I’m not what you would call a “graphics designer” by any means. My creative process just isn’t all that great. I’ll truthfully admit that. Therefore, when I see how awesome other bloggers can make their site to look, I get a little jealous from time to time. I mean who doesn’t want their site to look attractive? One very important element of a website or blog is the header. The header is the top most portion of the website and usually contains the logo and branding of the company along with slogans and other graphical images. A visitor can quickly decide how well organized or professional a website is just by glancing at the header image. Ever since I started AnotherWindowsBlog, I never did have a header image or logo. Although that’s perfectly OK, it’ not what you would call “exciting”. A site’s header is usually what your visitors will see first when they arrive at your blog. To not put anything there is like saying you don’t care about your site and/or what others think.
Just the other day, WordPress released version 3.2 to the public. I upgraded immediately as I haven’t done so since coming over to WordPress about a couple of months ago. WordPress 3.2 shipped with a new default theme called Twenty Eleven (previously Twenty Ten). I checked it out just for fun to see how different it would be compared to the older version. Well, it looked awesome that’s for sure but one thing caught my attention the most and that was the random/rotating header images each and every time you refreshed the page. Not very extraordinary as I’m sure many people will tell you that feat can be done already. But upon seeing it, I knew immediately I wanted something like that on my blog as well. So I went ahead and searched for a WordPress plugin that would easily allow me to accomplish that goal.
Header Image Rotator
This was one of the first plugin’s I’ve found and boy was I glad I did. I have tried using other similar plugins that promises to rotate my header images but Header Image Rotator (HIR) seems to me the easiest to use.You can download Header Image Rotator from here. There is a basic free version and a pro version costing only $2. My advice is to use the basic version first and get it to work with your blog. Once you get it working, you can purchase the pro package if you deem it necessary as the basic version lacks in features. Take a look at the comparison chart below:
Prior to activating the the plugin, create a new folder called “header-images” (without the quotes) within your “wp-content” directory using your favorite FTP client. It should look like this:
Once you activate the plugin, head into the HIR settings page. There’s just one very important setting that you have to configure and one that might give you a little problem if you don’t know what it’s asking of you. In the CSS Header ID Tag field, you need to provide the ID tag for your theme’s header element. Because each theme is different, you’ll need to personally head into your theme’s CSS file to check for the ID.
You could try to cheat your way out of this by just typing in “header” in the field and hope that it would work. If using header doesn’t work, then you’ll need to follow the steps below to find the correct ID tag.
The CSS file is used by your website to style many of the elements within your site. For example, if you wanted your links to be a different color, you’ll specify it in this file. If you’re having a hard time with the CSS file, use Google Chrome’s built-in website element inspector. Right-click in your header area and select “Inspect Element”. Each element that you mouse over will be highlighted on your page. This allows you to easily find the ID tag for your header. For my blog theme, my header ID is called “top”.
Once the images have been uploaded, preview your blog and if everything went correctly, you should see your new header! The basic package of HIR only allows you a limited amount of options for the rotation interval. The lowest time you’d have to wait before the image rotates is one hour. The pro package doesn’t have this limitation and on my blog, I’ve set it to rotate after every refresh.
I love scenic backgrounds and so I’ve cropped about 20 different header images to begin the rotation set. Granted, rotating your header images on your blog isn’t that great of an idea for some. Remember what I’ve said earlier. Your header is very important for branding. A header is usually static and reflects the personality of your blog or site. Take myself for example. The header images you see now most likely have nothing to do with my computer blog. Therefore, it might seem weird for some to do what I am doing. Now I could only use computer specific pictures for my header images and have them rotated but I’m not going to do that yet. If you don’t care about branding your website, then this plugin can help to liven up your blog. It would be cool to use different image categories every month or so. For example, maybe next month I could use only anime pictures or images that has to do with electronics. Whatever the case maybe, HIR is a fun plugin to play with just as long as you know what you’re doing.