Chances are, if you’ve spent any time using WordPress, you’ve already heard of shortcodes by now, maybe even used a couple without actually trying to understand how they work. However, if you’re a developer and you want to develop a premium theme that will sell like crazy, not only will you need to understand the WordPress shortcode essentials, but you’ll also want to throw in a few custom shortcodes to boost the appeal of your theme.
What Are WordPress Shortcodes?
Simply put, WordPress shortcodes are bracketed tags that allow users to use predefined functionality in any shortcode-enabled part of the website. It’s essentially a reference you can include anywhere in your code that pulls a specific piece of code from the functions.php file. For example, you can write code that includes all your favorite social sharing buttons in a custom box, and then reference that code from anywhere on your website via a shortcode without having to copy and paste that particular piece of code, or rewrite it each and every time you want to include those boxed sharing buttons.
In order to truly understand the WordPress shortcode essentials, it’s not enough you understand how shortcodes work, but also, what they’re so important. Copying and pasting a piece of code isn’t that complicated, so why should you bother with shortcodes? Imagine, for example, few months down the road you change your mind about the design of the box containing your sharing buttons and you want to change the border. Shortcodes enable you to update the particular piece of code only once, affecting all the buttons throughout your website wherever you used the specific shortcode. Had you copied and pasted that code, you’d have to go back to each place and update the code manually.
WordPress Shortcode Essentials You Need To Know About
WordPress already comes with a native support for some shortcodes out of the box.
- [ audio ]
- [ caption ]
- [ embed ]
- [ gallery ]
- [ video ]
However, it’s not only in posts that you can use WordPress shortcodes. While it’s not enabled by default, you can use shortcodes even in widgets, simply by dropping a text widget in your sidebar and pasting the shortcode inside it. If you can’t see the shortcode inside the widget, you’ll need to add a line to your functions.php file:
Shortcode Plugins And Theme-Specific Plugins
While you may be tempted to include tons of custom shortcodes inside your theme to boost its appeal and drive sales, you should definitely keep a few things in mind. Once you or your buyers choose to switch themes, all the custom functionalities will no longer be available. Making shortcodes a part of a separate plugin is one of the most important WordPress shortcode essentials and best practices you’ll want to follow, so that regardless of the theme you are using, the shortcode functionality will not break.