher. What it allows you to do is to save your theme settings, your skins, and all of that, and do exactly that. You can switch between them at any moment between a saved version and something you’ve already got and activate it. Or, you can even transfer between installations by saving that file. Really nice – it works very, very well. It doesn’t pick up everything. I didn’t get it to do the fonts but it worked otherwise very, very well – and that could have just been between two themes, because it was two different theme styles.
Marcus: If you have brand-specific colors and things like that and you go into it where you need absolutely brand-specific things every time, this is a great way to kind of save those colors out and make sure that any subsites or subpages have this as well. Very cool – TM Style Switcher – I gave it a 4 out of 5.
John: Very nice! I like that idea. That’s going to be very sweet when you’re doing some testing and working in that Dev site and moving live.
Marcus: Yes, absolutely.
John: The final one I’ve got here today is called Stream Status for Twitch. This one here is for those of you (and of course, you’re starting to hear us mention Twitch a little more often than we probably should). But one of the things with Twitch right now is I’m helping a gamer build up his gaming website to display his videos. Since he goes on Twitch to stream live for his viewers, this is a nice way to put on his website whether or not he’s up live on Twitch.
It’s a very simple plugin. You just install it, activate it, connect it up to Twitch, go in and customize the look and feel of what it’s going to display, and it’s done! Very sweet little plugin if you’re a Twitch user or you’re doing development for someone who’s using Twitch and may want to have a nice easy way to tell their users or their fan base when they’re on and offline Twitch, install this plugin. Check it out – Stream Status for Twitch – I gave it a 4-Dragon rating.
Marcus: Excellent, and I’ll tell you what. This is a very interesting way to bring this up. Yeah, we talk about Twitch and it’s a gaming thing where it’s kind of “Livestreamed” gaming. I like it because you can just check out other games and I don’t have waste hours and hours playing the actual game; I can just watch somebody else play. But you bring a very good point, John, that I didn’t really even think about, which is a lot of these gamers actually want websites, too.
Marcus: And some that they control, and that seems like a very good market —
Marcus: — in which to start pitching people about doing websites. It seems like a good, easy flip for you as far as money goes. With all the different Twitch plugins that are out there, it’s starting to turn that way. So if you’re listening to the show, that’s a great idea for you.
John: There you go.
Marcus: All right, last but not least, I want to talk about a WooCommerce plugin. One of the fun things about Amazon is that when you go to Amazon and you look at books, you can actually preview the table of contents and maybe the preface and a couple of other things within the book. Now you can do that with WooCommerce.
So if you’re selling an e-book or a digital product that lends themselves to previews, what this does is it gives actually an extended feature to WooCommerce that enables that document preview in your single product page view. So instead of just having a book cover, you can have the document preview, so somebody can take a look at it and get enticed with it. When you do that, I hope that that document that you’re previewing has some cliffhangers, so to speak – something that would want them to purchase that actual book. Make sure that you’re clear and concise in those previewed pages. It’s called WC Document Preview, and I gave it a 4 out of 5.
John: A very nice way to help promote your products and get people to buy them.
Marcus: Yes, I’ve not seen anything like this for WooCommerce yet.
John: Well, WooCommerce — more and more and more plugins are being developed for WooCommerce. And as a brief tip on WooCommerce, something I’ve experienced this week: if you are building a WooCommerce site, do not use Chase for your credit card processor unless you absolutely have to. The process of getting that thing installed and approved on a website is a nightmare.
John: Oh, God. I’ve never had so much difficulty getting a credit card processing plugin installed and activated. Through the process of getting it approved, they are about the most challenging of all of them out there. So anyway, just as a brief tip, because I’ve been working on that for the past couple of weeks.
Marcus: Hmm…well I see your Chase and raise you a QuickBooks.
John: Oh, yeah. Okay. All right, I’ll give you that one. Yeah, QuickBooks is probably a little worse than Chase. [laughter]
Marcus: Yeah, that was a one-week fun time. Yeah.
John: Yeah. Okay, well this week here I covered up AH About Widget, which I gave a 4 to; WP Tasks After Install, which I gave a 5 to (sweet plugin); and Stream Status for Twitch, which I gave a 4 to.
Marcus: And I talked about Birthday Mail BP for BuddyPress, which gets a 4 out of 5; TM Style Switcher, also a 4 out of 5; and WC (stands for WooCommerce) Document Preview gets a 4 out of 5.
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