Once again we scoop our hands into the repository in hopes of pulling out a few pearls. Today we have some very interesting new plugins that are worth checking out. As always, install these on a test site first before going live. These do not represent endorsements or ratings, but are just a sampling of new plugins as they are released. Disclaimer out-of-the-way.. Let’s get plugged in!
Testimonials Manager is a newly released plugin from Dinesh Karki and Gobala Krishnan that provides an easy way to add testimonials to your WordPress site. While most of the similar testimonial plugins out there have some of the same functionality, this particular plugin is nice because it allows you the option to use Gravatar images, custom uploaded images or simply no image of the person listed next to the testimonial. It provides additional space for name, web site and a full editor to create the testimonial chock full of other short codes. Custom CSS is allowed as well, which a lot of the other Testimonial plugins lack. The testimonials display in both the content area and as a sidebar widget, so the versatility is nice to have. Because there is a full featured editor, I tried it with inserting a YouTube video inside the testimonial block. It worked great when within the traditional content area, but not advised as a video testimonial widget unless you plan to display your video as a lightbox overlay that plays full size similar to what image galleries do. (See Thickbox Content) Obviously there are plenty of other in-post or widget based methods of creating testimonials through custom post types, but this plugin provides a great solution for those who don’t want to touch a speck of code and still have a good-looking site result.
BitCoin Payments from Jandal allows you to accept donations via BitCoin. This is not to be considered an e-commerce or shopping cart system as that functionality has not yet been implemented. Your Bitcoin address is displayed on your site via text or QR code. You can even set up multiple Bitcoin addresses in order to track which content or landing page brings the highest donation conversion rates. Display options include widget and shortcode applications.
Nonprofit Board Management helps you to keep track of board members and meetings for nonprofit organizations or similar groups. Developed by WiredImpact, this tool allows you to transform your WordPress installation into a complete collaboration system for board-related activities. From committees and sub-committees to board member profiles and event invitations, this system is designed to manage your teams, volunteers and staff with email collaboration. The core plugin is free and functions with everything mentioned, but there are also two paid add-ons that allow for Attendance Tracking ($11) and Automatic Event Reminders and Email RSVP ($17). All in all, this packs a pretty powerful punch and is ideal for any WordPress designers out there who have clients that could benefit from such functionality and ease of use.
Here’s a video demonstration on how Nonprofit Board Management is set up:
WP Social Networks Widget is similar to other plugins out there that will display icons to your social networking homes like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. However this plugin is a bit different in how it displays the social icons themselves. Bypassing the traditional method of using bitmap image logos or favicons of each service, this plugin uses an internal customized font representation of each logo. This not only allows for a much higher Retina-friendly resolution, but also allows you to adjust the CSS colors of the logo font to match the color scheme of your web site perfectly. Display options include both horizontal and vertical, with or without labels next to the icons. As much as I’ve struggled to edit social logos to match a web site in the past, this particular plugin incarnation opens up some design possibilities that previously required some serious CSS and Photoshop manipulation to achieve a consistent look and feel of the design elements.
JSJ Gallery Slideshow by Jorge Silva-Jetter provides an alternative to the core image gallery functions of WordPress. JSJ substitutes the off-the-rack gallery with a jQuery gallery that’s feature packed with transitions and fades. Full timing options can be adjusted to allow for either smooth or fast transition between images. The best part of the plugin is that it’s retro-active with your current galleries. If you already have existing WordPress galleries in your site, this will transform them to the new style without having to change a single line of code. I like this plugin for those instances where a highly animated presentation is required in a site design. It isn’t hard to implement and the results look quite appealing. Worth investigating further if you want a dynamic way to spice up your existing site galleries with a more dramatic flair.
The Wrap Up:
If you happen to be a WordPress designer for a socially active non-profit that accepts BitCoin donations and wants a fancy gallery on their site, you just hit the WordPress lottery in one post my friend. But for the rest of us the search will continue tomorrow as we scour the WordPress Plugin Repository for the perfect plugin of the moment. Feel free to say hello on Twitter @marcuscouch. Also be sure to subscribe to WordPress Plugins A-Z, the weekly podcast that I’ve co-hosted with John Overall for nearly two years. If you enjoy my feedback here, you’ll probably benefit in hearing us talk about plugins every week via audio as well. Hasta Mañana!