Here we are, half way through the week! What a busy week it’s been for the WordPress Plugin Repository! A lot of plugin developer “New Years Resolutions” are starting to bear fruit and are being released into the repository this week after a long month of development. We have a good sampling of fruit this week. Today it’s about Maps, Mobility, Menus, Money and Maintenance. Let’s get plugged in!
Overlay Multiple Location Markers on a Map as Custom Post Types
For a few months I have been working on a business/industry directory site using a premium directory theme from ThemeForest and some custom programming. The theme worked well for about 6 weeks until suddenly it broke. The developer vanished off the face of the Earth. As my fellow theme buyers gathered with their pitchforks and torches, the entire theme was removed from ThemeForest due to lack of support. I’ve not been able to find the same functionality for maps until now.
Gmap Point List by Rafel Sans is a plugin that lets you create your own jQuery based map from the Google Maps API and then overlay your pins, or “markers” on top of the map. Each of the markers represents a custom post type that contains the data about the specific location. Because it is a custom post type, there is no limit to the data fields that are available when compiling data about a specific business listing. Pins can be added with address, lat/long Geo-coordinates or simply dropped on the map. The plugin is new and the documentation is currently only available in Spanish, but it was simple enough to use without it.
How Much is a BitCoin Worth Anyway?
I’ve seen several BitCoin based plugins float by in the repository lately. There are several donation widgets that accept it, but I’m always resorting to a Google search to figure out exactly what my coins are worth. In comes the BTC Exchange Widget. This is a quick and easy widget that adds an area for visitors to enter the amount of BitCoins and select their preferred exchange currency, such as USD for US Dollars. In just one click, the current exchange rate is provided. While I am personally still a bit of a skeptic when it comes to BitCoin, fans of this virtual currency should find this plugin useful.
Preview Your Posts as a Tablet or Mobile device in one click!
Responsive design was supposed to make our lives easier. Instead of having to create a different mobile and tablet theme, the responsive set was billed as the end-all of design. While that advancement has certainly warranted applause, creating responsive content has not gotten much easier. This is mostly due to our inability to view our content as it would look on a device. Enter Responsive Post Preview by Jake Bresnehan. This plugin provides an easy, quick way to test how your content looks at various sizes.
Have a look at the demo, straight from the developer.
This plugin will undoubtedly save a lot of time when in development mode. The instant view provided by Response Post Preview may be something that will find its way into WordPress Core functionality sooner than later.
A clean, responsive way to show a site is still under construction.
In the old days, we used an animated GIF of a construction tractor to show the world a site was not ready for public viewing. While that may have worked well in 2005, a domain today is considered a valuable web property. Every single site viewer should be seen as a potential lead or subscriber. That’s why it’s important to provide as much information as possible on your “Coming Soon” page. Even though the site isn’t ready, you can still connect with your audience.
The Easy Maintenance Mode plugin allows to you quickly create a maintenance or under construction page. Upon plugin activation you are presented with a few options to get you going, including Facebook, Twitter and Google+ connectivity options, HTML-enabled text area, customization of the background, fonts, colors and style. The plugin is also responsive, allowing you to provide the same message social connections across any platform. The great thing about this plugin is that a logged-in user does not see the “Coming Soon” screen. If you’re working on the site and are logged in, you will see the site as you normally would. But if you are a random page surfer or not logged in, you see the maintenance page.
Adding Custom Icons to your Category Widget.
The recently released plugin Category List Icon by Hasan Rang provides functionality to add an icon for your categories. I’ve often seen commercial sites that categorize their news with an icon. Now I can have it for myself, and so can you! The plugin provides options for custom category icon sizes and custom CSS for each of the category icon items. This can provide an added punch to a theme from a design perspective. The subtle, yet contextual icons can help your users identify content and navigate through your site accordingly. Page views matter to Google. Present your viewers with rich, content-related icons to navigate your site and you’ll be rewarded with a better looking sidebar category widget as well!
Need Custom Icons for a Responsive Display? Check this out!
Unite Mobile Optimizer Menu by Amit Keren lets you create a sliding icon list for mobile site viewers. Like the category icon plugin above, you can set up your own custom images and icons for the mobile menu. I found this among the easier mobile menu plugins that I have tested out. I can imagine the different button and icon configurations a person could come up with. But remember to stick with icons that will be familiar to your viewer. Keep it simple!
Which plugins from today’s list are you most likely to try out? Share your feedback and ideas!