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5 WordPress Plugins Every Site Should Have

Whenever I set up a WordPress site for a client, I go through a number of plugins that really should be installed on every WordPress site. The ones I list here are my top choices that enhance functionality and add new necessary general functionality to WordPress. Let’s get started with the list which is in no particular order.

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Our Free Basics of Using WordPress Webinar Now Available OnDemand

The OnDemand version of our free Basics of Using WordPress webinar from a few weeks ago is now available to watch OnDemand and online over on Bernskiold Media. During the hour-long webinar we cover how to use the WordPress dashboard, working with posts, pages, links and media.

While it is free to watch it online (as many times as you want) you can purchase a downloadable version for just $14.95 (special introductory price) that you can store locally and watch wherever you are, on any device that you have.

CSS Button Generator Saves Time

Good-looking buttons are a vital part of your website as it can raise a mediocre website to a really good one. I prefer being able to have my buttons all in CSS now that it is becoming a viable option, saving having to load extra images when not necessary. It is however very time consuming to write the code for a CSS button with gradients and everything.

Well, CSS Button is a free beta service that lets you choose from a pre-defined template or start from scratch to create/modify a button. It is much quicker than having to do it manually. Plus, the pre-defined templates are pretty nice and offers a good start for a lot of button needs.

Helpful Site: .htaccess Redirect Generator

Unless you work every day with servers and configuring Apache, chances are that you might want to look up the syntax for the different .htaccess rules that you may need occasionally. Here is a site that will help you do this.

The free .htaccess redirect generator lets you generate the code for your .htaccess file based on a number of different settings. It is then easy to duplicate and create more rules should you need to. In short, it just helps you get the job done quicker.

4 New and Exciting Features in WordPress 3.3

I’m a big WordPress fan and here at XLD Studios we use WordPress for all projects where it is appropriate (which is a lot). Of course I am excited to play around with new versions of WordPress to see if they manage to improve the experience and take more steps towards a more robust CMS.

So, today I wanted to share a few of the new really cool things that have been added to WordPress 3.3 that is coming out soon.
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Design Resource: Facebook Fan Page GUI PSD

I found this last week over on Smashing Magazine. They have a freebie design resource called the Facebook Fan Page GUI PSD. Basically, it is a layered Photoshop document containing all the Facebook user interface elements that makes it easy for you to design graphics for either Facebook walls or tabs.

What makes this helpful is that you get to design your graphic while seeing right away how it looks on Facebook’s design. What’s more, they are promising that with every change to the Facebook UI, this file will be reproduced 24 hours later.

How-to: Manually Select Posts on Frontpage Using Sticky Posts

Quite often companies would like their front page to display blog items but only the ones they specifically choose. There are a few different ways to go about doing this in WordPress which I will touch on first, however one of the best ways is to ask them to make the posts sticky and create a special template for the front page that only shows sticky posts and then another template for the blog that ignores the sticky status.

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BuddyPress 1.5 Is Available—Major Integration Improvements!

The BuddyPress team has released the latest version of BuddyPress, version 1.5, adding considerable improvements especially in the integration part. If you don’t know about BuddyPress, it is a major social plugin for WordPress, allowing you to use the user system in the front end of the website, complete with groups, forums and profiles.

New in 1.5 is apart from the usual ton of bug fixes and minor enhancement are a few more major features. First of all, they have reworked the default theme to behave and look better. Additionally, the integration with WordPress core is much tighter. BuddyPress now has support for the built in menu system and the admin bar.

Other news are a brand-new installation and update wizard as well as improved profile field management.

BuddyPress is freely available through the WordPress repository (you can install it from your dashboard like any other plugin). They also have their own plugin website with support and a community which provides both help and plugins for BuddyPress itself.

Orbit: A Simple and Slick jQuery Slider

[image title=”Orbit jQuery Slider” size=”large” align=”center” width=”650″ autoHeight=”true”]http://www.xldstudios.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/orbit-slider.jpg[/image]

It feels like I am constantly wading through image slider plugins in search of the most versatile one for me. This time I feel like I have gotten closer to being able to stick with one. Orbit is a neat jQuery plugin that out of the box looks great on your page and uses a very simple markup.

After including the orbit files in the header of your page, all you need is a very simple markup that actually goes very well with the markup you might already have written prior to implementing the slider. Since Orbit is coded in a way that it determines the width and height of your images automatically you don’t need to add any special CSS to your stylesheet (other than including the orbit css).

What I like the most about Orbit so far is that it is simple and doesn’t interfere. I normally write my code first and include the slider later and I hate having to go in and add the necessary slider container CSS myself. With orbit, I don’t need to worry about that as the plugin will do that for me.

You can go and check out Orbit over on its project website where you’ll also find all documentation and instructions.