Podcast Episode

497 – Your Questions Answered


No announcements this week

Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

[WP Link Bio](https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-link-bio/) helps you to convert your followers into visitors and customers. It creates a mobile-optimized landing page to show unlimited links, posts, and products so that you can drive all traffic from Instagram directly to your website.

Your Questions Answered

From Ed

My question – I have plug-ins installed a while ago, and I don’t know whether they are actually in use / needed for the operation of the website. Would like to remove any plug-in that’s not needed.

How can I tell whether a plug-in is in use / needed?

From Chris

I’ve been a long time listener of your podcast and have a quick question if you have a moment. I’m working on a football website and want to create a page for each player that has information about them such as height, weight, stats, a photo, etc. I’ve been searching for a good plugin to do something like this and haven’t found anything yet – just wondering if you know of any plugins that may work? …or another way to do that via a custom page layout that I could re-use?

From Michael

I have a client (see website link) who currently has a Joomla website that needs urgent updating. I am advising her to make the switch toa WordPress CMS. She is a dance teacher and wants to incorporate her schedule into her website with the capabilities for students to register for classes and make payments via Paypal, etc…
I was wondering if you can recommend a WordPress plugin or other system that would have these capabilities. Thanks for your time in this matter.

Thank You!

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Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode, we are going to talk about and answer a couple questions that have come in on Your Website Engineer Podcast Episode No. 497.

Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler, and I’m excited to be here with you today because I’ve got three questions. One from Ed, one from Chris, and one from Michael, and we’re gonna answer those and tackle them in today’s episode. And as we got started, I started looking for news and things that are happening in the WordPress space. And it’s just been kinda blah.

There hasn’t been a lot going on recently, and so, there’s really nothing that I could compose to say that, “Hey, here’s some brand-new stuff.” I mean, WooCommerce 4.4 came out; WordPress 5.5 came out. Those things kinda happened, but nothing else really is going on. There’s no events. So, we’re just gonna skip the news section today. But I do have a plugin that I want to share with you. I actually installed this one today on my wife’s website.

And this is one is called WP Link Bio, and it is a plugin which I thought I could build, but of course, I found a plugin so I didn’t have to build anything. But this one allows you to create a page on your website. You can set any page on your site that you’d like, and then it basically will go in and it’ll allow you to add a text like the name and then a link. And that will generate a page which you can use with Instagram. So, if you’re familiar with Instagram, you can only have one link in your bio. Everybody says, “Click on the link in my bio; click on the link in my bio.”

Well, there are other things that are out there. There’s LinkTree. There’s a couple other paid-for, premium products, but that was something that my wife wanted. So, I went ahead and I installed this WP Link Bio. There is a notice that says it hasn’t been updated in the last three WordPress releases, but I tested it out today. And it works absolutely perfectly. And so, no qualms there. It gives you the ability to just add a logo, and then you can set the color of buttons so you can have your buttons the same color as your logo.

It works well, and it is a great plugin to add if you need that sort of thing. The thing with LinkTree is if you use a LinkTree link, people go to LinkTree from Instagram, and then they click on the links. Maybe you’re recommending a product, or maybe you’re recommending something that doesn’t have to do with your website. And so, customers and people on Instagram will never actually make it to your website. They’ll go to LinkTree, and using this plugin, the WP Link Bio plugin, you can go, and you can – when they click on that link, it’s going to take it to your website.

And then when they’re on your website, then you can do a pop-up notification, or you can have a slide-in, or you can capture their email, or you can have them on a product page, or whatever. They’re right there on your site, and then you can control that experience. So, I really like that, and this is a nifty, free plugin. There is a Pro version if you wanted to have shoppable pages or different things. There’s a Pro Version, but I think the free version will work perfectly for most people. And that is what I wanted to share. That is WP Link Bio. You can find that by searching that in the WordPress repository, or as always, you can search in the show notes for Episode No. 497.

All right, let’s go ahead and dive into these questions. These are questions that have been compiled, and if you have a question that you’d like to ask, send it over to dustin@yourwebsiteengineer.com, or use the contact button on the website, and I’ll be happy to go through and do this regularly to answer some of these questions. So, the first question comes in from Ed. And it says, “I have plugins that were installed a while ago, and I don’t know whether they’re actually in use or needed for the operation of the website. I would like to remove any plugin that’s not needed. And how can I tell whether or not a plugin is used on a website?”

There’s really no great way to do this. I mean, there’s no button to check, “Are you being used on my website?” type of a thing. But the best way to do it is to go in and deactivate ‘em; see what happens. If you deactivate WooCommerce, you’re going to get all kinds of errors. It’s probably not WooCommerce that you’re thinking about, but maybe you installed this plugin a long time ago. You don’t know if it works or if you’re using it anymore. Just turn it off, and see if there’s anything, any consequences if you will. Is your website down? It is broken? Can people still use it? Are there any errors? And just kinda do a glance over on your site and see.

And honesty, if it looks like is everything is working probably, maybe leave it deactivated for a week and see if you’ve noticed anything. Is there any issues? Can you run into – are you running into any problems? Or do customers complain? Or do folks coming to your website have issues doing something? After a week or so, then you know that it’s probably not worth keeping, and you can just go ahead and remove that plugin. All right, like I said, it’s not a very – it’s not a very scientific process. There’s nothing really great about the whole thing, but that’s the way that I would tackle the problem. And I’m sure that we all have plugins on our sites that just are there because they’re there, but we’re not really using them anymore. Or we have multiples of certain plugins.

I know that that’s been the case for me in different sites, and so, it’s good to do that audit every once in a while to go in and turn some plugins off. Like, “I don’t think this is doing anything,” and then if you really wanna level up your game or go expert level if you will, then what I would do is I would create a duplicate of your site. So, I would clone your site. Maybe that’s on a local. Maybe that’s using some sort of staging server that your host provides. And once it’s cloned, then you can go ahead and turn a bunch of ‘em off if you think there’s a lot of ‘em.

And take time for each one of those and kinda just peruse through site and see if there’s any ill effects. You don’t really wanna do it on a live site for fear of something breaking or something happening. I mean, but a staging site would be a good place to do that. There’s tools out there like DesktopServer or even the one by Flywheel, so Local by Flywheel. Those tools that are out there and they will allow to kind of package up your website and then bring it locally to your computer so you can do some testing and some experimentation and see. But yeah, it’s always good to get rid of plugins if necessary. All right, that’s the first question.

Up next is Chris, and he said, “I’ve been a long-time listener and a fan of your podcast and have a quick question for you. I’ve been working on a football website, and I wanna create a page for each player that its own information about them such as height, weight, stats, a photo, etc. I’ve been searching for a good plugin to do something like this, and haven’t quite found it yet. I’m just wondering if you know of any plugins that may work or another way to do this via a custom page layout that I could reuse.” Yes, I do.

I do have a good plugin for you, and there’s also a way to do it without a plugin. The without-a way is definitely more difficult, but it is the Advanced Custom Fields plugin. This is a plugin that will allow you to create kind of your own backend if you will. So, I use this for – I have a custom field area or a custom post type for all my podcasts. So, when I look in the dashboard for podcasts, it looks a lot different than just a normal post or a page. Also, on my wife’s website that I was talking about, farmtotable.life, that one has a section where there’s a bunch of providers. And I created a custom post type for providers, and then in there in the backend, I can put in there’re different social profiles.

So, there’s a complete section for Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. And then I wanted to have their credentials, and I wanted to have their bio and all that kinda stuff. I created on the backend, and then I can just fill those fields in. And then they can be used in other places. So, if I wanted to have a list of, I guess, a good example, a really good example is going to farmtotable.life, and that’s my wife’s website, /provider, farmtotable.life/provider. Or you can just use the provider link in the menu. And you can see that’s a page that’s got a bunch of different – that’s got all the providers there. There’s 20 of ‘em, 21 of ‘em, something like that. And I’ve only filled in the information once, but it appears on that page, and then if you click on the image or click on the provider themselves, that will go into a bio page about them. And then all of that data is displayed there as well.

And so, that is kind of how it works, but you can use the plugin called Advanced Custom Fields that you can create these fields, and you can use them wherever you want. So, what you do is you would use the plugin. You could create a custom post type. So, you could call it players, or you could call it teams or whatever, and then you build it, and then you can display it on the frontend. I don’t actually have any experience with Advanced Custom Fields. I know tons of people that use it. They kind of set everything up with Advanced Custom Fields, and then they can build it. And then you would use that, all that data, and then you would put that into your templates and display that on the frontend.

So, that would be the plugin to use if you were looking for that. So, check out Advanced Custom Fields, and you can find that actually at advancedcustomfields.com. What I used is some code from GenerateWP, and this is a way that you could go in and just generate the code that you would paste into your theme or into a snippets plugin. And so, what you can do is you select your tool, you select what you wanna create, and then it will go ahead and create all the code threat you need which is a really cool tool. So, that’s generatewp.com. So, I am looking here. I am looking for a post type generator, and so, that’s one of the ones under content. And if you click on that, it will take you, and it will give you the ability to say what your custom post type’s gonna be, what’s your visibility, what your permalinks, what your capabilities, and things along those lines.

So, that could get you all set up if you wanted to go a little bit more custom and do the custom code route rather than having a plugin, you could go ahead and do that and kinda follow the instructions there. Basically, there’s tabs across the top, and it says general. So, you can go in with the general. You can give your custom post type a function name. You can say if it works in child themes. You can give it a text-domain. There’s different sections that you kinda fill in. So, you can kinda put your data in, and then it generates the code down below, and then you can copy that. And you can paste that into your functions.php file, or you can make a custom plugin out of that or whatever. There’s a lot of different ways that you can use this information.

So, that’s what I would recommend, and that’s kinda how I got started. I actually have a custom post type. I used this one time, GenerateWP along time ago to create a custom post type and some custom fields and whatnot, and then I just end up reusing it, and then I fill in the information and kind of find-and-replace. And so, it’s basically the same thing. If you use the tool to generate the code or you use the code that you’ve used before and then just find-and-replace; it’s essentially the same thing. But that would be two methods of looking through and figuring out how to tackle that. And I do recommend heading over to farmtotable.life and taking a look at that. I’ve done that on my wife’s other site. She’s got one at functionalmedicinece.com, and I did the same thing for the speakers.

You plug it all into one place, and then it displays multiple different places. And that is just a good way to reuse content without having to duplicate it over and over again. So, I really love custom fields and custom post types and metaboxes, all that good stuff. I love doing that kind of stuff, and that actually, I mean, it feels like you’re programming when you’re just really creating forms inside of WordPress so that you can fill in the data, and then you can display them how you like.

So, I guess, the last thing I guess, with GenerateWP you have to build out all of this data. You have to build out the forms, but then you have to add to your theme. You have to be able to on the frontend. So, you have to make customizations to your theme. It’s basically a custom page layout that you can use, and then you can put all those variables in that you’ve created. It’s not a trivial task, but that’s exactly how I would go through and set that up. So, that’s a great question, Chris.

And then lastly from Michael, he says, “I have a client who is currently has a Joomla! website that needs an urgent updating.” Yeah, it needs to leave Joomla!, okay, anyways. “As I’m advising to make a switch to WordPress,” which is obviously the right move, “she’s a dance teacher and wants to incorporate her schedule into her website with capabilities for students to register for classes, to make payments via PayPal, etc. I was wondering if you could recommend a WordPress plugin or other system that would have these capabilities.” Okay, as you know, I work for Automattic, and Automattic owns WooCommerce or that division of Automattic. That’s where I work.

And that was the first thing that came to mind. Oh, I can use WooCommerce for this. Because WooCommerce has the ability to have products, and it depends on what kind of products they’re looking at doing. There’s a wide gamma of different plugins that could be used on this site, but you could get started with just WooCommerce and maybe have the schedule or the ability to register for classes. Maybe you have eight different products for these different classes. And each product could have an inventory of 10 or whatever. Ten would be the number of students that could come into the class, and since it sounds like, I don’t know for sure, but for a dance, my daughter’s in dance. And they signup for the year, and so, she will pick the 6:00 time or the 6:30 time, and it’s on Thursdays, and it's for the entire year. And so, that wouldn’t really need any more smarts than that. You’re signing up for this class.

You know that it’s a repeating event. It’s X amount of dollars, and you can pay it all upfront. So, that would be the easiest way to do it with WooCommerce. If you wanted to go a little bit more complex, maybe you wanted to WooCommerce and WooCommerce subscriptions, and so, you would have the same thing. It would be a subscription product that would have a – it would still have that quantity or that inventory of 10 in our example, but then it would be set up so that you pay once a month. So, you get recurring payments every single month instead of a one-time payment. So, that would be an option as well. So, that would be an easy way to do that. When it comes to payment gateways with WooCommerce, you can use PayPal which is free, and that’s built into WooCommerce. Or there’s Stripe or Square; both of those are free as well.

You might consider looking that the Square opportunity because Square has one of those card swipers. So, maybe you have some people that come in, and they want to pay in your store or inside the dance studio, you could do that with Square, something like that. You pull up their account, they could swipe, and they would be off to races, and they would be good to go. Something like Stripe, that isn’t built – there’s no card swiper for Stripe or PayPal. That’s a little bit harder if you wanna take in-person, but Square would be a good one. That one’s free as well. And all these solutions, I guess, with the payment gateways, the ones that I said are free, they still take the percentage just like any payment gateway does, but it doesn’t cost you anything addition.

If you take credit cards at a brick-and-mortar store, they’re gonna charge you the same fees if you do it online or roughly the same fees. And so, that’s where I would go that wow. So, the subscriptions plugin is a premium plugin. It has an annual renewal, but I know so many parents. I know for me, we have to manual write a check once a month which is super annoying for my daughter’s dance studio, but it’d be really nice if they had a subscription on their website where we could sign up once, and then just it automatically auto-drafts from our account every single month. That would be super exciting if it did that. Now, the last part of the question was about the schedule in her website. And so, that would just kinda depend on how you wanted to lay that out.

You could lay a schedule of – you just kinda make columns and tables, and you could just put in here’s the days of the week, and here’s the times that I’m busy. You could actually have a Google Calendar embedded into the website. That’s another option. There’s tons of different ways to get calendars and when the teacher is wrapped up and when they’re busy, how to get that displayed on a website. So, those would be some options, and those would be some things to think about. That’s all I got for you this week, and take care, and we’ll talk again soon. Bye-bye.