How to utilize WordPress plugins
WordPress, out of the box, is a great base for most websites. A lot of themes add to the core functionality of WordPress, either through a framework, such as Genesis, or a better base theme, such as Bones.
When you look at the WordPress Plugin Directory, you can usually be comfortable that the plugin has been vetted by the WordPress community. The reason is, developers need to submit the plugin for publication and those in charge make sure it meets the correct plugin protocol. There are plugins for just about anything here. Have a need, and that WordPress plugin may be there. However, not all plugins are created equal. Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you should use it. As WordPress evolves, on a timeline that’s as little as 3 months now, plugin developers need to keep on top of the changes. Many plugins in the directory have been abandoned or have morphed into new plugins. Looking at the Last Updated timestamp will give you a good idea about frequency of updates. It’s possible it didn’t need to be updated, even with WordPress updates, but that is usually rare.
But John, I found this plugin that wasn’t in the Plugin Directory, what about that? First, if it’s free, I would be wary. Of the top 1 million sites in the world, 1 in 5 are currently running WordPress and that makes it a PRIME target for rogue software (malware). For the sake of security, have a professional give it a look before using it. Of course, there are premium plugins that are not in the directory. These are paid plugins, hence premium, that usually fulfill a greater need then free versions. In many cases, depending on the use these can be a much a better choice in the long term.
So what do you recommend?
The first and probably, if not, one of THE most important plugins is Akismet. Inevitably, if you have a blog component that allows comments (and I don’t understand why you wouldn’t, but that’s another blog post), you’ll get spam in your comments. Not limited to comments though, spam can be found in the form of trackbacks to rogue websites. Why take a chance? Luckily, WordPress comes with Akismet already installed and waiting to be activated, for free. Do it, right away. It’s that important.
As a business, you may want people to actually contact you. For business and such. That’s where Contact Form 7 comes in. It’s a simple, flexible method of setting basic contact forms and unless I need greater functionality, I will use this most of the time.
Perhaps you’d like your business site to be found and you’ve heard of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. That’s where Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin comes in. Here’s one you’ll not find in the standard repository and it’s free, but MANY companies and WordPress users utilize this plugin every day. As a “WordPress guy”, I can wholeheartedly recommend this plugin to help with your site’s SEO.
Though on the “free” list last, it’s certainly not the least, and that’s WP DB Backup. Backups are the key necessary should your site crash, victim of malware or your site gets hacked. Should this happen, without a backup, you’ll have no way get your content recovered. While this plugin doesn’t do a full site backup, it does backup the backbone of your site, your database. And to answer the question, yes, I have had to use it and it worked well.
I only list one, but should you have a need for more then a basic contact form, there’s probably none better then Gravity Forms. From the simple to the complex, Gravity forms can do so much more. Multi-page, product, auto-responders, and the list goes on, Gravity forms can most likely handle it and is worth the money for a site, should you have the need. See complete list of features here.
Not really, the end, but just a taste of what’s out there and available. Need help navigating the myriad of plugin options, feel free to Contact Me. I’ll be happy to help.