WordPress remains the top CMS (Content Management System) for websites. It is, in my opinion, the best website platform you could use for your site.
For a start, you can actually build your website for free. Yes! Completely free! More on that another time but one of the other brilliant reasons for using WordPress is the plugins.
WHAT IS A PLUGIN?
A plugin is a piece of code or programming you install onto your existing WordPress website. They work to enhance your basic website functionality both on the front end for your users and in the back end for ease of management. A plugin can offer all sorts of things like;
- Social feeds
- Email sign up
- SEO optimisation
- Custom menus/navigation
And much, much more
MY TOP LIST OF PLUGINS YOU CAN USE FOR FREE
This is a list of the plugins I just couldn’t do without and I install them onto client’s sites too. All these plugins are free or have a free version so it’s an absolute no-brainer.
SECURITY AND BACK UPS
Wordfence Security (https://www.wordfence.com)
An absolute must to keep out hackers and attempted malicious login attempts.
Duo Two-Factor Authentication (https://duo.com)
Another must to ensure logins are genuine.
If your hosting doesn’t have a backup facility, this free option will do nicely.
Completely free and comes bundled with free Paypal integration to make selling a breeze.
Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights (https://www.monsterinsights.com)
It all means nothing unless you’re measuring it. This connects your site with your Google Analytics account.
WooCommerce Google Analytics Integration (https://woocommerce.com/)
If you’re selling using WooCommerce, this free plugin will connect all those lovely sales to your analytics.
EMAIL MARKETING/LEAD MAGNETS
Mailchimp for WooCommerce (https://mailchimp.com)
This will connect your WordPress website with your Mailchimp account which is also free for up to 2000 contacts.
Easy Forms for Mailchimp (https://yikesplugins.com)
This has to be one of my favourite plugins – super easy to use, connects with Mailchimp and allows you to create lead magnet sign ups with ease.
Yoast SEO (https://yoast.com)
Whilst many find SEO a pain, this plugin makes it easy to understand with their traffic light system.
Large images slow your website down so compress them easily with this free plugin.
Ninja Forms (https://ninjaforms.com)
I’ve used a few different ones but I’ve found that this one is the easiest to use by far.
HOW TO FIND AND INSTALL A PLUGIN
It’s a super simple process of how to find and install a plugin. The easiest way is to do it from within your website.
When you’re logged into the back end of your WordPress website, navigate to ‘Plugins’. Next, click ‘Add New’ at the top of the page. You’ll be presented with a few ‘featured’ plugins, but it’s best to run a search for what you’re looking for. For example, if you’re looking for a plugin to provide related posts on your blog articles, simple search for ‘related posts’. You could also, search for a plugin you know about such as WooCommerce. Even before hitting the return key, the results will come up. They’ll be ordered by relevancy.
You’ll be able to see clearly the number of stars (reviews), how may installations there is for each one along with when it was last updated and its compatibility with your version of WordPress.
Once you’ve found a plugin you want to use, click the button at the top right to ‘Install Now’. That will install it to your website back end but to use it, you’ll need to turn it on. For that, the button that said ’Install Now’ will change once you’ve installed to say ‘Activate’. Click that and it’s all live and you can then configure the settings or use as you wish.
If for any reason it’s not what you wanted, you can ‘deactivate’ and then ‘delete’.
THINGS TO BE AWARE OF WHEN INSTALLING A PLUGIN
Free vs paid
Whilst the free ones or free versions of plugins can be really useful, you may find that you either need the additional options a premium one can provide or, you may need to get support. Support will only come with a paid option.
What’s best, is to try out the plugin using the free version first. If it’s what you need, consider paying for the full option where you’ll get all the functionality and support.
Not all plugins will work with your set up – that’s your WordPress version, your theme and other plugins. Check that the plugin has been tested with your particular WordPress version. In some cases, a plugin may not work at all. In other cases, it might not play nicely with other plugins you have installed – in that case, you have to make a choice about which one you want more, plus, there’s a process to go through to actually find which one it conflicts with, which I won’t go into now – I’ll save that for another time.
Some plugins aren’t updated very often. In fact, some plugins are still available that haven’t been updated for years!
That rings alarm bells – not only because they might not work with your set up (see above) but also means that the support may not be there if something goes wrong.
Go for a plugin that’s updated regularly/recently – again, this will be seen clearly if you source a plugin from within your website using the process above.
Installing additional functionality onto your website shouldn’t be a scary prospect. It can be an incredibly easy way to get some super cool features into your site to really enhance the visitor experience. Do you have a favourite WordPress plugin? Let me know below in the comments.
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