In the modern age, we are presented with an astonishing amount of content on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter if we’re browsing through channels on television, glancing at a billboard on the freeway, or skimming through our RSS readers – we have to be extremely picky in choosing what content we digest.
This ever-present content saturation leads me directly to one of the golden rules of blogging – if you want to stand out, you must have a personality.
Furthermore, your readers need to have access to that personality. Not only does your own unique character need to permeate throughout your carefully crafted words, it needs to be identified. People need to recognize your content as being yours – otherwise it’s just another blog post.
And that is where the humble author box comes in. Although they are an ever-present on most multi-author blogs, author boxes can play a valuable role on any blog. And that brings me neatly onto my review today.
Introducing Fanciest Author Box
Fanciest Author Box isn’t shy of tooting its own horn, as you can tell from its tagline: “The only author box plugin you’ll ever need”.
Developed by an enthusiastic threesome of WordPress enthusiasts going by the name ThematoSoup, this premium plugin touts itself as the ultimate author box solution for WordPress.
But just how well-featured can an author box be, and does Fanciest Author Box live up to its bold claims?
The Author Bio Box
The above is a screenshot of how my own personal author bio box looks like. However, Fanciest Author Box demonstrate a fully-featured example of the end-user experience on their website, so you may want to check that out for yourself right now.
Going back to my introduction regarding personality, Fanciest Author Box really has you well-covered. A photograph is extremely important (as people are far more likely to remember a face than a name), and the first tab of the author box also allows room for the vital information: name, position, and bio.
Of course, the bio is essentially for identification purposes. In order to engage with the reader further, the author box must do more than simply show a photograph and brief bio. That is where the additional tabs come in.
Social Media Integration
All three major social networks are integrated within Fanciest Feature Box, and clicking on each tab will load up profile information and a feed of that particular account (when possible):
The logical leap as to how these social media tabs can benefit your following isn’t too taxing:
- A reader hits your blog
- A reader likes your post
- Reader sees Fanciest Author Box
- Reader follows one or more of your social media accounts
Fanciest Author Box does a great job of making it very easy for readers to sign up to your Twitter, Facebook or Google+ accounts right from within your blog. If you do everything else right, it smoothly facilitates the continued growth of your social media outposts, with no additional effort on your part.
This is where you can really boost engagement on your blog – especially if you have multiple authors.
Readers are bound to have favorite authors on multi-author blogs, and if they are presented with recent posts by the specific author whose content they have just enjoyed reading, they are far more likely to hang around and read some more.
And for single-author blogs, Fanciest Author Box’s Latest Posts tab represents another opportunity for the reader to continue reading, rather than go elsewhere.
Multiple Placement Options
In order to capitalize on the popularity of an author, you must make it easy for your readers to identify him or her. ThematoSoup obviously appreciate this, as there are essentially no limits in terms of where you can place Fanciest Author Box.
You can choose to place a box at the beginning or end of the post (or both), and you can also add it as a widget, template, or shortcode.
You can literally place your author box anywhere on your blog, without exception, and with ease.
One common issue with plugins of this nature is getting them to blend in with your blog’s unique design. Fortunately, Fanciest Author Box gives you the ability to change the default colors with ease:
Although you’re not going to be able to get down to the nuts and bolts of the styling (unless you roll up your sleeves and start adding your own overriding CSS), you do have quick and easy control over color. Furthermore, you can choose which tabs are displayed, and what information is displayed in those tabs (for example, you can exclude your Twitter bio from the Twitter tab).
Does it Work?
It is difficult to determine whether any author box “works”, as such. Its job is to identify the author to the reader, and present a clear opportunity to further engage with the blog and/or reader. That is of course is key to reader retention, and ultimately, your bottom line, but is difficult to measure.
Having said that, in my opinion, the two keys to an effective author box are placement and intuitiveness. Fortunately, Fanciest Author Box has you covered on both fronts. We have already mentioned the multiple placement options above, and the plugin itself is extremely easy to use. Furthermore, you would have to sit an extremely technologically undereducated person in front of this plugin to find someone who can’t actually operate it with ease.
Support and Updates
Support is often an issue with plugins. Fortunately, Fanciest Author Box has two things going for it:
- It’s really not that complicated to use. Your support issues are likely to be limited or non-existent.
- Even if you do need support, the developers are eager to help.
Furthermore, this plugin is pretty new, and the developers have shown nothing but enthusiasm in their efforts to improve it. When it comes to support and updates, ThematoSoup really seem to have their finger on the pulse.
Is it Worth it?
That is of course the million dollar question.
I’m not going to beat around the bush here – despite the fact that Fanciest Author Box is a great plugin, few people are going to be willing to shell out big bucks on an author box. Whilst a well-executed author box can have a genuinely positive impact on your blog by increasing engagement (not to mention your social media followers), the benefits are never going to be worth a fortune.
However, this needn’t be a worry with Fanciest Author Box. Whilst it is a premium plugin, it sells for just $10. In my opinion, that’s right in the range of, “If this does what it says and does it well, I’ll happily pay for it”. Although there are free author box plugins out there, I will always pay a few bucks to get a fully-featured, well supported, and regularly updated plugin.
And fortunately, Fanciest Author Box is all of those things. I know of no alternative that is as well-crafted as this, and $10 is an extremely reasonable price that will practically guarantee a good return on your modest investment.