WordPress Plugins A to Z Podcast and Transcript for See complete show notes for Episode #317 here.
It’s Episode 317 and we’ve got plugins for Caldera Forms, Post Carousel & Slider, Facebook Messenger, Before and After Images, Robot Fireworks and your listener feedback. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!
John: This week here my first plugin is one that was sent in to us. It’s called Post Carousel & Slider and it was sent in to us by Aeonian. At any rate, it’s another post slider plugin but it does seem to be a bit easier to use than some I have used to create post sliders in the past. One of the great things I found about this is it has support for custom post types, which is really important when you’re creating a post slider. You can also include or exclude categories. You can also show posts only of a certain tag, so if you have posts that are tagged with the word ‘plugin’ you can show only the posts with ‘plugin’, which would be a nightmare on our site.
But you can also show posts based on a keyword search. It has a component in it where you can put a specific keyword and it will only show posts that are related to that keyword into the area. You can determine how many posts appear per page, you can choose a layout from full width to grid style to single image with very nice choices on it. Then you insert it in your site via shortcode or if you’re into embedding it into your template, it’s got the PHP code that you can embed into your template. So all in all, a pretty decent post carousel and slider plugin. Check it out: Post Carousel & Slider and I gave it 4 Dragons.
Marcus: Very nice! Very nice. Okay, so I’m going to try a couple of things here. Maybe we can see my screen. Do you see my screen, John?
John: I do see your screen.
Marcus: Awesome, okay. So I’m going to screen share just kind of the old way.
Marcus: The first plugin that I want to talk about today (if I can pull my notes up over here) is Caldera Forms. Okay, so we’ve talked about this plugin before and it’s really – you know, I’ve done a lot of form work before and if you can see my screen – I don’t know if you can, but this is something that’s kind of unlike – it’s more of a drag-n-drop form builder. What’s different about it is first, that you can put side-by-side fields together.
Marcus: Right? And here’s the cool thing, John, is if you could see this.
John: I can see it.
Marcus: I can actually shrink down and move different things around, so I can put a different item in here. I can do all kinds of extra stuff when it comes to putting a form together.
Marcus: I can change the width, I can do all kinds of stuff, move things around, all that stuff. So this is more intuitive than any kind of form builder that I’ve ever really seen and it does a lot of the conditional formatting stuff that you see on Gravity Forms, that you see on all kinds of other stuff, and it’s free out of the gates. So there’s nothing wrong with trying different things but Caldera is one of the most amazing form applications. I believe we talked about it on the show previously —
John: We have.
Marcus: — but this is the first kind of hands-on, moving it around, doing different side-by-side fields, and things like that that I’ve experienced with it, and I gave it a perfect 5 out of 5.
John: Very cool. Now, one of the nice things about that folks, if you want to see what he was demonstrating and showing, go look at the live replay of our live site today, because it won’t be in the regular screencast of iCapture.
Marcus: Right. Right – and by the way, so John and I are using Google Hangouts for this. But we have other things and tools that we’re working on. It’s just today I’ve had so many connection issues and driver issues and all kinds of stuff. So within – geez, a couple weeks – John and I are gonna really have this humming.
John: We will. All right, next one up I’ve got here is just a simple one. It comes from the last page of the recommended plugins in WordPress when I was just bored and went on to see what they recommend. Well, the first few pages are the usual stuff and I was kind of like, I wonder how they figure out how to recommend a plugin. So at any rate, I skipped all the way to the last page to see what was there or if there was anything interesting.
This one here is in honor of WP Plugins show approaching Episode 320 and it’s called Rocket Fireworks. And now that we have more stuff to celebrate, I thought it’d be kind of a cool thing to put up, especially when I unveiled the new WordPress Plugins A to Z site that I’m working on since I’ve had to do some work there. This plugin here is quite simple. You just plug it in, turn it on, and anytime someone loads a page, it launches half a dozen fireworks onto the screen and they burst in different spots. Six seconds later, they’re gone, they can read what they’re doing, and be on their way. So it is kind of a cool simple plugin. It doesn’t add much but it adds some entertainment or some celebration to your site if you need some of that for whatever you’re going to do. At any rate, check it out: Rocket Fireworks and I gave it a 3-Dragon rating.
Marcus: Okay, now let me ask you a little something about this.
Marcus: Because now, you know, this is just like these a-ha moments that I’m sure people that listen get all the time when we talk about different plugins. So how is this triggered? Is it just on a specific page load and all of a sudden boom?
John: It loads on every page. It has no settings; you turn it on, it’s active, you turn it off, it’s inactive.
Marcus: Oh, that’s too bad
John: It can get irritating that way, I imagine. But it might be cool for a short day or two after I launch the new site and then I’ll turn it off.
Marcus: I am looking at that as sort of a gamification type of a thing that could be done if somebody completes a quiz or completes a course.
John: Oh, I’m sure you could set it up. I’m sure with the right coding you could set it up to be tagged to a trigger of some sort.
Marcus: Yeah. See, this is one of those instances where we know about a plugin, we know that it’s great, and we know that there are other uses for it, so sometimes we fork it off —
Marcus: — into our own plugins, and I think this is one I’m gonna chalk up to future development and future changing around.
John: Yeah, well I’ve got a few out there that are in development right now. They’re taking a little longer than I thought and I can’t wait until we actually get them done.
Marcus: Yeah. Okay, so the next thing that we’re gonna talk about and John actually has a plugin for this as well is Facebook Live Chat, okay? So it’s pretty simple. The one that I’m talking about is called Zotabox, and this is a third-party service and it’s a freemium plugin. So what happens is you just set up basically what you want, tagged text, image button icon, all of that. It’s on a third party that you set all these things up but it integrates beautifully once you have it turned on.
What happens is you customize completely the message and there’s a little tab that ends up at the bottom of the page. In this instance, you kind of see it – those of you watching on video – down here in the corner. When you click on it, it just pops up the thing and you get to type in your message and it’s all done. I really liked the way that this was configured in the way that you get all these little extras that go along with this. It has display rules as well as far as who to show it to, the minimum screen size that you want to show this to. So maybe you only want to show it to desktop people and not show it to mobile, you know? Maybe it’s something different that you want for that instance. You can select to show it on only specific pages and by that, you can actually limit it to URLs.
Marcus: So it’s only on specific URLs or it’s not on specific URLs. It’s got a lot of filtering options as well, so I really liked this one. It worked very, very well for my wife’s website that’s launching for her new business and so a lot is out there in terms of Facebook Chat, but this is definitely one of my favorites just because of the customization level. I was able to actually match these site colors and these style sheets specifically and it worked really, really well for me. So, you know, there’s a lot of these things out there as I said, but this one’s probably one of the best. I can’t wait to hear what John’s plugin is. But because this is a freemium plugin, I took one off, so I rated it a 4 out of 5.
John: Very cool. It could be a very useful item.
John: Next up I have a plugin called WP Live Messenger and I was just sort of digging through the WordPress Repository to see what I could find, something new and different, and then I realized the live messengers from your WordPress websites are becoming more and more popular. Let’s see what we’ve got and this one here is the first one that popped into my view and it’s a pretty decent one.
It’s straightforward and easy to use and all you have to do with it is install it, activate it, and then put the URL to your Facebook page in there. Then it creates an icon up in the top right which is adjustable in the settings. When people click that icon it opens up a window that they can instantly start a messenger chat service with you to your Facebook page. It also list up a few other items from your Facebook page, so it’s a good way to sort of get people involved into your Facebook page. It is something I’m going to experiment with once the new WP Plugins website goes live again and we’ll put this in there and see how well it works out. But all in all at the moment, it’s looking like it’s going to be a good 4-Dragon rated plugin. Check it out: WP Live Messenger.
Marcus: Very nice, very nice. Okay, so we’re going to wrap this up with a final one. I have talked in the past about before and after image plugins, and this is a perfect example for those of you following along on the video. So my wife’s business is she does something called microblading, which is kind of a temporary tattoo of women’s eyebrows and this is the application for it. So what you do is you set two images up and it has a little slider that goes before and after. Those of you that can see this, you can see that I’m kind of sliding back and forth on this woman’s face and you can see her thin old ‘before’ eyebrows and then when you slide over, it’s the actual ‘after’ shot where they’re actually finished with the job and you can see how thick and full the eyebrows look. Now, this is huge and anybody that has any sort of cosmetic type of business or anything like this, and this is really something that will arm you with a lot of firepower when you can reach a client and say, “Hey look, I can do really, really cool things like this.” And so it’s shortcode driven, which allows you to actually set multiple of them up. So those of you that can see it on the video, I’ve got six or eight different ones all in a row on one different page and this is very, very powerful in terms of what you can see. You know, this before and after is probably one of the most valuable pages that I’ve got on the entire site and it really, really helps out. You can really see the difference. I’ve tried it out also on mobile and mobile works beautifully.
Marcus: So you can actually use your finger to pull the bar back and forth and see the before and after stuff, so it is really, really a great plugin. It’s called Twenty20 Image Before-After and I rated it a perfect 5 out of 5.
John: That’s a pretty cool plugin. That’ll be very useful for those that have images that show before and after people. Great for even yard cleanups, people who do renovations —
Marcus: Oh, yeah. Yeah, that’s right!
John: Anything where you start with something that looks ‘before’ and then you have the same shot angle of what it looks like after.
Marcus: Landscaping, carpet cleaning businesses, roofers —
John: There you go! The list just keeps going, so —
John: All right, well this week here I covered up the following plugins: the Post & Carousel Slider, which I gave a 4 to; the Rocket Fireworks, which I gave a 3 to; and the WP Live Messenger, which I gave a 4 to.
Marcus: And I talked about Caldera Forms which gets a 5 out of 5, Zodabox a Facebook Messenger gets a 4 out of 5, and Twenty20 Image Before-After gets a 5 out of 5.