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.
It’s Episode 207 and we’ve got plugins for Displaying Staff Members, Post Type Checklists, Spam Fighting Plugins, WordPress Walkthroughs and a plugin that could be the potential BuddyPress Killer. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!
John: All right, the first plugin I’ve got here is one that was referred to us. It was referred by Simon Wang, and thanks a lot, Simon. This plugin is called Sidekick, and what it’s for is it’s an excellent back end helper for you or your clients. And what it does is it has numerous pre-prepared walk-throughs on how to do things like create posts, change a user, create a user. There’s several different walk-throughs through it. Once you start a walk-through on it, what it does is it sort of locks the screen and forces you to follow the prompts and click on each item through the prompts until you’re done. That way you sort of follow in seeing how it works.
You can stop it at any time by double clicking on it, stop the walk-through, and continue back to your normal WordPress website. It works very well. Also currently they only offer it as the free version. While they do have plans for several layers of paid versions, but in the free version you can create up to three custom walk-throughs of your own and save them for you or your clients, depending on what you’re doing. And with that kind of aspect there, you could create something as unique as say, you just put in a great slider plugin and you need them to know how to create a slider, because they’re going to call you half a dozen times before they finally get it sunk into their heads how to do it.
You create that, they click the walk-through, they walk through it, and they are refreshed on how to do that. So this is a great plugin — fantastic. It seemed to work quite smoothly and has lots of promise for the future. But even starting right off the bat, I have to give this a top 5-Dragon rating: Sidekick.
Marcus: Wow! Is there — okay, so what’s the difference between — there’s a pro version of this?
John: Well, it’s — the premium version right now, the difference I’ve seen in the pro version on their website is the pro version is going to offer 10 walk-throughs, 20 walk-throughs, or unlimited walk-throughs you can create.
John: That’s what I saw was the difference, so you can create more walk-throughs. But you get started with the free version with being able to create three walk-throughs.
Marcus: Hmm…that’s pretty cool.
Marcus: All right, I want to talk about a frequent section or rather that we all get asked to make if we do WordPress websites for businesses. John, I’m speaking of the team member page or the staff page — administration — whatever you want to call it, right?
Marcus: And for the most part, it kind of stinks, doesn’t it? But the way that we’ve been kind of forced to make these things, it’s either been — I’ve seen a lot of themes on Theme Forest, that that’s like their only, you know, call to glory is that whole they can make a cool team page and every part else of the theme sucks.
Marcus: So this plugin is called Team Members, and it adds a team section right into the admin panel, which you can then showcase your staff, employees, people, contributors, anything like that. You add different members to the teams, so you make teams and you add their picture, their position, their bio, and then social links. And you can just reorder them anytime you want or display them — this is the key — display them via short code within any posts or page that you want — and even on widgets and stuff.
So I thought this was amongst all of the little staff or bio pages that I’ve seen, this was pretty cool. It worked really well. I don’t like that it only has three social links. I think I should be able to make anything that I want as far as different fields and populate them. So for that, I took a point off but otherwise, very good concept, very good execution, very easy to use, and quite simply they had some great instructions that went along with this.
The cool thing about it is it’s actually responsive as well, so that’s a big plus in my book. So it went from a 5, to a 3, to now the final solution here, which is a 4.
John: Still, it sounds like a pretty great plugin for creating a team section.
Marcus: It is worth checking out and it does adhere quite well to the existing theme, which not a lot of plugins out there that do those types of things do that. They always look like crap. So this one at least will maintain within your CSS and it’s pretty easy to adjust it if you have to.
John: Excellent. All right, well the next plugin I’ve got — the next couple of plugins I’ve got are anti-spam plugins and I’m probably going to do the next show where it’ll probably be an anti-spam show for me, because I’m reviewing a lot of anti-spam plugins in preparation for a presentation I’m giving next week. But this —
Marcus: You know what then? I’m gonna do nothing but email plugins.
John: There you go! Anti-spam and email.
Marcus: To combat your spam.
John: Anti-spam and email. So at any rate, this one here is called Spam Master. This is one of the first one I’ve checked out. It looks very promising from the description and everything else, until I installed it. Now it looks really good, it works all right. It’s a premium plugin and the free version that I was testing which you get from the WP.org site, is limited in how much blocking it’s going to do. If you want the maximum blocking for it, you have to pay for the premium version.
Not a bad thing in and of itself, but the limitations sort of drove the usage of the plugin as a premium down into the middle ground. Although it does allow you to create your own whitelists and blacklists, this one only seems to work with registrations. It doesn’t seem to work with other areas of the site. So all in all, not a bad plugin. Spam Master — check it out. I gave it a 3-Dragon rating.
Marcus: Spam Master!
Marcus: I like it. That’s pretty cool. All right, this other plugin, the second one in my list, is called Post Type Requirements Checklist. This one is awesome. It uses kind of these standards to add options for just the meta boxes that you want and require in order to have a post put out. So you can require that the thing has to have a featured image, or else it doesn’t spit it — you can’t post it.
Marcus: It won’t publish it. Or have content put in in a specific way if you have a custom post template say, and all of those particular fields have to be filled out if you select so, which is awesome because oftentimes I’m doing those types of things and doing importing, either from like, you know, an importer of some kind or moving different content over. And this is my failsafe now that I know that junk content or content that’s not formatted correctly never gets published —
Marcus: — without this thing going off. So it’s called Post Type Requirements Checklist. It’s definitely worth checking out yourself and I rated it a perfect 5 out of 5.
John: I think I have a use for that on a website I’m currently building for a client. We want to make sure that when we create the content, it’s done all the correct ways.
Marcus: Yeah, so let me give you another example. If you’re putting in recipes or you have a custom post type for recipes. You know, you’ve got to have in there the temperature that you’re supposed to preheat the oven in that little blank. And that — because that’s a key element, right?
John: Yeah, a key element.
Marcus: So that’s what it does. It doesn’t let the post go out until all of these things are in the required checklists are filled in.
Marcus: It’s just like what you would do with a form, right?
John: Double-checking required fields.
John: Okay, the final one I’ve got here today is called Stop Spammer Registrations Plugin. Now while this seems like it’s a plugin that’s only gonna stop spammer registrations and people wonder, “Well, why don’t you just turn off registrations?” Well, the thing is if you’ve got an E-commerce store or something else, you’ve got to turn on registrations for your website. Once you turn those on, the spammers will come and register on your website in droves. And there’s various ways to slow them down: Captchas, check boxes, spam traps, and everything else. But it doesn’t seem to dry them up; it only draws them down to a small trickle.
This plugin here seems to dry them up completely. And it not only stops the spammer registrations, but I also discovered it stops spammer commenters and it stops spammers in other areas on the site. But this plugin is very aggressive with its base settings, so much so we discovered this the hard way on a client’s site. We put it on there to stop the spammer registrations, which immediately dried up when we turned this on.
But what also happened is they had a couple of regular commentators on their website that couldn’t place a comment. It kept getting wiped out as spam because of the settings. So we had to tone them back a little bit so some of their regular commentators could get in there. But what it meant is that their regular commentators are listed on spam lists somewhere, because one of the things that this plugin does is use spam lists — real-time blocking lists — to help block the spammers. So other than that, this one here turns out to be a fantastic plugin. Stop Spammers Registration Plugin and I had to give this a top 5-Dragon rating.
Marcus: So does it prevent them from being able to make a comment to begin with?
John: No, no.
Marcus: Or does it –?
John: They can go through, fill it all out. As soon as they hit ‘submit,’ they get a window that says, “Your comment has been deleted as spam.”
Marcus: Oh! Nice — denied!
John: Yeah. It’s — you know, it’s just brutal.
Marcus: Can I customize that message?
John: Probably — I don’t know. I never got in to dig into that.
Marcus: Ooh, yeah. You got knocked out. That’s what I’d be putting in there.
Marcus: Okay John, how much do you hate Buddy Press?
John: I don’t know. I’ve only used it a couple of times but I’ve been asked to do it on a website coming up sometime soon, so I’ll probably hate it a lot then.
Marcus: Oh, and let me ask you: why did they want it?
John: They’ve got a community website they want to put together.
Marcus: And are they stuck to Buddy Press?
John: No, we’re in the development stages of this project.
Marcus: All right John, that’s music to my ears, because I’m gonna tell you about Ultimate Member. This could be the Buddy Press killer. I’ll try and put some reverb in that section.
John: Yeah, I’m not that good with the effects.
Marcus: Here’s what it does: it provides a complete kind of both member and community kind of just like Buddy Press, BB Press. It allows front-end registration, login, editing their own profiles, you can put your own custom form fields in. Drag-n-drop form builder on that, by the way, along with conditional logic. There’s a dedicated user account page, custom user roles, searchable member directories. Going outward, custom TML email templates that can be sent, content restriction, conditional menus even. It’s completely mobile and totally responsive in any device, SEO optimized, and completely developer-friendly, as far as theme integration.
Marcus: It’s pretty cool but it ain’t Buddy Press yet.
Marcus: It’s getting there and I’m telling you, there’s gonna be a social war going on in WordPress in 2015 with Triple J out there getting $50,000 to contribute to Buddy Press and BB Press and making those better, and that’s going to be his full-time gig this year, not doing nothing but that.
Marcus: Now you’ve got Ultimate Member, which is days old and it’s poised, and it does a lot of things that Buddy Press does not do.
Marcus: But I rated it a 4 out of 5. Close, but no cigar.
John: Well, I imagine it’s going to pick up when it’s downloaded 262 times. Yeah, it’s like brand new.
Marcus: Yeah. Yes it is hot off the press, John. And I will say this: I’ve tried to incorporate Buddy Press in some corporate environments on corporate sites.
Marcus: No way. It didn’t — no way. I mean, unless you know WordPress, Buddy Press is probably not going to be a good solution for the front end user. It’s just kind of clunky. So this one maybe has some potential. Try it, all of you listening, and let me know. Let me know what you think — Ultimate Member, 4 out of 5.
John: All right, well then we’ll check that one out. I think I’ll give it a go around.
John: See if it’s worth it.
Marcus: Yeah, it’s worth it.
John: All right, that covers up our plugins. I covered up this week Sidekick, which I gave a 5 rating to, I covered up Spam Master to help stop the spam, which I gave a 3 to, and then the Stop Spammers Registration, which can be very strong and I gave a 5 rating to.
Marcus: And I talked about Team Member. I didn’t realize I had two things named ‘Member’ this week. Team Member, which allows you to illustrate your staff, their social profiles and all that kind of thing — I gave that one a 4 out of 5. Post Type Requirement Checklist, which is an awesome preflight that’s for custom post type fields and anything like that. I gave that one a 5 out of 5. And we just talked about Ultimate Member, the potential — ready? — the potential Buddy Press killer but not. I gave that one a 4 out of 5.
John: It’s only a few days old, man. Give it some time and we’ll see where it goes.
Marcus: Yep. Yeah.