widgets

Delayed Widgets

Update: The sale is now LIVE and is currently $17.00.

Buy now

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This Friday I’ll be releasing a new plugin called “Delayed Widgets”.

What it does is modify ALL of your existing widgets by inserting a timer delay in seconds to the bottom of every one.  When the delay is reached, the widget reveals itself by “unfolding” itself in the sidebar.

“Why?” I hear you ask…

Well, consider this.

I’ve said this before – one of the biggest problems for a marketer is getting and retaining attention from site visitors.  Anything you can do without being too “in your face” (and driving them away) is going to be a benefit to you.

By careful use of widgets that remain hidden until the right moment, you can improve your chances of a subscription, or a sale, or whatever it is you want your visitors to do on that particular page.

This is because the human eye is drawn to movement.

To perfectly illustrate this, a few moments ago before I sat down to write, I was gazing out of the back of the house when a bird I hadn’t seen took off from one of the bushes.

My attention was instantly on it.  It’s as if my conscious mind had no choice than to look at it.

If the bird had remained unmoving, I simply wouldn’t have noticed it.

As marketers, we can turn this peculiarity of the human eye and brain to our advantage.

For example, if you take a look at the top of this blog, you’ll see that my main subscriber sign up box (in the sidebar top right) reveals itself a few seconds after the rest of the page has been drawn.

Me doing this now makes it impossible for any visitor not to notice it.  😉

Even if they don’t act on it, they have surely seen it and it’s in their awareness as is the offer.  All done without a pop-up.

Even better is that you can do this with ANY widget you want particular attention focussed on.

So say you’re running a promotion as an affiliate and you have a time sensitive ad that you want people to see more than anything.  If you just run it as a “regular” ad on your blog, it doesn’t matter how pretty it is, there’s a good chance it isn’t going to be noticed.

But if the visitors landing page draws itself, and then a few seconds later your ad appears in the sidebar, it WILL be seen.

This new plugin improves your chances of the stuff you WANT to be seen to actually BE seen by modifying all your existing widgets.

This coming Friday (18th Feb) at 6.00pm GMT (1.00pm EST), the Delayed Widgets plugin will go on sale at a starting price of $10.00 for the first 50 sales.

-Frank Haywood

Posted by Frank Haywood in internet business, Product Ideas, software, wordpress plugins

Slider Manager

Update: The sale is now LIVE and is currently $27.00 until the plugin goes officially live.

Buy now

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Demo slideshow.  Some of these images have text with links in them, some of the images are clickable, and some have both.

[pgsm-slideshow id=”1″]

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Since September/October time, I’ve tried out or looked at over 20 different image slider managers.  These have either been WordPress plugins or standalone scripts.

If you look around you’ll see so many of these that I thought there must at least be ONE that does what I need, but can you believe NONE of them do?

All I wanted to do was to put in sliders at the top of some of my sales pages to rotate between screenshots and other banners, and also place a selection of clickable different slider ads in my sidebar that only occupied one position and showed a different ad every few seconds.

I also wanted the slider images to display text and HTML with clickable links.

I wanted to be able to make the whole slider image itself clickable so I could put “Click Here” graphics on the image.

And finally I wanted it to work with any theme.

That’s not a big requirement is it?  But the small list of things I need the plugin to do are VERY useful to us marketers.

Here’s the thing. I’ve found that there’s no plugin that does all of what we need.

There are plugins that allow me to add ONE slider to a page or post, but not multiple sliders.

There are comprehensive plugins that do image gallery management and display, but not sliders.

There are plugins that allow clickable links OR clickable images, but not both.

There are plugins that only work by editing the theme code and pasting in some PHP.

And so on.  I don’t think ANY of the sliders worked with widgets.

It’s almost unbelievable isn’t it?  But I’ve seen this same issue time and time again.

Developers write code for other developers.  Most developers don’t get or understand (or even want to) marketing.

Developers miss the little subtleties that we marketers require.  And it’s the little things that make the difference between what works and generates additional revenue for us, and what ends up as frustration.

So…

I think you can guess what’s coming?

I’ve had version 1 of a plugin called Slider Manager developed, and it does ALL the things we need most of all from a slider.

My #1 priority in developing this was to get it working and keep it simple.  Sometimes you can’t avoid complicated, but I try to avoid it wherever possible.

So what you can do is create multiple sliders (groups) and of course multiple images within each slider.

Within each slider group, you specify the width and height, pause and animation time, and a selection of animation effects.

Each image can have text and a HTML link added to it, or you can make the image clickable.  Or BOTH.  😉

When you save the slider group it generates a short code tag that you can then add anywhere in your posts and pages and also in your text widgets.

It’s dead simple to use, and we’re working on making it better with full image management and an AJAX/jQuery re-ordering method to make it all drag and drop for the next version.

But tomorrow, Tuesday 8th February 2011 at 6.00pm GMT (1.00pm EST)…

You can get this first version with a free upgrade to the drag and drop version when we release it…

At a starting price of just $10.00 for the first 50 sales.

-Frank Haywood

Posted by Frank Haywood in internet business, software, wordpress plugins

Free SMTP Plugin – I Could Kick Myself…

UPDATE: I sent an email out yesterday evening (13th) with a link to the free plugin, so go check your email.  This was a thank you to subscribers only, and I won’t be posting the link to it here on the blog.

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It’s FREE plugin time.

It can’t have escaped your attention as to how much of my attention I’m investing in WordPress at the moment.

While not perfect for your needs, it does make it easy to set up a site quickly.  And of course there are all those free plugins – 99% of which are junk in a business context – to help you do so.

One of the things that’s always been an issue for me is email deliverability.  i.e.  You send an email, but does it ever get there?  Who knows?  That’s why I use a third party mailing service in some instances.

But getting your emails delivered isn’t really rocket science, you just need to take a little care.  For instance enabling Domain Keys and SPF in cPanel will help in both directions – both sending and receiving email – and takes about 2 minutes to do.

And of course, always making sure that if you’re using a script on one of your sites that it uses SMTP to send the email.  That really helps as many ISPs and email providers will filter out email as it comes into their network if they can see it hasn’t been sent via SMTP when they examine the email headers.

What we’ve been doing in creating scripts and plugins here is to make sure they all have SMTP support to aid in deliverability, and this seems to work well.

In the case of WordPress we’ve been building the SMTP functionality into the plugins themselves.  Which is great, but…

Well.  You know how you sometimes have one of those OMG moments and you get a little revelation?  And then you feel like kicking yourself for not having realised it before?  I had one of those about a month ago.

I thought…

“Why on earth are we adding SMTP code into every plugin?  Why not just write a plugin that intercepts all email sends and make sure it goes via SMTP?”

Of course!  That would work.  I had a look round at existing plugins and it seems that I’ve been beaten to it.  So I took a look and immediately thought we could do better, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.

We’ve taken the idea of sending emails via SMTP and gone a step further.  We’ve added the ability to throttle and queue emails.

You see the problem is, many web hosts and ISPs are very aware of the amount of spam being sent and to limit this, they only allow a certain number of emails to be sent per hour or per day from each domain or account.  Anything over your quota is discarded.

So while you may think you’ve just sent 800 emails out with your desktop app or a web application such as WordPress AutoResponder (WPAR), most of them have been discarded even before they’ve left the network.  Oh dear.  🙁

This new FREE plugin addresses that problem.

Once activated, you enter your SMTP settings and your web host quota (e.g. 200/hour), and that’s it.  From that point on any email sent via WordPress either through a contact form, or a comment update plugin or WPAR will be pushed into a queue, and if available to be sent will do so there and then.

If the queue is greater than your quota, then the new email waits until the next send and then out it goes if there’s a slot available.

Cool huh?

We’re just doing final test and fix today, and if all is well hopefully it will be out to you tomorrow.

UPDATE: I sent an email out yesterday evening (13th) with a link to the free plugin, so go check your email.  This was a thank you to subscribers only, and I won’t be posting the link to it here on the blog.

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While you’re reading this, I’d also like to just do a quick mention of another plugin that’s almost complete called “Widget Contexts”. This is the final of the trio of what I think of as the control plugins.

The first was “Ads Manager” which allows you to display ads depending on lots of different rules you can set.

The second was “Widgets In It” which allows you to place any widget into any post or page, not just in a sidebar.

This final control plugin “Widget Contexts” allows you to decide which widgets will appear on which parts of your site.

When activated it adds to the bottom of every plugin an auto-generated selection of “contexts” and tick boxes to decide where you want the widget to appear.

That might sound a bit complicated but it’s very easy to use in practice.

For instance you may decide you only want to show a certain widget on a particular page on your site.  All you do is untick every other page within the widget context.

Or you may decide that you want to place different ads on special pages such as your 404, category archives and tag archive pages.

Easy!  Just create the ad using either a text widget or Ads Manager, and then only select the special pages you want them to appear on.

There’s good reasons for wanting this level of control, and I’ll explain why in another post.  😉

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Right!

While we’re waiting for Widget Contexts to be finalised and tested, probably by the end of the week, you can have a play with the free SMTP Throttler, so watch out for that announcement tomorrow.  😉

-Frank Haywood

Posted by Frank Haywood in internet business, wordpress plugins