WordPress is an extremely powerful tool for building modern websites with tons of functionality. The ability to add from a massive library of plug-ins and themes (mostly free) is amazing. One of my favorite plugins is the Boilerplate plugin from dcoda.
Boilerplate allows you users to create large blocks of text, images, etc. that you would put on a web page or post and make them a canned message that you can use over and over. It capitalizes on WPs ability to write posts and to use shortcodes, which are a tiny bit of code that you write onto a page or post that tell the site or plugins to do something. In this case they basically say, “hey, right here, put that whole block of text that you have previously stored. I’ll be sure to use the latest text everytime someone loads the page.”
Lets go over an actual user to desmonstrate the values of a tool like this. I have a client that sells cruises to casinos. They make separate pages for each casino to review information about cruises, ships, cruise lines and itineraries. Lots of this information is repetitive and can change often. So we use Boilerplate to create the information ahead of time and then use the shortcodes to put on each new page. This cuts our time down, minimizes the risk for mistakes and makes it easier to update. All the repeated information is in one place, so we only have to update it once. Every time a page is refreshed with a shortcode that calls on that information, it gets the latest saved version. So if there are a dozen pages that, for example, refer to the same cruise ship, it only has to be updated once behind the scenes, but users everywhere see updated information instantly.
It’s really easy to get started. If you don’t have it already, download and install the Boilerplate plugin from WordPress.org. Then write an entire main page out the way that you want it all to look when it’s done. It’s typically best to work from the final product backwards, as it encourages the best results. Then copy the exact portion that you want to make a “canned” section, called a “plate” in this plugin. Click on “plates” and “add new”, you’ll notice that it looks like your adding a new blog post because the plugin is using all the same tools (but these plates will never be posted publicly). Paste the new canned section into the body of the post and then give it an appropriate name. Click on “plates” again and you’ll see the list of all the plates you created along with their shortcodes. Copy and paste the shortcode exactly where you want it to go on your new page and publish it when you’re ready. Instead of displaying your shortcode, it will pull up whatever you have in the body of that “plate”.
If we’ve built your new site and it has Boilerplate already setup, then think about how else it can be used to speed up your business. Remember, our site are built to do two things: 1) make you more money and 2) save you more time. This is a great tool to get more done, in less time.
If your WordPress site has lots of repetitive text, then Boilerplate might be just the tools to save you time. If your old, stale site is missing some great features like this, and doesn’t quite feel “functional” then give us a call.