Guest Post by C. Mairin Deery
As a web designer and developer that works with a lot of small and non-profit/not-for-profit projects, I learned quickly that WordPress was the best platform out there. There’s a plugin for practically everything, and the look and feel of the platform can be customized pretty easily once you know what you’re doing! People feel great about being able to update their own content and have control over some of their own features, once you (the designer) hands over the reigns! What’s more is, if you can think of something you want your site to do, you can probably find someone who’s trying to do the same thing and the solution may be around the corner!
This is just a list of a few of the WordPress plugins I install on practically every site I build. Geared for everything from safety to social media integration, these plugins help to take the stress and work out of running and maintaining your WordPress site, and ultimately mean you spend less time behind your computer and more time communicating with your customers or clients!
In no particular order:
1. WordPress File Monitor: Being hacked is the worst thing ever, especially if you don’t know what’s going on or how to fix it. Typically, wordpress sites are hacked when they haven’t had their themes and plugins updated in awhile, so make sure you do that all the time! Usually the hack is just a simple change to the code, but it can take a lot of reading and a lot of time, and money, if you don’t know how to get it fixed. WordPress File Monitor monitors what’s going on in your system, and what’s being changed or added on a regular basis. At first all the error messages are a bit scary, but once you get used to the things that should and shouldn’t be changing, it’s the easiest way for you (or your designer/developer) to get the log, and back track to fix your problem in no time.
2. The WordPress Video Plugin: is a no brainer for sites hosting a lot of digital/media content. It lets you embed content in your pages and posts without having to actually host it yourself, so it allows your site to have a much faster load/run time! for people who don’t like to mess around with embed codes, this plugin is a MUST HAVE!
3. Contact Form 7: I know there’s a debate out about why or why not use a contact form, but if you are going to use one, this is about the simplest one I’ve ever found. It’s easy to customise the fields (especially if you’re even the slightest bit HTML savvy) and it pops right in to any page or post! it can be designed within it’s own “settings” section too, between <style></style> tags, which is an easy fix for those who know a little about CSS!
4. The Events Calendar: a slick way to add an events calendar to any website. the design is largely black/white grey and has easy dashboard customisation. For people looking to have an easy, simple calendar added to their site, this is definitely the way to go without getting too high tech. Events have to be manually edited in (there is no .csv events import out there to my knowledge) but once they’re in there, you can customise however you like!
5. Posts in Page: is a great way to use wordpress for your site format but still have a blog-style section within one of the pages of your site! For people running non-profit projects, or start ups with a human aspect, this is a great way to connect social media to your site and update material pretty frequently. As with all the other plugins, it can be implemented and modified really easily in the dashboard of your site!
6. By far the best twitter plugin for your wordpress site is the Mini Twitter Feed. Adding a twitter feed is never really that complicated but they can end up looking gaudy and, in all honestly, a bit too much like twitter! This plugin takes YOUR site’s look and uses that to display your last few tweets in an unobtrusive, individualised way!
7. Facebook for WordPress: Finally, these two pretty important platforms have figured out a way to get along. What is the Publicize plugin in wordpress blogs now exists for WordPress sites, at least for facebook. You can now set content to be published from the wordpress site straight to facebook, so there’s no need to go in and manually re-publish on all your different social media platforms!
8. I’ve already talked a bit about wordpress security, but Secure WordPress is another plugin I really recommend running. This plugin basically locks down all your information for people who aren’t Top Level Administrators of the site, while also hiding more from the “public” (people who may be interested in tampering with your site). If you’re running a site with multiple authors, this is definitely a must have, and a good idea for even just a one-person operation!
One of the best things about WordPress is that you can find a plugin to manage practically anything you thought you had to do yourself, and that you’ve been doing manually! There are tons of other great plugins out there, but these are just a few that I don’t hand a site off without – making sure a site is easy and secure is the best way to keep a business/project owner using and updating the site, and keeping connected with their audience!
What’s your favorite WordPress Plugin??