If WordPress is your content management platform of choice, chances are mighty good you have had to deal with spam on your site. From unwanted comments on your blog to bots attacking your registration forms, fighting spam is a duty all WordPress users face. Luckily for today’s webmasters, there are a growing number of powerful spam-fighting plugins available. You can now install a plugin on your site to protect your outgoing email from data-capturing spammers, stop spam bots from entering data on your ecommerce forms, and banish trackback-seeking spammers from your comments section.
If you are tired of spending precious hours deleting useless spam content from your site, check out the following roundup of 10 top-rated anti-spam WordPress plugins.
If you want to stop spam on your WordPress forms and blog posts, consider adding the Alobaida Captcha plugin to your site. This helpful plugin works on login forms, registration forms, and blog post comment sections too. You can disable the captcha request if a user is logged into your site and can even translate this captcha into your language of choice. With over 800 installs and a five-star rating, the Alobaidi Captcha plugin is definitely worth investigating. It’s easy to install and has the option to allow logged-in users to avoid having to use captcha, so returning, register users will stay happy.
Spam Protection by CleanTalk
Offered by CleanTalk, the Spam Protection plugin stops spam without the use of captchas. Protect your site from spam bots and backlink-seeking spammers on everything from your purchase orders and newsletters registrations to your emails. This plugin works with numerous existing comment interfaces including JetPak and WordPress’ own commenting system, which means you won’t have conflicts. You can stop spam comments as well as unwanted registrations, spam contact emails, spammy orders and more. Spam Protection also checks existing comments for spam when you install. Quarantine spammers to manually delete entries or automatically delete suspected spambot submissions. This plugin has 40,000+ installs and a five-star rating.
SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam
The SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam WordPress plugin helps reduce spam by making site visitors enter a code that is placed atop an image. This captcha + image combination stops bots from entering data on your comment or registration forms and drastically reduces the amount of spam on your site. You can disable this plugin for logged in site visitors. With over a quarter of a million active installations, this is a very popular plugin. It’s actively updated and the support boards also seem active, so you should be secure knowing it will continue to be updated.
If you don’t want site visitors to know you have spam protection installed on your site, the WP-Spamshield Anti-Spam plugin is must-discover WordPress tool. This powerful plugin helps stop multiple forms of spam including trackback spam and ecommerce registration spam. This helpful plugin works with WooCommerce, BuddyPress, MailChimp, Ninja Forms and numerous other third party WordPress interfaces. Visitors never have to enter a captcha on your site, yet your website will remain protected and free of annoying spam.
With a 4.5 star rating, the Spam Destroyer plugin is worth checking out. While some users report false positives, the majority of users find this plugin stops almost all spam. Updated on a regular basis, this plugin has over 6000 happy users. A lot of people say Spam Destroyer actually works better than Akismet and since this plugin is compatible with so many other WordPress plugins, it should remain a trouble free solution for spam problems.
Email Encoder Bundle – Protect Email Address
If you want to safeguard your email recipient addresses from spam bots, add the Email Encoder Bundle – Protect Email Address plugin to your site. This handy plugin automatically encodes all outgoing email addresses spam bots can’t access them. With this plugin installed, you can also use shortcodes to protect plain text data within your emails. This plugin doesn’t just protect Email and phone numbers though, it also works on RSS feeds and supports special characters like é, â, ö and even Chinese characters, so it’s a multi-language spam killer.
The WangGuard plugin offers a SSL-enabled API to comply with European information distribution laws. This plugin can protect your site from content-stealing sploggers (spam bloggers who scrape other sites) and can stop unwanted spam registrations on your site’s forms. Whether you are using BuddyPress, bbPress 2.0, or WordPress, you can depend on the WangGuard plugin to keep your site protected. There are some great addons for this plugin too, like a comprehensive list of ‘blacklisted’ words and more. Free for personal use, but they do ask for payment if you earn more than $200 per month with your website.
For even more protection against sploggers, check out the Anti-Splog plugin. This plugin offers multiple layers of protection against unwanted sploggers attacking your site. Identify and blacklist nasty spam aficionados to reduce the amount of time you have to spend removing unwanted content and backlink attempts from your WordPress site.
Stop Spammers Spam Prevention
If you want to keep your WordPress site protected against malicious hacker attacks while eliminating spam, check out the Stop Spammers Spam Prevention plugin. With multiple customization options, you can stop spam from 100+ countries. This plugin automatically completes numerous spam-detection checks and lets you instantly banish spammers who cannot complete captcha verification checks.
Perhaps the most well-known of all anti-spam WordPress plugins, the Akismet plugin has over one million downloads. Use this plugin to not only catch suspected spam on your site but to find backlink URLs hidden within comments too. Review the history of each spam attempt on your site and block repeat offenders.
Hide My WP
A lot of times, WordPress spammers will target your site by the footprint it leaves behind, which is why it’s a great idea to leave no trace that you’re even using WordPress. If you want to completely obscure your WordPress installation to keep spammers from even finding your site in the first place, Hide My WP is a nice solution. This is a premium plugin, so it’ll cost you around $23 right now, but it’ well worth it. Sometimes you can get hacked or crushed with spam when a plugin isn’t completely up to date when a new vulnerability shows up. That recently happened with Gravity Forms and even JetPack, so making your site invisible to spammers and hackers is a great line of defense, just in case.
Protecting your site from spam is one of the unfortunate parts of being a webmaster. Whether you own an up-and-coming ecommerce site or blog occasionally on a lifestyle blog, spammers will attempt to attack your site regardless of your site’s popularity. The above-listed spam protection plugins can greatly reduce the amount of time you have to spend of spam-fighting. Will you be downloading any of these WordPress spam protection plugins?
A Comprehensive Review of WooCommerce
A Review of WooCommerce
Ecommerce is something most of us do on a regular basis. Ecommerce is the term used to describe all of the commercial transactions conducted electronically or over the Internet, allowing us to buy everything from medicine and shoes to cars and antiques. It is a word familiar to most of us, even if we don’t often use it. Rather than saying you are doing a bit of ecommerce, you might say you shop online, and according to the statistics most of us do a lot of ecommerce!
Ecommerce Is the Way of Business Today and in the Future
After all, according to Statista, the amount of ecommerce sales worldwide in 2015 was $1,471 billion (http://www.statista.com/topics/871/online-shopping/). In the U.S. alone, there were more than 200 million digital shoppers. Clearly, ecommerce is a preferred way of getting the many things we want or need, but if you want to get in on the world of online shopping to sell products or services, it can feel overwhelming.
Why? The volume of online retailers has created an equal volume of resources for making online sales. Electronic storefronts, inventory managing software, dropshipping services, website designers…these are all issues that might get in the way of opening your own simple and profitable digital storefront. As one web sales expert warned:
If you’re considering launching an online store, you’ll be presented with many software options for building out your storefront. These choices, while initially feeling like a windfall, can quickly feel overwhelming due to the multitude of ecommerce options available.
Additionally, many of us hoping to enter the world of ecommerce as storeowners don’t have a lot of technical know-how, or massive budgets to get a store up and running. This leaves many in need of a low cost, or free, solution that can also address some very serious problems.
The Major Challenges to Basic and Easy Ecommerce
What sort of problems does the startup ecommerce business face? In terms of the actual storefront and website, you will discover it can begin to feel far outside of your capabilities.
For example, your ecommerce solution needs to provide a friendly user experience for your shoppers that makes them want to return. On the other hand, it is often far outside of most budgets to hire a “User Experience Designer”.
You need an affordable solution, but one that can be customized to indicate your brand, style, and overall message. The ability to customize a store, however, typically involves complex coding, or hiring a costly expert to tackle it for you.
Security is another issue, and no storeowner can ever afford any breaches, risks, or threats. Uptime is part of this issue, and you face the loss of return customers when you have to announce security breaches or they arrive at your site to see it is temporarily disabled. In fact, almost all online shoppers never return to a site if they receive an error message at the home page.
Lastly, you need to have access to analytical tools that document every possible statistic – including traffic and conversions as well as inventory and sales. However, many of us are unable to use even the free analysis tools, like those at Google, simply because we are not sure just what they tell us.
What to do about all of these needs and problems? That is actually easier to answer than many realize, and the solution can be found in a single, unusual word: WooCommerce.
What Is WooCommerce?
In a nutshell, WooCommerce is meant to enable anyone to quickly and easily begin to sell services or products through their WordPress powered site. Whether a blog or website, this plugin helps you to create your basic online store, allowing you to offer physical, digital, affiliate, renewable membership products, and more.
It is free, and uses open source code, meaning developers can, and do, introduce new features all of the time. It is one of the most user-friendly options because it has been designed to enable site owners to sell a range of goods, categorize products, design appealing pages easily, and even monitor customer activities. At the user-end, the WooCommerce plugin enables clients to look at their past orders, check on current orders, and make it easy and safe to shop.
Currently, it has been downloaded more than thirteen million times, and is behind roughly 37% of all of the online stores on the Internet. Using this “functional extension” along with your WordPress site and a WooCommerce friendly storefront (also known as a compatible WordPress theme), you can easily handle product management, a shopping cart function, and order processing. It also enables you to deal with taxes, it keeps all of your data in your hands, and comes with support for mobile device and offers easy scalability to grow with each of your business successes.
But just what is it? It was actually built specifically for WordPress. Currently, 51% of the top one million websites on the Internet are powered by WordPress, and this is why WooCommerce is such a smart choice. It integrates instantly with your WordPress pages and as one expert said:
WooCommerce users can build a fully functioning store within a professional website, alongside an integrated blog. All of these dimensions of a business’ online presence are harnessed in one place, and presented together seamlessly, and it’s all thanks to WooCommerce being a WordPress based platform.
Is It Easy to Setup?
As you read above, you need your WordPress powered site or blog, the WooCommerce plugin, and a WooCommerce compatible WordPress theme. Because you may be unfamiliar with these things, let’s take just a moment to understand them, and see how easy it is to get an online store up and running thanks to WooCommerce.
WordPress can be installed in less than five minutes, but before this is possible, you need:
- A website hosting company that gives you space for your site.
- Your domain name or URL.
The top hosting companies can actually help you with the URL, and many have a one-click WordPress installation feature too. Once you get your account setup and purchased, you can use the host’s dashboard to do the instant WordPress install.
Once this is done, and you are looking at your WordPress dashboard, you can install WooCommerce. You can access it directly from WordPress, just like all of the WordPress plugins. And once the download is done, it then walks you through the setup, taking you through various points, like:
- Page setup (where you load products)
- Store locale
- Shipping & tax
When you install the plugin, the first thing to do is follow the guide that walks you through the key settings. This allows you to enter all of the relevant details, but you will come back later to tackle things like products, payments and any other settings of importance. In fact, these may be ongoing tasks rather than setup only.
Before you can dig into setting up the store, you need to have a WooCommerce powered theme. This is actually the most important part because it is what all of your shoppers see and interact with, so take your time to choose one that is both WooCommerce compatible, but also a good fit to your products or service.
You can get themes directly from the WooCommerce themes page and in many other spots on the Internet. Keep in mind that the theme is not just for the sales pages but for your whole site, so it is key that you choose a design that really works for you and your products. WooCommerce makes selling online easier, but it cannot overcome a poorly designed or mismatched site.
Once you choose your theme, you just install it to your site and you can then go ahead and setup all of the features.
What are the Features of WooCommerce?
There are “core” and “extensions” features in WooCommerce. The core features include:
- Mobile friendliness – WooCommerce is designed to enable your storefront to look and function as good on a mobile device as a computer. It is even possible to convert a store into a mobile app with some of their third-party tools.
- Checkout controls – You can allow guest checkouts or disable this feature to gather data and ensure security. You can also block out buyers from specific locations and even determine the URLs handling different parts of the checkout process.
- CRM – From the control of how customers register (including passwords and accounts), to refunds, product variables, and more, you will find almost everything you need to manage CRM.
- Selling options – You can sell real products, but this plugin also facilitates your sales of digital downloads or subscriptions, content, and even services or time. As WooCommerce itself says, “simple product, grouped product, external/affiliate product, variable product and virtual/downloadable product” types are available.
- Inventory management – Track levels, hold stock, hide stock that is out of stock, get notices about low inventory, and more.
- Analytics – Reporting on sales and refunds, monitoring traffic, and orders, and exploring product performance are built into the plugin.
- Pre-installed payment options – There are several pre-installed payment gateways that you can choose by simply dragging and dropping them as you arrange your site. They include direct bank transfers, check payments, credit cards via PayPal or Simplify Commerce, and even cash on delivery.
- Scalability – As your business grows, it is amazingly easy to scale your WooCommerce features. You can sell one item this week and one thousand the next, and enjoy ease of use thanks to the design of the plugin.
- Automated features – Geo location enables the plugin to auto-detect buyer’s addresses, ensuring accurate shipping and tax calculation. There is the default currency setting as well, and automated taxes that adjust to a buyer’s location are among the automated features.
- Cart controls – Prevent reloading of pages each time something is added to the shopping cart, and choose whether to redirect to the cart page when something is added.
- Security – We already considered how important this is, and WooCommerce is audited by the industry’s leading security firm, ensuring that coding standards are up to date and that there are no risks in the use of the tool.
- Customer support – The WooCommerce help desk is available at all times, and has videos, ticketing for follow up, and full documentation available to cover all topics as well. Setup, Third-Party plugins, SSL and HTTPS, Cookies, and all of the other important topics are addressed in full documentation, and customer support is always there to help.
- Shipping – One thing that WooCommerce is praised for is the way it makes shipping better and easier. You can use shipping calculations, offer flexible shipping destinations, and provide a range of options.
- Marketing and SEO – Sadly, online selling is not like the famous “Field of Dreams”. You can build the store, but it doesn’t mean they will come. This is a reason that the marketing tools in WooCommerce are so helpful. It comes with features like SEO, product reviews, discount codes and other promotional features. Extensions can really boost this area, though, and should be used.
Although the core features are more than enough for anyone’s long-term needs and success, the Add-ons and Extensions really enhance the product.
What are the Add-ons and Extensions for WooCommerce?
In terms of WooCommerce Extensions, there are hundreds of free and fee-based options. They are available to enhance your store or grow your business. For example, some of the current “popular” and “staff favorites” include:
- The free PayPal Powered by Braintree extension that enables you to accept credit and debit cards.
- WooCommerce Bookings that is a fee-based extension enabling you to sell your time or create bookings. This is a solution for those who use appointments or offer services and/or rentals.
- Product Add-Ons is a fee-based extension that allows buyers to customize products through the input boxes, dropdowns, checkboxes or other tools that you create.
- WooSubscriptions is also fee-based, but allows you to create and manage any of your products that use a recurring payment option.
You can also use extensions like Amazon Payments to enable clients another payment option, a USPS API that gets shipping rates and handles parcels, and an Order/Customer CSV Export that enables you to export customer data and order information in a simple CSV file. The list goes on and on, and this has to be seen as one of the benefits and features of the plugin.
One of the most impressive extension elements is the ability to offer customize your product types. For example, if you have niche products, it is likely that there are extensions to accommodate you. The current list includes, add-ons, bookable products, bundled products, chained products, composite products, force sell, measurement based products, pre-order products and subscription products. You can also get dynamic pricing apps, create group extensions, name your price, and more.
Marketing and SEO with your extensions is a tremendous plus. The options include social media integration, follow up emails, wish lists, newsletters, rewards programs, cart notifications and more.
Analytics is also boosted via extensions, and you can use a lot of third-party service integrations as well as the extensions themselves to better understand all areas of your online business’ performance.
Enabling you to create a customized solution based on all of your needs, it is remarkably user-friendly with one-click functions and instant add-ons. The extensions give you applications that relate to all areas of business, including your payment gateways, marketing, accounting, reports, and so much more.
The core features and extensions available to those who use WooCommerce provide you with a comprehensive set of tools and solutions, and none of it is difficult to use. It takes only the time needed to create the WordPress site, choose the right theme, and integrate the WooCommerce plugin. After that, you can begin adding any extensions that facilitate your business needs.
What Are the Pros and Cons of WooCommerce?
To summarize the many benefits and pros of WooCommerce:
- It is free and open source
- It installs easily and seamlessly with your WordPress blog or website
- There are abundant options for compatible WordPress themes
- There are hundreds of extensions that make it easy for you to customize your software and make it remarkably functional and effective
- It features the familiar WordPress dashboard. As one enthusiast said, ” past users of the platform will benefit from being able to recognize the user-friendly WordPress interface. That kind of familiarity when building an online store could easily save time and confusion, whilst bolstering creativity.” (https://www.cmscritic.com/10-reasons-why-woocommerce-is-perfect-for-ecommerce-startups/#)
- It has far more positive feedback and reviews (evidenced by the fact that more than 35% of all ecommerce sites use it)
- It is constantly updated or enhanced, and WooCommerce is very communicative about new features or additions
- There are many developers ready to offer assistance, and the WooCommerce Help Desk is remarkably comprehensive
And what about the “cons”? We’ve looked at WooCommerce as a nearly flawless entity, but there are a few downsides that we should consider:
- The extensions are abundant, and most stores need them. They are not all free, and some of the most popular are in the hundreds of dollars to purchase. They also need annual licensing to be renewed.
- Setting up is easy, but it can take tremendous amounts of time to get the inventory loaded and displaying properly, to choose the settings for customers, orders, taxes, shipping, and more.
- You may choose the wrong theme and it may not be as robust as you want or need. This is why you must dedicate a lot of time in the selection process and purchase you theme only from the top and most highly rated developers or from Woo itself.
- Though the Help Desk is always available, it is known to have some lag times, and there can be lengthy periods when support tickets remain unanswered.
What does this all tell us? The reality is that no ecommerce software solution is perfect. It is impossible to expect that, and looking at something like this review is helpful, but only if you already understand what you need.
The best approach to determining if WooCommerce is for you is to begin with a list of your unique requirements.
What sort of extensions might you need?
What sort of fees might this add on to your operating expenses?
How much time do you have available to tackle the setup of your WooCommerce site?
These are the only “cons” of choosing WooCommerce, but for some, they could be a reason to avoid the use of the plugin.
However, if you are eager to begin selling anything, anywhere in the world; ship anywhere without a lot of difficulty in calculating fees and printing appropriate labels; accepting many kinds of payments; having total control of the look and function of your online store; choosing your specific style and customizing it all; and being able to add extensions and grow the site easily, WooCommerce is the right choice for you.
WooCommerce core includes all of the core features required to run an online store, with none of the bloat. From the simple action of adding and managing products, to advanced stock controls, tax rates calculations, and order management, WooCommerce handles all of this swiftly.
If, after all of this information, you still feel a bit confused, just take some time to visit the WooCommerce site and see what they have to say. Also take a look at the different galleries of themes, always narrowing down the options to those that are WooCommerce compatible.
It is likely that you will soon recognize that this plugin has a great deal going for it, and that you can start small and grow along with it. You don’t need to invest in lots of extensions or third-party services to begin with, and soon you will feel comfortable enough to get creative and enjoy customizing your ecommerce site powered by WordPress and WooCommerce.
Getting Started With the Visual Composer WordPress Plugin
A Guide to Getting Started on the Visual Composer WordPress Plugin
Currently the top-selling plugin at CodeCanyon, Visual Composer surpassed the 20,000 sales milestone just a few months ago. The plugin was created by WPBakery. The plugin is a plug and drop type of application that is bundled with over 300 premium ThemeForest themes. The product is currently installed in at least 65,000 websites the world over.
While there is no argument about the current popularity that the plugin enjoys simply because it makes putting together a WordPress website very convenient and simple, the question is: Is the plugin really worth the hype it is getting?
This Visual Composer review will attempt to answer the question. Likewise, it will break the WordPress plugin down in terms of the capabilities it brings to the table, how it lives up to the high expectations and hype, and provide a walk-through on how you can come up with unique webpages and stylish content using Visual Composer, among others.
Visual Composer Pros and Cons
- The plugin is user-friendly.
It comes with a wide variety of content elements.
Visual composer offers both a backend and a front-end editor.
Developer support is substantial.
The content elements are easy to style.
- The front-end editor can be tricky to use at times.
There is no option to easily integrate widgets from third parties.
In terms of cost, features, and support, Visual Composer outperforms most similar products on the market today. It also does well in terms of aesthetics, speed, and usability. Overall, the product is worthy of a 4-star rating out of 5.
What Is Visual Composer?
The plugin is a feature packed, drag and drop type of page builder. It has more than 40 built in content elements, and lets you style your webpages both on the front-end and back end. This means you can work on your pages right in your live website or at the admin area of WordPress with the same convenience.
While being able to work on both ends should offer a lot of convenience for website owners and developers, transitioning to the plugin’s front-end editor can be tricky at times. Some users complain of not having the module load properly from time to time. Because this is such an important feature, it can be quite disappointing if you cannot take full advantage of it.
Despite the problem, however, Visual Composer remains as one of the best all-around drag & drop solutions among all WordPress page building tools currently available to users. The interface is quite easy to use, it is priced reasonably, and it comes with a superior selection of content elements. Once you have familiarized yourself with the plugin’s interface, you can begin to style professional-looking pages in a matter of minutes.
Main Visual Composer Features
At this point, you may be eager to find out just exactly how the plugin works. Before that, however, it is important that you get acquainted with the product’s main features first.
By using the WordPress post editor, you can style your articles in many ways. You can use the editor to italicize or bold the text, and to add, images, links, codes, quotes, and lists. You can further add style to your articles by using the functionalities of a drag & drop page builder.
Drag and (&) drop is the common term used for WordPress plugins that allow users to design professional pages using a visual drag and drop interface. You are probably aware that the market for page builders today is saturated, resulting to a highly competitive environment. It is worth mentioning that Visual Composer blazed the trail for others to follow.
By using the building blocks of content or content elements that come with Visual Composer, you can create unique and stylish webpages. In other page building tools, these blocks, referred to as “content elements” in Visual Composer, are called widgets or modules. Regardless of what they are called, however, these blocks of content may be dragged, and then dropped anywhere you like on the page.
As previously mentioned, Visual Composer has more than 40 built in content elements. These include social media buttons, text blocks, image carousels, video players, charts, and post grids, among many others.
Visual Composer content elements are all responsive; thus, they will appear aesthetically pleasing whether they are viewed on a tablet, smartphone, or computer. You can further customize individual content elements to help you come up with better-crafted webpages.
Drag and drop types of page building tools typically allow you to create pages either from the front-end (right in your live site) or the backend (using the post editor). You can do both with Visual Composer.
Most page builders can be used with virtually any WordPress theme. This applies to Visual Composer, as well. It can work with oTranslate, a WordPress translation plugin, and it likewise supports multiple languages. Visual Composer is also compatible with WordPress custom post types.
The following section is a brief guide on how to use Visual Composer quickly.
Beginner’s Guide to Using Visual Composer
Designing Pages Using Visual Composer
After you have activated Visual Composer on your site, your post editor will display two new buttons. One can be used to call the backend editor, while the other will allow you to work on pages through the front-end editor. Simply put, the buttons in the post editor for Visual Composer will allow you to toggle among the default WordPress post editor (classic mode), the front-end editor, as well as the backend editor.
At the top portion of the interface, you will find 4 buttons. The plus (+) sign can be used to include a new content element. The symbol beside it or the grey box that has a white letter “T” inside allows you to load the template box. On the right side, you will find the cog symbol that you can use to load a custom CSS box where you can define the various CSS classes to use for that particular page. The button to the right of the cog will load up the front-end editor.
Upon first loading the backend editor, the first thing you will see is a welcome page that provides shortcuts to more frequently accessed options including ones that will allow you to add new elements, include text blocks (another type of content element), or select one from among 6 pre-set layouts (load a template, for example.)
If you click on the plus (+) sign, the element box will appear. All the available elements are initially displayed by default, but you can sort and browse the list by type of element if you want.
Previously, it was mentioned that more than 40 content elements are available on Visual Composer. While this is technically true, 12 of these content elements are default WordPress widgets. The rest are made up of 25 Visual Composer content elements, 4 social media elements, and 3 structure elements. Thus, the latest version of Visual Composer has a total of 44 content elements.
You can easily drag rows into other parts of the page. They can likewise be cloned, deleted, and edited. All the columns display similar buttons. If you hover over a particular content element, an option to move, customize, edit, or delete it will appear.
Each content element can be customized in Visual Composer. The settings you can use depends on the specific type of content element you are currently working on. The simpler content elements like the social media sharing buttons will let you define the button size only. On the other hand, the more advanced content elements like post grids will provide various settings and options.
You can add new rows by simply pressing the plus sign in the row header. You can find the option to put content in multiple columns next to the plus sign.
You can choose from any of the 11 available pre-set column layouts that include 5/6 + 1/6, 1/4 + 1/2 + 1/4, and 2/3 + 1/3. You also have the choice to make your own custom layout if you want. After adding the columns, you can now move content elements freely from other columns and rows into your newly created columns.
With Visual Composer, you can customize how you want your columns and rows to look and feel. You can use the general tab to set your preferred default font color as well as to define more CSS classes.
By using the design options tab, you can define the size of the borders, margins, and padding. The color of the backgrounds and borders may also be changed into your preferred color. Likewise, the border type can be defined. You can make it dotted, dashed or solid.
Columns come with an additional tab for settings that can be used for responsiveness and widths. These settings, however, are not available for rows simply because they are not really necessary.
The column widths can be resized to as small as a twelfth or to a particular size that will best suit the target device. This will make sure that the page content will not look too cramped when viewed using smaller devices.
At the top of the Visual Composer interface, you will find the template icon that can be used to load the templates box. Here, you can save your custom layouts so they can later be used by the other pages on your site. You can also load your previously saved templates here.
There are 6 default templates available in Visual Composer. This number is sufficient if you are just starting to create various pages like a landing page. This Visual Composer tutorial highly recommends that you load up these templates when you use the plugin for the first time. This way, you will immediately get acquainted with the workings of the plugin.
If you load a default template, the layout will be added after your existing customizations. All you have to do then is to supply your own text content to replace the dummy text.
Using the backend editor is quite simple. Like most other similar WordPress plugins, you can get a good grasp of how everything works in just around 20 to 30 minutes. Once you have gotten acquainted with all the content elements’ settings area, and have modified the columns and rows to your preferred style, you are ready to create new pages that are both unique and stylish.
The Front-End Editor
As previously discussed briefly, you can create and style pages right on your live website using the front-end editor. If you are currently working on your page using the backend editor, from your post editor interface, just click on the front-end button. This will lead you to the front-end editor interface. Just make sure you have saved your current work before you switch to another editor mode. Otherwise, all the changes you have made on your page will be lost.
Having said that, this Visual Composer tutorial finds it easier to structure pages initially using the backend editor. On the other hand, the front-end editor is better to use when you need to tweak your pages later. A lot of WordPress users, however, use the front-end editor from start to finish, meaning they do everything on the live website.
This way, you get to see immediately how the WordPress design you are currently working on will appear. It is therefore suggested to stick to whichever method works for you. If you find it easier to start with the backend editor and switch modes later for the finishing touches, that is fine. On the other hand, if you want to do everything using the front editor, it is fine as well.
Whether using the backend or front-end editor, pressing a content block will have the same result, meaning you will be provided with the same option settings. These include the options to insert new columns and rows, and options to include new content elements, load the template system, modify page settings, save your drafts, and publish your page. You can also find an option that will allow you to switch back to the backend editing mode as well.
The guides button found at the top portion of your front-end editor interface disables the options in the content element box. This will allow you to view the page without displaying the editing options in Visual Composer.
Likewise, there is an available option that will give you an idea on how the page will look in 5 device sizes or when the page is viewed using different devices including smartphones, tablets, and desktop computer. This tool is quite useful since you get the chance to preview the page you styled on different resolutions, so you can make sure that it will look good regardless of the device used to view it. This way, you can still tweak the page before it is actually published.
You cannot find a lot of drag and drop WordPress building tools that will offer options to style pages both on the front and back-ends. This is one of the features that make Visual Composer standout – its versatility.
Visual Composer Settings
The settings menu in Visual Composer has 5 tabs, the first of which houses the general settings.
On the top part of the page, you can select the types of posts that can be used with the plugin. In this section, you can enable or disable various types of active posts such as pages and posts. You can likewise disable content elements that are responsive, and select Google fonts.
The role editor is one of the more useful options you can find on this page. It is where you can set whether specific user groups can access bot the WordPress default editor and Visual composer, or restrict access to either of the two. For instance, you can allow only the editors and administrators to use Visual Composer.
You can likewise disable particular content elements for different user groups. This can come in handy if you want to restrict access to specific elements for a certain user group.
The second tab is used to modify the color scheme of the content elements in Visual Composer. You can also change the bottom margin of the elements, as well as the width of the mobile screen.
The third tab is where you can input custom CSS codes. Once done, you can proceed to styling the content elements by activating the classes you have defined in this box.
If you enter your license details in the fourth tab, it means that your Visual Composer is automatically updated. This will also entitle you to receive support. A lot of WordPress developers take the time to go through this process to make sure that illegal or unauthorized downloads of their products are averted, a necessary evil, if you may.
The final tab in the settings menu is used for mapping custom short codes as well as short codes from 3rd party plugins. This way, you can increase the number of available content elements that you can use.
That’s it. You can see that there are only a few settings that you need to configure to start using Visual Composer. You just need to pay particular attention to the license page because the automatic updates and support you will receive will depend primarily on the entries on this page.
An Honest Visual Composer Review
A Glimpse of What Visual Basic Brings to the Table
With Visual Composer, creating professionally-designed webpages will take only a matter of minutes. Likewise, it is easy to get a good grasp of how the WPBakery plugin generally works. In fact, it may take you a bit longer to get acquainted with all the content elements that are bundled with Visual Composer.
Take a look of a corporate page designed using the plugin.
Bottom of Form
After you have gotten comfortable in using the styling elements, you will now be ready to begin creating unique and professional-looking pages. The 6 default templates that are built-in to Visual Composer will come in handy as you are still trying to feel your way around the system.
How to Extend Visual Composer
Simply put, Visual composer is developer-friendly. This means its content elements can be changed directly from the functions.php file of the theme. You can likewise add shortcodes that you created on your own. A lot of add-ons have also been designed as enhancements for Visual Composer, and there are many other plugins in WordPress that are compatible with it.
Visual Composer Downsides
If you talk to some website developers about using plugins, you will most probably hear them say that all plugins that they have used disappointed them to some degree. All plugins can use some improvements, one way or another, but this is not to say that they are not good and useful. Visual Composer is just like other plugins.
For this Visual Composer review, at least a dozen premium and free drag and drop WordPress website building tools were tested for comparison. In a lot of other plugins, you are allowed to use and insert all the available widgets as content elements. This helps considerably extend the functionality of a page building tool. With this feature, you can insert whatever WordPress widget you have that is active on your website.
Sad to say, this nice to have feature is lacking in Visual Composer. You are limited to the default plugins in WordPress, as well as a few plugins from 3rd party developers like Contact Form 7. Instead, Visual Composer offers a widgetized side-bar content element. While this should allow you, in theory, to add any widget into your pages directly, this is actually limiting and tedious to do.
The widgetized side-bar content element lets you choose the sidebar you want inserted into the element. However, you cannot create another sidebar or a new widget area. In order to include a custom widget into the page you are currently working on, you must create the sidebars each and every time. Although you can find WordPress plugins that help make the process of making new side-bars a little simpler, overall, it is still a tedious process.
To illustrate, imagine a content website consisting of around 100 pages. If you want custom widgets inserted into some of the pages, say in 30 pages, you have to create 30 custom side-bars just for the purpose. If you use another page building plugin tool, on the other hand, all you have to do is to drag the custom widget you want inserted, and drop it into the part of the content area where you want it to be.
That being said, WPBakery will hopefully take notice and address the concern in future releases of the plugin. This way, users will enjoy the convenience of directly inserting custom widgets into the page.
This Visual Composer review still contends that it is better to create and style pages using the backend editor, although it is understandable why a lot of users prefer to modify pages right on the live website. For one, this gives them the chance to immediately see the effects of the changes as they make them.
Switching to the front-end editing mode can be quite frustrating. While it works well once it has been loaded properly, a lot of times, it fails to correctly load. Sometimes, all you see is the loading icon displayed infinitely on your screen. To check if this is an isolated case, this review tried running the plugin on a test website. Twenty Twelve was used. There were no other active WordPress plugin activated. The results were the same. The frontend editor still did not properly load all the time. In fact, it was able to load correctly a few times.
There was a time when we tried to toggle between the backend to the front-end editor for about half an hour. We kept trying until we got the front-end editing mode loaded properly. Our persistence paid off. It finally worked on a blank website; to be specific, a blog site that contained no posts.
The next day, we noticed that we no longer had any problems loading the front-end editor. It caught us by surprise. For one, we did not make any changes to the website. We did a bit of research and discovered that a lot of other users encountered the same problems that we did. They were able to somehow find a solution to the problem. From what we gathered, there are times when the front-end editor does not load successfully because of some issues involving the pre-loader.
Beware of WordPress Plugins That Come Bundled with Themes
Visual Composer is the plugin of choice for a lot of WordPress theme developers primarily because of its drag and drop interface that allows users to conveniently create professional-looking webpages within a short span of time – within minutes, in fact. This is primarily the reason Visual Composer is bundled with a whole lot of WP themes on ThemeForest.
Sure, it is great to get a premium WordPress plugin like Visual Composer when you buy a WordPress theme. There is a problem, though. Not too many people are aware that a lot of theme developers do not pay attention to updates on the plugins bundled with their products. Thus, their theme zip file is not updated every time there are updates made on the included plugins. If you buy a theme with outdated plugin inclusion, you naturally end up using the plugin’s older version, making you quite vulnerable to attacks.
Next to Visual Composer, probably the most popular plugin for WordPress on CodeCanyon would be Slide Revolution. However security specialists discovered that Slider Revolution was saddled by a large, gaping security hole. While WP users who bought the plugin from CodeCanyon directly were able to get the plugin’s updated version with the security patch, thousands of other users who got their version of the WP plugin bundled with the theme they purchased, failed to download the new and updated version.
As mentioned, the problem lies with the theme developers who do not bother to check if new versions of their bundled plugins have been released. It has likewise been a common practice for theme developers to check for new versions of plugins ONLY when they are in the process of updating their own WP theme. While this is understandable, it still is not a sound practice that benefits the interest of their clients.
Now, if you got the Visual Composer version you are currently using from a WordPress theme package, you better check if you are not using the latest version. Having read the warning above, you are aware of the consequences of using an outdated version. You never know whether or not the theme developer is conscientious and proactive enough to update the plugin. Thus, it may be a sound move if you just buy your copy of Visual Composer from CodeCanyon itself. This way, you are guaranteed to receive automatic updates, as well as product support.
Visual Composer Review Ratings
No doubt, Visual Composer offers great value for your money. For a one-off cost of only $28, you get a cutting-edge WordPress plugin that is loaded with a lot of functional features.
For its retail price, Visual Composer costs significantly less than a lot of its competitors on the market. Velocity, another WP page builder plugin, for example, comes with fewer features. For a single website, the retail price is $97. You have to shell out $167 if you intend to use the plugin for 3 websites. The unlimited option, on the other hand, costs $247. Another competitor, Beaver Builder, uses the same pricing scheme.
Of course you can find drag & drop page builder tools for WordPress without requiring you to shell out a single cent. However, none of these plugins can approximate what Visual Composer has to offer both in terms of features and design functionalities. To put it simply, Visual Composer makes every cent you spent more than worth it.
With Visual Composer, you can change the content of you website on either the front or backend. As mentioned time and again throughout this Visual Composer review, this is one area where the plugin excels and what separates it from other products in its category. Most other plugins with drag and drop interface will only allow you to create and modify pages using EITHER the front-end editor or the backend editor – NOT BOTH!
In addition, Visual Composer has a wide range of excellent content elements including multi-media elements for images and videos, social media buttons, as well as content-related elements like post carousels, post sliders, and post grids.
Empty spaces and separators can likewise be added into the pages for better page structure. Likewise support for buttons as well as calls to action are available.
As discussed in a previous section, perhaps the one major thing that may be considered lacking in Visual Composer is a good support for widgets from third party developers. By providing better support for third party widgets, Visual Composer developers, in essence, would significantly extend the plugin’s functionality. Other than that, however, majority of WordPress users will have no problems with the built in content elements. Users will likewise be happy about the user-friendly interface.
Talking about aesthetics, there is nothing about Visual Composer that does not look good. Everything is just stunning – from the drag & drop interface to the various pages that the plugin helps you create and style for your website. Each of the content elements is responsive; thus, you have the guarantee that your page will look perfect regardless of the device it is viewed from, whether it is a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or a desktop computer.
Visual Composer also makes it possible for you to customize all the content elements as you please. The borders, padding, and margins can easily be modified. By using the settings box, you can likewise alter the background and font colors. You can even add custom CSS to the style elements in your arsenal.
In most other drag and drop page building tools, you are not allowed to modify the style of the content elements. They only give you the option to either use it or not. With Visual Composer, no such restrictions exist. You can do a lot more.
Visual Composer offers easy interfaces for both the front-end and backend editors. To give you an idea of how convenient it is to use the plugin, within 15 minutes of feeling your way around, you would already have a good grasp of how to include content elements, as well as how to position them in columns and rows.
However, it may be unreasonable to expect that you can come up with professional-looking pages right off the bat. While there is no argument that Visual Composer is quite easy to use and navigate, it will probably take you a couple of hours before you get comfortable enough to create the pages you want. You must first get acquainted with the various available options for each of the content elements.
The pre-packaged templates that come with Visual Composer definitely come in handy to speed up the learning process. Just load a default template and start trying things out, moving and tweaking content elements, and in no time, you will already have a good idea on how each piece of the puzzle fits.
The plugin has been on the market for a number of years now, yet it still gets regular updates and fitted with new features. As the top-selling WordPress plugin on CodeCanyon, you can rest assured that you will enjoy active support for the product for a long time.
Learning how to use the WP plugin is likewise a non-issue. You can find a large knowledge base on the site of WPBakery, where you can get a walk through on using the plugin. The site also features a ticket support system where the developers field customer inquiries. Comments are likewise promptly responded to.
You do not have to pay annual fees to use Visual Composer. Once you buy the plugin, you automatically become eligible for lifetime upgrades and support.
Thousands upon thousands of fast-loading sites utilize Visual Composer; thus, you need not be concerned about the WordPress plugin dragging your website down. Each of the content elements is guaranteed to efficiently and quickly load.
In the highly competitive and crowded niche of drag and drop page building tools, Visual Basic can brag that it is the best and most popular option today for WordPress users, and probably, no one will raise a whimper. The plugin is user-friendly, the content elements are great, and you can work on your pages both on the front and back-ends of your site.
Perhaps its single main drawback is the absence of an option to easily incorporate widgets into pages. You may argue that there are more flexible, and free drag and drop interface page builder plugins available like Aqua Page Builder and MiniMax that let you easily insert widgets into pages. If you don’t need the functionality of inserting third party widgets into your pages, however, this is a non-issue.
A good majority of WordPress users would be satisfied with the quality of the content elements that Visual Composer brings to the table, as well as the option that allows you to style the content elements using custom CSS. With this, you can use the plugin to come up with stylish pages within a few minutes. Overall, Visual Composer is a solid WordPress page builder plugin that is worth recommending.
Adding Bookly, Dynamic Booking Application to Your WordPress Website
If you’re looking for a great way to add a booking feature to your WordPress based website, maybe you should have a look at Bookly? If you’ve got a hair salon or a dentist office, if you teach music lessons or driver’s education, run a yoga studio or a personal training business. No matter what your field is, if you need to take appointments online, a booking app like Bookly is a wonderful choice to make your life easier and to help grow your business. Bookly is a unique way to streamline the process of appointment setting, making it a pleasant experience all around. It’s fast and simple to book an appointment with Bookly.
Many WordPress themes offer a booking plugin natively, but a lot don’t. If you don’t feel comfortable switching your theme, you’ll need to install an add-on or plugin that can do the job of letting clients book appointments online.
If you’re perfectly happy with your current theme, whether it was a custom design or a premium theme that doesn’t offer a booking app to speed up the process of providing an online booking feature, Bookly is a way to extend your site’s functionality without having to re-code your existing website. Having a great way for customers to book appointments, without having to call in or Email you, is a great way to free up your valuable time and a wonderful way to allow your customers to be able to book an appointment, even when your office is closed.
What are some key features of Bookly?
- Bookly integrates with your Google Calendar, so your bookings can be viewed in real-time.
- Bookly is WooCommerce ready, so you can use the wide variety of payment gateways and powerful WooCommerce extensions too.
- Bookly is completely responsive, so it looks amazing on any screen size, any browser and any type of device.
- Bookly comes with strong, detailed documentation and a wonderful support system, so you can get set up on the fly and if you end up stuck, help is just a few clicks away.
- Bookly comes with a handy form builder, so you can craft a custom form with fields that you choose.
- Bookly has a user friendly SMS and Email reminder system to help remind customers of their appointments, which reduces no-shows and saves you time.
- Bookly accepts a wide range of payment gateways, like Stripe, Mollie, Authorize.net, 2Checkout and more.
So what’s the process like for a customer who wants to book an appointment on your website?
- Step one, when your customers hits on a webpage with a Bookly booking form, they will choose their desired service and staff member, if they so desire. Also, they can indicate their preferred appointment date, which brings up the second step of the process.
- Step two, the Bookly form will offer a dropdown menu of available times, each one customized for the date and staff member, which is updated dynamically, so you won’t have a situation where a staff member gets double booked.
- Step three , the customer can enter their personal details, which can be customized by you, the site owner. Whatever fields you need to offer to book an appointment will be there and there will be no extra information that you don’t need.
- Step four, the client can apply any coupons you may offer and select a payment method. The client can pay via Paypal or a credit card, so the payments are very flexible. If your service is completely free, you can disregard that step.
- Step five, after completing the booking process, the system automatically sends out a confirmation Email to your customer with all the details of their upcoming appointment. They’re completely booked for their appointment. It’s that simple.
Bookly is completely customizable.
After the simple and straightforward installation process is over. You can change the style, structure and design of your booking for to create the professional look that you desire. Choose how to display dates and times, add multiple custom fields to get the information that you need from customers and nothing you don’t need. Change the colors too to fit your business’ brand. The handy progress bar shows the client’s progress in booking their appointment online, from service chosen, time, customer details, payment and the completion of the process with confirmation Email.
Bookly is mobile friendly.
Bookly is completely responsive, just like your entire website should be. Bookly adjusts on the fly to adapt it’s resolution to any size screen, from an iPhone or Android, to a tablet and of course a laptop or desktop computer. That means your clients can book an appointment with any device, anywhere, anytime, as long as they have an internet connection.
Bookly has a modern, professional design and intuitive user interface.
The modern, clean and sleek design is fantastic for any sort of website, because it’s professional and clear. You can adjust the visual style to fit your website, since Bookly is flexible. The ease of use and perfectly tuned interface means you’ll get fewer drop-offs during the booking process, which makes everyone happy.
Bookly has a powerful, easy to use admin interface.
You may not be an expert in WordPress or coding websites, but the best part of Bookly means that doesn’t matter. Bookly is easy to set up, even for a beginner. The plugin simply installs and you create a booking form and customize it, all in just a few minutes. You can create an unlimited number of staff members and an unlimited number of services too. Each staff member can have their own custom list of services they provide, which reduces confusion and greatly reduces mistakes. What’s more, each individual staff member can have a different rate for their services, so if one provider charges a different rate than another, that’s taken into account.
Bookly automatically synchs to your staff’s Google calendar.
With Bookly, you can synch up the pending appointments to your employee or staff schedules, so you won’t run into situations where staff gets double booked. Times that have already been booked will not be allowed for selection. The time savings of having the schedules synched to Google calendars is a real life saver too, giving everyone a simple, secure and central location to see their schedules. Each staff member has their own customizable schedule so Holidays and days off are absolutely accounted for, and no bookings will be allowed on days off. In addition, you can allow for variable appointment lengths and add optional padding time around them. If the length of an appointment can vary greatly, this is a very handy feature to offer, keeping everyone happy.
Bookly offers completely secure online payment options.
You can maximize conversion rates by charging customers at the time that they book their appointment, using Paypal, iDeal, Stripe or dozens of other payment gateways. On the back end, you can check on payment reports and use a variety of filters to take complete control over the management of all payments.
Bookly will Email or text your clients to remind them of their appointment.
You can build simple notifications to let your clients know about their upcoming appointments, greatly reducing the no-show rates and helping you and you customers have a positive experience. Customers can also view and edit, even cancel, their appointments online. Or, you can also limit the access to new customers to let them manage their appointments in a limited way.
Bookly is a stunning plugin that deserves to be trending.
That’s a direct quote from a satisfied customer. Bookly allows businesses to simply and easily implement a booking system on their WordPress website. Customers will love the easy with which they can create bookings online and business owners will love how much time it saves. Whether your business is a beauty salon, a massage therapy office or other healthcare business; a sports or personal training business; an education business like a tutor or music teacher; a special events organization; or something like a photographer, stylist, dogwalker or babysitter; this plugin is a real timesaver, offering you and your customers, a great way to save time. And it really doesn’t matter what style your website is, Bookly integrates itself in a stylish way, perfectly fitting just about any design or style, from minimalist and modern, to elegant and ornate.
Customer support is fantastic too. Outstanding support, a strong knowledge base, prompt debugging and overall development are some of the key features that buyers of this plugin have cited as keys to why they recommend the Bookly booking plugin for WordPress.
Well designed, great value, responsive support, constantly updated, cleanly coded, attractive, modern…these are just a few more of the terms people have used to describe Bookly. If you’re interested in more information about this powerful tool to expand your ability to take online bookings, why not check out the sales page?
So, what do you think? Are you considering Bookly or another plugin for your website? If you decide to use Bookly, we’d love to see what you do with it.
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