WordPress is a great content management system (CMS) but the basic WordPress installation is pretty barren. Adding plugins to expand the functionality of your chosen template will definitely add the much needed flexibility to your site.
However, when you start looking into adding plugins, you will soon discover that there are just so many to choose from. What do they all do?
With this in mind, I have chosen my favorite plugins that deliver the best flexibility to your site to make your plain WordPress into the awesome site it deserves to be. In addition, I have been careful to choose plugins that do not slow down your site.
I have chosen a cross section of plugins to give a bit of variety. Some of the plugins will be basic ones that can be used on every site, and some plugins are more specific that perform a certain task that not everyone will need. That being said, here they are:
1. Widget Options
Get Better Control over your Widgets. Easily show or hide WordPress widgets on specified pages & devices and/or assign custom alignment.
Widget Options is a great plugin. I use it on most of my sites. The reason I love this plugin is that it gives you the ability to add or remove widgets to different pages of your site. You can create widgets and specify exactly which pages you want them to show up on.
You have the choice to present them on certain post types, categories, and individual pages. A new feature that was just added lets you determine to show the Widget title or not.
2. Remove Widget Titles
I used to use this plugin with the Widget Options plugin mentioned above. However, Widget Options has added this feature in version 3.3.1. However, I am still choosing Remove Widget Titles as one of my favorite little plugins in case you are not installing Widget Options.
This plugin is super simple, but does a very necessary job. What I hated about widgets in WordPress is that whatever I named them in the backend, would show up on the site. But I didn’t always want this to happen.
Sometimes I just wanted to add code to a page by using a widget, but didn’t want the title to show, so I would have to leave the default ‘TEXT’ title. If I have multiple pieces of code, it would become confusing as to what widget was what.
All you do is place ‘!’ in front of the widget title, and voila, it won’t show on the front end. Now I can call the widget whatever I wanted for my own purposes without being handcuffed as to what would show on me site.
3. TinyMCE Advanced
Let’s face it, the editor in wordpress is pretty simple. TinyMCE Advanced is what you need to make your life a bit easier when creating posts and pages.
This plugin will let you add, remove and arrange the buttons that are shown on the Visual Editor toolbar that you use the most often. You can customize up to four rows of buttons including Font Sizes, Font Family, text and background colors, tables, etc. It will also let you enable the editor menu, see the screenshots.
It includes 15 plugins for TinyMCE that are automatically enabled or disabled depending on the buttons you have chosen. In addition this plugin adds some commonly used options as keeping the paragraph tags in the Text editor and importing the CSS classes from the theme’s editor-style.css.
4. Advanced Custom Fields
Advanced Custom Fields is a bit more of an advanced WordPress plugin. Not everyone will need this plugin, but if you do want to add some custom fields, you will need this plugin.
Advanced Custom fields allow you to add your own meta data to your WordPress posts and pages. By creating your own custom fields, you have complete control over what data gets added and how it’s displayed. The default interface for WordPress custom fields just isn’t that user-friendly and this plugin gives you many more options.
TablePress allows you to easily create and manage beautiful tables. Again, it’s not a sexy plugin, but if you need to have tables to deal with data on your site, then is the plugin for you.
6. Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is a simple plugin that allows you to customize a form using simple markup. Letting people get in touch with you by creating a form that allows you to collect the data you need from them is necessary for great customer relations. This from creation plugin makes it easy for you to do that.
7. Testamonials Widget
Easily add social proofing to your website with Testimonials Widget. List or slide reviews via functions, shortcodes, or widgets.
This is a great plugin for local businesses to showcase their customer reviews. Testimonials Widget lets you randomly slide or list selected portfolios, quotes, reviews, or text with images or videos on your WordPress site. You can insert Testimonials content via shortcode, theme functions, or widgets with category and tag selections and having multiple display options such as random or specific ordering.
There are literally thousands of WordPress plugins to choose from, (almost 50,000 at the time of this post), but I hope that the ones I have brought to your attention today will help you see what kind of flexibility and expansion that you can add to your site.
Let me know if you have any questions regarding your WordPress installation or SEO and I would be glad to help.
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