Improving your WordPress posts and content

WordPress is a powerful platform which goes down a treat with bloggers and publishers, and thanks to it’s brilliant community, WordPress has something called plugins which can extend the functionality of a WordPress website. There are so many different plugins written by community members that perform unique tasks, whether it be to extend the functions of something that is already in place or to completely introduce a new function to a WordPress website. Here are a list of some WordPress plugins that could help improve your posts and content

Yoast Breadcrumbs

plugin

Plugin Author: Joost de Valk
What the Plugin Does (Brief Description): Adds Breadcrumb functionality to your WordPress website

Truefully I never used to think Breadcrumbs were that important, but over time I’ve seen breadcrumbs appearing on most blogs and websites with lots of areas. For someone that doesn’t know what they are, breadcrumbs are essentially a ‘You Are Here’ mini map. Dynamic Breadcrumbs can track your current position on whatever page/post/article you are on and list the sub categories you may also be within. Especially in WordPress, Breadcrumbs will be able to tell you what page you are viewing as well as the path you had to go through to get to it. You could use breadcrumbs as a sub navigation, even if you have a comprehensive navigation which is easy to follow, people might find they’d rather click on a few links rather than going through a navigation menu that displays a lot of links. There are quite a few breadcrumb plugins out there but I’d say the Yoast Breadcrumbs plugin is probably the champion simply because you are able to control some variables and the output of the plugin if you are more of a advances user.

Basic Usage:

<?php if ( function_exists('yoast_breadcrumb') ) {
	yoast_breadcrumb('<p id="breadcrumbs">','</p>');
} ?>

Advanced Usage, so you control the output a bit more

<?php if ( function_exists('yoast_breadcrumb') ) {
	$breadcrumbs = yoast_breadcrumb("","",false);
} ?>

The variables that can be changed are:

  • $prefix – The code that your breadcrumb should be prefixed with.
  • $suffix – The code that should be added on the back of your breadcrumb.
  • $display – If set to false, Breadcrumbs will return the breadcrumb path instead of echo-ing it.

Yoast Breadcrumbs is also simple to style. You can either use the example styling and create a breadcrumb ID class or go with something different. Either way you can simply add styling to your main style.css of your WordPress theme and your breadcrumbs will have your own custom styling.

Yet Another Related Post Plugin (YARRP)

plugin

Plugin Author: Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine
What the Plugin Does (Brief Description): Displays related posts that relate to the current post that a person is on.

As well the Yet Another Related posts plugin having the best abbreviated name, YARRP! It’s also a great plugin to have at the end of your posts, as it displays related posts to the current post that someone is on. YARRP picks the best related post matches from a vareity of methods including keywords and based on it’s own scoring system. I would consider YARRP to be one of the leaders in it’s category because of the functionality that it has. One of the big features of YARRP is the custom templates feature. This feature basically gives you the option of being able to set out your related posts in a special way by creating a template and then being able to add css styling. Here’s a brilliant custom template by Zach Dunn which I used as a guide to layout my related posts on my own blog:

YARRP Related Posts Custom Template

<?php /*
Post Thumbnail Template
Author: Zach Dunn (www.buildinternet.com)
*/
?>

<h4 class="meta">Related Posts</h4>

<?php if ($related_query->have_posts()):?>

	<ol class="related-posts">
		<?php while ($related_query->have_posts()) : $related_query->the_post(); ?>

			<?php
				//Set Default Thumbnail Image URL's
				$related_thumbnail = get_post_meta($post->ID, "thumbnail_url", $single = true);
				$default_thumbnail = 'default-image.jpg';
			?>

			<li>
				<a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>" rel="bookmark">
				<?php if ($related_thumbnail != "") : ?>
					<img src="<?php echo $related_thumbnail; ?>" alt="<?php the_title(); ?>" />
				<?php else : ?>
					<img src="<?php echo $default_thumbnail; ?>" alt="<?php the_title(); ?>" />
				<?php endif; ?>

				<?php the_title(); ?></a>
			</li>

		<?php endwhile; ?>
	</ol>

<?php else: ?>

	<p>No related posts found</p>

<?php endif; ?>

Combining the use of YARRP’s custom template feature and WordPress MetaData you are able to create related post thumbnails to appear rather than just text. Any custom templates that you want to use for YARRP simply go within your WordPress theme and can be set from within Plugin Admin Interface. If your already using WordPress thumbnails in your metadata on your posts you don’t have to go back and edit every post, if you take a look at this line:

$related_thumbnail = get_post_meta($post->ID, "thumbnail_url", $single = true);

You can change the thumbnail metadata which in this example is thumbnail_url to what yours actually is in your posts metadata, when I did this for my own blog, I changed it to post-image as thats the post metadata I had been using for my thumbnails since day one.

Don’t forget if you like to manually call your functions in WordPress you will need to add the function:

<?php if (function_exists('related_posts')){ ?>
      <?php related_posts();?>
<?php }?>

To where you want your Related Posts to appear, be aware though that the plugin may already display your related posts as the option “Automatically Display Related Posts” may be enabled. So if you call that function and have that option enabled you’ll get double trouble and have two related posts displaying.

WP-CommentNavi (Comment Pagination)

plugin

Plugin Author: Lester Chan
What the Plugin Does (Brief Description): Adds easy customizable pagination to your comment if you have paged comments.

If your a person that gets plenty of comments on your articles and posts then you might want to look (if you haven’t already) at paginating your comments. In the end, one continiuos long page of comments doesn’t quite look as good as equally sized comment pages. Now WordPress already has the comment paging feature in the options located in the settings under discussion to make comment pages happen, all you need to do is go to Settings, Discussion and then make sure the option “Break comments into pages” is selected. From there you can also set how many comments before the paging of comments and happens, and other settings. Once you’ve done that comment paging should being working. Now all you need to do is call the function:

<?php if(function_exists('wp_commentnavi')) { wp_commentnavi(); } ?>

Add this in your comments.php file after the comment loop and you should see comment pagination. WP-CommentNavi is also quite easy to style, to style the pagination you need to locate the commentnavi-css.css css file which by default resides in the WP-CommentNavi plugins directory, but whats really nice about this plugin is if you have the commentnavi-css.css sitting in your WordPress theme directory the plugin will notice this and use the theme directory version instead. I’d recommend you have the css file in your theme directory that way, you can upgrade the plugin without worrying about backing up your styling changes.

If you want the option to be able to view all the comments when comments are paged you can add this:

<?php if(function_exists('wp_commentnavi_all_comments_link')) { wp_commentnavi_all_comments_link(); } ?>

Which will create a nice link to make all your comments suddenly appear. It’s best to give your viewers choice, to keep everyone happy

SyntaxHighlighter Evolved

plugin

Plugin Author: Viper007Bond
What the Plugin Does (Brief Description): Enables the use of syntax highlighting on your code snippets.

There are so many Syntax Highlighters Plugins for WordPress, but in the end they all do the same job. In actual fact without offending the plugin authors, there all essentially copies of each other and use code from different versions of the plugin, but each have slightly different features and tweaks which makes the choice down to personal preference. Syntax Higlighters are a must for people that post code snippets often in there articles or tutorials, Syntax Higlighters format the code in a specific way depending on what language the code is in and then present all the code in a nice way which is neat and managable. In fact thought out this article you have seen the Syntax Highlighting doing it’s job on the code snippets. Like I said there are different Syntax Highlighter plugins, James’ Blog uses Syntax Highlighter Evolved, while others may use the Google Syntax Higlighter, I however like the SyntaxHiglighter Evolved Plugin which is slightly different to the Google version. I say different because the Google version uses pre tags to display Syntax Highlighting like this:

pre tags

While most other Syntax Highlighters use a different method to display Syntax Highlighting:

sourcecode tags

I find that using the non pre tag version is actually better, because before I switched, I was using the Google version, but found a annoying problem and that was when I switched from HTML to visual the pre code would often get messed up because it had been converted to display as text rather than the HTML it was meant to be in. But they all do the same job.

HTML Syntax Highlighting:

<h2>This is a Title</h2>

<p>As you can see this HTML is now in a Syntax Highlighted form. Hurray!</p>

CSS Syntax Highlighting:

body {
	margin:0;
	padding:0;
}
h1 {
	font-size:30px;
	font-weight:bold;
	}

There are other languages that Syntax Highlighters can interpret these include:

  • HTML/XHTML
  • CSS
  • Java
  • Javascript
  • PHP
  • And many more!

SexyBookmarks

plugin

Plugin Authors: Josh Jones and Norman Yung
What the Plugin Does (Brief Description): Adds perfectly styled sharing icons all setup and ready to go.

Having the ability for someone to go right ahead and share your content by clicking on sharing icons is a must these days. Not only is it a must, but if someone shares you post your getting extra exposure simply because someone thought “Yeah I think I’ll share this on Digg” or whatever bookmark site someone submits it too. This happened to me when someone added a tutorial of mine to StumbleUpon, and the next thing I knew I was receieving 700 or so hits from this one referal link, which in the end made my total traffic to my blog for that day over 1000, which doesn’t sound that much but when the average is around 400 – 500 it’s a big increase. So really it would be silly not to have some sharing options in place. There are a handful of sharing plugins out there but SexyBookmarks is one that just wins me over instantly, it’s a plugin that literally works out of the box. You customize what sharing sites you want to you use and your done, the icons are very pretty as well, and it even it has a little optional small bit of text saying “Sharing is caring” makes you all warm and fuzzy! All you need to is add the function to wherever you want the sharing icons to appear (if you want to manually insert them) and you’re eseentially done.

Manually insert function:

<?php if(function_exists('selfserv_sexy')) { selfserv_sexy(); } ?>

You will need to make sure that your XHTML is parsing correctly otherwise SexyBookmarks will just breakdown, quite literally. If you find you enable the plugin and you just see text and lists with no css styling then chances are your XHTML has problems, you should check your doctype and other XHTML parts if this is happening to you. But apart from that your all set. You might want to customize your sharing options and also some CSS styling which can be all done in the SexyBookmarks admin plugin interface.

Well theres a handful of plugins which could help your content on your WordPress website. I would like to say thank you to the developers of the listed plugins for your time and contribution to the WordPress community and also everyone in the WordPress community thats helping others and supporting WordPress!

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