As you can tell, I just renovated the site. Not only did the styling change, but most importantly I’ve added some important organization and feature changes that will hopefully help viewers more easily find what they are looking for. This post details the plugins that I recently installed.
[wptabs] [wptabtitle]Photo Gallery Plugin[/wptabtitle]
[wptabcontent]The biggest thing that I haven’t had a chance until now to get in order have been my portfolio galleries. I had used NextGEN in the past, but I wasn’t really pleased with it at the time. I’ve tried multiple other options since then, but I ended up going back to NextGEN Gallery, and I’m very pleased with the updated version. I notice that there isn’t the lag time that there used to be when scrolling through images (note: you still have to make sure not to upload to large of images, or it will take time to load.)
I also love the fact that there is a place to add in detailed descriptions of each image as well as image tags. In the description section, it allows for simple html tags as well as linking items. This feature allows me to add the project description under each image as well as link to the existing website or the download in the case of my free themes. It takes a lot of work to do the initial setup (uploading all of the images is easy, but you have to add in all of the titles, descriptions, and tags accordingly), but it’s well worth the effort.
Another nice feature about NextGEN is that you can easily adjust the thumbnail size and how it displays. That’s a huge help when displaying both landscape and portrait images when you want all of the thumbnails to display in the identical size without focusing in on the wrong part of the image.
I also integrated the Shutter Reloaded Plugin which just adds some effects to the gallery viewing. It also automatically re-sizes the display image according to the computer screen size. I customized the styling in both the Shutter Reloaded CSS as well as the NextGen CSS to get the desired effects that I wanted. Note: To make use of Shutter Reloaded with NextGEN, you’ll need to choose “Shutter on all image links and use LightBox style (rel=”lightbox[...]“) activation and sets” within the Shutter settings. In NextGen, just make sure to check the “LightBox” settings under the Effects Tab. Check out my portfolio to see a working example.[/wptabcontent]
[wptabcontent]The other project that I’m currently working on is making all of my code used for tutorials in a highlighted and in an easy copy/paste format for you lovely readers. I know, it’s ridiculous that I’ve waited this long! I chose to go with WP Code Highlight. It’s a simple plugin without a lot of extras, but it does just what I need. It does give you a few different theme options which I plan to make use of when I unveil my new redesign. So far, I’ve updated my two most recent posts that included code (which also happen to be the most searched posts that I have.) You can view an example on either my post about positioning a sidebar within your header or adding specialized styling to a widget space. Now, I don’t have to constantly be reminding visitors to check the direction of the quotation marks or constantly fixing what WordPress messes up in the code. I’m going to test it in the comments as well. I’m hoping that I can simply add the <pre></pre> code for it to appear. Which means you can do the same when you have a question about one of my tutorials and need to give an example! :)[/wptabcontent]
[wptabcontent]I used StatPress for a few years, and I really liked that plugin. However, it creates an enormous database on your server, and eventually it will overtake the space on your server if you aren’t careful. It does a wonderful job tracking very specific details on incoming traffic, top posts, top searches, etc. However, I actually had to remove it because my hosting company was going to shut down my site unless I removed the strain it was causing on the database!
So, I went with Google Analytics. I’ve used Google before on Blogger sites, and the thing that frustrates me the most is that it always counts your own visits unless you create filters (which are not that easy to do.) However, I found the Google Analyticator plugin and have been very pleased with it! It adds a simple settings interface to your WP Dashboard which allows you to hide by a click of a button traffic from any Admins or Editors. It also gives you some other nice options and features, and you can view basic info right in WP without having to go to Google. The best part is that I don’t have to worry about using up tons of space on my WP database to house it.
So, that’s what I’ve been up to in between working on projects for clients and doing life. Please leave a comment on any of the plugins that I’ve discussed or if you have other plugins that you prefer to these mentioned.[/wptabcontent][/wptabs]
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