Transcript of Episode 256

All transcripts start from the point in the show where we head off into the meat and potatoes. They are the complete verbatim of Marcus and John’s discussion of the weekly plugins we have reviewed.

WordPress Plugins A to Z Podcast and Transcript for Episode #255

Transcript for Episode 256 and we’ve got plugins for Cleaning your Media library, Limiting Login Attempts Visual Composer Realty Listings, Country Based IP Blocking and a great new way to import products into Woo Commerce from Excel.

Episode #256

John:                All right, the first plugin I’ve got this week is a premium plugin. It was sent into us by Jason Xie. It’s called VT Property Plugin and it’s available over at Code Canyon. If you hit the link in the show notes, it is an affiliate link, so please do. We can use the extra $5 if you purchase it. This is a plugin that integrates into Visual Composer, and I remember last week you were talking about Visual Composer add-ons, Marcus, and do this looks to be another one.

Marcus:           Mm-hmm.

John:                And it’s probably going to be more and more of those Visual Composer add-ons, since Visual Composer is becoming so useful. But this plugin here is designed for property websites – real estate websites – be they listings for sale or rent or whatever.

But what it helps you do is create advanced property types for more precise listings. It works great for both rental and sales listings. You can use it with multiple agents, it’s got Google Maps integrations, it helps you create all the specialty items such as rooms, listings, and all the little bits and pieces. Since it integrates into Visual Composer, it helps it look good with your website.

All in all, a pretty good plugin. I gave it a brief checkout but I don’t have any real estate websites I’m working on at this current moment in time. It does check out pretty nice, so I gave it a 4-Dragon rating. So check it out: VT Property Plugin.

Marcus:           Very nice. Yeah, a lot of Visual Composer stuff coming down the pipe lately and it seems like it’s going to be one of those kind of bridges in terms of being able to design pages and components within the page, so I’m looking forward to checking that out.

John, today I want to talk about this first plugin that’s called Media Cleaner and it’s very nice. It basically takes your media library and it scans it and tries to see which items in your media library are not being used in any posts, galleries, and so on. What it does is it helps you to clean out your media library so you don’t have images in there that don’t belong in there. or maybe you have old ones or you uploaded three different ones to get the versions in there – all those things.

Now this is a freemium plugin; there is a pro version which also scans the uploads folder and not necessarily just the media library – it scans everything. It also does something in the pro version where it scans for retina images, tries to pop those down, it also looks in short codes and HTML on the side bars to see if image items are being used or not, and it scans through all pages and post types.

I would have given this a perfect 5 out of 5, but it does have that pro version, which I always take off a point, and it gets a 4 out of 5.

John:                Very nice. Yeah, this is the one I reviewed last week or the week before.

Marcus:           It’s the same one?

John:                Same one – gave it the same rating.

Marcus:           Oh, wow. Well, I actually used it on a site and it was a site that I did some presentations on. Then after I killed the conference, I had 600 images of speakers and slide decks and things like that, and this thing took care of it in about 10 minutes.

John:                Very nice! Yeah, that’s nice. I didn’t have that kind of opportunity to test it, but yeah, it checked out really good then. So check it out, folks. There’s two good resounding reviews for it.

All right, the next one I’ve got here is called WP Limit Login Attempts. It’s another plugin to help limit the logins and attacks on your website. While I’m not a Captcha fan – I really dislike using Captchas unless it’s 100% necessary – this plugin seems to depend on Captchas. What it does is when someone tries to login, they’ve got to enter a Captcha and once that’s entered, they get five attempts to log into the website. After five attempts, it then locks the access for 10 minutes. It’s a pretty simple way to help slow down all the attempts on your website from bots and malicious login attempts.

It does seem to have an issue with the creation of the Caption PHP file that’s working in it. From time to time, you may have to manually create that file when installing this plugin. But it does look like an okay kind of way – fast, quick, and dirty – to block unauthorized access to your website. So if you’re looking for something simple, check out WP Limit Login Attempts. It was sent into us by Arshid KV and I gave this a 3-Dragon rating.

Marcus:           Hmm…nice plugin.

John:                Yeah, it’s a good, average plugin. Nothing super special about it, so —

Marcus:           Yeah. The next plugin for me is a Woocommerce product importer. It is called Woo Product Excel Importer and it does exactly that. It lets you take an Excel sheet and on the fly, you get to import it. It does data mapping so you can kind of drag and drop what fields go to where in Woocommerce. It’s submitted through AJAX, so there’s really no page reloading or anything like that after it happens.

You can import things like title, description, products category, you can include custom taxonomy for things like weight, SKU, and that kind of thing, regular price, sale price, stock, manage the stock, and the product images. All of that can be done right in Excel Import, so if you’ve done any kind of major Woocommerce project with potentially hundreds of different items, this is your way to go. You definitely want to use something like this to import it all at once and then go back in, do a little cleanup, editing, or whatever it takes. I rated this one a 4 out of 5.

John:                Very nice. This is a relatively new one, is it? It is.

Marcus:           Mm-hmm.

John:                Yeah, because last time I did a Woocommerce site that I had to import a couple hundred products, I had to use a different importer, but you definitely want one of these.

Marcus:           Yes.

John:                This one works; check it out, folks.

Marcus:           Yeah, this is different because the other ones that I’ve used did not have custom taxonomy, so it’s even more detailed in terms of what it can import.

John:                Very nice. Okay, the final one I’ve got for you here today is called Country IP Specific Redirections. This is a plugin that will detect what country your visitors are coming from based upon the IP address and then you can either redirect them to a specific page, block them completely, or if you’ve got the urge, send them off to Disneyland if you want.

You set this thing up and it’s pretty simple and basic. Once it’s set up, you go in and you create your list of rules. You have to choose the country and then you can block them by category, by specific posts, or by general landing on your website, and send them off to a very specific page.

Now, this does have some good uses if you’re marketing to specific countries or areas, they come from those specific countries and you can direct them to it. You could direct people from specific countries to specific language sections on your website, for instance, so it can be very useful in that way. Or if you’re getting a lot of traffic from Uzbekistan or Russia or some other strange place and you know you don’t want them, you can redirect all that traffic off to Disneyland.

So all in all, a pretty nice plugin but it does take a fair bit of work to get it all set up. I gave this a 3-Dragon rating. Check it out: Country Specific IP Redirections.

Marcus:           Ooh, we’re running out of short names for plugins, I guess.

John:                Well, you know, there are over 40,000 right now so it gets harder and harder to come up with a name.

Marcus:           Yeah. So the next plugin I’ve got here – the final one for the show – is called User Login History. This is really nice; it’s not a feature that’s native to WordPress. What it does is it looks at all of the different users that you have and provides a complete history for you. It has tracking functions for login, logout, in terms of what time they logged in or out, how long their user session duration was, what IP address was, what browser they were using, operating system, country name, country code, last seen, and all that stuff.

It’s a really nice, comprehensive way to log all of your user activity to see what kind of traction you’ve been getting in terms of your site and it works very, very well, so I gave it a 4 out of 5.

John:                Very nice! It looks like they’ve got some additional features and one of the nice things they could add to it would be to add tracking on what they do when they’re logged in.

Marcus:           Yeah, exactly – like a full history of modifications. What was the thing they used to have that did that?

John:                There was a plugin way back and I haven’t seen it in a while. It’s something that would track the user’s login, their logout, their session duration, but also track if they turned on and off plugins or if they have new posts, or uploaded media, to find out what people are actually doing. That’s a very useful kind of thing to have if you’ve got a multi-administration website and even for yourself, because sometimes it’s hard to remember what you do to a website where you’re working for it.

Marcus:           Is it called Scribe? Was that it?

John:                That might be.

Marcus:           I don’t know. Anyway —

John:                It’s somewhere in the hundreds of plugins we’ve reviewed, which we’ll eventually get this stuff sorted.

All right, well, that’s what we’ve got. This time I covered up VT Property Plugin, which I gave a 4 to; WP Limit Login Attempts, which I gave a 3; and Country IP Specific Redirections, which I have a 3 to.

Marcus:           And I reviewed Media Cleaner (second appearance here on the show), rated that one a 4 out of 5; Woo Product Excel Importer, rated that one a 4 out of 5; and User Login History, also a 4 out of 5.

[End of Audio]



Transcript of Episode 255

All transcripts start from the point in the show where we head off into the meat and potatoes. They are the complete verbatim of Marcus and John’s discussion of the weekly plugins we have reviewed.

WordPress Plugins A to Z Podcast and Transcript for Episode #255

Transcript for Episode 255 and we’ve got plugins for cleaning your Media Library, image enhancements for Visual Composer, Stopping Bots, Custom Bulk Post Delete and a new plugin that integrates live chat with Slack.

John:                All right, well this week here I’ve got great plugins for you, the first of which is a freemium plugin. It’s called Media Cleaner and what it’s designed to do is help you clean up your media library or your uploads folder. Now as a preemptive warning, before you use this plugin, ensure that you have a complete backup of all files. What it helps you do is delete files from within your WordPress dashboard. Once you delete them, they are gone forever. It not only deletes the files, but it also deletes data in the database that’s assigned those files. You want to make sure you’ve got both a file system backup and a database before you start playing with something like this.

So, that being said, now one of the great things about it is if you’ve had a website for any amount of time under WordPress, you will build up random files in your media library. I know I’ve got a few and every once in a while I’ll need to clean it up, because I get stuff in there I upload and I never use and it just clutters things up.

This goes through and it scans and helps you find which files need to be deleted or which ones you can terminate that are not connected to a post or a page within your website. Now they also have a premium version which is only $14 and it allows you to scan and check the entire upload directory for extra files. So check it out, it’s a pretty decent plugin, it works fairly well. I give it a 4-dragon rating and it’s called Media Cleaner.

Marcus:           Well, that’s pretty important but yes, as you mentioned, I can’t stress how important it is to actually backup everything, not just for that plugin but for every plugin that you install.

John:                Yes.

Marcus:           You need to take precautions like that.

John:                Always make backups.

Marcus:           So one of the things that I’ve been actually kind of getting into lately is Visual Composer. The reason is this: Visual Composer and also something else called Cornerstone, which is kind of a hack off of Visual Composer. But Visual Composter is interesting because it allows you to use one plugin and no matter what the theme happens to be, you can really stylize it and do a lot of other cool kind of page builder type tools and not be theme-dependent.

I’ve run into some problems lately with the Divvy theme on a client’s site that they weren’t doing anything spectacular in terms of building with the Divvy theme. But because of the fact that they were building a hundred and something courses within their site in Divvy and using the Divvy builder, I can’t change the theme.

John:                Ah, yes.

Marcus:           Right? I can’t change out of the Divvy theme without screwing up hundreds of pages, so they all have to be rebuilt. What we’re going to rebuild them in is Visual Composter. The reason is by the time – I know that I can change these pages, make them look nice, and then when it comes to changing over the theme, those pages will remain intact in terms of how they look and I don’t have to redesign them a second time. Now that’s Visual Composer; that’s why I use it.

Now, I want to talk about what this plugin does. This is called Image Hover Effects and I think with Visual Composer and the 2016 theme, you can just about make every other theme you’ve ever seen with this plugin too in Image Hover Effects. It adds probably 50 different image hover effects into Visual Composer and you can animate them, do lightbox stuff, custom links, and all of that kind of thing.

This is a freemium version. There is a pro version attached to this, but in terms of animations and changing images into squares and circles and being completely responsive and all of that, this one is outstanding. So I thought this plugin is – if you use Visual Composer at all, this is something that you should install. I gave it a 4 out of 5. It would have been a perfect 5 out of 5, but again, there is a paid version and I always take one off for that.

John:                Still, very nice. It can actually help you out quite a bit, I’m sure.

Marcus:           Yes.

John:                All right, the next one I’ve got and this one that is near and dear to me because I’m constantly battling it. Most everyone is, even if they don’t know it, which is bad bots hitting your WordPress website, sucking down your bandwidth, creating overloads, creating grief with you, your hosting provider – everybody. Blocking them is sometimes a pain in the neck. You’ve got to add [inaudible 16:52] access rules or block IPs, and it just goes on and on.

This is a nice, simple plugin to allow you to block bad bots, such as the Chinese Baidu bot, if you have no reason to be doing business with the Chinese, which is one of the worst bots out there. Anyway, this one here, simply set it up, plug it in, turn it on, go to the settings page, and pick the bots you’d like to pick. They give you a predetermined list of the known worst offenders and you can even add your own offenders if you make a collection of it. It’s got a custom blacklist for it. Just a few simple clicks and you’re off.

This was one of those plugins that was just so simple, great, and it actually worked, we had to make this one a Top 5-Dragon rating. Check it out, it’s called StopBadBots.

Marcus:           And one of the other bots that you need to think about too is not just search engine bots; these are manual website scraper bots —

John:                Oh, yeah.

Marcus:           — because they emulate Google and things like that. How do I know? Because I use them. I use them to scrape competitors’ sites and, you know, that’s how that works.

John:                Oh, yeah.

Marcus:           So–

John:                Yeah, it works and the idea is to block them.

Marcus:           Right, so I’m not going to reveal the tools I use, because I might want to scrape one of our listener’s sites – I don’t know.

John:                You never know. They might have something useful for us.

Marcus:           Yeah. Okay, the next plugin I want to talk about is called Drift, and this is a completely free plugin. But what it does is it allows you to do live chat on your website. That’s no big deal. We’ve heard of that before, right?

John:                Yeah.

Marcus:           But this one actually integrates with Slack, so if you’re a Slack user, it’s not just integrating live chat to one person, one app, or somebody logged into a page. It actually goes into Slack and then one of your entire team members – anybody on your team – can pick up that message and just start rolling with it in terms of the chat.

John:                Nice!

Marcus:           So Slack obviously is desktop, it’s mobile, it’s all of that, so it just integrates really, really well with that. It also works with HubSpot, Marketo, MailChimp, Zapier, Intercom, SalesForce, Segments, and a bunch of other different services that it ties into. That’s where the paid part of it comes in too, in terms of your integration. But if you want to go straight into Slack, this is totally free – completely free – and I rated it a perfect 5 out of 5.

John:                Very nice! You know, that can be quite useful. I’ve used Slack from time to time and it comes in handy to communicate with your customers in real-time, beautiful.

Marcus:           Yeah, it’s awesome.

John:                All right, the final one I’ve got here is called Tree Website Map. Now, I know website maps are no longer the rage they once were, you know, creating a map for your users to a visual display map. But every once in a while they’re useful, especially if you’ve got a lot of varied content. It’s good to break it out for people to find it a little easier and creating those maps can sometimes be a pain in the neck, especially if it’s being done manually.

But this is an automatic plugin that allows you to turn on the plugin, go create two types of map, either a vertical map tree or a horizontal map tree. The horizontal one actually will bring in images from your featured images if you have them set for your posts and pages. It builds a tree based upon the categories, the page hierarchies, and all sorts of different ways. It builds it fairly quickly; a fairly nice tree that you can then display on any page with a short code. So it’s a very nice website map tool. Check it out, it’s called Tree Website Map and I rated it at 4 Dragons.

Marcus:           Awesome! So another thing that I’ve been doing is kind of trimming the trees when it comes to content and deleting some old things and old post types within a client’s site. I really was kind of ticked off at how long it was taking and just the whole process, so I went out looking for a plugin – like I usually do – and I found one that actually just came out recently. It’s called WP Bulk Post Delete.

Now, it’s really not that big of a deal but, you know, we can go through and delete our posts 20 at a time or whatever our screen setting happens to be, but it’s not really intelligent. We have to keep going through these navigation points and deleting all of it ourselves. So this plugin actually does something different. It allows you to bulk delete posts according to conditions, like you can delete according to a date range – delete everything that’s older than 2014 is what I did.

You can also assign what their post status is: give me everything that’s pending and delete it. You can do categories and you can do it with custom post types as well.

John:                Oh, sweet!

Marcus:           So this really, really helps out in terms of weeding out a site, making sure that all of the brush has been cleared in terms of the old stuff and in with the new. It’s called WP Bulk Post Delete and I gave it a 4 out of 5.

John:                Very nice. Yeah, it looks like it could be quite useful for cleaning up an old website that has a lot of old data.

Marcus:           Yes.

John:                And we’re seeing more and more of those these days as people have been having their websites up for three, four, and five years now.

Marcus:           Yeah, and not just that. What about demo content when you install a theme?

John:                That’s always a problem too with demo content.

Marcus:           So you’d want to kill that stuff off as well, so find out what your install date was and kill posts that are a week older than that in terms of when you put it on.

John:                And the sweet thing here is after you kill the posts with this and it has left behind those images, you can go back to that first plugin I reviewed and go clean up the images now.

Marcus:           Oh, yeah – and then send them the bill!

John:                Yeah, there you go. That’s a bonus. All right, well in this week here I covered up Media Cleaner, which I gave a 4 to, StopBadBots, which a gave a 5 to, and then Tree Website Map, which I gave a 4 to.

Marcus:           And I talked about Image Hover Effects (Visual Composer extension) and gave that one a 4 out of 5, Drift, a 5 out of 5, and WP Bulk Post Delete and gave that one a 4 out of 5.

[End of Audio]