Engage Your Audience with Highlighter for WordPress

Highlighter is a WordPress plugin that allows authors to actively engage their audience. They can direct readers attention to any part of the post by ‘highlighting’ any word, sentence or image.

Readers can now highlight, comment and share any word, sentence, paragraph or image on a blog post as well, giving the audience unprecedented ability to interact with content.

This means that conversations are no longer limited to the just “comments” of the page – now visitor interaction can take place anywhere within the content. Visitors can also share any sentence or piece of text just by highlighting and clicking!

Sound confusing? It’s not. Check this video out to see how it works.

Collect more emails

The rules of “Internet Marketing 101″ say that an email list is the foundation of all internet marketing efforts. Highlighter has built-in email collection tools that will allow you to integrate with Aweber, Mailchimp or GetResponse. This means that you can capture commentor’s email addresses that before would have been lost.

Anyone who knows anything about online marketing knows that emails convert better than Twitter and Facebook combined.

Increased traffic

Highlighter makes sharing remarkably easy. All a reader has to do is highlight any word, sentence, or image and with one click, readers can share via twitter, facebook, or email. This means that instead of just sharing article titles, your audience will now be able to share the specific elements that they find interesting.

The easier it is to share, the more your visitors will do it.

Commenters will also be notified when someone else responds to the conversation, which also increases pageviews.


How does it work?

If you want to comment on something, just highlight it and click the comment button. Highlighter allows the publisher to moderate inline comments just like regular comments. Therefore unless the author has changed the default setting, comments will need to be moderated before they appear.

Once you have made your comment, a little bubble will show up letting all other readers know that someone has made a comment.

You will find that on any previously commented line of text, the text has a slightly grey dashed underline followed by a little comment bubble. Upon hovering over this text, you will see the comment bubble enlarges with a number in it. This is the number of times this text has been commented upon.


What about blogs with mountains of comments?

The guys at Highlighter were aware that with any significant amount of conversation around a topic, it would be less convenient to read via the bubble.

That is why they created the Highlight Box, which displays all of the inline comments in one place for readers to view. However, with the Highlight Box, each comment or conversation is in context to a highlighted word, sentence, paragraph or image on the blog, making the conversations on the blog much more valuable.


Why would readers want to comment inline? Often with a highly commented blog post, the context the comment can be lost after XX number of comments. Highlighter makes it much easier to retain the context of conversations.

Highlighter is also ideal for longer, more in-depth posts.

Inline commenting

For some verticals, there can be many uses for inline commenting, such as:

  • To reference a particular word or term in the medical or legal fields
  • To provide peer review/feedback in an academic or enterprise setting
  • To display a relevant affiliate link or advertisement within any kind of review/promotional blog post (links and images can be easily embedded within inline comments)

A more social web

Imagine how much more ‘social’ web pages will become when ANYTHING within the content can be attached to a specific, in-context conversation or shared with just one-click!

Of course, giving the publisher fully-moderated control over what is and isn’t displayed is paramount. The last thing anyone wants is for a web page to be graffitied up with spam or other nonsense.

Thankfully, Highlighter gives the publisher full moderation control and fights spam using WordPress’s built-in spam tool, Akismet.

Try Highlighter on your blog

Highlighter is still in development. The guys developing it, Matt, Nate and Josh are running a few case studies and wanted feedback from me, you and my readers!

If you are interested in running Highlighter on your blog, you can download it now. Highlighter is currently just a WordPress plugin, but the guys have plans to expand it to all blogging platforms via a Javascript snippet soon.

What do you think of this new way to interact with content? Let me know in the comments, or better yet, comment on any word, sentence, paragraph or image in this blog post!

FREE iPad? Yep, It’s Contest Time!

Not only does Highligther want to provide you with the best free WordPress plugin available, they want to hook you up with one of the most revolutionary gadgets to ever hit the consumer market… the iPad. “The” Steve would like to say a few words:

Highlighter iPad Contest!
Highlighter iPad Contest!-1

So, let’s get down to the good stuff. What do you have to do to enter? Simply do ONE or BOTH of the following two options:

Download, Install, and Use Highlighter – Worth 1 Entry
Write a blog post, and link back to this contest – Worth 3 Entries

You can enter as many times as you like, but keep in mind that you’ll need to install Highlighter on different url’s each time you enter.

Download Highlighter for WordPress

66 thoughts on “Engage Your Audience with Highlighter for WordPress”

  1. This would be more of a hindrance to users!

    But it can catch on.

    And isn’t that the reason Mr Chow, you aren’t using it?

    1. John Chow says:

      I am using it. It’s on my blog right now.

      1. Hey John,

        I highlighted a portion of text and made a comment to see how it works in practice. It seems to be very easy to use.

        Now I have to wait till you approve the comment to see the text being highlighted and my comment there.

        If the plugin doesn’t slow your site I can see it’s usefulness. Especially if and when people start using it as intended.


      2. Abhik says:

        It’s indeed a nice plugin, but sometime it does interfere with navigation.
        Every time a popup comes up when I hover cursor on an image.

      3. Alex Dumitru says:

        It seems like a useless plugin

    2. Momekh, our goal is to make it as easy as possible for readers to engage with content. You can make a comment around any specific element and/or share with one click!

      Highlighter work really, really well with longer more detailed blog posts where it is difficult to post relevant comments.

      Thank you for the feedback!

      1. Yes this one is quite interesting and I am sure if this will get good marketing and exposure than this will be hit.

        Target more top bloggers.

        1. I think that the exposure will take place on the site of those who adopt the plugin, The question now is how many people will decide to use the feature when commenting.

          Getting people to do that will be the main challenge. I tried commenting by highlighting a portion of text and leaving a comment. After having done that once I’ll have no problem using it again.

          So getting people to use it for the first time will be crucial. Once they’ll have used it they will be very likely to use it repeatedly.

    3. dotCOMreport says:

      I tried the highlighter and it was super interactive – not intrusive at all. Funny Momekh, before I even read your comment I was worried that it might be a hindrance too…but it made it easier for me to comment on what I wanted to comment about. I loved it.

      1. FreeBacklink says:

        Or you could just enter this in wordpress:

        Boom – nice and simple and no plugin needed.

    4. dotCOMreport says:

      Hi Momekh,

      I wondered the same; whether it would be a hindrance to users. So I tried it and you know what? It wasn’t! It was super interactive and I loved it.

    5. Mathew Day says:

      I don’t see how it would be a hindrance. It makes it a lot easier to share or comment about something you like on a blog.

  2. Kristi says:

    Neat plugin… going to have to check it out. BTW, the link to the plugin needs a h – currently is trying to go to ttp://highlighter.com. 🙂

    1. John Chow says:

      Ops! Thanks. It’s fixed now. 🙂

        1. I noticed that after installing the plug in when someone comments and another visitor opens that comment that the “like” button covers the gravatar of the first commenter.

          1. This doesn’t happen on John’s blog here so I wonder if he still has an older version.

            The like button seems to have changed position more than once.

  3. Iman says:

    Awesome plugin John! Thanks for this great plugin. a little bit confusing in terms of usability in the beginning but works smoothly and get readers attention without bugging them. I just think your blog was a little bit slower today when I opened it, is it because of this plugin or it’s something that just happened for no reason?

    1. John Chow says:

      The blog seems to be loading the same for me. Could just be ISP related.

      1. Exoclyps says:

        The blog have been very slow for me too recently. Could as you say, be a ISP problem. But I’ve actually not noticed it to this exctent with other pages.

        Worst is when trying to make a comment, takes quite some time for it to go through.

        1. Iman says:

          I have the same problem with posting comments.

        2. Iman this must be due to any other problem because blog is opening even faster than previous at my end.

          And I also added the plugin and found no problem.

  4. Hunter says:

    Will the plugin increase a sites load time?

    1. Of course, all plugins add some weight to the load time of a blog. You can run YSlow to check and see how much this adds . . . I did a quick check of the javascript that loads on this page alone and the Highlighter looked to be around 70k or so. Multiply that out for each pageview and you can imagine the bandwidth such a plugin is eating up.

      1. d3so says:

        That’s what I thought. That’s why I’m holding off on this plugin until I get a good amount of reader interaction.

      2. I would like to tell you that this plugin loads after most of the blog’s content is loaded so your visitors don’t face any speed problem.

        1. @tips for blog – Exactly! It loads after everything else has loaded so it doesn’t increase load times at all 🙂

          1. Just now John’s blog is as fasst or as slow as usual.

            What I mean is that at times it loads very slowly and at times it’s not too bad.

            I don’t know the cause of that but since this plugin is on I haven noticed any difference whatsoever.

  5. dotCOMreport says:

    Hi Jon, there’s something wrong with the comments…kept telling me I had commented already then it went ahead and posted the comment.

    1. d3so says:

      It could be a small bug or error.

  6. Hmmm dont like it all… seems pointless to me. IF someone wants to comment on a certain thing, just copy and quote it in your comment. easy as 1, 2, and 3.

    1. well… the highlight color is just to let other readers to get notice about it, so discussion can be make directly through the highlight, and as you say… copy and quote in comment… guess how many people will get to read it… if there are more then 5 comment… and guess what… nowadays most people don’t read comment as much as they write comment….

    2. d3so says:

      Interesting idea. A quote option would be useful like with forums.

      1. Yes this is a simple way to quote but you can also comment on images with this and this is only to engage your readers.

  7. Mathew Day says:

    Good idea for a plugin, it should help encourage more interaction and create more buzz to your blog.

    1. d3so says:

      I don’t think it would have much effect encouraging interaction but enhance it significantly.

      1. I find your comment puzzling. If it will enhance interaction won’t it encourage more comments?

  8. John — I installed Highlighter too on my blog and then blogged about it like you (before I saw your review 😉

    I really, really like Highlighter!

    1. d3so says:

      I hope you get a chance to win the ipad 😉

      1. Harshad says:

        Me too! Blogged about it immediately after I got that email from UBD.

  9. fas says:

    Best of all its free, cant beat that really.

    1. most of the WordPress plugins are free and I think its working is very fast and clean.

  10. Thank you a lot for the post , i enjoyed watching the video !! very informative ;))) thanX

  11. Terry Dunn says:

    This is a simple but amazing idea. I can see how it can stimulate more conversations on your blog. can’t wait to see it in use.


  12. I’v e seen similar plugins in the past, but – to be honest – don’t think they have much value. On your average blog, there is enough stuff that can take your attention away from the content without adding another element that could distract you from the the real value of the post.

    As a secondary point, why would anyone need a plugin to achieve this when a simple css class would do the same thing.

    1. You are right about the CSS. I saw a tutorial on it not too long ago, but I can’t remember which site it was.

    2. Hi Jim,

      appreciate your feedback as sometimes tough critics can actually help to improve the product the most.

      If you believe in the value of having relevant conversations on blogs then you can see the need for highlighter. Unfortunately there is no way to do this with simple css.. I wish there was as this would have made dev a lot less time consuming 🙂

      Having users be able to interact with the content they find most interesting is actually hugely significant because copying and pasting actually prevents a ton of people from sharing and commenting. Also, with our plugin, publishers can now actively engage their audience around specific subjects in each post instead of just a passive comment at the bottom of the post.

  13. I have just installed this plugin on my blog and also made some custom changes to fit it my blog.

  14. One More Thing Which NO One Mentioned is All the Commenter’s Names links are DOFOLLOW.

    So It is better to comment using that. And to find more blogs using that plugin just go though all the commenter’s blogs because most of them already added this plugin and I am one of them.

    1. Harshad says:

      I don’t think people will do that because those comments do not count for the Top Commentators.

      1. Harshad,

        Since you’ve installed the plugin I wonder if the tag on the left can also be placed on the right side.

        I’ve had people tell me to place a similar tag on the right side of the blog because people who need to zoom in in order to have a larger text for reading the blog complained that the tag was then blocking the text.

        1. Harshad says:

          I don’t think it can be moved to the right. But you can remove it altogether. I don’t see a reason why it should stay there.

      2. @ Harshad

        All the comments through highlighter give you permanent link (till the plugin in use) and through Top Commentators you only get link till you comment, once you left you can notice a big change in your SE position.

        1. Harshad says:

          I don’t think many bloggers would like to have the dofollow link. John has removed those comments already.

  15. Harshad says:

    This is a good plugin and I have already installed it on my blog. I wish there could be a way to club the Highlighter and wordpress comments. I am not enabling highlighter comments till then.

    1. Thanks Harshad. Very very soon 🙂

      1. Harshad says:

        Thanx…will wait till then. I hope you guys will send an email once the update is done.

        1. So the regular comments are as of now totally separated from the Highlighter ones?

          I agree that they should be merged somewhere so that a total of comments from both would show in WP.

          1. Harshad says:

            Yes they are separate and I think that is one of the reason why John has disabled those here.

  16. Boy have to look at this … would love to read this in depth.

  17. What is stopping you ZK? I guess a lack of time. Today all my comments are waiting for moderation.

    This must be a random thing as it seems to be happening after every 10 days or so.

    John is probably not going to reveal it.

    1. PPC Ian says:

      I have the exact same issue with my comments hitting moderation every 10 days or so.

  18. Lucian says:

    The idea behind this plugin is great. How comes it is free ?

  19. PPC Ian says:

    With the UBD team behind this plugin, I’m sure it will be a huge success. I like the fact that this can help you collect more emails.

    1. Thanks Ian! Really appreciate everyone’s feedback and comments. We are dedicated to helping publishers extract the most from their sites and blogs. Please keep the ideas flowing so we can make it as useful of a product as possible.

  20. Yeah it may be another tool to use for making the readers stay for more time at the blog pages and for finding the links and their related readings.

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