Successful webmasters understand the importance of leveraging the high-visibility areas of a website — these spaces need to be used for maximum effect if you and your visitors are going to get the most out of your offering. In this post, I’ll be focusing on one key area of impact: The very top of the screen.
A notification bar is one of the best ways to target this valuable top-of-the-screen space. If you’re unfamiliar with them, notification bars are used to display short — but important — messages via small, brightly colored strips that anchor to the top of the screen.
They’re the ideal alternative to popups, as their position at the top of the screen ensures maximum visibility without disrupting a visitor’s flow, making them far less intrusive. For many webmasters, this is the perfect compromise, and, because of this, notification bars have surged in popularity.
Another reason for their popularity is their versatility — notification bars can perform a number of functions, such as displaying important announcements, recruiting new subscribers to a mailing list or linking to important content.
They’re particularly great for driving conversions and for displaying effective calls to action.
Today, I’ll be introducing you to six of the best WordPress notification bar plugins available.
Let’s get started…
1. Announcement Bar ($19)
The developers created a custom post type for announcements, which means the process of adding an announcement is the same as adding a new blog post or page.
Underneath the editor, you’ll see a custom panel for configuring your notification bar. You can define the start date and end date for your bar, as well as the button link and text.
Since the main part of the notification bar is created in the WordPress editor, there’s no limit to what you can create.
You can assign announcements to categories and use the WordPress editor to format text, insert images and share quotes. There’s support for Google Maps too, and, if you wish, you can integrate videos and shortcodes from other WordPress plugins you have installed.
Notification bars can be displayed across your website or on specific posts or pages. A shortcode is also available, and can be used in posts and pages, or in WordPress templates.
There’s a widget too, but, unfortunately, the widget stopped all of the other widgets on my website from displaying. I tested this with a number of WordPress themes, and this issue occurred in every one.
The main settings page allows you to set how many words are displayed before the user has to click to see more. Text can also be slid across the screen, and a host of slider options are available to help you to do this.
The position of the bar can be set too, and you can make the bar fixed or absolute.
In the design tab, you can select how text is aligned, the font style and the design style. Clicking on the custom appearance button will give you full control over the fonts and colors used on your bar.
At only $19, Announcement Bar is an enticing option.
The plugin is incredibly easy to use, has a great look and lets you create an unlimited number of notification bars.
2. Hello Bar (FREE/$29-Plus)
Hello Bar is a hosted notification bar service that aims to convert your visitors into customers.
Once you’ve signed up for a free account, you’ll be asked what your goal is. You can choose to grow your email list, drive targets to a specific URL, let visitors know about a promotion, make an announcement, allow users to call you in one click or promote your social media accounts.
You’ll then be taken to a customiser that lets you change every part of your notification bar. The text, button, colors and styling can all be modified.
Dozens of pre-made color schemes are available for selection, but, if you prefer, you can let Hello Bar automatically adjust them to match the color scheme on your website.
In this area, you can go back and change the goal of your notification bar if you wish — for example, from an announcement to collecting emails. You can also define whether the bar is displayed to everyone, mobile visitors or only those who land on your website home page.
Other settings you can configure include: Allowing visitors to close the bar; whether there’s a delay before it’s loaded; and whether it’s displayed as users scroll down the page.
Buttons are displayed at the top of the customiser to preview your notification bar on desktops, tablets and mobiles.
When you’re finished, you can save your design or publish it. Once you’ve published the notification bar, you’ll be shown how you can install it on your website. HTML code is provided, but if you install the Hello Bar WordPress plugin all you have to do is copy and paste the Hello Bar site snippet code to activate the bar on your website.
No further options are available in the WordPress plugin — it’s merely used as a bridge between your website and the main Hello Bar website.
Not everyone will want a hosted notification bar solution, but Hello Bar does offer many advanced features that alternative solutions don’t.
Its free plan is suitable for 5,000 views a month, and allows up to ten bars to be created. One A/B split test is allowed too.
Two premium plans are available, and you’ll need to select one of these plans to remove the Hello Bar branding from your notification bar.
Upgrading allows an unlimited number of bars to be created, and adds advanced design features, targeting features and A/B testing. Integration with third-party services, such as Zapier, is made available too.
The growth plan costs $29 a month and allows up to 50,000 monthly page views; the elite plan costs $99 a month and allows 500,000 monthly page views.
3. WP Notification Bars (FREE/$19-Plus)
You can define whether the bar can be closed by visitors, whether it’s placed in an absolute or fixed position, and what the content width should be.
The content of your message can be added in the content tab. While WP Notification Bars does use a custom post type, unlike Themify Announcement Bar, the WordPress editor isn’t used. You can, however, just copy and paste what you want into the custom box, including HTML code and shortcodes from other WordPress plugins.
In the style tab, you can set the background color, text color and link color. The font size can be defined too.
One feature I love about WP Notification Bars is the ability to control who sees the bar — you can specify whether it is or isn’t displayed on the home page, posts or pages. These same settings can be applied to visitors from Google and Facebook.
WP Notification Bar Pro currently retails at $19 for a single website license, $29 for three websites and $49 for an unlimited license.
Alternatively, you can gain access to the pro version by purchasing a MyThemeShop membership. Retailing at $8.29 a month, the membership gives you access to 77 premium WordPress themes and 18 premium WordPress plugins.
The pro version adds a lot of additional functionality. This includes A/B split testing, the ability to import demo content, support for 18 social media services, search forms, newsletter forms, countdown timers, analytics, videos and more.
It also expands the number of available conditions by giving you the option to restrict the bar to mobile visitors.
4. Top Bar (FREE/$16-Plus)
If you’re looking for simplicity, Top Bar is for you. This basic notification bar plugin places all customisation options and settings in one page.
In the settings page, you can define whether the bar is active and whether it remains fixed when users scroll down the page.
The background color of the bar can be changed too, but there is, bizarrely, no option for the font color, so you need to ensure the background color works well with white text.
Your text message and button information are also configured in this main settings page.
The free version of Top Bar states: ‘This is a free plugin, it is NOT limited and does not contain any ad.’ While I do appreciate the fact it doesn’t display any adverts, the plugin is quite basic compared with alternative solutions.
For example, you can only create one notification bar in the settings area, and you need to upgrade to Top Bar Pro to give it a mobile-friendly responsive design (it’s the only notification bar solution on this list that’s not natively responsive). You also need to upgrade to give visitors the option of closing the bar.
Top Bar Pro costs $16 a year for a single website license, and $39 a year for an unlimited website license.
Upgrading allows you to set a delay until your notification bar appears to visitors, and you can restrict the bar to guests or registered users.
The pro version of Top Bar also lets you display the bar at the bottom of the page, and there are a couple of additional styling options, such as changing the font size.
Styling customisation is still quite limited, but this is something I’m willing to forgive, because the notification bars it produces look so great.
Some people may be frustrated by the limitations of the free version of Top Bar, but I quite like the simplicity of it as I tend to just display simple messages via notification bars. Plus, the notification bar looks great.
The pro version is fairly priced and has some interesting features that improve the plugin considerably, but I do feel there are better alternatives in the premium market.
5. Easy Notification Bar (FREE)
Another straightforward notification bar I love is Easy Notification Bar.
Developed by WP Explorer, this WordPress plugin is one of the few notification bar solutions that places all of the settings in the WordPress theme customiser. This means any changes you make can be viewed in real-time.
You can change the message, background color, text color, text alignment and text size. The button text and link can be defined too. If you like, you can make the button link nofollow and open the page in a new tab.
One thing you can’t currently change is the color of the button.
Instead, when you change the background color, the plugin will change the button color to a darker color so it stands out.
This actually works really well in practice, but I would still love to see the option of defining my own button color.
Easy Notification Bar is undoubtedly a simple notification bar solution. It doesn’t allow visitors to close the bar, and it lacks the ability to lock the bar to the top of the page as visitors scroll.
If, however, you just need to display a text message and button at the top of your pages, Easy Notification Bar is a great solution, and you’ll love how it integrates with the WordPress customiser.
6. Apex Notification Bar (FREE/$22)
If you want full control over how your notification bar is structured, check out Apex Notification Bar. Both the lite and full version of the plugin allow you to style your bar as you see fit.
In the general settings area of Apex Notification Bar Lite, you can enable and disable the notification bar, enable it for mobile visitors and position it at the top of the page, bottom of the page or use an absolute position.
If you wish, you can choose to only show the notification bar on your home page.
Most plugin settings are in the component settings area.
The bar layout tab allows you to select from one of five color schemes, and you can customise the styling yourself in the next tab.
Every aspect of the bar and button design can be modified. This includes colors, fonts, font sizes, and even link colors and hover colors. My only gripe is that when you choose to customise styling yourself, you start with a blank canvas. Therefore, you need to go in and modify every single color.
The components setup tab is where you customise your notification bar content. You can choose to use text/HTML, an opt-in form, post title, search form or social media icons.
The last tab allows you to define visibility. In this area, you can choose to show or hide the bar after a period of time, or always show the bar. You can also allow visitors to close the bar.
It offers 15 pre-made templates and a further 20 templates with a Christmas and New Year theme. The pro version lets you place the bar at the top, bottom, left and right of the page, and, if you want, you can display multiple bars on a page.
When you upgrade, you truly open up what you can do with Apex. Additional functionality includes custom logos, custom image backgrounds, custom icons, Twitter feeds, RSS feeds, countdown timer, video popups, effects, email marketing integration and more.
Another cool feature is the ability to make the bar larger. You can take advantage of this to display maps, banners, videos and widgets.
Apex Notification Bar is a great choice for those of you who want more control over what’s displayed in your notification bars.
One to check out.
During our research, we came across many useful notification bar solutions that just missed our list.
WPFront Notification Bar is a fantastic free solution that comes with dozens of options. It gives you full control over your bar’s color scheme, where it’s displayed and how it operates.
Another good solution is HashBar, which has great support for WordPress page builders, and is a good choice for displaying an email signup form.
My final recommendation is Advanced Floating Content. In addition to displaying a bar at the top and bottom of your pages, this plugin lets you float menus and bars in a number of different areas.
Hello Bar is a great solution too, but be aware that you’ll need to pay a $29-plus monthly fee if you generate more than 5,000 monthly page views.
Used any of these WordPress notification bar plugins? Which do you think is best?