Posts and Pages make up most of the content in WordPress. If you’re wondering how you add content to the side panels, headers, footers then stayed tuned for the next article on Widgets. So in Article One, we created a series of Pages which would hold the static content of our site. We also learned how to upload and insert a picture into a page. The next step is to make pages actually do something more than just show pictures and information, so let’s go back to the ‘Contact Us’ Page.
Open your WordPress Dashboard Menu and click Pages. The Pages we created previously should be listed. If you haven’t done so already, create a Page called ‘Contact Us’. Otherwise just click on the Edit option for the ‘Contact Us’ Page.
Let’s list a few ways to make contact so start by thanking your visitor for his or her interest.
“Thank you for your interest in our services. You can contact us in a numbers of ways.
- By phone: (555) 972 5555
- By fax: (866) 555 9722
- By email: email@example.com”
Now it might be that we would like to create a link on the email address so that by clicking on that link, the visitor’s email client will automatically load. To do this, highlight the text of the email address. When you do that, you’ll notice that a couple of the icons (buttons) on the main icon bar become focused. These are the Insert/Edit Link and Unlink buttons. So now, with the email address highlighted, click on the Insert/Edit Link icon.
A popup window will appear requesting a Link URL. If you were just linking another page to this page, you would go with the “http://” prefix as is defaulted in the popup. But for email addresses, you should prefix with ‘mailto:’… so where you see :http://” in the ‘Link URL’ box, replace that with ‘mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org’. At this time, don’t change anything else in the popup. Click the Insert button to activate that link.
Once you have completed updating your ‘Contact Us’ page, click the ‘Update’ button (or Publish button if you’re creating this page for the first time) to publish your contact page.
Once published. Check the page in a live browser window to see how the page looks and behaves. Clicking on the email address should launch your default email client.
Now for many websites, a contact form is a preferred choice to just entering an email address… and with a little add-in called a ‘Plugin’, WordPress makes this so easy, ‘even a caveman could do it’. And with WordPress you can definitely save 15% (100%?) or more over traditional websites.
Plugins are little programs or files that enhance or add to the functionality of WordPress. There are thousands of them and most of them are free. Visit www.wordpress.org then go to the Extend section… you’ll see a menu that gives you access to all the ‘plugins’ (and ‘themes’ for that matter). We’re going to look for a ‘Contact Form’ plugin. My personal favorite, for its functionality and simplicity of use, is called ‘Contact Form 7’… so from the ‘Plugins Menu’ on the WordPress.org site, search for ‘Contact Form 7’. Select it and download it.
Note: There are several ways to find and install Plugins but my preference is to download them to a ‘plugins’ folder so that I can keep a library of my favorites for future use. Plugins download in a ‘zipped’ format and also get installed that way.
Once downloaded, go back to your WordPress Dashboard and you’ll see a menu choice ‘Add New’ on the Plugins Menu. Click on ‘Add New’.
You will see the ‘Install Plugins’ menu in the WordPress main window. Select ‘upload’.
Browse to where you downloaded the plugin, select it and click ‘install now’.
Once installed, click ‘Activate’.
Most plugins create a link that will take you to the website of the ‘plugin’ creator. There you’ll find full instructions on how to use the plugin. Many also create a new menu choice on the Dashboard. Contact Form 7 creates a mini ‘control panel’ for the plugin in the Tools Menu. So before integrating this contact form into your ‘Contact Us’ page, let’s visit the ‘Contact Form 7’ page in the Dashboard ‘Tools’ menu.
You’ll see at the top of the page a snippet of code to paste onto your page or post. Under that is a page of ‘code’ that creates the contact form ‘fields’ (the information you want to gather from your site visitor), and under that you can insert the email address where you’d like the completed contact form results to be sent.
For now, just copy that snippet of code from the top of the page. Now go back to Pages and click ‘Edit’ to edit the ‘Contact Us’ page.
You should have already entered some contact information so under that, enter some additional text:
“Please complete the following form and we will get back to you as soon as possible”.
Now paste that snippet of code:
Click ‘Update’ to update the page.
Now try going ‘live’ and check out the form. Fill out the details of the form and click ‘Send’. You should now be receiving an email from yourself.
Thousands of Plugins are available and can extend WordPress in a multitude of ways. There are Plugins for slideshows, photo galleries, eCommerce, Paypal, and much more more. We’ll be going into greater depth on Plugins in a future article.
My next article will deal with embedding code from external sites like YouTube, directly into your Posts, Pages and Widgets.
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