Tag Archives: Wordpress

SpotGuide WordPress Theme Review

My dad is not the most knowledgeable when it comes to computers. So when he wanted to start an online business he told me to start a directory for him and to get the basics up and running. As much as I like to say I’m great with computers, coding is still not a strong skill of mine so I went to Google and looked for a theme that would allow me to start a directory without having to worry about all the coding and databases. I came across this one theme that seemed to be great, it had great reviews and I was satisfied with it from the demo. We ended up buying it from ThemeForest. A few months down the line, we requested a refund as the support was horrible and the theme did nothing that we wanted our site to do. Another search, this time a proper one, and I came across SpotGuide, created by CodeVisionThemes. I instantly fell in love with its appearance and a couple of hours of proper experience of it through the demo and I knew that it was exactly what we wanted.

The theme has been developed very well in my opinion. There are a few issues that I’ve come across which I will highlight later on but apart from those it has been an excellent directory theme to start my dad’s business with.

Like most WordPress themes, the settings for the theme are all located in the Customizer section of the admin control panel. It allows you to do various things from choosing the main colour (from some out of the box choices or a custom one) to choosing what types of listings your users can add to the directory. This theme lets you customise every aspect of it and allows you to make it as unique as you want it to be. Of course no matter what colour schemes you use and no matter how your actual pages are laid out, your website will always be the exact same in terms of style to other directories that are using this theme. That is the one biggest issue with buying premium themes. From the statistics on the developers account, I would presume that there are around 200 other directories with the same style as ours.

The biggest benefit of SpotGuide is that it’s ready to be deployed out of the box. All you have to do is upload the theme to your WordPress installation, import the demo content and edit it to suit your business and you’re done. That is all that needs to be done in addition to adding your PayPal information to the system so that the payments are sent to you.

The thing I love about this particular theme is how well everything looks. With most websites going with flat/material looks nowadays, it is great to see that the theme has got some material design inspiration. The one thing that does bug me is how light the theme is (visually). Browsing through the different pages, sometimes content can be difficult to see and the actual pages seem to be way too bright. That may just be me though, I’ve always preferred dark themes and styles.

The front-end submission system for users is extremely easy to use and has been designed well. It has been split into eight different parts including banner, video, social etc. Unlike other themes that I have seen on ThemeForest, SpotGuide has the option of allowing users to see how many views a certain listing has. This is a massive feature that other directory themes simply do not have and it’s weird because it’s a vital function if you think about it. Is it not important that directory sites are able to offer their users statistics on how much exposure their directory listing is getting? Another feature that I found was lacking in other directory themes was blocking certain parts of the submission system to non-paying users. And guess what? SpotGuide has that. SpotGuide allows you to setup the directory so that non-paying users cannot add their contact details, opening hours etc.

Unfortunately, certain big plugins have not been made compatible with this theme. One example is bbPress. Installing and activating bbPress is fine but there are some asthetic issues and errors which can make the site look a bit unprofessional. When I reported this to the developer they were not much help and I ended up having to go over the WordPress Plugins directory to find an alternative to bbPress which thankfully I did in the end. Another issue I had with SpotGuide was the occassional errors caused by, according to the developer, by server. When I attempted to add a listing through the front-end, it would just re-direct me back to the first page where I would choose the type of listing I wanted. It was forever stuck in a loop. And once again the developers did not bother trying to look into the issue but rather went ahead and blamed by servers not being good enough. I am yet to change hosts to find out what the cause of the issue is but hopefully they are correct and it is my servers that are the issue.

SpotGuide is not the solution if you’re looking to start a directory that you expect to get millions of users. Even though the developers of the theme are always looking at improving the theme and bringing in new features, it may never be exactly what you want. If you’re looking at starting a directory as a serious business venture then you would definitely be better off custom coding a directory or hiring a developer to create one for you. Although, if you’re just looking at starting a small project/business then SpotGuide may just be perfect for you. SpotGuide has to be the number one theme for anyone looking to start a small directory. The theme has been developed with care and every aspect is of the highest quality. And that is why it has an average rating of 4.71 out of 5 stars on ThemeForest.

How to Add Google+ Comments to Your WordPress Blog

How to Add Google+ Comments to Your WordPress Blog

Not too long ago Google announced Google+ comments for their blogging platform, Blogger. Even though it was only for blogger, there were a lot of WordPress bloggers out there who would have liked to have Google+ comments too. A bunch of WordPress developers saw a demand and created a nice amount of plugins that make it easy to have Google Plus comments on your blog. So, today I’m going to recommend my favorite “Google+ Comments for WordPress,” by Brandon Holtsclaw.

Continue reading

Top Five WordPress Themes

Be aware that themes mentioned in this article are themes that I personally like and therefore your opinion on the themes might be different. Please take note that themes mentioned below are intended for 3.5.x version of the WordPress software and therefore they might not work on older or newer versions of the software.

Bloggap by Themes Kingdom

Unique responsive theme with colors that go really well together. It comes with custom contact and gallery pages. It’s not as rich in content than entry above, but personally I believe that it’s well worth the money due to being a bit more unique than most of good-looking themes out there. I suggest checking out the full preview.

 

 Sportlife by starshade


 Light responsive theme with quite a few color variations available upon purchase. It comes with several different layout variations for most of the ‘default’ pages such as homepage, blog, about us, contact and even a swell portfolio layout with bad-ass animated category filter. I would say that it’s well worth the money.

 

Shaper Helix – II – by Joomshaper


 A light responsive theme suitable for a blog/site which wants to radiate professionalism. It comes in three color variations which are blue, green and (oddly) brown.

 

Plixus by Flashuser

 
 A very light responsive theme which will shine brightest on a corporate website or a personal portfolio, since it comes with a portfolio page as well as contact page which can easily be used for quotations of your work.

 

SW You by SmartAddons


Really nice responsive theme with several color variations such as red, green and blue. Theme is most suitable for a personal blog or a blog which has only one author.

 

So, what are your thoughts on these themes or what is your favorite WordPress theme? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Display Latest MyBB Threads in a WordPress Sidebar

When you’re running a blog with a forum, it is important that the blog visitors see what is going on in the community. I see a lot of admins working hard on their blog to get traffic, but forget entirely to advertise their forum. Well luckily if you use WordPress and MyBB, then there is a simple way to promote your communities’ new threads through a widget on your blog.

Displaying MyBB Threads on WordPress

installcrosspost

Getting a nice little widget that displays your MyBB forums threads is actually pretty easy. To begin, you need to install the “MyBB Cross-Postalicious” plugin by Markus Echterhoff. After you have installed and activated the plugin, you need to edit some settings.

Go to Settings > MyBBXP

Now that you are in the settings page, you need to enter your MyBB forum URL and some database information. It will look sort of like this:

settingsmybb

After you enter your MyBB details, make sure to change the “Cross-Posting” activity to “never”. We don’t need this feature to take advantage of the plugins widget. Also, I’ll be covering the “Cross-Posting” feature in the future.

crossposting

After you have the MyBB details filled out and put “Cross-Posting” to “never”, save. After you have saved, you need to go to the widgets area.

Go to Appereance > Widgets

In the “Available Widgets” area you will see a widget titled “MyBBXP Recent Topics”. All you need to do is to drag that into the widget area which you want to appear. Once you do that, you can change a few options (I left mine default) and click save.

And Now You’re Done

Now that you have saved you’re all done. The widget should be displaying your latest MyBB forum threads. Here is an example of what it looks like:

recentforumstopics

So, I hope you enjoyed this short little guide. If you did, then please share it, plus one it, or give us a like. You wouldn’t believe how much it helps us!

Taking a Look at Anchor CMS

There are many blogging softwares out there besides WordPress. I think a lot of people forget how many alternatives there is, and just stick with what’s popular. Undoubtedly, there are risks involved when trying website software that isn’t as well-known or doesn’t have a huge team of developers. But who knows, you might find something that you like more and that is easier for you to use.

Recently I heard about Anchor CMS, which is described as a simple and lightweight blogging software. I saw a few pictures of it, so I decided to take a look for myself. This is what I experienced:

Features (From Main Site).

  • Markdown-happy (Write in markdown or html).
  • Teeny-tiny (~150kb).
  • Drag-n-drop (Adding things is as simple as dragging and dropping).
  • Open-source.
  • Works in your language (Anchor is fully i18n compatible).
  • Super-simple theming.
  • Painfully easy to install.
  • Extensible (Unlimited Custom Fields).
  • Art-directed blogging (Custom CSS, HTML, or Javascript for any post/page).
  • Forever free

Installing Anchor CMS

Step 1) Download Anchor CMS.

Step 2) Extract Anchor CMS.

Step 3) Connect to your webhost via FTP, and upload the Anchor CMS files to your public website directory.

Step 3b) Make sure that the “contents” and “config” folder have 0777 permissions.

Step 4) Create a database for Anchor CMS.

Note: Make sure to keep track of your database name and user information.

If you’re using CPanel, login, find and open “MySQL Database Wizard” then:

In the New Database field, enter a name for the database.

Click Next Step.

In the Username field, enter a name for the user allowed to manage the database.

In the Password field, type the user’s password.

Retype the password in the Password (Again) field.

Click Create User.

Select the privileges you wish to grant the user, or select ALL PRIVILEGES.

Click Next Step.

You should then see a message stating that the database and user account were successfully set up

Step 5) Go to the destination where you uploaded Anchor CMS

http://www.domain.tld/anchor/

You should see this:

welcome to anchor cms

Step 5b) Click “Run Installer”

Step 5c) Select your language,  time zone and click “Next Step”

anchor cms language time zone

Step 5d) Enter your database information and click “Next Step”

Ex (Local Install):

anchor cms database information

Step 5e) Enter Site Information and click “Next Step”

Ex:

anchor cms site information

Step 5d) Create your account, and complete the install!

Anchor CMS Themes and Admin Panel

Anchor CMS is designed to be lightweight, so the “Default” theme packaged with Anchor CMS is very simple, but nicely designed. If you have some HTML and CSS knowledge, then you can easily create a pretty pimpin’ design out the “Default” skin. But if you’re not intereted in messing with the “Default theme” then you can just download some free themes from the forums.

Anchor CMS “Default” Theme (click to expand):

anchor cms default theme

Admin Panel Theme & Layout

The Admin panel is very nice. Not only does it look good, but the admin panel is also laid out very well and I think almost anyone could find their way around.

Anchor CMS Admin Panel:

anchor cms admin panel

 

Creating Posts, Pages, and Categories

There’s really not much to discuss in this section because it’s very straightforward. The way you write your post/page really doesn’t matter; you can write it in html or plain text. Also, the post, page, and category areas all contain a very simple, and almost distraction free layout.

Post Creation:

anchor cms post creation

Page Creation:

anchor cms page creation

Category Creation:

anchor cms create new category

The “Extend” area of Anchor CMS currently offers three things to mess with:

Custom Fields:  Allows you to add additional fields to posts and pages.

anchor cms create field

Site Variables:  Insert Metadata

anchor cms create new variable

Site Metadata:  Basic site information like title, description, comment settings, and theme choice.

anchor cms metadata

Plugins (Coming Soon).

I found the extend area to be mostly self-explanatory.

My only problem with this area, is that the custom fields page does not have explicit directions on how to call/display a field. There really should be an easily findable guide, or a link to directions for custom fields because even though Anchor CMS seems to be leaning more towards a crowd with some coding experience, there will be less-experienced people testing it out.

Also, searching for information about custom fields was a bit troublesome because the doc for “Custom Fields” leads to an incomplete page even though you can find custom fields information under the “Articles” doc. Besides the lack of information about custom fields, it is pretty easy to set them up.

I understand that the developers are most likely very busy with multiple projects, but basic documentation should be completed as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

While Anchor CMS is early in development, I can already see the huge potential behind it. Even though I’m used to WordPress and how robust it is, I can easily, or already have, fallen in love with the simplicity of Anchor CMS. My only complaint is that wiki/docs aren’t completely finished, and it took me a while to find information about “Custom Fields” … but that’s it and I’m sure they will be completed before too long.

So, if you’re looking for a simple blogging solution for your website then give Anchor CMS a try! I’ll definitely be using it for future projects that might not need something as big as WordPress.

What do you think about Anchor CMS?