Here at teclan we love developing for WordPress, and there are several plugins we find ourselves using again and again on client sites.
Originally created as blogging software, the open source platform WordPress has come a long way and is now the platform of choice for small to medium enterprise websites and beyond.
Its key feature is most likely the ease of editing and updating content, but the clever plugin system is a major contribution to its growth. In recent years there has been a great improvement in the quality of plugins offered too, as developers become more familiar with the best ways that plugins should be constructed to interact with the WordPress software.
Like the vast range of WordPress plugins that are out there, some of them expand WordPress in wonderful (and perhaps unplanned) ways, while some of them slightly adjust the core functionality in a useful way. Want to be able to add in a staff directory or a google map? No problem. There is a plugin for almost anything you might want to do with your site, and usually more than one!
So here they are, our magnificent seven:
Responsive Image Widget
Allows you to upload an image or add one from your media library and insert into a widget area. The image will be sized responsively which is handy as all the sites that teclan produces are now mobile responsive. Other image widgets are available!
Tip: When uploading images that will be on a responsive site, think about how it would look shrunk down. A super-wide (but not very high) hero image will look great on a big monitor but on a 300-pixel wide phone it could hard to make out once it has been shrunk down.
Black Studio TinyMCE Widget
Another one that makes a minor adjustment to functions WordPress already provides, and allows you to use the TinyMCE editor from the main WordPress post editing interface on a text widget. If you have a group of text widgets on your home page, this is a great plugin for handing back control of the wording and formatting to whoever edits the site.
Tip: Don’t forget you can also use images and wordpress shortcodes in your enhanced text widget. This plugin makes it a lot easier to organise them so you don’t need to be an HTML expert to change it later!
This simple plugin stops WordPress from saving more than 2 revisions of any post. Each time you revise a post it creates a copy in the database. If you save a lot like I do, this can mean that over time your database will get bloated with unused revisions.
Tip: Use this plugin alongside a clean-up plugin (for removing unused posts) to keep your database size compact.
Force Regenerate Thumbnails
If you adjust the image sizes in your WordPress Media Settings to suit the design of your site, that will only affect any images uploaded from that point onwards. This plugin allows you to go back and resize all the uploads from your media library. Luckily it also deletes any sizes you don’t need any more to stop your WordPress site from getting too bloated.
Tip – try not to upload any images bigger than the dimensions specified as “large” under Settings > Media, this keeps your sites media neat.
Contact Form 7 & BWP ReCaptcha
Probably the plugin we use most! Allows you to create a form that can be emailed to any email address – usually your own. Great for contact/enquiry forms – hence the name – and quick surveys. This is one example of something that many websites would need but possibly not many blogs, which is why it isn’t part of the main WordPress code.
Tip: pair this with the BWP ReCaptcha Extension detailed below to protect your form from junk submissions that can clog up your mailbox.
The Better WordPress ReCaptcha plugin gives you the ability to add a Captcha element to your contact forms. Yes, I know those things can be annoying, but they are a great way of stopping spam robots from invading your mailbox. This Captcha system is maintained by Google (the plugin is not) so it is one of the best. The plugin will also protect your comment forms if you are using blog posts on your site.
Advanced Custom Fields
If you are using WordPress for larger scale projects this plugin becomes invaluable, allowing you to expand upon the information that can be attached to a post. Together with the custom post type, custom fields allows WordPress to display not just posts and pages, but products, property or practically anything else. Normally you just have a title, the content, the summary (excerpt), categories and so on as the parts of a post you can edit. What if you wanted to add an extra bit of information, such as number of bedrooms, or postcode? This plugin allows you to add information like that without getting into the code. Advanced Custom Fields is the leader in the field and has add-ons of its own. Many of the more advanced plugins that can interact with custom fields (for example importing and exporting) will be able to work with this plugin so it is well worth having a look at.
Tip: organise any custom fields as consistently as you can. In particular make sure you give them a useful “slug” so that you can identify them or use them with other plugins in the future. “mycf-bedrooms” is a lot more useful than “cf-29489”.
All In One SEO
Our preferred plugin for SEO gives you much greater control over the metatags of your posts and pages which can help prepare your content for the search engines. It also has some extra features that save you installing different plugins: the ability to create a Google Sitemap for Webmaster Tools, add Analytics to your site or link in with Bing, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.
Tip: keep an eye on Feature Manager in the All-In-One-SEO menu for the new areas that are added to this well supported plugin.
If you’d like to talk to teclan about setting up a WordPress site or blog for your business and start taking advantage of these great plugins, please get in touch.