Brahmina Creates for WP Wordpress plugins written by Brahmina.

Now Featuring WordPress Widget

The Now Featuring Widget for WordPress is a flexible & easy to use plugin that allows you to add featured content from your posts & pages to your sidebar in a variety of ways. I created it because I couldn’t find a plugin in the repository that allowed you to include pages in the selections of featured content… always just featured posts. I found myself creating a site that is all pages, not posts, using WordPress, and needing a way to easily showcase featured pages, without having to rewrite html in a text sidebar widget to make it happen. This plugin adds the ability to include a featured image on pages, the way you can with posts, to enable the functionality needed for this plugin.

There are three types of Now Featuring widgets you can choose for increased flexibility. You can see each of these in action on the sidebar to the left. The single widget type allows you to highlight one page or post, while the list and slider widget types let you showcase several pages or posts.

Now Featuring Widget Settings

The Now Featuring Widget settings offer a flexible array of options for how to both select and how to display your featured content on the sidebar. The title field is optional and will display above the widget no matter the widget type selected. The Post type field is common to all widget types… it determines what content is available to to shown as featured contend in the widget. Beyond the title and post type the settings for the Now Featuring Widget vary depending on what type of widget you choose.

The widget types are as follows…

Single Widget Type

Now Featuring widget settingsThis Single Widget Type allows you to choose exactly one published post or page to feature on the sidebar. You can see it in action on the sidebar to the left at the top. The settings for that widget are pictured to the right.

If you choose the single widget type (settings pictured to the right), you are given a dropdown from which to select one page or post, depending on which post type you have selected, In addition, you choose whether or not to include the pages title and excerpt along with the pages featured image of the page or post. The excerpt is attained through WordPress. This plugin enables the Excerpt meta box on the edit/compose post and page screens to allow you to determine the exact excerpt. This box appears below the main compose content box. If you do not enter your own excerpt, the widget gets the first so many characters of the content, by default it gets 55 characters. If you want, you can change the default excerpt length with code like the following, from the Codex, in your functions.php file.

function custom_excerpt_length( $length ) {
	return 20;
}
add_filter( 'excerpt_length', 'custom_excerpt_length' );

Alternately, some themes allow you to change the excerpt length through the customize interface.

Slider Widget Type

screeenshot-slider

The Slider widget type uses the excellent Flexslider from WooThemes to display a slider of the featured images from the content you choose on your sidebar. The Slider changes slides every few seconds broadening the amount of featured content your readers see in a small space. The motion of the slider attracts to eye, increasing the change of more page views by each reader. 

When you choose the Slider widget type, you will then be asked ‘How?’ you want to select the featured content that will be showed. You can see the ‘How?’ dropdown in the above image.There are three options as to how you can select your featured content: by Category, by Tag and by Selection. For the first two choices the widget gets all of either the pages or posts, depending on which post type is selected in the widget settings, from the category or tag you choose from the dropdown that is shown when you change the value for the ‘How?’ select. The description of the List widget type below illustrates the third option… by Selection.

In addition to these settings the Slider has additional four options determining how the slider will work…

  • Transition style: Fade or Slide,
  • Slide automatically? or only slide when the user clicks the arrows.
  • Wait time,… How many milliseconds to wait in between slides.
  • Randomize? Or show the slides in alphabetical order.

The Slider widget type also allows you to determine whether or not to include the titles above the images in in the slider, and whether or not to include the content excerpts below the images in the slider.

The consistency of the sizes of your featured images will impact the effectiveness of the Slider widget. As you can see on the one on the sidebar to the left, slightly different image sizes can work well. However, drastically different image sizes can cause aesthetic issues on your sidebar,  by leaving large white spaces when the smaller images.

List Widget Type

screeenshot-list

The List Widget type… you guessed it… allows you to display a list of featured posts or pages on your sidebar. 

The image to the right illustrates how manual selection of posts or pages works, if you select ‘by Selection’ for the ‘How?’ dropdown for either the Slider or the List widget type. You are given a multiple select box of all your pages or posts, depending on which post type you have selected, from which you can easily selected your featured content. Use Ctrl+right click to choose more that one item.

In  addition to the ‘Which Ones?’ option, the List widget asks for a limit on how many posts or pages to display on the sidebar. This option is important to prevent accidents when using either by Category or by Tag to get your featured content, to prevent unreasonably long sidebars. You can also set the width of the image,  100% is the default value. If you enter less that 100%, the image will float to the left, with the excerpt filling in the space to the right.

Of course, you can change the aesthetic of any of the widget typw via custom css. I recommend the Simple Custom CSS plugin for any custom css. Using a plugin, rather than changing the styles.css file in your chosen theme allows you to avoid losing your changes when you update your theme.  

The css for the different widget types are in the now_featuring.css file included in the plugin. You can override any of the style directives there via custom css of your own.

The Now Featuring WordPress Widget is available in the plugins directory.

I hope you enjoy the Now Featuring WordPress Widget… if you have any questions or comments about it, please feel to Contact Me or to leave a comment below.

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