WordPress Plugins A to Z Podcast and Transcript for See complete show notes for Episode #307 here.
It’s Episode 307 and we’ve got plugins for Creating Catalogs, Live Group Chat, Grabbing Youtube Subtitles, Google Customer Reviews and Custom User Profiles. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!
John: Okay, this week here I’ve got a couple of plugins for producing catalogues on WordPress, and catalogues are slightly different than your normal e-commerce store that you would build with WooCommerce in that you’re usually not displaying prices; you’re just displaying a set of goods or some information in such a way that it’s like a catalogue search. So I was having to do research for a project I’m getting ready to take on and this week here, I examined two – actually, I examined three but I’m only going to highlight two of them – the two better ones that I found. And so the first one I’ve got here is called Huge IT Product Catalogue.
This plugin was originally suggested to me by my client for what they might like to see as a product catalogue for the upcoming project. While I was looking at it and it’s a really nice, visually appealing catalogue in how it works, it did lack a lot of the essentials that are needed for the project. One of the essentials that we were in need of was the client has, you know, a couple of thousand items that have to go in here and if you’ve got to put these in here manually, it’s like a no-go. You’ve got to be able to import it via CSV, because they have the CSV file and we just want to bring all the data in and all you’ve got to do is modify the headers in the CSV file to match whatever you’re doing.
So this is one of the big things with this one; it didn’t have a CSV import or an add-on to allow CSV import. It also didn’t allow for custom fields to allow us to add in additional information that’s not built in as part of the catalogue. If you’re going to build a basic catalogue, you’re going to sell watches or jewelry or something, a good catalogue, very visually appealing, a very nice one. But if you’re going to go slightly off where we’re headed, this is not quite a plugin that will work for you. It would require you to do way too much work.
But all in all, pretty basic for a good basic catalogue plugin. Check it out at WordPress.org, linked in the show notes, and I gave Huge IT Product Catalogue a 3-Dragon rating.
Marcus: Three, huh?
John: Yeah, it doesn’t get a four because just – it’s a good basic one. It just – it lacks too much. It’s very visually appealing. I think the developers spent more time on the visual than they did the functional.
Marcus: Hmm…I’m startled. That startled me a little bit, that three.
John: Yeah, well…
Marcus: Okay, well, we’ve got to warn you of that stuff, too.
John: Yeah, I gave them…like I said, you get honest reviews here.
Marcus: That’s right.
John: Keep donating, get the honest reviews. You know?
Marcus: Okay, so let me just describe a scenario of something that I was working on. I want to be able to do live streaming but do it not through Facebook Live or things like that. I want to make it so that my members can see it and no one else. And with that, your streams – your options – are a little bit limited. You could go with Google or some of these other things. I went with something completely different in terms of embedding that live stream, but I wanted to include a live group chat where people could also ask me questions live. But I wanted to make sure that they were members. I didn’t just want anybody getting into that chat, so I found this plugin called Live Group Chat.
And what it does, it’s just like any other full, you know, group chat, where a bunch of people can get on it. It’s very fast, very simple. It uses AJAX messages and operates just like a regular one does, but you can restrict this to only allow people that are registered within your WordPress site to actually ask questions. What it does is it uses an internal database to save the chats as well right within your site and it gets automatically deleted after one week, so you don’t have this lingering ongoing chat session. So you can actually copy it – which is what I’m doing, copying that chat and then pasting it in sort of the show notes so that you can see everybody’s questions and all the answers and links that go to it.
It’s very easy to configure. It uses either a widget or shortcodes for display and I rated it a 4 out of 5.
John: Very nice! That can be quite useful if you’re doing group chats.
Marcus: It’s one of the best that I’ve seen in terms of that. There are others that you can just embed the HTML code, you know, some external third-party thing. But this is one of the few that I’ve seen that interacts directly within WordPress and the WordPress user database.
John: Nice. Okay, well the next one I’ve got here today is called Ultimate Product Catalogue. Now, this one here – while I was doing my research, I ran across this one and then I recalled it seems that it was actually submitted to us about a month and a half ago, which was very timely for me. It was sent in by Stephanie Hrubi from Etoile Web Design, the creators of the plugin. So I got to check out the premium version of the plugin.
This is a freemium plugin which offers up both of them, but you can get the free version over at WordPress.org and it is a very nice plugin. The visual is very good but one of the best things I found about this plugin is even in the free version you can do a CSV import and export of your data. What I found initially was I had to do a little bit of tweaking with it, but was trying to do something outside the norm. So what I had to do was enter a product, create all the fields I needed, and this one here also offers up the ability to create custom fields for all the additional data you might need. It’s very simple to do; it creates a catalogue and it creates separate catalogues. You can create multiple catalogues and then insert those catalogues in different places on your site via a shortcode.
Now, once you’ve created your initial product, you then export out that CSV file and then you have all the headers you need for adjusting your CSV file that you currently have. Once you do that, then you reimport that CSV file and all your data is there in one smooth motion. A very great plugin; it was very responsive, it worked well, the smoothness of it was great, the fact that visually it’s initially okay, but you can go in and manually adjust all the visuals that you need. They’ve got a drag-and-drop Wiziwig editor that you can customize the placement of all the components. They put a lot into this plugin.
When you go to the premium version, you’ll need that for the custom fields and a couple other items with it. But most of what you want with it is there in the free version. The premium version is only $30 for a single site license. Anyway, a great plugin: the Ultimate Product Catalogue. These guys here managed to just knock it right out of the park, so I gave it a 5-Dragon rating.
Marcus: Awesome. All right, well let me follow it up with another great one. This plugin is called Google Customer Reviews for WooCommerce, and what it does is it enables you to integrate to Google’s merchant center. They have this thing called Google Customer Reviews in there and it allows you to actually use that within your WooCommerce store. It also allows the survey opt-in code into your thank you page and the option to have a pop-up come up to where they can actually leave a review and it ends up right in the Google merchant center for your site.
Marcus: And I want to say something about this…this is kind of a hack right now – I wouldn’t say hack, but it’s a strategic advantage for you to start having your customers fill out these Google customer reviews within the merchant center, because that’s generally what pops up in the shopping area when you do a search within Google for specific products or things. I will say the adoption level of it so far by some of the bigger merchants out there is very light. So you can give yourself a strategic advantage by installing this, trying it out to see if it’s something that works for you if you have products that you commonly compete with Amazon and the rest of them. This is something that can give you that advantage with people that use Google.
The one thing is you do need to have and paste in your Google Merchant ID into the plugin settings, but otherwise this thing works very, very well. Very easily customizable and the benefits are enormous. I rated it a perfect 5 out of 5.
John: Very nice! Yeah, that can give you a big advantage getting that information from people, because you know, they leave your site and they don’t always want to go back to your Google page to leave a review.
Marcus: Right, and that sort of ties them to you as well —
Marcus: — because their Google persona is now connected to your store.
Marcus: So who knows what that could lead to in the future in terms of sales or new products that Google may put out, and I don’t even know the algorithm may also has their searching for products list yours first because they’ve already shopped there.
John: Yeah, it could be. All right, well the final plugin I’ve got here today is just a simple one. This one here is called YouTube Subtitle Grabber. Now, it’s a very simple plugin in that one of the great things it does for you is you just set it up and it’ll go in with a code and grab the subtitle content from a YouTube video and place it on your website as content.
When I was thinking about it and looking at it, I wasn’t sure of what it could be used for, but one of the projects I’ve got coming up here in the future is building out a YouTube video website for a game player who puts in really good notes, and this will help grab that information, pull it into his website, and display it on his website. You could do this with any videos that you have or if you curate videos of others, it allows you to grab some of that content from their video and display it on your website.
All in all, I’m not sure of what benefits or anything it’s going to bring, but it did seem like a good way to add a little more information to any YouTube videos you’re going to be placing on your website than just the standard title of the video and any snippet you might put in there. This might grab some information that the creator of the video has added to it. So anyway, check it out: YouTube Subtitle Grabber, and I gave it a 3-Dragon rating.
Marcus: All right, here’s my question: is it shortcode-based?
Marcus: Okay. So it grabs the stuff on the fly?
John: You enter the post title and video ID and then it generates the information and places it on your site.
John: So it grabs it directly from YouTube by post title and video ID.
Marcus: Oh, so actually it would be self-updating —
Marcus: — if someone went in and edited those show notes, so to speak?
John: I don’t know if it’s self-updating or not. It might make it permanent and then add more. I don’t know that. I don’t have an answer for that because I haven’t tried it to that extent.
Marcus: Hmm…interesting. I’ll have to check that out myself and try that.
Okay, this is a very interesting plugin that I kind of just found on the Repository and I installed it on a staging site and just tried it with a few test sites and it looked pretty good. It’s called WP Profile Builder and with this plugin, you actually can create user profile templates, altering how the typical user page gets displayed. So this is more kind of for an admin thing, but it has some end user components into it as well.
You can get a user list page, you can real-time search users and view user profiles and such. But it does is it gives you the ability to create kind of custom that appear during registration as well, and you can search queries of users, rather than just seeing the entire users list by access or by geographic region, by any of those things that you set up ahead of time, and this does that. So if you’ve got a lot of users and I manage one site in particular that’s got about 50,000 users with a bunch of different membership levels on them. I really want to incorporate something like this to make the weeding of the users a little bit easier. You can do it by last login or things like that. You can set it up with any kind of field value you want. It’s called WP Profile Builder, and I rated it a 4 out of 5.
John: That sounds like a very useful website if you’ve got a lot of profiles on your site.
Marcus: Yeah. It can get crazy after – you know, most people only have a few users on their site and if not just a couple hundred, maybe from the comments that got left. But when you get into the thousands, it becomes unmanageable.
John: Absolutely. Okay, well I covered up in this week’s episode the Huge IP Product Catalogue, which I gave a 3 to; the Ultimate Product Catalogue, which I gave a 5 to; and then the YouTube Subtitle Grabber, which I gave a 3 to.
Marcus: And I talked about Live Group Chat, which gets a 4 out of 5, Google Customer Reviews for WooCommerce gets a 5 out of 5, and WP Profile Builder gets a 4 out of 5.