|Resources > Training Library > Internet Income Course 2.0 Guide > Lesson #33|
Internet Income 2.0Lesson #33–PLUGINS
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
In this lesson, you will learn the basic plugins you need for your WordPress installation and we will discuss how to find, install, and configure Akismet, Contact Form 7, and Flamingo, saving Yoast SEO and User Profile Picture for the next lesson.
What are Plugins?
As discussed in Lesson 31, WordPress is a Content Management System written in php that allows you to easily build an attractive and functioning website without being proficient in all of the programming languages and scripts previously required to build a website. As discussed in the last lesson, WordPress Themes are extensions of WordPress (also written in php) that allow you to easily choose the format and style you desire for your site. Plugins, usually written in php as well, extend the functionality even further. Plugins can quickly and easily extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites.
There are certain functionalities that should be added to every site. At the time of this writing, most themes do not have all of these functionalities built in. Thus, it is necessary to add plugins immediately. However, you may want to research first to see if there is a better plugin that has been released since this article was published for the particular function, one that is commonly accepted as more efficient than our recommended plugin. Because the particular brand of commonly recommended plugins may change over time, we will be careful to discuss the purpose of each one.
Controlling Spam Comments
As they do with all commonly accepted technology, spamming techniques quickly emerged to frustrate WordPress users. As WordPress became more popular, many scripts were written to find new sites and insert spam comments. Thus, it became paramount to have functionality to allow you to monitor and control comments that are made on your posts. The plugin most often recommended for this purpose is Akismet.
Akismet comes from the same parent company as WordPress as has been included by default in all WordPress versions since 2.0. Thus, it is very easy to activate. Simply sign into your WordPress dashboard and click on "Plugins/Installed Plugins." You will need to obtain an API key to use Akismet. (This key is required for your site to communicate with the Akismet servers.) You need a WordPress account to obtain the API Key. If you have not already done so, you can sign up for a WordPress account in the process of obtaining your key. There should be a link to https://akismet.com/wordpress/ in the activation screen to do this. Create a WordPress account, obtain your key and then enter your API key number in the "settings" section of the plugin. Keep a record of your API key number so you'll have it if you set up another WordPress installation or need to reinstall this one later.
There are some selections you can make while on the settings screen which will control how spam comments are handled. Make the selections according to your preferences and save your changes.
Akismet will then automatically deal with comments on your site according to your instructions. You will receive email notifications when new comments need to be approved. Obvious spam will be automatically relegated to your spam folder.
Providing a Contact Form
Your site also needs a contact form to be an effective site. As it is not advisable to publish your email address on your site (because, if you do, it will be harvested by spammers), contact forms are crucial to provide your visitors with an easy and immediate way to contact you privately.
Although there are several plugins available, Contact Form 7, along with its companion Flamingo, are highly recommended as the plugins of choice to add a contact form.
To install, simply go to your WordPress Dashboard and hover over "Plugins" and click "install new." On the resulting page, search (in the top right) for "Contact Form 7." Then, click on "Install Now" on the listing that comes up for Contact Form 7. On the next page (that confirms installation) click on "activate."
When the activation is complete, notice that you have a new link in your Dashboard menu on the right. It says, "Contact." Don't click on the new link yet, though. Go back to the Plugins link and click on "Installed Plugins." Then find Contact Form 7 and click on "Settings." You will see that you have a contact form available. If you are planning to use more than one contact form, you can edit the name of the pre-installed form to be more specific. You will see that you can also add or remove fields from the contact form. Looking under the listing for the pre-installed contact form 1, you will see two options. You can edit this form or you can 'duplicate' this form to start a new contact form.
You will need to obtain a Google API key pair in order to install the Recaptcha feature--which you definitely need. Google's Recaptcha requires proof of being human before submitting a contact message and thus prevents spam messages sent by bots. To install this field to your form, click on the "recaptcha" button on your edit screen for your contact form and then follow the link to create your Google API key pair. At the Google screen, you will need to label your site and list the domain. Then, you will be given two keys, a 'site key' and a 'secret key'. Copy these and record them in a safe place. Then, return to the recaptcha screen in your Contact Form and insert these two keys and click save. Then, from the edit form screen click on Recaptcha to add the field to your form. It will look like this, "[Recaptcha]" in your form. You will want to place it after all the other input fields, but above the "submit" code, of course. Be sure to save the form.
Next, you need to click on the "mail" button on the form edit screen and enter the email address to which you would like the emails sent. The "from" address will default to a wordpress@[yourdomain] account. It is helpful to create this account on your email server, but not absolutely necessary to do so.
Then, finally, notice that to the right of "Contact Form 1" is the shortcode you will use to add this contact form to a page on your blog. Copy this code. All you have left to do is create a new page on your site, name it "Contact" or something similar and insert the shortcode for your form into that page. You can add any instructions you want or any other text or media to the page as well if you like.
Now you have a "Contact" page on your WordPress site that is attractive and spam proof. Most websites only need one basic contact form. The only field you might want to add at first is a field to collect the telephone number of the person contacting you. We will address that as well as adding other fields or creating additional specialized contact forms in a future lesson.
Flamingo is a companion to Contact Form 7 that stores your contact messages within the WordPress database. Flamingo allows you to save the email address and messages of those who contact you, creates an address book, and provides a useful interface to sort and filter the various messages you receive. Flamingo was created by the same programmer as Contact Form 7. Other than to go to "plugins/add new", then find, install, and activate Flamingo, there is little you have to do to set it up. Notice that, after activation, you have a new menu item on your Dashboard for "Flamingo", which has two sub-items: "address book" and "inbound messages."
Flamingo is useful, in the first instance, in case you do not receive the email that was submitted. You have all the messages which have been sent stored and accessible in one place. It's usefulness goes far beyond that basic purpose, however. The filtering and sorting it provides allows you to organize your address book and analyze your messages in a meaningful way--especially if you have more than one contact form. The address book also includes email addresses of those who have left comments on your post in addition to the ones who have sent contact messages.
In this lesson, you learned that plugins extend the functionality of WordPress even beyond those provided by Themes. Plugins can quickly and easily extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. We pointed out that certain functionalities, such as comment spam control, contact forms, SEO functionalities, and the ability to add user profile pictures should be added to every site. If your theme does not automatically add these functionalities, we pointed you to commonly recommended plugins that do. You have learned how to find, install, and configure Akismet, Contact Form 7, and Flamingo.
WHAT'S COMING NEXT
In our next lesson we will explain how to find, install, and configure Yoast SEO and User Profile Picture.
by George Little
Copyright 2017, Panhandle On-Line, Inc.
License granted to Carson Services, Inc. for distribution to SFI affiliates. No part of this work may be republished, redistributed, or sold without written permission of the author.
For more information on the Internet Income Course and other works and courses by George Little, see http://www.profitpropulsion.com