We’ve been covering a lot of different suggestions for increasing the exposure of a contributor in a multiple author blog, and in this article, I want to focus specifically on one of the most important page on a WordPress site to an author, the author page.
The author page in WordPress is generated automatically, featuring the author’s name in the link and the page title, followed by an archive listing of their posts in reverse chronology. While this serves the purposes of most sites, if you truly want to feature your author as a vital contributor, consider adding a few more features.
An author page can feature custom content such as:
- The author bio.
- Author photograph/Gravatar.
- Twitter address.
- Facebook address.
- LinkedIn address.
- Twitter stream.
- Feed stream from their own blog(s).
- Counts of the number of posts.
- Links to a contact page or an actual contact form.
- A list of categories their posts are in.
Use your imagination as you develop the author page on your site. Ask the author what information they would want featured on the page, and ask you readers what they want to know about your authors, too.
To customize the author page in WordPress, you can use a variety of WordPress Plugins or customize the
author.php file in the WordPress Theme. I’m going to cover all these options to give you a few examples of well designed author pages and options for you to consider.
User Photo WordPress Plugin is a popular choice for easily adding a photograph for any user, especially contributors. The image is added from the WordPress Administration Panels “Your Profile” panel and image sizes are created automatically. There are a variety of template tags for the Plugin to use on the author page, author bio on single post pages, and other spots you want to feature your author images. There are also Plugins that complement and work with User Photo to enhance the Plugin such as Square Thumbs for User Photo WordPress Plugin which turns the thumbnail images into square not rectangles, and WordPress Users WordPress Plugin which displays the user images on your site, not just for authors.
The Author Image Plugin is another similar Plugin which helps to put the author’s image on their author page and other spots around the site.
I happen to adore working with Gravatars, avatars associated with an email address. You can replace your author images with a Gravatar, making life easy for everyone, using the Gravatar Plugin for Multiple Authors, or integrate it directly into WordPress yourself with a few bits of code.
Author Bio and More on the Author PageWhat information do you want or need on the author page to help the author showcase their bio, references, resources, websites, social media outlets, and more? Meta data about the author can consist of a count of how many posts they have published, the number of comments they’ve posted on the blog, and other information related to the author and their activity on the site.
In general, the use of the_author_description template tag on the
author.php template file brings in the default user description or bio into the author page. The author can write using HTML anything they want with as many paragraphs, links, images, whatever they need to add to their bio. Unfortunately, this bio can also appear at the bottom of blog posts if styled using the same template tag, so check the Theme and institute space and code limitations if necessary.
Add User Profile WordPress Plugin adds more meta data options to the user profile panel, which can be incorporated into the author page such as the author’s various websites, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Skype, and other information so the reader can follow the links to learn more about or contact the author. Extra User Details is another Plugin that does much the same thing.
The Author Box Reloaded WordPress Plugin is designed to work as a post author box, shown at the bottom of each post, but it can be customized to replace the author description and meta data on the author page. It includes a wide range of options for adding social media sites and network links and other external website links.
There are also WordPress Plugins to add more information about the author and their site activities, as well as off-site activities.
The Comment Author Count WordPress Plugin displays a count of the number of comments the author has posted to the blog.
You can add the author feed link by customizing the author template file or use the Subscribe To Author Posts Feed WordPress Plugin to add a feature link to the author’s feed.
Wish to show the location of the author, where they live or work? While some aren’t too happy to let such private information be known, others enjoy it. The Author Location WordPress Plugin puts a Google Map where they want it to show off their location.
Author Performance WordPress Plugin adds information on how many words and posts the author as published, and other interesting factoids about the author’s actions on the site as an incentive or competition with other authors.
Want to display all the categories associated with a specific author? The Author Categories WordPress Plugin helps you add such a list, or you can manually add it with a little bit of code to the author template:
<?php $categories = $wpdb->get_results(" SELECT DISTINCT(terms.term_id) as ID, terms.name, terms.slug FROM $wpdb->posts as posts LEFT JOIN $wpdb->term_relationships as relationships ON posts.ID = relationships.object_ID LEFT JOIN $wpdb->term_taxonomy as tax ON relationships.term_taxonomy_id = tax.term_taxonomy_id LEFT JOIN $wpdb->terms as terms ON tax.term_id = terms.term_id WHERE 1=1 AND ( posts.post_status = 'publish' AND posts.post_author = '$author' AND tax.taxonomy = 'category' ) ORDER BY terms.name ASC "); ?> <h2>Author Categories</h2> <ul class="author-cats"> <?php foreach($categories as $category) : ?> <li> <a href="<?php echo get_category_link( $category->ID ); ?>" title="<?php echo $category->name ?>"><?php echo $category->name ?></a> </li> <?php endforeach; ?> </ul>
Source: WordPress Support Forums
You can style the list in a variety of ways easily to set it appear from the rest of the author meta data.
If you are using Custom Post Types, Cleverness has a tutorial on adding author categories on custom post type pages.
Customizing the Author Posts List
Author Complete Post List WordPress Plugin displays the complete post listing of the author with the total number of posts, and includes posts co-authored with others, which may not be displayed be default.
List Posts By Author WordPress Plugin displays all the posts and/or Pages by all the authors, but it can also be customized to show only a specific author and used on the author template file to replace the default listing if desired.
You can also customize the author template file to list the posts in different ways such as alphabetically, monthly, or reverse chronology using the wp_get_archives() template tag. Creating an Archive Index on the Codex offers some other examples and options for creating a custom archive list.
If the site is using post thumbnails, those can be incorporated easily into the author post list, adding more visual effects.
Creating a Author Lifestream
A lifestream is a one-stop collection of a person’s activities online, bringing all your trackable online activities into one place. There are a variety of ways to create such a summary collection on your author pages. You can piece meal the thing together or use a lifestream WordPress Plugin.
To put it together one piece at a time, here are some suggestions:
Tweet Import WordPress Plugin imports Twitter accounts from one or more authors. It can be used to bring the Twitter feed directly to the author’s page or elsewhere on the site. As can Author Tweets and twitterRSS.
Get Author’s Comments WordPress Plugin displays all the comments by that author.
The RSSImport WordPress Plugin is an easy-to-use feed importer allowing you to customize what appears in the feed and can be placed on an author page with little effort, as well as other places within the blog’s design.
“How To Create Your Own Lifestream On A WordPress Blog In 3 Easy Steps” by MakeUseOf is a good tutorial to help you manually create a Lifestream.
The Lifestream for WordPress is an excellent Plugin for bringing in all the various activities of an author into a single stream. It features fairly easy integration with dozens of social media and networking sites. It should be updated soon, but until then, see this easy temporary fix for the Plugin.
While I haven’t tried it yet, the WP SIMILE Timeline WordPress Plugin looks like it could be an interesting addition to your author pages, or at least to your site. It integrates the SIMILE Timelines into a WordPress site to create category timeline charts, lifestream timelines with various feeds, and a variety of different timelines showing site activity in different ways.
Customizing the Author Template File in WordPress
Key template tags associated with authors you will need to know are:
- the_author_description for adding the author description from the User Profile page of the author.
- the_author_posts_link links the author’s name to the author template file and usually used for the byline.
- the_author() displays the author’s name as set in the User Profile.
- get_the_author() is used in PHP to generate a variety of author data on the page.
- the_author_meta() displays a variety of user meta data such as their email, description, social networking sites, and more.
- the_author_posts() displays the total number of posts an author published on the site.
There are so many ways that the author page can be customized, I’m going to let others share some tips they’ve come up with for their own author pages.
- WP-Beginner – How to Add a Custom Author Profile Page to Your WordPress
- Optimise Your WordPress Themes With Better Author Pages – BloggingPro
- Create a custom Author Template – Design FluxTuts
- WP-Hacks – How To: Adding An Author Page To Your WordPress Blog
Use your imagination. If your site offers multiple contributors on home schooling or childhood education, have the author’s bio meta data include a hand drawn picture of their favorite food or pet, or something creative they’ve done recently. Have the authors add more than just their bio such as their top tips in their expertise, or resources they recommend for more information.
Turn the author page into an about page with some creative and interesting information and facts to make the author appealing, trustworthy, and someone the reader needs to know.
In the next group of articles, I’ll look at other ways to feature multiple authors within a site’s design, adding contributor lists, communication and interaction within a multiple blogger site, and more. Who knew this was such a huge topic? Stay tuned!
I’m speaking at WebVisions on “Managing Multiple Bloggers in WordPress” on Thursday, May 26, 2011, at 11:30AM in Portland, Oregon. This is part of a series of articles on the topic and notes from my presentation.
Article Series on Managing Multiple Authors in WordPress
- WebVisions: Managing Multiple Bloggers in WordPress
- Managing Multiple Authors: Showcasing the Authors
- Managing Multiple Bloggers: Author Content Management on WordPress
- Managing Multiple Authors: Customizing the WordPress Author Page
- Managing Multiple Authors: Customizing the Author Bio Box
- Managing Multiple Authors: Author Lists in WordPress