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Finding Useful Plugins: How To Extend WordPress Past a Simple Blog


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Plugins are what lets WordPress power so much of the web – all kinds of customizability in only a few clicks! Let’s talk about the WordPress Plugin ecosystem, learn how to identify good plugins from bad ones, and compare paid versus free plugins. I’ll also share my top list of awesome plugins to push WordPress way past a simple blog.

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Finding Useful Plugins: How To Extend WordPress Past a Simple Blog

  1. 1. Finding Useful Plugins: Extending WordPress Past a Simple Blog Meagan Hanes - @mhanes
  2. 2. Plugins are the key! Plugins are what powers WordPress Customizations. Let’s talk about the WordPress Plugin ecosystem, how to find and evaluate good plugins from bad ones, and compare paid versus premium plugins. I’ll also share my top list of awesome plugins that I use on sites to help push them past simple blogs!
  3. 3. A Bit About Myself Web Designer/Developer 15+ years Using WordPress since 2006 On the Training Team Part of the On The Go Systems Family (makers of WPML & Toolset)
  4. 4. What’s a Plugin? Plugins are a set of files added to a WordPress site that create or modify functions for the site admin or visitor. Good plugins use WordPress’ APIs and best practices so that plugins work well together. Plugins are an easy way to integrate third-party services (MailChimp, Google Analytics, Facebook, etc).
  5. 5. has over 49,000 free plugins.* Which one do I pick? This number ignores all paid plugins, of which there are thousands.
  6. 6. Choosing a Plugin Ask your WP friends Ask whether they have experience with the plugin, or suggestions for similar ones. Evaluate its statistics More installations = better More 5-star ratings = better Lots of 1-stars = beware Observe support forum activity How fast + with what quality does the author reply? A dead forum likely means a dead plugin.
  7. 7. This is a GOOD PLUGIN as it was updated recently. has lots of active installations, and a great rating.
  8. 8. This plugin? Hmm… - Last updated a long time ago, very few installs, and not compatible with the most recent version of WordPress.
  9. 9. “With so many free plugins, why would I pay for one?”
  10. 10. Free vs Paid Plugins Fair Value Exchange Your specific solution was provided very quickly Keeps the WordPress ecosystem going! Additional Functionality Less money than hiring a developer to custom code Existing solutions have documentation to help Faster Support Private forums for asking and answering questions Support teams to help find a solution for your site’s specific problem
  11. 11. Meagan’s Top Plugin Guide For Achieving Great Things Using The Power of WordPress Spring 2017 Edition
  12. 12. WARNING! These plugins are my personal suggestions based on my own experience and opinions, and are not a paid endorsement of any kind. Many plugins exist. Do good research and test thoroughly before committing to a plugin!
  13. 13. Add Contact Forms From a simple name/email/message through to complex multi-stage forms Contact Form 7, Caldera Forms, Gravity Forms ($)
  14. 14. Get More Detailed Statistics of Visitors Track and analyze detailed information using Google Analytics (or others) Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights, Google Analytics Dashboard for WP, Jetpack
  15. 15. Increase a site’s search engine optimization Semantically format content, optimize your Google snippet, and ensure keywords are being used correctly Yoast SEO
  16. 16. Run an Online Store Offer physical, digital, or virtual products for sale and securely process payments using a variety of gateways. WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, WP eCommerce
  17. 17. Make a site Multilingual Easily provide content in two or more languages inside one WordPress site. Polylang, WPML
  18. 18. Create a Community Website User Profiles, Groups, and Private Messaging, and more - easily transform WordPress into a Facebook-like platform BuddyPress
  19. 19. Integrate Forums Create a threaded-style discussion forum in the style of the early web days. bbPress
  20. 20. Increase Security Eliminate common attack vectors, increase monitoring, and harden your website easily. iThemes Security, SiteLock
  21. 21. Speed Up Your Site Enable caching to improve static site performance. W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, WP Rocket
  22. 22. Create Backups Generate a snapshot of your website’s files and database in case of an emergency later on. Duplicator, UpdraftPlus, VaultPress
  23. 23. These are a few of my favourite plugins! Thanks for listening! Questions: @mhanes