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WordPress Coding & Design

Custom Styling for Posts

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In WordPress having a custom style for a static Page is fairly easy when you use Page Templates, however the same is not so straight forward for your posts.

You may wonder why you would want to style some posts differently to others. WordPress is now so much more than just a simple blogging platform. You can use it as a fully fledged photo gallery, as a CMS for your website, or a combination of these.

So how do we do this? There are at least three levels at which you may want to target posts. A specific post, all posts in a specific category or all posts where the post’s category is in a specific parent category.

Target a Single Post

If you want to target a single post then you can use the is_single() condition, and pass the ID or title of the post. So, for example, you wanted to insert an advert, or a specific image into one single post, then you could get the post ID eg. 20, and then add this using

[sourcecode language=”php”]< ?php if (is_single(20)) : ?>

< ?php endif; ?>[/sourcecode]

You could then target the advert ID to perhaps float it to the right of your content.

Target Posts in Category A

Rather than targeting a single post, you may want to target all posts in a particular category. For example, you’ve got a category about WordPress on your site, and you’ve sold an advertising spot to someone who wants to advertise their Premium WordPress themes site on those posts only. So of course you don’t want to have to update your single.php page every time you write a new post about WordPress. Instead we can simply target the category using the in_category() conditional. So, for example, if your WordPress category ID is 4 then using similar code to above we would use

[sourcecode language=”php”]< ?php if (in_category(4)) : ?>

< ?php endif; ?>[/sourcecode]

Instead of using categories, you could also tag every post you want to have an advert on (which removes the constraint to a single category), by using the has_tag() conditional. If you used a tag called ‘wpadvert’ then you could use

[sourcecode language=”php”]< ?php if (has_tag('wpadvert')) : ?>

< ?php endif; ?>[/sourcecode]

Target Posts in a sub category of category X

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me if he could use WordPress to set up a used car website, and would he need a custom plugin. Naturally the answer is yes! We had a chat about it and worked out the best way to do this was to create a category called ‘Cars’, and each car would have its own post within the manufacturer’s category, which would be a subcategory of Cars. So we would have

Cars (Parent Category)
— Audi (Child Category)
—- A4 (Post)
—- TT (Post)
— BMW (Child Category)
—- Z3 (Post)

Fairly straight forward really. He needed a way to style all the posts for cars differently to other posts on the site. However, whilst in_category() would be perfect for this, he couldn’t determine all of the child categories, as the person updating the site could add more manufacturers as and when required. So we needed a way to say ‘style all posts in the Car category, regardless of which child category they’re in’.

There’s not a direct method for getting this information, however after a bit of searching through the Codex I managed to work out the code needed. First of all we need to use the get_the_category() template tag. We can get information about the post’s category using this tag, including the category parent ID (if one exists). So to use this we used

[sourcecode language=”php”]< ?php $cat = get_the_category(); $parentid = $cat[0]->category_parent;
?>[/sourcecode]

The first line here puts all of the information into our $cat variable. Then we get the parent ID by targeting the category_parent variable. Note, this code simply assumes that the post is only in one category, as the $cat variable contains an array of all the categories that the post is in.

We can then just check and see if the $parentid is equal to the parent ID of the Cars category (eg. an ID of 2). Modifying our code to then display an advert for all car posts would be

[sourcecode language=”php”]< ?php $cat = get_the_category(); $parentid = $cat[0]->category_parent;

if ($parentid == 2) : ?>

< ?php endif; ?>[/sourcecode]

As it happens, the actual reason for this research was to allow the client to upload a number of photos for each car via the media uploader. Then rather than leaving the client to try and insert them into the post, my friend was going to use code similar to that used in the post mixing gallery and blog posts, to display the photos on the page.

With other blog posts for news and events, he couldn’t just change the single.php theme file for all posts in case it disrupted the non car posts.

You may wonder how to do the same thing but with a post under multiple categories. We can modify the above code to loop through each category and check for a match on the category parent ID using

[sourcecode language=”php”]< ?php $parentids = array(); foreach (get_the_category() AS $cat) : $parentids[] = $cat->category_parent;
endforeach;

if (in_array(2, $parentids) : ?>

< ?php endif; ?>[/sourcecode]

To talk through the code above

  1. Initialise the $parentids array for security
  2. Use the foreach loop, to loop through the get_the_category() array
  3. Add the category’s parent ID to our $parentids array
  4. Close the foreach loop
  5. Use in_array to check and see if the Cars category ID of ‘2’ is in the array of parent IDs
  6. If we have a match we display the code

You may wonder, why not just put the if statement inside the foreach code, however if the post was added to two child categories within the parent category, then the if statement would be true twice. This way it will only be displayed once providing there is at least one match.

Conclusion

Hopefully that’s given you some ideas on how you can style your posts differently, or insert additional content, adverts, images etc. depending on whether the post is in a specific category or tagged with a certain tag. Once the code is set up, it means you don’t have to continually edit your theme and you can get on with the important job of writing content 🙂

A PHP Developer using WordPress to power both blogging and commercial CMS sites. I've written and released a couple of plugins for WordPress and am currently writing plugins for use on commercial websites.

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WordPress Coding & Design

Will Artificial Design Intelligence Takeover Web Designing and Development?

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Artificial Design Intelligence

The worlds are colliding.

Web designing and development happens in two primary ways:

  1. DIY (bloggers and small business owners buying readymade themes, web hosting account, and setting up the website after reading a lot of online resources)
  2. Agencies (dedicated agencies that create websites from scratch, using manual coding and templates, and these are usually high budget)

There is a third way, which in the next couple of years can replace both the above methods to a large extent. Will it? Let’s see.

Artificial Design Intelligence

Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) is the ‘third’ way wherein companies are creating technology where a website could design and build itself. In 2003, prior to ADI, Adobe unveiled its suite of web designing tools and the industry experts spelled it as a doomsday for designers.

Will this ADI technology completely eradicate the need for website designers and developers? Certainly not, says David Kosmayer from Bookmark. Bookmark is a website builder that uses ADI to cater to each user’s specific and unique needs. Kosmayer opines that ADI technology will become a productivity tool for innovative developers and designers where the technology will improve and escalate the efforts of the team involved in automating the website development process. He is anticipating a website building ADI revolution with Bookmark, thriving to be at the forefront of this inevitable movement.

David gave me an insider peek into the ADI technology they are developing, scheduled to release in the next couple of weeks. Here it is:

The ADI technology improves possibilities.

I create my own websites and blogs. Now, if I have access to technology that Bookmark is designing, it will simplify my work. It’s unassumingly perfect for eCommerce stores. The ADI asks what kind of store does the user want – from a Bistro to a Laundromat, the user has tons of varieties. Once the basic is uploaded, you can add Focus Groups and Modules, and make the site live.

This ADI technology is akin to a personal assistant that understands my business needs and creates a customized ‘product’ to use.

After Bookmark, companies like Wix and TheGrid have ventured into the AI technology space too.

AI for website development and designing is an uncharted area. Chris Lema has a brilliant article title, Has Website AI Arrived?

The world of content marketing should rejoice. AI technology will strategically and dynamically depend on content to design the layout of the site. Here, content could be anything – article length, article quantity, images, videos and more.

Artificial design intelligence is still in nascent stages.

Who could use ADI technology? Bloggers, digital marketers, affiliate marketers, consultants, and other small business owners will find AI entertaining and useful. This group of professionals is usually a one-man army with a small remote team. It cuts down cost on resources as users will probably use the ADI service on a monthly subscription basis. As such, businesses can focus on branding and generating revenue.

The stress of creating dynamic websites, learning technology, and implementing them is removed entirely.

Personally, I agree with Lema that AI technology for website development and designing is yet to mature. With the coming of chatbots and other AI software, give this a year or two before the artificial design intelligence technology for websites booms.

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WordPress Coding & Design

How to Stop Comment Spam in 60 seconds with CleanTalk

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Blog comments can be one of the most valuable assets to your blog, but they can also be a huge burden at the same time. Even with Akismet installed on my blogs, I still have to manually go through and remove the junk and spam comments many of my sites gets on a daily basis.

When I login to my WordPress dashboard, I will continually junk like this just sitting there and waiting for my approval or deletion. The majority of comment spam happens because they are trying to get a backlink to a site, either through a link within the comment or from the username.

How_to_Stop_Comment_Spam

If you have a small WordPress site, you might not be getting overwhelmed with spam comments yet, but it’s simply just a matter of time. The worse part is that it’s pretty much all coming in on an automated basis, which means cleaning up your spam comments manually can waste endless hours of your valuable time.

Comment spam is something all bloggers have to deal with, and while there are ways to minimize worthless and fake comments with plugins like Akismet or using CAPTCHA forms, these methods either don’t work or are just too annoying to setup.

CleanTalk.org felt the same way and they wanted to create a comment spam solution that works for all blog site owners, while also having a solution that actually works.

How CleanTalk WordPress Spam Plugins Works

Like most things in the world, you just want the product or service to work and not have to deal with the complexities of how it’s made. This is how most online marketers and bloggers feel — they just want a solution and not have to deal with coding, programming and working with a dev team to figure it out.

CleanTalk is quite advanced on the backend, but super easy to setup and use from a site owner perspective. Through it’s cloud based platform, CleanTalk actively monitors the visitors on your site and makes sure the comments being made, are from actual visitors (not spam bots).

The process of how CleanTalk works, is as follows:

  1. A visitor writes a comment or registers.
  2. CleanTalk plugin sends action parameters into the CleanTalk cloud.
  3. Service analyzes the parameters.
  4. If this is a visitor, the comment will be published. If it’s a spam bot, then CleanTalk blocks this comment or registering.
  5. Parameters are written to the log which can be viewed in the Control Panel service.

Not only does CleanTalk protect your blog comment area, it also covers all forms throughout your site (contact, registrations, etc). When logged into your account through their site, you will also have access to real-time stats on how well it’s protecting your site and showing you what activity is happening where.

How to Install CleanTalk on WordPress

Since CleanTalk is a WordPress plugin, it’s super easy to setup. All you need to do is visit their main site at http://cleantalk.org, create an account and grab your access key on the following page.

After that, all you need to do is head over to your WordPress dashboard, go to the “Plugins” section and search for “CleanTalk”.

CleanTalk Installation

Install the plugin and then throw in your access key and you are ready to go!

CleanTalk_Dashboard

To make sure the plugin is properly installed and running, go back to your blog and complete a dummy comment, registration or contact message with the email address stop_email@example.com and you should then see the plugin react with the message like the one in the screenshot below.

CleanTalk_anti-spam_setup_on_WordPress

You can also head back to the main dashboard at CleanTalk.org to monitor your site comment stats and manage how many sites you would like to add the plugin to.

Get Your Free 14 Day Trial of CleanTalk

You can register on the CleanTalk.org site and install the plugin right away. After completing this step, you will have 14 days of free access to their comment spam blocking service. After the 14 days, you will then have the renew your account.

The good news is that the cost of CleanTalk’s comment spam blocking plugin is just $8 per year, and you can save even more by using coupon code “BLOGGINGTIPS“.

Head over to http://cleantalk.org, create your free account and add the plugin to your site. It’s only takes a couple minutes and it will save you a massive amount of time in the long run. Eliminate comment spam from your site forever!

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WordPress Coding & Design

The Importance of Responsive Web Design

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Responsive web design is quickly changing how sites are viewed on the internet and on mobile devices. Back when I first started making money online in the mid 90s, everything was so basic and simple with web design… it was pretty much all HTML.

Then in 2007 I started using WordPress to create my first blog and the rest of my sites there after.

However, this was only the beginning. Now with everyone so focused on using mobile and other various devices to browse the internet and with the wide range of desktop sizes for viewing, it’s now more important than ever to make sure you have a site that is capable with all solutions.

I still find it amazing that I can look up sites on my phone or iPad and still come across sites that aren’t mobile optimized or that don’t load correctly. It’s quite a shame and something that really needs to be fixed immediately. Statistics show that 25% of internet users only access the internet via a mobile device. Have you checked how your site loads on a mobile device lately? If not, it might be time for you to invest some resources into your web design and development. By working alongside a respectable design team, they will be able to improve the performance of your site, while making sure it is fully optimized in the process.

Thus bringing us to responsive web design

Responsive web design refers to a website designed to adapt to whatever device a visitor is using. The same applies for desktop viewing as well. You can make the browser bigger or smaller and the content on the site will continue to adapt to your viewing solution.

Most premium wordpress themes are now responsive as well, as it’s almost become a requirement for site owners now.

When it comes to designing and coding wordpress themes, I’m the last guy that wants to deal with these issues. Fortunately there are designers and teams dedicated to mastering the art of design and wordpress.

For those of you who are wondering how responsive sites are created and the various tech specs involved, be sure to check out the infographic below from verveuk.eu.

What is Responsive Web Design

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