One of my favorite things about WordPress is how extendable it is. As I’m writing, there are currently 43,739 plugins available in the official directory, and, if you can’t find what you’re looking for there, you can always make it yourself. So, what plugins do we think are must-haves? Here’s our pick of 10 of them.
No self-hosted WordPress installation is complete without Jetpack, which brings all sorts of WordPress.com features to your personal blog or company website. You can build custom contact forms, display your portfolio, keep track of site’s stats, and automatically connect to the most popular social media sites. And that’s just a few of the 35 or so features Jetpack has to offer.
When they say ‘All In One,’ they really mean it. AIOSEOP is the Swiss Army Knife of SEO plugins, and allows you to manage individual posts, pages, and even custom post types. It also lets you verify your site with Google’s Webmaster Tools and Bing’s Webmaster Central, add the Google Analytics code to your header, and even build XML sitemaps for submission to search engines.
So, if you feel confused by all of the options the All In One SEO Pack has to offer, then Yoast SEO is the plugin for you. While the first focuses on those who already have a good grasp of Search Engine Optimization, Yoast is much more friendly to those still learning about SEO, and includes a powerful page analysis tool to help you write better content, and make your site more friendly to search engines.
It isn’t a secret that WordPress is frequently targeted by people wanting to do bad things; that’s what happens when you’re the most widely used content management system. While there are many security plugins out there, Wordfence is our choice, because it’s powerful and, once configured, will take care of most issues before you even get the chance to check on them.
There are almost as many backup plugins as there are opinions on which WordPress backup plugin is the best. Our choice is BackWPUp, because it’s easy to configure (even for those not that technically inclined), and can store your backups on remote FTP servers, Dropbox, have them sent to you via email, and many more.
Another great plugin by the folks that brought you WordPress in the first place. Akismet helps keep your blog spam free by running any new comments through their servers, and automatically marking the spammy ones as spam. It requires an API key, but for personal blogs, it’s free, provided you have fewer than 50,000 comment attempts a month. For a professional account, the cost starts at just $5.
One of the drawbacks of using WordPress is that serving the complicated PHP files takes more time (and more server resources) than a static HTML file. WP Super Cache takes some load off of your server by building a static HTML file for the dynamic PHP pages. Once a period of time of your choosing passes, the static page will be dropped and refreshed. It’s a good compromise between static and dynamic.
It happens to the best of databases: over time, they gather extra lines of information that will never be useful again, causing them to slow down bit by bit. WP-Optimize takes that less-than-perfect database and cleans it back up again, improving performance, reducing space, and keeping WordPress generally happy.
Posts and pages sometimes come and go, leaving search engines guessing as to where to go when it can’t find something. Safe Redirect Manager gives them a bit of direction, in case you move, or completely remove, anything from your website.
OK, WordPress Importer isn’t something we keep installed on all of our WordPress sites, but it’s one of those that, when you need it, you really need it. It allows you to take a WordPress export file, and pull all of the posts, pages, categories, tags, and media files (or basically anything you need) into a new WordPress installation. Great for when you need a sandbox to test out theme or plugin development.
Well, there you have it: our 10 must-have WordPress plugins. What plugins do you find the most useful?
It’s a pretty good day when you see something you created featured in the local news:
The Belmont County Sheriff’s Office is unveiling the county’s ‘Most Wanted’ list.
Sheriff Dave Lucas implemented a new feature on their website – a place where you can easily find who’s most wanted.
“Just go to belmontsheriff.com. Go over to the information tab, and you’ll find the wanted,” Lucas said. “And you’ll see a list of wanted people you’re looking for, and we’ll keep adding to that.”
The Wanted List is powered by a WordPress plug-in created by 10T Web Design specifically for the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office. It allows officers to add pictures and basic information for people on their wanted list directly to their website, without the need to know anything about designing web pages.
It is one of several plug-ins we’ve created for their website, which we also design and help manage. Others allow them to list properties for their monthly Sheriff Sales and help to keep the people of Belmont County aware of the winter road conditions, both of which are managed by members of their staff.
Looking forward to continuing to work with the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office, who have been a client of 10T Web Design almost since we came into being.
With the folks over at WordPress getting ready to release the latest and greatest version, I’ve been taking it for a test drive to check out some of the new features.
There has been a lot of arguing back and forth about Focus Mode, but, personally, the improvement on ‘Distraction Free Writing’ is my favorite feature in the new release. I love distraction free in WordPress, but find it cumbersome to keep turning on and off. Now, you can set it to activate and deactivate automatically whenever you start typing or move the mouse. No need to turn it on and off.
Another nice new feature is the ‘Visual’ image mode. For new users, one of the least intuitive tasks to complete in WordPress was getting your images aligned the way you wanted them. With Visual Mode, clicking on an image will provide you with a floating menu that allows you to quickly change where the image is positioned in the post. You can also open up an edit dialog to change the image’s size, too. I thought that the previous method of aligning images was fine, and wasn’t initially excited when I heard about this change, but after having tried it out, I have to admit it’s handy.
One of the great things about WordPress is how many different languages it’s been translated into, but it’s always been a pain to install language packs. With WordPress 4.1, language packs can be installed directly from the settings page; all you need is the proper write permissions (which, chances are, you have), and installing a new language is a breeze.
Developers will find some new fun stuff, too, including improvements to the Query classes; the updates allow for nested queries based on date, metadata, or taxonomy. For example, if you had posts with ‘author’ and ‘genre’ metadata assigned to them, the following would grab all Horror by Stephen King and Tragedy by William Shakespeare:
$query = new WPQuery( array( 'metaquery' => array( 'relation' => 'OR', array('relation' => 'AND', array('key' => 'author', 'value' => 'Stephen King'), array('key' => 'genre', 'value' => 'Horror') ), ), array('relation' => 'AND', array('key' => 'author', 'value' => 'William Shakespeare'), array('key' => 'genre', 'value' => 'Tragedy') ) ) ) );
Also worth mentioning is the release of the latest default theme, Twenty Fifteen. It is a blog-first design, featuring Google’s Noto Serif font, which displays nicely with a variety of language and devices. Very nice and clean; screenshots can be found here.
And that’s about it. Overall, a nice release, but no doubt some will find more use for the changes than other. I especially like that there are good improvements for both new users and seasoned developers. The 4.1 release candidate was released on the 11th; WordPress 4.1 is expected to ship on Tuesday, December 16th.