A relatively new plugin, Featured Posts Grid, by developer Chase Pettit, may be just what you’ve been looking for and couldn’t find–until now.
I’m excited to share this with you, because I think it’s going to solve a lot of people’s WordPress layout problems. I had tried about 15 combinations of plugins and failed to achieve the effect I needed that FPG provides.
One of those plugins even crashed my browser, along with our site.
[clearboth] I needed a plugin that would let me quickly and easily:
- Insert columns and rows of post thumbnails by category to pages and posts
- Add category thumbnails with clickable, hyperlinked post titles below
- Include optional excerpts below my thumbnails and titles
- Control formatting for thumbnail sizes, borders, and layout preferences
- Insert my thumbnail grids via shortcodes anywhere inside pages or posts
- Insert multiple instances of the grid in the same post or page, each referring to a different set of categories or images
This simple, but highly useful plugin does that and more.
Not only is FPG straightforward and user-friendly, but if you already have your categories set up with featured thumbnails on the corresponding posts that you want to use, this is literally a five-minute solution.
Perhaps the best thing about Featured Posts Grid is that it lets you make a connection between pages and posts by category. Most “related posts” plugins can’t be used to link a page to posts within a certain category or categories, because static WordPress pages don’t have categories, except for category pages. This plugin fills that gap nicely.
Three obvious uses for FPG are:
- To create a dynamic gallery of images or posts,
- To display a customizable related-posts widget,
- As a slider or carousel, by including more posts/images than available cells.
You will set up the number of columns and rows, along with sizes, borders, etc. once in its dashboard, and that layout style will apply to every instance where it appears on your site. However, if you plan to use it as both a related-posts widget and a gallery, you’re not stuck with one layout; you can still manipulate its appearance so that it’s as wide as a gallery page, and as narrow as a single post by using tables.
For example, if you want only four columns of related posts under a single post, but eight across on a gallery or home page, you could add two shortcodes to a table–one in each of two cells–and have your custom layout.
You could simply add a new category to only four related posts, but if you’ve set the plugin up for eight columns and five rows, it’s going to reserve space for all of them, leaving your related-posts area lopsided and with too much white space. So set it up initially for the smallest number of columns that you will need, and add multiple instances where you want more columns or rows.
If you’re really handy with code, I’m sure you can find a better workaround for multiple varied instances of grids on one blog or website, and if you do, we’d love to hear about it. Also, the developer actively encourages feedback regarding suggestions for future iterations of the plugin. He also asks that users keep him posted about any possible bugs.
Here are a few things you will need to know to make the most of Featured Posts Grid, starting with very basic instructions:
To Use the Plugin for an Image or Post Gallery
After you have installed and activated the plugin, plan your categories. Make a post for each image, and create a category for the images that you want to show next to each other in the gallery. Then make sure each of those posts is added to that category as you post it.
The easiest way is to add your categories all at once, then create posts and insert images from your PC as you go. After you insert an image into a post, click the “use featured image” section in the WordPress dashboard for that post (NOT Suffusion’s featured image section) and select the image you just uploaded from your image library—that’s what makes them show up in your gallery.
Next, paste the following shortcode into the gallery page where you want it to appear: Or add multiple categories, separating with commas like: “17”, “21”, (replacing the numbers shown here with your category numbers). Delete the tag code if you don’t want to filter by tags, or replace with one or more of your own.
You can find the category number by hovering over the category name in your WP dashboard and then looking at your browser’s footer, or click on the category name and look up at your URL.
You could add several mini-gallery grids to the page, or just one large grid, depending on how you’ve set your plugin options. Mini-galleries would give you more control over which image goes where. And you can add descriptions by adding them to the excerpt section of each post. This is much easier than using a gallery plugin.
To use the Plugin as a Related Posts Widget
There are two ways to do this. If you simply want random posts with thumbnails listed below your posts, this is a great option for that. You can include all of your categories, and be assured that you will always have more posts for your visitors to read when they are done.
Here is the link to the installation instructions for permanently displaying the grid in your posts or pages on your blog or website. With this method, you will probably have to re-install the code every time your theme is updated, however, so using shortcodes may be your safest bet.
To show related posts by displaying the grid via shortcode, follow the gallery instructions above. This is also a great way to ensure that you have EXACTLY the categories you want in your related posts, rather than letting your plugin decide which are more relevant and closely related to each other.
- If you have added your images in “Set Featured Image” in your WordPress dashboard for your posts and they still don’t show up, or they show up as the wrong size, install the “Regenerate Thumbnails” plugin and run it in your media library.
- Also, check your thumbnail default size under Settings>>Media.
If you are using Featured Posts Grid, please leave a comment with a link to your post or page and tell us how it helped you, or share any tips you might have for others.