As 2016 wraps up we decided to do something different for this weeks post. In today’s post we share some WordPress website design gifts that includes our top 10 WordPress plugins, some plugins that extend the functionality of these, and some other random things we like or want to try in 2016. This isn’t a definitive list but simply some things we like, use and want to use. If it helps you on your next project, consider it out gift to you. Enjoy.
Our Top 10 WordPress Plugins
These are listed in no particular order. These are just some of the tools we use on our WordPress website design projects. The descriptions are taken from the plugin author and we’ve added some commentary where relevant. **Note: Our website is built on WordPress but our blog is hosted on HubSpot for content marketing purposes. Normally in a post like this I would show examples with each item, but since we cannot I’ll link to pages with examples where possible.
Easy Fancybox: Free Plugin with a Pro Option
Description: Easily enable the FancyBox jQuery extension on all image, SWF, PDF, YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo links. Also supports iFrame and inline content.
This plugin makes creating content pop ups simply. Once you activate you need to go to the settings page and select which types of files the plugin will work with. There are a number of additional settings but we rarely adjust these. There is also a Pro version which we’ve never used but could be useful if you require more functionality than in the free version.
You can see this plugin in action at http://openaire.com/what-we-do/custom-skylights/fixed-skylights/. Click on the top image and you will see it pop open to its full size.
iThemes Security: Free Plugin with a Pro Option
Description: Protect your WordPress site by hiding vital areas of your site, protecting access to important files, preventing brute-force login attempts, detecting attack attempts and more.
There are a lot of security plugins for WordPress and we’ve tried our share. We like this one because it combines a lot of features in one plugin and it’s easy to set up. We’ve been brought in to recover a number of hacked WordPress sites, and after cleaning and installing this plugin, the sites have been hack free. There is also a Pro version which we have not had to use yet.
LayerSlider WP: Paid Plugin
Description: LayerSlider is the most advanced responsive WordPress slider plugin with the famous Parallax Effect and over 200 2D & 3D transitions. *Paid Plugin.
This is our go-to slider of choice. We’ve used it with about 30 sites and have been completely happy. You can create any number of sliders with transition efects, movement, etc. There are so many options that when you first use it it can be intimidating and confusing. You’ll just need to read the documentation and experiment, as there not much it cannot do.
You can see LayerSlider in action at http://lanworks.com.
Widget Logic: Free Plugin
Description: Control widgets with WP’s conditional tags like is_home, is_single, etc.
This is the little plugin that “could”. If you’ve ever wanted to include a sidebar widget on some pages, but not others you could create different sidebars for pages. This plugin eliminates the need to do so. Simply using Worpress conditional tags you can control what pages sidebar widgets appear on.
You can see this plugin in action at http://mobilizejobs.ca. Click around the site and notice that the copy in the headline changes depending upon the section of the site you are in. This is controlled by Widget Logic.
Yoast SEO: Free Plugin with Pro Option
Description: The first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.
If you want to make sure you website pages are optimized for on-page SEO this plugin simplifies the process. Once you enter a page “focus keyword” the plugin grades how optimized your page is and makes suggestions on how to improve it. There are also a number of other option to improve SEO included such a Titles and Metas, Sitemaps, Social Integration and more. There is a Pro version but we have not used it yet.
GravityForms: Paid Plugin
Description: Easily create web forms and manage form entries within the WordPress admin.
GravityForms makes adding forms to your site simple. You can build anything from a simple contact form to a robust employment application. There are ready built css classes and you can target form css selectors by the form or field level. There are also enough third party plugins to integrate with a variety of other CMS’s and email vendors. *Paid Plugin (for one site its $39, for 3 its $99, and for unlimited its $199. These are annual prices.). If you build websites the developer license is worth the price.
You can see this plugin in action at http://oldviningsinn.net/employment/. We created an employment application with conditional logic to hide some fields until needed. Scroll down to “Is This Your Permanent Address? and select “No” and you’ll see a new address field added.
Shortcodes Ultimate: Free Plugin with Paid Add-ons
Description: Supercharge your WordPress theme with mega pack of shortcodes
This is a swiss army knnife of a plugin. This plugin features, spacers, tabs, buttons, boxes, columns, different sliders, responsive videos, accordions and much, much more. Over 50 different options. There are some paid add-ons available as well.
Redirection: Free Plugin
Description: Manage all your 301 redirects and monitor 404 errors
This is a really good redirection plugin. There are others likely just as good but this seems to be the one we started with and we have not been disappointed.
Simple WordPress Membership: Free Plugin.
Description: A flexible, well-supported, and easy-to-use WordPress membership plugin for offering free and premium content from your WordPress site.
We had a client that needed a simple membership section for their site for their vendors. This plugin was perfect, and it allowed us to create different membership levels which we used to create a section for each of our vendors allowing us to place vendor specific content into. The set up was faily simple and there are some additional plugins which helped us extend the functionality.
Simple Membership Form Shortcode (Free): Simple Membership Addon to generate form shortcode for specific membership level.
Simple Membership Custom Messages (Free): Simple Membership Addon to customize various content protection messages.
Simple Membership After Login Redirection (Free): An addon for the simple membership plugin to do the after login redirection to a specific page based on the member’s level.
Genesis Plugins (Must Have the Genesis Theme For These Plugins)
Since we develop websites primarily with Genesis there are a couple of plugins that we use on most sited.
Genesis Simple Edits (Free): Genesis Simple Edits lets you edit the three most commonly modified areas in any Genesis theme: the post-info, the post-meta, and the footer area.
Genesis Title Toggle (Free): Turn on/off page titles on a per page basis, and set sitewide defaults from Theme Settings. Must be using the Genesis theme.
Genesis Simple Hooks (Free): Genesis Simple Hooks allows you easy access to the 50+ Action Hooks in the Genesis Theme.
WooCommerce: Free Plugin with Free and Paid Plugin Extensions
Description: An e-commerce toolkit that helps you sell anything. Beautifully.
On a recent project for an artist we needed an option for the client to sell her artwork online. WooCommerce was easy to set up, included a ton of functionality, and has a robust enough community to support development of additional plugins to extend functionality. You can see our use of Woocommerce at http://artbyelise.com.
YITH WooCommerce Product Slider Carousel (Free): YITH WooCommerce Product Slider allows you to create responsive product slider!
WPB WooCommerce Product Slider (Free): WPB WooCommerce Product slider is a nice and cool carousel product slider. It has lots of cool feature like shortcode control, widget,custom settings etc.
WooCommerce Product Archive Customiser (Free): Allows you to customise WooCommerce product archives. Change the number of product columns and the number of products displayed per page.
WooCommerce Grid / List Toggle (Free): Adds a grid/list view toggle to product archives
FedEx WooCommerce Shipping with Print Label (Paid): Obtain real time shipping rates and Print shipping labels via FedEx Shipping API. *Paid Plugin.
Some other things we like:
Here is our disclaimer. Our site is currently on Host Gator who have been a pretty good host. But for our clients we started using Siteground about a year and a half ago and we’ve been pleased. We have about 15 sites on Host Gator so transferring our website and the sites on Host Gator to Siteground doesn’t make sense at this point
Content Marketing Platform: Hubspot
We’ve been working with Hubspot for almost a year and not only do they have a great platform, they provide excellent training and put out a lot of great content. If you’re doing content marketing for yourself or a client they are worth checking into.
WordPress Theme Framework: Genesis from Studio Press
We’ve been building sites with Genesis for about four years now. They do a great job building SEO Friendly themes, keep them updated with lates best practices, and have a great community of developers. We do custom builds so even though 90% of the sites we create use the same theme, we’re able to easily customize them to be unique.
Non-Genesis Theme I’d Like to Get My Hands On: The7
This is a nice looking theme with a lot of functionality. Definitley will try to find a project that I can use this on.
Magazine Theme I’d Like to Test Drive: Becks
This is a responsive News and Magazine theme that fits a lot of information on the home page yet feels like there is more than enough white space. I have a project in mond to use this theme, just need them to sign of on the contract. We’ll do a write up when we finish if the project comes through.
Hopefully these Wordpres website designer gifts are enough to keep your busy over the holidays if you take the time to look into each. If you’re reading this and need someone to help you with a website or content marketing call us at 678-951-9506 or contact us.
If you’re a marketing person that needs help with a client project, we’re happy to step in as you need us. Call us at 678-951-9506 or contact us.