A Primer on Publishing With WordPress, Part Four: Choosing the Best Plugins

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Well we’re winding down to the end of this short course. But we still need to go over a few things so that you can start publishing your own content using WordPress. Today we are going to talk more about choosing the Best Plugins to make your website more functional.

As we have discussed before, WordPress Plugins can greatly improve how your website looks and performs. Plugins have the ability to help you make your website into virtually anything you want it to be.

In your last lesson we talked a little bit about how to install and activate Plugins. Let’s recap:

  1. First, log in to your WordPress admin area.
  2. Choose “Add New” from the sidebar menu under Plugins.

From there you will have the option to either upload a plugin you have on your computer or search through the WordPress plugin directory. After you have installed your chosen plugin go back to the sidebar and choose “Installed Plugins” then activate your new plugin.

Choosing the best plugins to make your website more functionalWhen it comes to managing your new plugin not all of them are created equally. You will notice that some of them will create a menu tab on your sidebar that will allow you to input data and customize the plug-in to suit your needs, while others won’t need any customization at all. When in doubt you can always visit the plug-in website for help. You will find that link next to the plug-in on the Installed Plugins page.

Now let’s talk about These are some of the plug-ins that I have tested and used myself.

Designing Tools

  • Visual Composer is a great page builder that comes with many premium themes. It’s got an abundance of design elements with an easy drag-and-drop interface.
  • A great free option is easily, Unyson. Another drag-and-drop page builder that’s also easy to use, with just a bit of a difference approach.

Managing Your Site

  • Jetpack is a very popular plugin for traffic information, contact forms, social media buttons and more.
  • Akismet is the best-known plugin for managing spam comments, which are very common on blogs.
  • ManageWP is my favorite in this grouping. I use it for all of my clients. It does everything from security and performance checks to backing up and updating files!

Backup And Security

  • The worst can sometimes happen, so it’s best to be prepared. Plugins such as Updraft will back up your website automatically on a schedule defined by you.
  • Wordfence is a plugin which will protect your site from hackers and more.

Search Engine Optimization

  • Want to optimize your content for search engines before you publish? Then check Yoast SEO.

Forms And Landing Pages

  • You can get a basic contact form from Jetpack, as mentioned above, but you may also need more sophisticated forms such as Gravity Forms that encourage visitors to opt-in to your mailing list.
  • Contact Form 7 is my favorite, but it’s not for the novice.
  • Landing pages are web pages that can be used offer visitors a free gift in return for their email address, or act as the entry point to your website. Thrive Leads is an example of a landing page plugin.
  • You can also use either of the page builders above to build unique landing pages.

These are only a few of the WordPress plug-ins that I have found to be useful. When it comes to choosing plugins for your website it really just comes down to a matter of personal preference. With literally thousands plug-ins available for you to choose from it’s important to use your better judgment, look at the ratings and remember you can just as easily deactivate a plug-in as you can activate one, so feel free to test as many as you’d like.  Choosing the Best Plugins to make your website more functional can involve lots of trial and error, but it’s also kind of fun to learn all the different elements that can be added, tweaked, or removed!

I hope today’s lesson was helpful to you.

There will be some great stuff in your last lesson. We are going to talk about maintaining and monetizing your new WordPress website.

Need to go back and review lessons? No problem!