5 Plugins that will help kick start your WordPress project

Using WordPress plugins can be invaluable when building a website for yourself or your business. They provide extended functionality to the basic content management system (CMS) that can be extremely powerful and save you a lot of time.

Category: Reviews | Read time: 10 minutes

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I have been working with WordPress for four years on many different projects. I have found these five plugins the perfect solution to help build up my projects.

1. Yoast

Yoast - Adding Meta data

Yoast, is a search engine optimisation (SEO) tool. According to WordPress.com, it has “5+ million active installations” on its platform.

The interface has plenty of different tools to utilise. Varying from beginners right through to more technical SEO work. The easy to use interfaces make using this plugin easier.

It allows you to add:

  • Meta titles, meta descriptions, meta keywords
  • Open graph for social media channel sharing.
  • Breadcrumb menu for your whole website
  • Management of the robots.txt file (Blocking pages from search engine crawlers). It also allows you to edit the .htaccess file
  • Configuring the different XML sitemaps for images, posts, pages etc.

When adding SEO meta data to pages and posts it has a live preview feature. This means you can edit it to see what it would like in Google’s search index.

As well as the SEO tools it also scans posts and pages to provide your feedback on readability and SEO. It then provides recommendations on how you can improve your content. It uses a traffic light system to mark good and bad pages for SEO and readability.

Check out Yoast

2. Ninja Forms

Configuring Ninja Forms

This plugin provides the functionality to build forms. Allowing you to receive and store enquiries through your website. Through the drag-and-drop interface you are able to configure the form.

There are different types of fields you can use to build up your form. There is a premium version called Ninja Forms Pro. They have different payment plans if you need more complex forms. For simple contact page forms, I would recommend the free version. As it stores submissions, it does provide you with a backup of your enquiries, which is very handy.

Check out Ninja Forms

3. WooCommerce

Configuring WooCommerce

The perfect ecommerce solution for WordPress websites. This plugin has many features that you associate with an ecommerce website. The features include:

  • Payment integration
  • Product Database – For adding new products and new categories of products
  • Ordering Database – View new and existing orders through an easy to navigate interface
  • Coupon codes
  • Order tracking mechanism
  • Invoicing
  • Enabling different tax codes
  • Custom delivery options
  • Add to basket and checkout pages
  • Basic filtering
  • Plus many more features to experiment with

There are hundreds more add-ons for this plugin. Free and paid plugins are available with varying costs depending on the functionality. Out of the box this is a worthy contender for a brilliant ecommerce solution.

Check out WooCommerce

4. Advanced Custom Fields

WordPress.com was built on the foundations of being a blogging platform. In recent times I have been using this plugin to help extend the WordPress interface. This help make my websites more client friendly when it comes to maintaining pages.

Advanced Custom Fields

Being able to make custom fields, means you can separate blocks to make the pages easier to maintain. You have the ability to add instructions and useful labels for each field. It is up to you how you want to layout the structure within the interface.

You are able to select different field types for each field depending on the content and layout you have. There are particular conditions you can target. Ie. Blog page templates, category pages or even a specific template. Then when adding new content the structure you have created will appear.

This makes a huge difference to my client. With his website it removes the complexity, which as this hidden within the template.

I used this a lot on the Akeman Benefice website project. Having structures ensures the portfolio items are all consistent in style.

Check out Advanced Custom Fields

5. Compress JPEG & PNG images by TinyPNG

This plugin compresses the image and ensures image quality is still high. This tool once configured will compress images on upload. It does have a feature to go through your whole library and compress images. It is completely free.

Starting from July 2018, page speed will be a major ranking factor in mobile search. One of the key issues with page speed issues can occur when images are not resized before upload. The browser can resize the image to fit the window but this can only occur when the image downloads. When on mobile the images need to display as quick as possible. 

There are many different tools out there to resize images to set dimension sizes. I have used Adobe PhotoShop, Gimp image editor and Pixlr Editor. The last two being free solutions.

Check out Compress JPEG & PNG images by TinyPNG

What you should consider before installing any plugins

There are many plugins that you can use for your website but it is important to check for compatibility. Some plugins can be dormant for long periods of time so be careful. These can have security flaws that could leave your website vulnerable.

Check out my WordPress support service if you would like some support with the upkeep of your site.