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The vast amount of cool customizations maybe one of the reasons why people choose to go through hoops installing their own self-hosted wordpress blogs instead of using other free blog services. And one of those cool things is the wordpress tag cloud plugin.
For those who are unfamiliar with tag cloud, it is a visual depiction of user-generated tags, or simply the word content of a site, typically used to describe the content of web sites. Tags are usually single words and are normally listed alphabetically, and the importance of a tag is shown with font size or color. Thus, both finding a tag by alphabet and by popularity is possible.
This is what a wordpress tag cloud plugin looks like:
I never really put much attention to tag cloud, but one recent discovery altered the path of my focus a little bit.
It’s (not) gonna rain
What I discovered was a tag cloud with a twist – literally. What made it different from ordinary tag clouds was the way the content of the cloud twisted around in 3D. I personally thought that it was cool and it added the visual richness of the blog. Translation: I wanted it.
Problem was, I didn’t know what it is called and whether or not it will work with WordPress. After some searching and asking around, I finally could exhale a sigh of relief because I found the wordpress tag cloud plugin to produce that kind of effect. The plugin is called WP Cumulus.
With a clear target to pursue, I went directly to the installation process.
Note: This plugin is Flash-based. So, there might be several factors (type of browser, browser plugin, internet connection, etc.) that might cause it not to display properly.
Installing WordPress Plugins
I picked the easiest way to install the plugin. I logged in to my WordPress dashboard and continued to the sidebar. I chose the “Plugins” link and “Add New“.
I did the plugin search, and…
Clicked the “Install Now” button.
After the installation, I chose to activate it directly. But if you want to activate/deactivate it, you can do so from the Plugins page.
Controlling the Cloud
One of the ways to tweak the display options of the wordpress tag cloud plugin is by going to the Tools > Settings > WP Cumulus menu from the sidebar.
There are many tweakable elements including the size of the WP Cumulus box, the font and background color and the rotation speed.
You can show WP Cumulus as part of your blog theme, use it as a widget, or insert it into post and/or pages using simple codes. Look at the plugin’s “Installation” page at WordPress.org for more detailed instruction.
If you want to use it as a widget, you have to make sure that your blog’s theme supports widgets. If it does, go to the Appearance > Widget menu.
You will find the WP-Cumulus item in the widget list. All you have to do is drag it to the widget bar.
WP-Cumulus as a widget also provides its users with settings pane.
Don’t forget to click “Save” after adjusting the settings.
The color of the cloud
You will notice that all the colors used are written in hexadecimal HTML color codes. One trick that you can use to find out which code belongs to which color is to search for it via any application through the options to change the color of its element.
For example, you can use any word processor and begin the steps to change the font color. Then you can use the color palette to search for the color code. For those who work with graphics and images, you can utilize your graphic applications.
Or you could search the web with the search string: “web color code” or “hexadecimal color code” (or something similar).
Life beyond the cloud
Because the WP Cumulus plugin produces moving images, it’s a bit difficult to show it here. To see how this twisting tag cloud looks on a real site, there’s no better place to visit than the plugin creator’s page. The site is also a good place to start finding similar plugins for other blogging platforms.
There are other interesting variations of tag cloud plugins for WordPress. To find out more, you could search for “moving tag cloud” (or other similar search strings) in the Plugins section of WordPress.org.
Do you use tags to enhance your WordPress blog visually? Do you know other cool tag cloud WordPress plugins? Share using the comment below.
Image credit: kevindooley