There are many reasons why you should make WordPress your CMS of choice, but arguably the biggest reason is for plugins. They add so much usability and so many features to your site, you can do most anything on your site with a plugin- right out of the box. There are many that will add huge features to the front-end of the website, but for today we are going to stick to the top ten functional plugins which will make your job easier and your site run smoother.
SEO Pressor is a great real-time SEO (Search Engine Optimization) evaluation tool that provides recommendations to optimize your site’s content and other elements on your page. Upon refreshing your page it will analyze for elements like keywords in your title and h1-h3 tags, keyword density, content length, keyword placement, images, links and font decorations. It will then make suggestions to improve your content based on Google’s search engine algorithm as well as adding alt tags to your images.
Yoast’s WordPress SEO is a wildly popular SEO tool that has had over 14 million downloads, making it the clear leader in optimization. WordPress SEO is a tool that provides tons of extra fields for adding tags, keywords, meta descriptions, titles, etc. It will then scan (real-time) your use of keywords throughout all elements of your post. It will then score you on the red, yellow, green system to let you know how you are doing. Additionally, it will help you to keep code bloat down from WordPress itself.
This just might be the only form plugin you will ever need. Hands down. ‘Gravity forms‘ takes all of the technical side and knuckle-busting out of creating a form for your site. It will walk you through, step-by-step, creating even the most complicated forms. Everything you’d expect to find is here, all the standard fields. But beyond that, we get advanced fields including file uploads. You can also create multi-page forms or scheduling when the form will appear.
One of the great features here is that you can also use it for user-generated content. You can create a form that has all of the necessary post fields and allows you to collect everything you need.
Every site should be regularly backed up, it just makes sense with all of the potential attackers out there. So if a plugin offers the ability to set up and schedule full site backups, as well as databases- you need to be listening. BackWPup offers both free and paid versions, but the free version has plenty of perks. It features a WordPress XML export, database backup, database optimization, checking and repairing database and more. It backs up to .zip, .tar, .tar.gz, and .tar.bz2 containing everything including the /wp-content/ directory.
You can set up these backups to store to a directory, an FTP server, Dropbox, SC services, Microsoft Azure, RackSpace Cloud, SugarSync, Google Drive and more. Just keep in mind some of those options for storage are PRO only.
Google Analytics is the gold standard in web statistics, so it stands to reason that you want to be able to use the very best even on your WordPress site. Google Analytics is also the name of another outstanding plugin by Yoast which harnesses all of the power of Google Analytics and combines it with an easy to understand dashboard. It all adds up to a rich experience that puts you in control of your site with insights you never thought possible.
Every installation of WordPress has a text widget where you can write plain text and have it appear, however, Black Studio’s TinyMCE widget creates a new rich text editor widget that allows you full editing capabilities to insert styled text, images, videos- anything you can put in the standard text editor. It all plays just like a post or page editor. And like the standard editor you can switch back and forth between HTML and visual modes.
Adding sidebars for your widgets is a time-consuming process that requires a little developing know-how. With WPMUdev’s Custom Sidebars you can add customized sidebars that will show on different page types, allowing you great flexibility to break up content and maximize what you are showing to your viewers. On a blog post? Maybe you want a sidebar that shows related posts. On a standard page? Perhaps you want to show a video or make your Facebook and social media icons take center stage. There is also a pro version that allows great refinement with cloning sidebars as well as setting visibility based on user roles, post types, individual pages, and taxonomies.
WordPress is an outstanding CMS, however, like any website, there are security issues to take into account. You need to make sure your site isn’t vulnerable and be able to detect any problems as soon as possible. All in One WP Security & Firewall is a plugin that does all of that and more. You will get real-time security scores and assessments for vulnerabilities plus an outstanding firewall that serves to act as the first line of defense for your site. It even checks usernames to make sure there is no one named “admin” and allows you to quickly change it to a more secure username. The best feature though may be the Brute Force Attack protection which automatically locks out IP addresses or ranges if it is detecting that they are trying to force their way in.
This one isn’t for everybody, but for developers building a WordPress site for a client, White Label can be invaluable. What it does is allow you to personalize and customize the back-end admin area of the site. You can choose which menus are available, and really drill down what is available on a per role basis. You can also brand the area by adding company logos and other personalized information. This all results in a much cleaner final product that simply looks more professional.