If you run an ecommerce website or like to interact with visitors in real time, it can be a good idea to have a live chat function on your site. There are a number of great live chat plugins available for WordPress; however, most come with one rather large stumbling block: cost. Don’t worry though, there are several solutions that are reliable and will provide the functions you need free of charge. In this tutorial, we will look at the best of the free chat options at your disposal.
Pure Chat is a powerful widget by Axosoft that provides users with a great instant messaging service free.
To get started with Pure Chat you will need to sign up (it’s free to do so) and follow the instructions to get the code you need to run the widget.
Once you’ve done this, log in your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Editor and find the footer.php file from the Templates menu on the right side of the screen. In the footer.php file, scroll down the closing <body> tag and paste in the Pure Chat code on the line directly above it. Click on Update File to confirm the change and the widget will be installed as a pop-up on your website.
Chat Room is a plugin that allows you to create chats rooms on WordPress. It is not a live chat widget like Pure Chat, but it will still allow you to interact with your visitors in real-time. There are a couple of downsides however; only registered users will be able to access the feature and anyone logged in to your website will be free to join a conversation.
To get this plugin go to Plugins > Add New and enter ‘Chat Room’ into the search box. Once you have installed and activated the plugin, you will notice an option for Chat Rooms on your sidebar dashboard menu. Click on the Add New link, give your chat room a name and press Publish.
Next, go to Appearance > Menus and add your chat room to your main menu so that it is accessible to visitors.
Skype is probably the best known instant messaging client in the world and, while it cannot be integrated into your WordPress site, it is possible to install a Skype button to show contact information and display availability.
To take advantage of Skype, install and activate the plugin, Neat Skype Status. Once this is done, go to Settings > Neat Skype Status and enter your Skype credentials. The plugin will then create a widget that can be installed on your sidebar. This can be done by going to Appearance > Widgets and dragging the Neat Skype Status v1 widget over to the appropriate position.
Finally, log in to Skype on your computer and in Tools > Options > Privacy Settings, check the radio button to allow IMs from anyone and check the box to Allow my online status to be shown on the web.
Your visitors will now be able to chat to you through Skype directly from your website.