The WordPress platform is second to none for creating your own professional website or blog. When paired with a web-hosting subscription, you have maximum control and freedom in terms of the content and media you choose to include on your site. The same applies to embedded advertising if you decide to monetize your site or blog. With a few simple plug-ins and shortcodes, you can turn your WordPress site into a multimedia experience for your visitors. Another big advantage to self-hosting with WordPress: you do not need to be a computer programmer or hold an advanced computer science degree to use this platform. With some basic knowledge of WordPress shortcodes, you can keep publishing new content efficiently and without the need to keep rewriting the same tags or statements in HTML or CSS.
What Are Shortcodes?
WordPress shortcodes are short strings of code that you can use to insert preferred formatting and other features into your content. Shortcodes remove the need for you to keep retyping the same code over and over, which reduces the tedium of creating new content. A few applications of WordPress shortcodes include:
Creating call-to-action links
Displaying and adjusting the placement of ads
Modifying the column layont of your written content
A shortcode is simply a string of text enclosed in square brackets, and this syntax tells the WordPress content management system to automatically create a specific feature when you publish the finished content.
Examples of Shortcodes
One of the most popular purposes of shortcodes is to make your site more interactive while cutting out extra steps for your visitors who want to try that interactivity. Some of the following examples will give you some basic ideas of shortcodes’ many possibilities.
To create a button that will take your guests to any link you specify, you can use this button shortcode: [button link=”http://google.com”]Go to Google[/button]
To customize a button to point to a specific social media page you’ve set up, you can modify the same code with [button type=”twitter”]Follow me on Twitter![/button] for example.
To display a linked list of your most recent posts on one page, you’ll need to shortcode [recent-posts posts=”5″]Posts Heading[/recent-posts]with the heading replaced with one of your choice.
Once you gain some familiarity with both WordPress shortcodes and widgets, you can even modify or customize a widget with a shortcode. An example would be the code add_filter(‘widget_text’, ‘do_shortcode’); with the name of the filter and the action of the shortcode specified. This shortcode application is a quick and easy way to change the position or even appearance of widgets in your sidebar.
Who Should Use WordPress Shortcodes
Beginners can learn to use shortcodes relatively easily, although some prior experience with HTML and CSS code can help. The basic syntax of these website markup languages will help you better understand the syntax of many WordPress shortcodes. Some shortcodes require the use of PHP scripts, but nearly every connected shortcode has these scripts prewritten and readily available for you to copy and paste into the needed location on your WordPress site editor.
When Should They Be Used?
The best time to use shortcodes is when you’ll be creating site content that requires you to write the same HTML tags several times in the same post or page. The process can get tedious quickly, and copying/pasting the same tags only helps to a small degree. Adding an automating shortcode with the tags you specify will speed up the content creation process and resolve this common issue.
Another time to implement shortcodes is when you want to add some dynamic content to your posts, such as a social media widget you’d rather have in a single post rather than in your site’s sidebar. In this instance, shortcodes give you even more flexibility in terms of your embedded content. These kinds of WordPress shortcodes act as special tags that behave in the same manner as many HTML tags, but shortcodes additionally cause the enclosed commands to behave as various site features once you publish your new content.
Where They Should Be Used
Where to include WordPress shortcodes depends on their purpose. Widget shortcodes get added to the widget editor, and some others need to be added to the post editing window itself. Activation PHP codes for some features also need to be copied into the PHP function file in your installed WordPress package. This process is still fairly simple, and the only caveat is locating the correct PHP file to edit among the rest of your WordPress files. With some practice and attention to detail, you’ll be soon be able to find the file with no problems.
Benefits of Shortcodes
Creative control and flexibility are the main advantages of using WordPress shortcodes. These bits of code can help you keep putting up content that will bring more visitors to your site over time. Some of the additional features you can build with easy shortcodes include:
Social media feeds
Custom icon links
The creative potential is nearly limitless for shortcode applications, and they carry the benefit of making your site stand out from your direct competition. WordPress developers are frequently updating and improving shortcodes, so any problems you may encounter usually have available solutions. The online WordPress community also has a wealth of tips and information on the best uses for various shortcodes.