By: Chad Bell
As powerful and full featured as WordPress is in its default configuration, sometimes you need a little (or a lot) more. Fortunately, the WordPress community offers a huge array of plugins to expand its functionality. Even as an experienced developer, I am constantly amazed by the scope of what are available. Almost every time we have needed to extend WordPress in some sort of special configuration, I have found a plugin that does the job. In some cases, the plugin will require a little extra coding to get it exactly right, but it’s usually at least 90% there. Currently, there are about 14,000 (and counting) plugins available.
In this article, I will go over a few of the more useful plugins that we keep coming back to for new projects. This, of course, doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface, but will provide a good overview of all that WordPress plugins offer.
Establishing your visibility on Google is essential for any website and the SEO All in One SEO Pack plugin helps make sure that happens. While it won’t perform miracles, it will leverage the content you provide to its maximum capacity. What’s great is that while this plugin works great freshly installed, it also offers a wide range of options for advanced users to dig into.
Just like being found on Google, maintaining a strong presence on social networks and giving users the opportunity to share your content with others is equally, if not more in some cases, essential. Covering all the great social networking plugins would be a series of articles in itself, but for now, I will touch on a few of my favorites.
You might have noticed that most sites these days have a string of social network icons on the header or sidebar linking to the site’s presence on the these site.
The Follow-Me plugin utilizes a simple interface for adding icons and gives you several options for presenting them. It includes all the popular icons of almost every social media platform you would want, but if for some reason you don’t find exactly what you need, you can always create customized icons with some basic programming skills.
Add This and Share This
These tools allow users to share or post your content on their own social network accounts.
Studies have shown that word-of-mouth is the most effective method of promotion to consumers:
67% of all consumer decisions are primarily influenced by word of mouth (McKinsey)
90% of all consumers identify word-of-mouth as the best, most reliable, and trustworthy source (NOP World)
On product recommendations, 65% of consumers trust their friends, but only 14% trust advertisers! (Yankleovich)
It’s not surprising to hear that people trust their friends’ recommendations the most. So as long as you create compelling content, these share plugins will make proselytizing easier. If you sign up for optional accounts with either of these services, they will provide you with metrics of how often each article is shared and to which platforms.
There are plenty of platforms dedicated to eCommerce such as such as Zen Cart and Prestashop. Unfortunately, they are often not suitable for anything but that. For integrating an online store alongside a blog and other dynamic content hosted by WordPress, WP e-Commerce by by GetShopped is the way to go. The free version is very powerful and full featured on its own but GetShopped also offers additional functionality through purchased add-ons for advanced payment processing, special presentation options such as a product slider, and much more.
The plugins that are offered can extend WordPress to do almost anything you can imagine. I have touched on a few that I feel are most beneficial.
What plugins have worked or not worked for you?