5 WordPress Plugins for Increased User Functionality

5 WordPress Plugins for Increased User Functionality
Plugins are a great way to ease in the design of a WordPress website, and they also increase a site’s functionality. Some plugins can help our clients when our job is done. While we designers should not render ourselves obsolete, I do feel like it is our responsibility to give clients increased functionality, and the confidence to harness it themselves. The five following plugins do just that.

5 WordPress Plugins for Increased User Functionality

Black Studio TinyMCE Widget

5 WordPress Plugins for Increased User Functionality

I’ve written about this plugin before, because it’s just that good. The Black Studio TinyMCE Widget adds text-editing functionality to text widgets. The flexibility this offers is incredible. You can now more easily add HTML, upload images, use shortcodes, add columns, and more.

To use this widget, go to your widget panel and click and drag a visual editor widget into the desired sidebar or widget area. There you have a visual editor that looks just like a page or post editor!

Black Studio TinyMCE Visual Editor Widget Panel

Shortcodes Ultimate

Shortcodes Ultimate Elaine Griffin - Copy
The Shortcodes Ultimate plugin provides 50+ shortcodes ranging from carousels to tabs to accordions—and everything in between. This fully responsive CSS3 plugin is a great tool for designers to use when creating a website, and to leave behind for the client to use in the future.

Shortcodes can be used on posts or pages, or in widgets that utilize the text-editing capabilities of the BlackStudio Tiny MCE plugin. Simply choose the “Insert Shortcodes” button, choose or search for your shortcode in the pop-up window, and follow the detailed directions.

Insert Shortcode Elaine GriffinInsert Shortcode Popup Elaine Griffin

WP Easy Columns

WP Easy Columns Elaine Griffin Designs
WP Easy Columns allows designers to add grids and columns to posts, pages, and widgets. To use it on widgets, you will need the Black Studio Tiny MCE Widget.

To create columns or grids, click the “easy columns” icon, choose your layout, and insert your text or images between the shortcode. You can also insert a single column and custom divs!

In my opinion, one of the best features of this plugin is the “insert clear div” option, which helps to keep images and text aligned as they should be.

Insert Easy Column Elaine GriffinInsert Clear Div Elaine Griffin


WordPress Customizer Elaine Griffin Designs - Copy
The WordPress Customizer enhances the built-in customizer options, which allows designers to make basic design changes such as color, background image, header, navigation areas, widgets, and more. You can preview all the changes in real time. The Customizer adds an “Add Control” panel. The control panel can be used to add default sections to customize theme and plugin options.

To use this plugin, click on Appearance and then Themes. Click on the “customize” button on your active theme, and the customize widow will pop up on the left, with a preview of your site on the right.

WordPress Customizer Add Section Elaine Griffin - Copy

WP Google Fonts

Easy Google Fonts Elaine Griffin
In my opinion, unless a client is purchasing a font with a license, the only acceptable free fonts to use are Google Fonts. We should be coding the Google Fonts we use into our functions and CSS files, but sometimes clients want the option to change fonts out themselves. This is where the WP Google Fonts plugin comes in handy: Clients can easily choose fonts right from the Google Fonts Directory.

To work with Google fonts, click on Settings and then Google Fonts.

There, you can choose up to six Google Fonts to work with, and also choose the font weight, and what elements to attach the font to. Simply choose a font from the dropdown menu and the advanced screen will pop up.

WP Google Fonts Elaine GriffinWP Google Fonts Advanced Screen Elaine Griffin

What do you think of this list? Is there anything you would add?

7 Questions to Ask a Prospective Design Client

Prospective Client Questionnaire

When I am approached about logo and/or web design services, one of the first things I do is send the prospective design client a questionnaire, whether or not I've been hired yet. These seven questions help me get to know prospective clients better—which makes my job easier, and allows me to give each client the best design possible. My questionnaire is a mix of design and marketing questions that will encourage potential clients to think not only about what kind of design they want, but also … [Continue reading...]

Top 7 WordPress Plugins for New Bloggers

Top 7 WordPress Plugins for New Bloggers

There is no doubt that plugins are a great way to boost WordPress functionality and versatility. They are also a great way to help clients learn to use their site effectively, and to help them increase their visibility and grow their community. Here are my top seven WordPress plugins to get any client who is new to blogging started with a bang. WordPress SEO, by Joost de Valk This is the famous SEO plugin by Yoast, and it is a must for new bloggers. It is a great way to help your clients … [Continue reading...]

Instagram Introduces New Creative Tools

Instagram Introduces New Creative Tools Elaine Griffin

It looks like the new Instagram creative tools are going to give Snapseed a run for their money. This is good news for those of us who love the Snapseed features, but don't want the hassle of editing a photo in Snapseed and then posting it to Instagram. I do realize this is a First World problem, but for some of us, streamlining is key! Plus, we just love Instagram, don't we?! Here is what Instagram has to say about the new creative tools: Inspiring creativity is incredibly important to … [Continue reading...]

Blog Conference Design Package

Blog Conference Special Elaine Griffin Designs

Going to a blog conference this summer and you want to spruce things up? Now is your chance. Put your best blog, social media, and business cards forward. Save $100 on a design package that includes: Logo 3 hours of design Facebook, Google+, and Twitter graphics Business card design 2 hours of post-conference consult and tweaks Pssstttt...not sure you will get to a conference? No problem! You can cash in on this package with 5 hours of customization instead of using the … [Continue reading...]

WordPress Theme Review: Default Theme, Thesis, Headway, Genesis, and Elegant Themes

WordPress theme review Genesis Framework Elaine Griffin Designs

Gone are the days of web designers starting from scratch when designing a site. With so many themes and frameworks, we now have a good chunk of the coding done for us, and all we have left to do is customize based on the customer needs for functionality and aesthetics. How do we decide which theme or framework to offer our clients? The pros and cons to all themes and frameworks vary depending on the designer and the customer needs. Here are some pros and cons to a few of the most popular … [Continue reading...]

Blog Conferences and Business Cards: What You Need to Know

Blog Conferences and Business Cards

Blog conference season is in full swing, and now is the time to think about those business cards! Are you planning to head to some blog conferences this year? There are so many coming up - several BlogHer conferences, Bloggy Boot Camp, Mom 2.0 Summit, and Type-A Parent. Whether you are a seasoned blogger or a newbie, your online presence likely changes at least slightly from year-to-year, and it's never to early to think about how you want to present yourself on your business cards. I … [Continue reading...]

Media Design Chat

facebook like icon

Follow my blog with Bloglovin Happy New Year! I have so many exciting things in store for us this year, I just can't wait. Right now I'm pleased to announce one of the most exciting Facebook groups EVER. I am partnering with my friend Jen Havice of Make Mention Media to bring you: Media Design Chat About Media Design Chat, Jen says, "Managing an online presence isn't easy. It seems like everyday something else changes. New questions pop up out of nowhere. And, trying to sift … [Continue reading...]

5 Easy Ways to Prepare Your Business for 2014

5 Easy Ways to Prepare Your Business for 2014

Get your business or blog prepared for 2014 with these 5 simple steps! Update Your Social Profiles About pages, social media about sections should have similar, interesting, and relevant information to tell your readers exactly who you are. I believe your image should also be the same across all platforms. Check Your Analytics and PageRank How is your SEO? Are you keyworded for when you started your business or website 3 years ago? Because I'm willing to bet you are not now what you thought … [Continue reading...]

Holiday Gift Guide for Bloggers

Holiday Gift Guide for Bloggers from Elaine Griffin Designs

Looking for a gift for your favorite blogger? Discover the top 10 gifts any blogger would love, with this Gift Guide for Bloggers. Stock Images Unless you are a photographer or food blogger, one thing bloggers almost universally struggle with getting great images without completely breaking the bank. A subscription to a photo service is a great way to help your blogger step up their blogging game. Try out Deposit Photos, iStockPhoto, and Shutterstock to get started. Photoshop Elements Of … [Continue reading...]