The Side Effects of Changing Plugins - Montana Webmaster

The Side Effects of Changing Plugins

When the Need for  a Plugin Arises

In a previous post, I reviewed some issues I was having with trying to decide the best way to communicate what I do with a banner image. You want your website to immediately communicate what you do when the page first loads, but without the viewer having to read a whole lot of text. It should be 1) page loads, 2) the viewer gets it … right away.

Like many services, part of the communication problem is that web development is a service you perform in meetings and on your computer … not easy to communicate with a photograph! I like the way the Kahuna theme has the site title and tagline overlapping the main photo by default. The question becomes, is there one image that would explain what I do? Or, does it need more of a series of images telling a story?

Kahuna default image with text areas over the top of the banner image.

Choosing the Right Tool

So, I thought I would try building a slider that develops the theme of  small businesses and web development.  And my new Kahuna theme recommends the Serious Slider plugin (see first screenshot.) So, I installed Serious Slider even though I had never used it.

… and wasted a hour trying to get it to work, with only a smidgen of success. That is, I finally got one photo into the slider, but the sizing was all off. All further attempts only put me into an endless loop of frustration. I have installed many, many slider plugins, so the interface should not be a barrier for me, but it was. So, I moved to Plan C.

Will the Kahuna Theme Work with a Different Slider Plugin?

The Kahuna Customizer allows you to choose a slider from the plugin of your choice.

There are two options for adding a different slider plugin 1) Does the theme itself allow for different plugins, 2) Do I need to make some coding changes in a child theme? Even though Kahuna offers a way to use the shortcode from a slider plugin, it’s not entirely intuitive because there are header image options that can easily be confused with the slider options.. It’s not uncommon to go to the coding step because a theme’s interface is overly complicated. This is especially true of builder themes, which often advertise that you don’t need to code. But, their theme is more difficult than coding.

In the case of the Kahuna theme, it takes a little headbanging, but once you know its idiosyncrasies, switching to a different slider is a simple choice in a dropdown. On the other hand, the Kale theme doesn’t provide a way to switch to a different slider. To make the switch, you need to 1. create a child theme, 2. install the Content Block plugin, 3. install your slider plugin and set up a slider appropriate for a banner, 4. register a sidebar in the child theme functions.php file. 5. add the sidebar to the header.php file, 6. add the content block to the sidebar.

Does the New Slider Plugin Have all the Functions I Want?

Actually, this subtopic is the first task that should have been done. But, normally, the process is to try the options that come with the theme first, and then only switch plugins, if necessary. Because of use on other websites, I already knew that MetaSlider can do these tasks, but often making this list is forgotten in the rush to try.

The list of what I want is:

  1. Image
  2. Caption
  3. Option to link to an inside page on my site
  4. The navigation tools should be very visible and easy to use

An example of this plugin not being enough is a client that wants to be sure that no matter what photo they use, the text will not be over the main part of the image. That means that the plugin needs to have a functionality to be able to move the text block. For them, I have to use a plugin that has more “builder” functionality.

An example of a slider that has text, but does not allow the text to be repositioned.

When Switching Plugins Isn’t as Easy

The Kahuna theme has made it easy to switch out the slider plugin, but switching plugins isn’t always that easy. This is especially true with older plugins and with plugins that don’t store images in the Media Library. If a plugin stores images somewhere besides the Media Library, you may have to add the images back in when you switch. When choosing a new plugin, be sure that it stores all images in the Media Library.

Another situation that is difficult is switching plugins that create any kind of WordPress structure, such as redirects or custom post types. For example, if you were to switch from Toolset Types to Advanced Custom Fields, you will find that there is no tool to use for the conversion. Also, Toolset Types has functionality to create Custom Post Types, but ACF does not.

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