My Favorite Plugins for Word Press

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Throughout my over 10 years of building and rebuilding websites I have formed a love hate relationship with Word press and the many many plugins available that lend to everything from lead generation to interesting functionality.

What I love about word press is the ability to build out of the box websites and basically add on function and features that save money for my clients and I am able to quickly put together something attractive and very effective in less than a week in many cases. I can also say that I have formed a fondness to many plugins due to their ease of use and compatibility with pretty much every template I use. I also have formed an affinity to particular word press templates too. There is a learning curve to installing and configuring a new template and many developers understand the need to provide as much intuitive features as well as documentation that it should not take long to find your way around a template and the many options it may offer. However, there have been quite a few templates that once I have installed and tried to learn how to use it.. I quickly abandon because it is very difficult and often tedious in order to get it configured and set up correctly.

What I do not care for in the word press platform is the constant updating and upgrading of the platform due to continuous bugs, breaches and security concerns and added features. Word press updates itself or version practically every month (sometimes more) which also causes all of the plugins to mostly update their own versions to be compatible to the latest release. If the plugin developer which is almost always independent of the wordpress developer is on top of things, then we experience very little in compatibility issues. However that is not always the case, and constant monitoring and checking can help with prevention of site take down or things going awry. All it takes is a plug in developer to stop updating their plugin and “houston, we have a problem”.

Word press plugins are simply applications or extensions to bring about extended function, features, or benefits to the word press site which are aplenty….and depending on the function you need, you may find several plugins that offer similar functionality but may be missing some features. This takes time to research what is the right plug in to choose. Sometimes I make decisions based on the feedback of previous users. They are pretty good at helping determine the usefulness and pitfalls that you might run across. And there are what we call the “free version” plugin which is just as it denotes, the free but limited function or feature version which works but teases you with upgraded functionality at a price. Basically you must pay to enjoy added benefits including support in case the installation does not work or causes some incompatibility. This also rings true for the template itself, as the basic template may come packaged with many functions like a page editor, revolution slider, translator, google fonts. Things that you may normally pay a license to publish yet just by purchasing the template these items come as a package. In the case of the editors and slider plugins, again they are the basic version and if you want a more robust functioning version, you most definitely have to upgrade for a license to operate fully.

Another drawback to the frequent updates to word press is that it also just as important to be able to update it manually meaning having to go into the hosting account and admin panel to just update the version. If I set it to automatic update, I am guaranteed to run into many issues down the line. This would be the equivalent to running a train on the railroad track without a conductor. Without the eyes, ears and input from the conductor the train will derail. No different here.

The good news is that there are a plethora of plugins that monitor the health, security and function of the website so if any of these situations cause a dilemma, I am guaranteed to be notified within a reasonable amount of time to restore the site back to normal. This would mean either reverting the version to previous version and/or restoring a back up copy. Then proceed very slowly uncovering what may be causing the issue.

There are also plugins that I regularly install on every client site and use to help make my job easier with SEO, site performance, and visibility. Very important functions to manage the amount of monitoring that needs to be done. SEO is not just placing keywords strategically on the page, title and content. It has much to do with how fast the site loads, browser rendering, image load, site structure, navigation, links, visitor engagement and much much more. These plugins help me gauge, guide and assist in implementation of corrections so that your website is consistently working, is visible, relevant and fast loading and at the same time engaging to your client. There is a lot going on behind the scenes of website, so I am not only gauging the function of the site but also the function of the plugins that keep your site up and running. It is never ending process.

Below is a list of my most popular plugins and its function. I install on almost every client site till the plugin stops performing or it becomes deprecated (not supported and obsolete).

  • Hummingbird – performs site wide diagnosis, creates static pages for fast loading, reduces load time, provides corrections and recommendations for improvement
  • Smush – compresses and resizes images as well as strips the meta info that is embedded which causes robots and spiders to read thus slowing down the rendering
  • WP Forms – super cool and easy form building , and tracking
  • Icegram – popup plugin that let’s you create a popup within seconds. Customize popup, monitor responses and campaigns
  • Email List Subscriber, Post Notification – Add subscription forms on website, send HTML newsletters & automatically notify subscribers about new blog, collect emails from online subscribers as well as upload your own list
  • Google XML Sitemap – this is a quick way to index new pages and posts
  • Google Analytics Dashboard- one of the best ways to measure traffic, sources, client behavior

These are the most used plugins but I do use others depending on the client and the feature or function that they are looking for. And this is usually an SEO plugin that helps with the actual placement of those strategic keywords in titles. I have not formed any particular great opinion about any one plugin so I actually use several different types so that I can see which works the best. I am constantly changing out seo plugins especially if I see some major unfavorable trends.

If you have check out your website lately or competitors site and you see a function that you would like to add, contact me. There is a plugin for it. It might not always be free, but I can certainly research. Here is a couple of interesting functions that you may consider:

  • Adding Gift Certificate Function
  • Adding a job board with application submission
  • Collecting Payments
  • Creating Appointments
  • Events Calendar
  • Sell tickets
  • Auto Submission to Social Media
  • Adding feeds that display content from other sites
  • Adding social media feed
  • Adding Guest book
  • Adding Reviews displaying stars and collecting reviews
  • Integrate with Yelp
  • Add Calculators
  • Adding Price List.
  • Adding Pay for Content

If you think of it.. there is probably a plugin for it.

Stellar Online Services

Stellar Online Services

SEO, SEM Account Manager

Over 30 Years of award winning and successful advertising, internet, and digital media management as well as effective website and landing page design for human visitors and search engine optimization.

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