WordPress, by itself, is an extremely powerful content management system that has powered over 34% of the internet in 2019. The user friendliness and developer friendliness of WordPress have catapulted it into a position of being perhaps the most important CMS to hit the web. However, just because WordPress is so dominant by itself doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take things one step further.
Plugins are a way of supercharging WordPress into doing exactly what you need beyond just making a simple blog. From your WordPress administrative panel, you can add plugins to your site that can automatically handle site infrastructure & security, make image files smaller, turn WordPress into a full e-commerce site, or much more.
At Chase Design, we use all of the most important plugins in our web design process to create top of the line sites for our clients. Today, we’re sharing our list of the best plugins that we utilize to stay at the top of our craft.
Yoast SEO / Rank Math
Yoast SEO is most often referred to as “The #1 WordPress SEO Plugin” – a title that this plugin definitely deserves. Through the Yoast plugin, you can “edit” the way that Google identifies, reads, and presents your site’s pages to give you the maximum visibility and effectiveness on Google’s search engine.
Through just a small amount of setup and configuration, your site can go from non-existent on Google to an SEO superstar.
However, Yoast isn’t the only game in town any more. Rank Math is a fantastic option that offers some additional control and a friendly setup without all of the advertising. At Chris Chase Design we use both but are more and more happy with the additional control that we find with Rank Math.
Remember, proper SEO takes quality research, great content and requires you to become part or your industries digital ecosystem. It takes time, but an optimized site starts with the capabilities provided by these plugins and can give you a nice head start.
WP Smush / Tiny PNG
How many times have you found a website that loads images too slowly? Maybe you are on a site to buy something but you just don’t want to wait for a picture of it to load in three minutes.
WP Smush is the easiest way to make sure that your website loads its images fast. WP Smush works by – well – smushing the file size of your images to the smallest amount possible so that the internet has to send less information to create the same picture for your user. With this plugin installed, this process is as simple as one click.
Tiny PNG is another image compression technology with a web version and also a plugin to consider. They offer an API to connect to for bulk image optimization that can handle years of large image files in an efficient way.
For more on image optimization technology for wordpress, check out this great article on WP Beginner.
Speaking of site speed, why not get the whole page to load as fast as possible?
With a caching engine, your site can be as quick as the best sites on the web. Caching is a process that tells your user’s computer to save a few files for the next time that your website wants to use them. That way, you don’t have to wait for the internet to send them because they are already right there on your visitor’s computer.
With W3C Total Cache installed, you can be the site that your visitors come to and say “Woah, that was quick.”
Defending your website from the dangers that may lurk in the dark corners of the internet is an absolute must. This is where the Wordfence plugin comes in to save the day.
This plugin provides second layer security auditing, firewall tools, malware scanning, two-factor authentication, integrated firewalling, and live traffic tooling immediately upon installation. Honestly, sometimes it’s difficult to believe how powerful this software is when you browse its reports to see how much bad traffic is being blocked by Wordfence – and completely for free.
CPT UI / Advanced Custom Fields
Customizing your wordpress design and creating new types of data sets with custom post types allows you to interconnect information and group it effectively for users. Using the Custom Post Type UI plugin allows you to more efficiently create post types for specific types of information and when paired with Advance Custom Fields it can supercharge your customizations in the backend to make future page creation more manageable.
Really Simple SSL
SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” and, as a simplistic explanation, provides a way for your site to communicate with the rest of the internet safely. This plugin makes installing an SSL certificate for your site as simple as a few clicks.
This is important because modern browsers display a website’s SSL information with a “SECURE” or “NOT SECURE” status right at the top of a user’s screen. Most website visitors know to navigate away from a site that isn’t secure so make sure that you maintain your brand’s trustworthiness with your visitors with the Really Simple SSL plugin.
Once you have a site into the live phase, it might be risky to make some adjustments to the site’s code or fiddle with plugins while it is up and running. For this reason, Duplicator was created to give you a copy of your website that only you know about.
This way, you can play with your site and try out improvements without the danger of crashing your live website while your visitors want to see it. And, when you do crash it on accident, you won’t lose traffic or confuse your visitors.
Want to sell stuff online? Perhaps the best way is creating a WordPress website and installing WooCommerce right on top of it.
WooCommerce provides a whole suite of features that let anyone post products, make sales, and collect profits through the marvel of the internet. It’s interface mimics what WordPress users already know and love so that using WooCommerce feels natural and simple. Additionally, WooCommerce is created and maintained by a dedicated team that lets you focus on making sales instead of messing with your website.
When jumping into the world of online sales, it’s important that you choose a shopping cart that is widely supported, easy to setup and doesn’t require massive maintenance efforts. Woocommerce checks all of those boxes.
While many businesses are leaning towards a fully managed shopping cart like Shopify, woocommerce offers all the benefits of wordpress while providing a robust ecommerce solution.
Sell digital products, drop ship from other vendors or sell your own products out of your own inventory. Woocommerce allows wordpress users to easily sell their products anywhere in the world.
WPBakery Page Builder / Elementor
Some WordPress users find that creating pages and posts with the built-in WordPress editor is a bit difficult. This is where WPBakery Page Builder comes to the rescue.
Through a drag-and-drop interface, you can create a custom, high design, and professional page that will wow visitors. The page builder features templates (for speed) and individual elements (for specificity) that let you customize your page into the exact look that you desire with minimum effort. It’s very important to choose a page builder that is going to work for you for the long term since it can be extremely difficult to migrate to a different page builder without redesigning each unique page. Elements are also unique to each system, so that can cause further issues when making a change.
A very popular option for a page builder is WP Bakery. It offers the ability to utilize a full front end builder, a wide range of elements, add-ons to extend the abilities and a huge number of templates to choose from. It works with any theme and will get you up and running quickly. However, it can be somewhat buggy and it will be very important to test for conflicts with other plugins extensively.
Elementor is a great option as well and provides you with a wide array of one page elements templates and integrations. It is also great for woocommerce product and category page customizations. If you are looking at building out an ecommerce wordpress site that has a heavy content focus, consider elementor to handle both facets of your efforts. We suggest giving Elementor a serious look as it makes creating beautiful new pages easier and faster.
Mailchimp for WP
If you are familiar with Mailchimp, you know just how vital email campaigning is to creating a successful business in 2019 and beyond. If you don’t know about Mailchimp yet, do your business a favor and learn about it.
The Mailchimp for WP plugin creates a connection from your website to Mailchimp so that your visitors can sign up for your emailing lists and start receiving your communications. With a longer email list, your business is bound to have a larger following.
When you are making changes to your site architecture, changing pages, or migrating, you need to take SEO and usability into consideration. The main component to doing that is creating redirects to new relevant pages. Redirection provides a stable place for you to control the redirects that would normally be hardcoded into your .htaccess file.
If you know how to write mod rewrites and are confident that you won’t take down your entire site then working in the .htaccess file is probably the best place to handle those things. However, for the vast majority of wordpress users, Redirection takes much of the risk out and offers a more straight forward approach to keeping users going to the right pages and keeping your SEO rankings intact.
Like we said, WordPress is a truly remarkable platform for creating a website that can do much more than be “just a blog.” Through the right combination of plugins, you can create a one-of-a-kind experience for your website that can rival even the most customized solutions around the web.
To find out more about what WordPress can do for you, contact Chase Design about your web development project.