These days, an author biography is so much more than an online trend, especially on multi-author websites. In fact, in researching this article, I couldn’t find a single example of resistance to author bios. Apparently, having solid author bio on your WordPress website is a must.
Regardless of what industry you’re in, an author bio establishes reputation and builds trust; it demonstrates to your readers who you are, what you do, why you do it, and what qualifies you as an expert. All of this just isn’t obvious when all you know is an author’s name. As an author, you need to give a little of yourself to connect with your audience. Including a bio goes a long towards this, making the reading experience much more personal. At the end of the day, every transaction (every the transfer of knowledge via an online article) is simply an interaction between two human beings.
An author bio box should be eye catching and attractive. It should complement the theme of your website, using similar fonts and colours and layout. After all, even if you include an author bio box at the end of each and every post, it won’t make any difference if no one notices or reads it.
The easiest way to create and display an author bio box for many of us is to use a plugin. So, today, I showcase eleven of the best WordPress author bio plugins.
With claims that Fancier Author Box is ‘the only author bio plugin you’ll ever need’, Themato Soup peaked my interest with their plugin. This free, relatively light author bio plugin has been downloaded 115,000 times and has been rewarded with a 4.7 star rating.
The features of Fancier Author Box include the ability to integrate all the major social media networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube and Vimeo). You can add a short bio description, a job title, company, company URL, and social media icons. It will automatically pull in, and display, your gravatar image, as well as all your recent posts.
Unlike some of the other author bio plugins, Fancier Author Box gives you the ability to choose where the author bio will appear on your website. You can nominate that your author bio appear on posts, pages, and in custom post types, and even have the option of nominating whereabouts it appears (above or below your post or page, both, or even not at all). You can change the colours of just about every element of the author bio box, including the tabs, borders, and backgrounds. This author box plugin is fully responsive, and designed to work with responsive WordPress themes.
I must admit, I was a little surprised when I came across the Fanciest Author Box plugin: Themato Soup had already proclaimed that Fancier Author Box is ‘the only author box plugin you’ll ever need’. And yet, here was a premium, paid version of their plugin. I was intrigued…
For $17, you can purchase Fanciest Author Box, giving you more control over your author bio, and a longer list of handy features, including: retina ready display, co-author plugin support, random author options, and lazy load for improved page speed.
However, in my mind, there were two fanciest features, that really stood out from the rest. Using Fanciest Author Box, you can load an author bio as a widget. This means that you can literally place your author bios anywhere on your website, rather than being limited to areas within your page or post.
The other fanciest feature of this particular author box plugin is its lazy loading social tabs. These maximise your page loading speed, while still allowing your readers to connect with your authors via social media. Each of the social tabs loads the most recent posts by your author, giving your readers a quick snapshot of the content they have recently shared, encouraging social media engagement.
While this particular plugin has only been downloaded 3,000 times, I just couldn’t resist taking a sneak peak (maybe that old saying really is true: sex does sell!).
I was pleasantly surprised. Unlike quite a few of the other author box plugins on the market, this plugin is compatible with the current version of WordPress (version 4.0). The look and feel of the author box is slick, sleek, and professional, and a number of the design elements can be easily customised, including the gravatar size, font sizes and colours, background and highlight colours, and border style and colours. There is also shortcode available for the plugin, so you can place your author bio box anywhere on your website.
As its name suggests, this particular author box plugin is very much focused on creating positive outcomes for humans (as opposed to search engines and software). So, Starbox’s main claim to fame is generating author boxes that are gorgeous to look at, and are therefore more likely to make your readers click all the way through, and get to know your authors better. I have to admit; Starbox author bios do look quite nice, particularly the social media icon display on the right.
Starbox may be the author bio plugin for you, if you’re looking to create different author boxes across your WordPress site. It offers a wide range of customisable settings for individual authors. You can set different themes and colours for different authors. Or, you can choose not to display a bio at all for particular authors. You can upload your own images or headshots, so you aren’t limited to using your gravatar image.
Humans are, again, the number one priority when it comes to usability and set up, with Starbox going so far as to offer a ‘For Humans’ guarantee. There is no coding required, and the menus are quite user-friendly and intuitive. It takes only a matter of minutes to set up each author bio, and the look and feel of the back-end of the plugin is quite polished.
There is also a premium, paid version of Starbox, usually priced at $39.99. The premium version of this plugin allows you to remove the ‘Powdered by Starbox’ tag, links and subscription forms, and offers priority support.
With 54,000 downloads, Jon Bishop’s author box plugin is very simple, straightforward, and easy to use. It is the perfect author bio plugin if you’re looking for one without too many bells and whistles.
That’s not to say that WP About Author is without nifty features. In fact, this plugin offers a range of customisation, allowing you to change the background colour and border style of your author box, as well as the size and shape of your gravatar. You can even choose whether to display social media profiles, or simple text links.
This plugin offers quite a remarkable array of features. You can add customisable author bios to posts and pages, as well as RSS feeds, archives, widgets, and even custom post types. Your author box can be hidden globally, or selectively for certain posts, pages, and even categories, and it can be displayed either above or below your content.
You can alter the look and feel of your WP Biographia author box in a number of ways, with options to change the border and background, the size of your gravatar and the length of your bio. The plugin integrates with all major social media platforms, as well as Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, Windows Live Messenger and Jabber/Google Talk instant messaging profiles.
I do have a teeny caution on this plugin. The back end of this plugin is not quite as user friendly as many of the others. It has seven different menu tabs, all of which include multiple settings and options that must be configured. So, if you’re a novice WordPress user, this may not be the author box plugin for you.
This plugin is definitely up there when it comes to generating the most polished, modern looking author box. In fact, the author box that this plugin generates looks as though it was devised by a team of graphic designers, briefed to create a funky, minimalist design.
Best of all, Simple Author Box is mobile responsive, and it supports up to 30 different social media profiles, which can be set to have a rotate effect when readers hover over them. You can program Simple Author Box to display your authors’ name, gravatar, and short biography. It is also fully customisable (including the colour, size, fonts, and styles) so that you can quickly and easily match your author box with your website’s theme.
There is one drawback to the Simple Author Box plugin: you can only insert the author box at the end of a post (not at the beginning, or in a widget).
This plugin is somewhat more restrictive than many of the other author box plugins. It only allows you to add an author box at the end of a single page or post (not at the beginning, or in a widget, or even globally across a particular category or post type).
However, it does enable you to link to (and include an icon for) a number of external websites that the other author box plugins fail to offer, including WordPress.org and the Drupal Association. So, this plugin might be the way to go if you particularly want to highlight the WordPress and Drupal connections of your authors.
With more than 35,000 downloads, this author box plugin is perfect if your website has multiple authors, who do not each have their own user account. By using Custom About Author, you can create multiple author profiles, and then specify which profile should display for each of your posts. As with all the other author box plugins, you can easily customise your author profiles, and you can include links to all of the major social media platforms and websites.
Just like all the other author box plugins, this adds an author box to all your website posts, which includes the authors name, gravatar, social media accounts, website URL, and previous posts. You can even nominate where you want the author box to appear (before or after your post).
But, what this plugin has to offer that none of the rest do, is the ability to add a different description for the same author, depending on which post the author box is displayed. So, if your website offers advice on a number of different topics (just like SitePoint does), you may have the same author writing articles on multiple topics (for example, in the case of SitePoint, the same author might write for the WordPress and the Mobile channels). So, you might want two different bios (one that highlights the author’s experience in WordPress, and the other in Mobile). This plugin allows you to do exactly that.
Last, but by no means least, we come to Co-Authors Plus. If you have multiple authors penning the same post, page or custom post type, then look no further. Co-Authors Plus is a free plugin (that has been downloaded almost 100,000 times) that allows you to credit multiple authors for the same post without even having to create a WordPress account for them. While this is technically not an author box plugin, it can definitely come in handy.
A WordPress Author Box Plugin for Every Occasion
WordPress author box plugins share many of the same standard features. They all allow you to include a gravatar, a short biography, a website URL, and links to all the major social media networks. The majority of these plugins also allow some degree of customisation; fonts, colours, backgrounds, and even gravatar image sizes can all be altered to better suit the look and feel of your website.
Where author box plugins really stand out is in their little, added features. So, Fanciest Author Box offers lazy loading social media tabs; Starbox is extremely easy to use, with an interface that everyone should be able to understand; Simple Author Box has a design that it is sleek, polished, and professional; and Author Box Plugin with Different Description allows you to set different bios for the same author, depending on the contents of each post.
So, before you decide upon an author box plugin, think about exactly what your objective is, and what you are hoping to achieve with your author boxes. Once you’ve got that nailed down, there is bound to be a plugin on the market that offers the added features you need.