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Tried and tested plug-ins

Plug-ins are extensions of a website development platform that have been created by the platform’s creators or, more frequently, its community, to extend functionality and enable features that they believe will be beneficial to other websites but that aren’t part of the original platform.  Thousands and thousands of plug-ins have been developed and indeed, as website creators with on-staff front and back-end developers, we have the capability to develop plug-ins ourselves to enable us to build bespoke sites with all the functionality to suit each specific client need. However, sometimes there is just no point in reinventing the wheel so, where it’s appropriate, we might choose to use an existing plug-in for a site we are developing.

So long as you are confident they won’t compromise the end result, utilising existing plug-ins can be a useful way to focus budget to areas which need bespoke attention. There are thousands available, for everything from site security and RSS newsfeeds to 80s classic Asteroids games and fun captcha alternatives, but not all of them are supported and maintained long term by their developers, so you need to make sure you choose wisely. We only use tried and trusted ones which we know won’t impact the running of the site, cause problems with updates or make the site more vulnerable to attack.

Here we share our most tested and trusted WordPress plug-ins…

  1. Advanced Custom Fieldshttps://www.advancedcustomfields.com/

This is simply one plugin we cannot do without. We have been using this for years and it’s amazing, making our clients’ lives so much easier.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, with Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) you gain much greater control of your WordPress content and with much more ease. ACF enables developers to add extra custom fields into page layout. When you are creating a simple page within WordPress, you are only able to have the title of that page and then content. ACF enables you to add additional fields so, for instance, if you have a ‘Team’ section, you can add an extra fields for ‘position’, ‘email’, ‘telephone number’ etc to bring structure and clarity to the page. It would be possible to code the page so this information could be added to main content areas but with ACF you can structure your page in more versatile way more cost-effectively.

Using the Advanced Custom Fields plug-in allows us to give control back to the marketing department and reduce their reliance on outsourced development support for content amends.

Free and premium versions are available.

  1. Wordfencehttps://www.wordfence.com/

According to the developers, the Wordfence WordPress security plugin provides free enterprise-class WordPress security, protecting your website from hacks and malware. And we can’t really argue with that.

Powered by a large team of developers totally focused on website security, WordFence identifies and blocks malicious attackers who are looking for vulnerabilities on your website. It scans uploaded files for malware and also keeps tabs on themes and plugins to ensure they remain secure and flags up any arising issues to your website administrator.

Using Wordfence gives our clients a high level of confidence that their site security will be maintained and any efforts that could pose a threat will be stopped and highlighted, allowing any necessary preventative actions to be taken.

Free and premium versions are available.

  1. Yoast SEOhttps://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/

Yoast is a plug-in that’s familiar to most marketers and website administrators as its purpose is to make it simple to optimise on-page SEO.

Search Engine Optimisation is the steps that can be taken to protect or improve your position in search engine rankings for keywords relating to your business and the services or products it provides. Research has shown that the top 3 findings for any given result get at least two-thirds of the traffic, so coming top or near top of the list is important.

Yoast makes this much simpler with benefits such as creating a framework for ensuring that each page and post features meta-data and keywords, standardising categorisation of pages for tagging and archiving, and integrating your site with Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ social platforms. All these features, and the many others contained within the plug-in, ensure your site’s visibility is maximised.

Free and premium versions are available.

  1. WP Super Cachehttps://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wp-super-cache/

Research has shown repeatedly that there is a direct correlation between web page load time and the bounce rate. Slow loading pages frustrate the user and they simply won’t wait around to see what’s going to happen. The majority of people will leave if it takes more than 2 seconds to load a web page.

This very useful plugin improves page load times and page performance, reducing the likelihood of visitors bouncing off before they’ve even seen what your business has to offer. It does this by presenting a cached version of the page to the majority of visitors, effectively a ‘filed version’ of all the dynamic events that have to happen every time a page opens up. When you make changes in the admin area of the website, add a new blog post or change some product details, WP Super Cache makes a new cached version of the updated page to serve to future visitors.

As with all plug-ins, it needs an experienced hand to know which pages to enable the right settings on. A contact form with a caching issue is a problem, so WP Super Cache needs to be installed by someone with experience of what does and doesn’t work to ensure your website reaps the benefits.

  1. Woocommerce https://woocommerce.com/

Some might consider Woocommerce a platform in its own right but it is technically a WordPress plug-in, albeit one that comes with its own plug-ins!

WooCommerce lets you sell products and services from your WordPress site. It has been developed to make the process of online selling as simple as possible, enabling you to have a fully functioning site up and running to a high standard in a short period of time. And when there are sales targets to reach, wasted time is wasted money.

We can add extensions for services like bookings, memberships and subscriptions so that it has all the functionality you need whilst ensuring the security aspects of taking payments online, data protection and hacking prevention are all taken care of.

Free with additional free and premium plug-ins available.

So those are our top 5 tried and tested plug-ins for WordPress. If you’re considering maximising the functionality of your website, drop us a line at info@56degrees.co.uk to see whether these are correctly installed on your site or if we can recommend some improvements.

You might also want to check out our recent article about how to tell if now is the time to change to a new platform https://www.56degrees.co.uk/blog/is-now-the-right-time-to-migrate-your-website/