At the beginning of 2014, I was redesigning my website as I do every year. One of the biggest hangups for me whenever I do a redesign has always been the social media buttons. This year, I wanted to try something different.
I had experimented with all kinds of social sharing buttons for WordPress. From JetPack to Digg Digg, AddThis, Share Daddy, and even gave Flare a try. All of them ended up falling short of what I was looking for.
In the process of my redesign, I ended up sending Nick a Photoshop version of my new blog design and I included custom-designed social sharing icons. My question to him was, “How hard would these be to build?”
As could be expected, Nick’s response was, “Not too hard.”
At the time it was simply a set of social sharing icons that looked really good. They weren’t responsive and they didn’t do anything but share the blog post or page that they were loaded on.
Before long Nick had the wild idea to actually turn this idea for a set of social media share buttons for dustinstout.com into a full-fledged premium WordPress plugin.
Once that idea was on the table, a new series of ideas hit us. We started brainstorming all that this plugin could be and how it could solve all the different shortcomings in the space.
So we talked through all the pain points that bloggers (like ourselves) had when looking for a social sharing WordPress plugin. Here are the pain points we decided to tackle first:
Besides functioning properly, the most important thing for me is that the social sharing buttons look attractive. Unappealing, buggy-looking, out-dated, or flat out ugly buttons can really screw up a great website design.
Additionally, if your buttons don’t look like what people are used to seeing from those social networks, or if they’re too far gone from what the official buttons look like, they may not get clicked.
So when I designed my buttons I wanted them to be recognizable, consistent with each network’s branding, and uniform so they don’t look hacked together.
Since social sharing buttons became a thing, a lot has changed. The mobile revolution has left the majority of social sharing plugins in the dust.
Most side-floating social share buttons are either completely lost off-screen on mobile, or they get pushed over top of the content that a user is trying to read. Why would someone share what they can’t read?
The only other option was to keep the buttons at the very top or at the very bottom leaving a very limited screen area for the reader to share your content. This was just a bummer for me.
Our social share buttons needed to not only be beautiful, but they had to be beautiful no matter what size screen they showed up on.
At the time, I realized that social content was becoming bland and cookie-cutter. I also knew that Pinterest was booming and I wasn’t getting much benefit.
So I wanted a way to be able to craft the social shares so that when someone clicks a button it’s more than just a headline and a link.
I hadn’t found any plugin that allowed me to do that.
Sure, Yoast will allow you to create custom meta descriptions but I wanted to customize what was actually shared.
Specifically, I wanted to customize the tweet, Pinterest description and I wanted to be able to upload a Pinterest-specific image that will automatically be pulled in when the Pin button was used.
Tweet This Quote!
I had been using ClickToTweet on occasion to create custom quotes in my blog posts that people could just click and tweet instantly. This was cumbersome and took up way too much time.
Luckily the people over at Coschedule had created a nifty WordPress plugin that solved this issue. But it was another plugin I had to download and maintain when all I wanted was all my social sharing plugins to work together!
One of the biggest problems with social sharing plugins is that they can completely bog down your site’s performance. They have to load lots of files and scripts to get the functionality for every button adding a lot of bulk.
I’m very picky with plugins in general as having too many of them can be a problem. A plugin that kills your site’s load time is never worth it.
I needed something that did everything else and didn’t destroy my site load time.
Good luck right?
So Let’s Build This Thing!
With Social Warfare we’ve effectively solved every single one of these pain points. We’ve built a social sharing plugin for WordPress that:
- Looks gorgeous
- Is beautifully responsive
- Allows you to customize shared content
- Allows for custom (hidden from the page) Pinterest images
- Adds click-to-tweet functionality
- Loads lightning quick
It’s been 9 months in the making and we’ve finally gotten to release it into the wild. And we’ve only just begun with feature updates.
It’s a very exciting time for our team, and seeing the testimonials pour in are getting us even more excited!
“Once I started using Social Warfare I straight away saw a jump in traffic to my site and engagement on social platforms.” – Robert Ryan
That gets us out of bed in the morning.
What started as a simple way to solve our own pain points has become a mission to put a social sharing arsenal into the hands of every blogger and website owner that we can.