Modern WordPress websites often require Plugins to make the site do something that native WordPress and / or the Theme (Website Builder (Divi)) doesn’t do. Plugins add functionality and can change the feel and functionality of a website given the right circumstances and needs.

Classed as software; plugins are either downloaded as a .zip file from the developer’s website / main WordPress.org site or sourced from a search in the WordPress Plugin “App Store”. Please make sure that any Plugin that you use is from a trusted source.

You need to have a self-hosted WordPress install to use Plugins – This expresses a limitation with the FREE .com version of WordPress which is commonly used as a Blogging platform (But still works well for this in its own right).

I’m not a big fan of WordPress installs which are over loaded with Plugins which I’ve often seen when I’ve inherited a WordPress Website. I only use necessary plugins and find that the Website builder / engine that I use had functionality built in to replace things that we were using plugins for only 2 years ago such as sliders and Google Analytics.

Here are my favourite plugins and why I use them.

 

Divi Builder from Elegant Themes (ET)

This enables you to use Divi elements (modules) on any WordPress theme. So, this is very useful for adding in a pricing table, mapping system, columns (sorry ‘shortcodes’!) and a whole host of other goodies to website pages which would otherwise be blank and boring. It certainly brightens up a rigid or older theme when there is no budget for a re-skin to Divi. This is a paid plugin as part of the ET package but worth it if you are going down this route with your Website Development.

 

Yoast SEO (Free Version)

Let’s you add on page Search Engine Optimisation e.g. Meta Title and Meta Description. Works on a traffic light system (amber is good!). A must have for all websites where you want control of what you might want to be found for on Google. Pages, Posts, Projects can all be optimised in this way. Yoast gives on hand tips to help you gain the most from SEO. Main settings also include its interest to Site Maps and counting of outgoing links from the site. A must for any website (I can’t stress this enough!).

 

Contact Form 7 (CF7)

If I’m not using Divi and I don’t want to load down an install then I use CF7. There is also a database module (plugin) which lets you capture enquiries to a database (Contact Form 7 to Database DB) (which Divi doesn’t do) so there is advantage in that. You can also control form fields.

 

The Events Calendar (Free Version)

Excellent plugin that changes 1 page of your website into an events diary. Simply enter each event and people can then browse location (Map), detail, speakers etc. The events expire once the time has passed so great if you don’t want to manually manage this and update a specific page each time.

 

Appointment Booking Calendar

Booking system for slots for coaching calls, wedding dress shop fittings, and skype call scheduling (are some of the uses I’ve used this for!). The client gets return / admin emails and you get a diary slot which auto fill. There is a £41 upgrade which means you don’t have to (PayPal) charge the client for the slot which is well worth the admin time.

 

WooCommerce

Turns your website into an eCommerce solution with sales monies going to PayPal. Set up products and run a shop page with the native install. Divi lets you have shop modules in various places which is good (This can be based on category for instance). This will change the feel of any website to the next level. Don’t forget to incorporate a Terms and Conditions page.

 

Google Analytics Integration for WooCommerce

You’ll need this if you want to keep track of what products were looked at, bounce rates, conversion etc. as native WooCommerce doesn’t report to GA. Just paste in your GA UA number in and you are good to go! (No tracking code needed). GA will report into the same account and merge with other Page View data etc.

 

Redirection

Great for new websites with Google Search / SEO history. Set up redirection on a page to page basis from the old .html / .php pages, which will mop up anything left before the next crawl by the Google Spiders. Use this on launch of a new site so you don’t miss anything. Be careful and meticulous of page to page redirection. I usually make a spreadsheet matching old URL’s to their new counterparts.

 

Coming Soon (Seed Prod)

Great little plugin if you want to pop up a “Coming Soon” or an “Under Maintenance” page onto your website. It means you need to be logged into the WordPress Dashboard to see the actual website and everyone else sees whatever you put on the Coming Soon page which can be text, images, sign up code (MailChimp) and logos.

 

Google Analytics (Kevin / ShareThis)

Great plugin for use with older WordPress themes and when NOT using Divi (Builder). Simple set up which lets you paste your Google Analytics UA number in (no tracking code needed). Starts working straight away. There are some security settings in the newest version but they only enhance the experience.

 

Really Simple SSL

An essential for secure websites. This does the technical bit after your website host puts a SSL certificate on to your website for you. It sorts the redirection of the non HTTPS pages for starts. Literally activate it upon certificate completion and the host should do the rest.

 

WP Opening Hours

Great for Mortar premises. This plugin produces ‘shortcode’ based on your inputted opening hours. The relevant opening hours then change colour on the day you are open for someone looking at your website that day. Genius.

 

WP Super Snow

This is a really fun plugin which adds some festive flavour to your website. You can make your website snow! You can control the amount, and flakes / flurries. It does slow the website down a little and uses mobile data, so you have been warned, but it’s a fun and temporary addition!

If you like what you have read, or are abit confused, or now need some tea and cake – Then get in touch! Use the Contact Me form on this website and I’ll get right back to you!