Branded Social Images, a new plugin to generate Open Graph images per post – WP Tavern
The social images generated seem to be all the rage now. Automattic picked up Daniel Post’s social image generator last month for possible inclusion in Jetpack. There is a proposal to generate them dynamically for plugins and themes hosted on WordPress.org. And, there is a new actor in town: Branded Social Images.
Granted, I’ve had a slight obsession with the concept lately, and I’d love to see the tavern use some dynamically generated social imagery at some point. Because we’re already using Jetpack, I’ll wait and see where its development team takes the feature.
Branded Social Images is a solid addition to the WordPress plugin directory for those who want a solution now. It’s not as feature rich as Social Image Generator, which is no longer available for purchase. However, this is an introduction to the concept for those who are trying it for the first time. And, it can prove to be quite comprehensive for many users.
The plugin was released by Internetbureau Clearsite, a web development and design agency. Branded Social Images is the team’s first plugin on WordPress.org.
My favorite feature of this plugin is that it allows users to upload any TTF or OTF font file for social image text. I tested it with the Oleo Script Swash Caps and Rampart One font families to see how it worked.
Well, I tested with several other than that, but I had to stop before going too far. I have an addiction to typefaces and am easily sucked into hours of tinkering with them. The goal was to test this plugin functionality, and it worked as it was supposed to.
The plugin already contains a reasonable set of 10 font families to choose from. If nothing works for you, grab one from Google Fonts or another site of your choice and download the
.otf to file.
Branded Social Images is easy to use. Its settings screen has a preview image at the top and two boxes with settings. One for the social image text. The other is for the background image and logo.
Where it falls short of the competition is that it doesn’t have any pre-built templates. This isn’t necessarily a breakthrough feature, but it also doesn’t have the design options to recreate many of the layouts of something like Social Image Generator.
Essentially, the layout options boil down to positioning a logo and text on top of a background image via a three-by-three grid.
However, its reduced interface with minimal options could be considered a feature in itself. Not everyone needs or wants a series of settings when a few basic customizations are enough.
I had a hard time figuring out if the placeholder logo could be removed. After some testing I realized it was limited to the settings screen unless I explicitly downloaded a custom one. I would also like to see an option to use the site title instead – not all sites have a logo, but may still want to display their brand name.
Users can also change the social image per post. The plugin adds a meta-box with four options on the post-edit screen for:
- Deactivation of the social image.
- Editing the text.
- Disable text.
- Adding a custom image.
By default, the text will be the title of the publication document. It should work with most SEO plugins, such as Yoast SEO. The presented image will also be replaced by the background if no custom image is added.
After three years of using the current WordPress post editor, it still catches me off guard when a plugin places a meta-box at the bottom of the screen instead of the sidebar. It always seems out of place. In this case, it takes a ton of real estate for four options, and it’s not necessary. If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing about the plugin, this would be it.
The plugin also violates the cardinal rule of not adding a top-level admin menu item for a single screen. WordPress literally allows submenu items under Settings. So maybe I need this magic wand for two things.
Other than a few issues, I like what the plugin team has created so far. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but it’s OK for a 1.x version. Software is meant to be iterated and improved, and branded social images have the foundation to get even better.