Now we use WordPress for the majority of our websites, along with 74,652,825 others that also do. But the thing which makes WordPress so impressive is the plug ins.
By adding these to a basic WordPress site, you can expand its functionality way beyond what you would expect, and it’s these which makes WordPress so damn useable.
So what I’m going to do today is list the WordPress plugins that I find so useful and that have impressed me so much, some of these are really obvious, but I hope some will pique your interest.
Well, I did say that some of these were obvious, but Jetpack should be the first thing you install after WordPress, the range of extra functions it embeds is incredible. When I was first getting to know WordPress, there were numerous times I installed a plugin from the repository only to find the Jetpack already did it and all I needed to do was switch on that function and configure it. Incredible, useful and very nearly vital, Jetpack provides you with useful visitor data, social media connectivity and lots and lots more.
Again with the obvious, while WordPress is a truly incredible way of getting online, and creating a website which is useable and allows you to communicate with your visitors, one of the flaws of it is that spammers know how good it is at sharing, so target it for their adverts and junk comments. Akismet is the best way of filtering out comment spam. One of the sites I run has hundreds of thousands of comment spam that Akismet has filtered out, and saved me the need from going through message by message and getting rid of.
Tables have always been a bit of a pain to produce on the web, they’re clunky and annoying, but presenting data in a table whether its a list of prices or services, or the results from yesterdays games, is pretty much vital. Tablepress makes this easy, just create the table you want within Tablepress, then paste it into your page or post, really easy, looks great, what more could you want.
Getting yourself found is vital on the web, no matter how interesting you think your site is, there are a million people trying to get themselves to the top of the search engine listings as well, and they’re willing to cheat. Yoast SEO gives you advice on how to write your blog posts and pages best optimised to work with the search engines. It’s not a guaranteed result, but it’s friendly nature and the fact it updates as you type, makes it almost like a game, to write your posts and get the best results you can.
Pagebuilder by SiteOrigin
Perhaps a little more for the site builders rather than just the bloggers out there, but Pagebuilder allows you to totally customise a blog or post. While you won’t get the exact results of hardcoding a web page, in all likelyhood, Pagebuilder will create a version of your page which will work better in WordPress than something you could write yourself. By allowing you to put plugins and other core elements into a post or page, you can totally customise the look of each page within your site, beyond the standard text and image that it usually conforms to.
Again with the pretty obvious, so you want to sell something online, you need an eCommerce platform. WooCommerce is exactly that, but built into WordPress. It’s fast, secure and is totally customisable through it’s own set of plugins which allow you to totally modify its performance and look, allowing you to sell almost anything, in almost any way, and let your customers pay however you want.
While plugins to send email are pretty common, Sendpress is this taken to the next level, with management of your mailing list, subscriptions, unsubscriptions, newsletter templates, and statistics showing who received, opened and clicked on links within your newsletters. Fascinating data, and really really useful for maintaining your newsletter lists.
Dropping in a contact form, or other data gathering details into a post is just a really handy add on to WordPress, nothing much else I can say about this one, its nice and easy to use, and does exactly what it’s supposed to.
Awesome Flickr Gallery
Now this one is to a fairly niche audience, but something I’ve found very handy. Awesome Flickr Gallery, allows you to use galleries from Flickr within your website, meaning that if you’ve got a gallery of your pictures there, you don’t need to duplicate it to use those within your WordPress site. It’s got a great range of functions, allowing you to show a random selection of pictures from your gallery, or the entire thing if you should so wish.
So above I mentioned Akismet as being a great way to filter out spam comments, but this is the nuclear option, disabling the comments completely. The plugin allows you to disable them on a page by page basis, which I find leads to a more sensible site (since if you’re using a page within WordPress as a menu, the base install allows people to leave comments on your menu and I’m sure there are loads of other types of pages you can think of that you don’t want people to comment on). It’s remarkable how removing a feature, can actually lead to a better user experience, on one site I ran, there was a page advertising jobs with an email address for people to send their CV through to. And email address that didn’t go it IT, that went to HR, where the applications really should go to. However, the number of people who just left their details in the comments, and then came back again and again complaining that no-one was getting back to them. Far better just to block comments from that page, and avoid confusing those users.
Wpdevart Facebook comments
And once again with the comments, Wpdevart Facebook Comments, replaces the WordPress comments system with Facebook instead. This avoids a lot of comment spam, as the comment is left using the visitors Facebook profile, and also has the advantage of hooking into the visitors social network who will be able to see that he’s visited your site and commented on it, and who can moan about a little free social advertising.
So these are just a few that I’ve found handy, your mileage may vary as they say, so if you’ve got any favourites, let us know.