The Latest Posts Block, Query Loop Block & Alternatives

Blog posts are usually displayed on a WordPress website either on the homepage, or on a separate blog page if that’s been specified in the site’s setttings. WordPress also creates archive pages for categories and tags. Some themes will provide options so that you can control the look of the blog and archive pages. For example, GeneratePress Premium has a blog add-on with lots of settings. GP Premium also includes advanced features enabling you to use the Block Editor to design archive pages – see the YouTube Video “GeneratePress – Block Element Content Template Demo“.

However, sometimes people want to show some of their posts within the body of another page of the website, or in a widget area.

For the last few years, whenever I’ve wanted to display a list of selected posts on a WordPress page or post, I’ve turned to the WP Show Posts plugin. But I feel that in general it’s best to use core WordPress blocks when they are sufficient for my purposes and to install plugins only when they add extra features.

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Experimenting with WordPress Image Sizes

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to keep images as small as possible because loading large images will slow a site down. However, they should never be uploaded with a smaller size, in pixels, than the size at which they will be displayed. For example, if an image is 600px wide but it is enlarged to stretch across the full width of the screen then it will look terrible.

The difficulty is that you need to balance “as small as possible” with your desire to display high quality images and you should take into account the purpose of the image. It will be important that the images in a photographer’s portfolio look fantastic, but if all you are doing is using a picture of a sundial to illustrate a blog post on time managment, then you may not be so fussy.

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A Look at Some WordPress Photo Gallery Plugins

For this article, I experimented with a few different gallery and slideshow plugins:

I didn’t come up with a definitive “best” plugin, but I can tell you that personally, if I want a simple gallery I tend to choose Meow Gallery. If I need something with a few more bells and whistles, I’ll go with FooGallery.

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WordPress Website Checklist

This article lists the steps I take when setting up a WordPress website. I’ve included links to some of the plugins I use, and to helpful articles with more comprehensive instructions. I’m not claiming this is all necessarily best practice, but it’s what I do.

I have also written an article titled ‘Building My “Standard” Demo Site‘ to explain how I’ve built a website using the GeneratePress theme.

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Instructions for Adding a Row of Image Links

UPDATE – Please note that this article was written before the release of the new WordPress block editor (a.k.a. “Gutenberg”). For a more up-to-date approach, see my article: Adding a Row of Image Links with the WordPress Block Editor.

It’s quite common to want a page layout like the example below, with a row of three images, each of which links to a different page of the website (nails, make up and hair, in my example).

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A Look at WordPress Page Builders

My previous post, Alternatives to WordPress Page Builders, describes an exercise I carried out to build a simple web page without the use of a page builder plugin.

In this follow-up post, I attempt to build the same page with a few different page builders to see how much easier this makes the process. [UPDATE: These two blog posts were written before the introduction of the new WordPress block editor (a.k.a. Gutenberg). It’s now easier to layout a page without using a page builder – see my blog post “A Simple Page Layout with the WordPress Block Editor” for details.]

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Alternatives to WordPress Page Builders

UPDATE: This article was written before the release of the WordPress block editor (a.k.a. Gutenberg). I have written a new blog post using the block editor.

Page Builders have become so popular that sometimes new WordPress users get the impression that they are expected to use one. My own view is that it’s best to keep things simple and use a page builder only if you have a need for it.

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A Note About WordPress Backups

If self-hosted WordPress was both inexpensive and maintenance free, then I doubt I would even consider the alternatives.

What’s most likely to scare people away from using WordPress is the fear that they will lose their website if it is hacked, they make a mistake or something breaks. This is why it’s important to have a contingency plan.

You can minimise the danger of your site being hacked by keeping your plugins up to date. The WordFence plugin has a number of security features which include emails to tell you when an update is required. When you log into your WordPress dashboard you’ll be prompted to carry out the update, which is easy to do.

dashboard with update showing

wordpress dashboard listing updates required

However,  it’s impossible to 100% guarantee that your website will be safe.

Many hosts keep backups so, if something did go wrong, then your host may be able to simply replace your site with a copy taken before the problem occurred, and this would probably be your first port of call.

However, you should also be keeping your own backups in case this isn’t possible.

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Add Functionality with Plugins

WordPress plugins add functionality

Plugins contain code that adds extra abilities to your WordPress website.

For example, the slideshow below was produced using the Meta Slider plugin.

  • beetle
  • butterflies
  • hoverfly
  • plant
  • seedheads
  • skipper
  • spider

 

Installing this plugin added an extra section to the WordPress dashboard for putting slides into the slideshow and controlling its appearance, speed etc.

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