As a web developer who specializes in WordPress blog design, I have had an on-going love hate relationship with plugins and how they can easily help/hurt enhance interactivity on your blog.
They make your sidebar come alive, and can make or break your site’s overall appearance.
The Pros Of WordPress Plugins:[custom_list style="list-2"]
- 90% of all WordPress plug-ins are totally free and easy to download and install right from within your dashboard.
- You can find a plug-in for almost anything.
- They save you massive amounts of time and money since your not having to hire a programmer to make them for you. Withing seconds your site can be loaded with awesome extras to encourage more user click-ability.
- They can be easily deleted and in many cases you can find multiple versions of the same feature your trying to install, there are over 19,000 free WordPress plug-ins to chose from. Go to the official Plugin Directory to see them all.
The Cons Of WordPress Plugins: There aren’t many cons. When you think about the work and dedication that the authors of these free plug-ins put into their work, it’s hard to find room for complaining, especially since they are totally free. The few things that does make the “hate” part of my relationship with plug-ins possible are the following:[custom_list style="list-2"]
- If your looking for reliable speedy support for these free plug-ins I’d say it’s a 50% chance you’d ever get a response from them. In most cases, the authors make it clear that there isn’t support for these plugins, but some are nice enough to create forums for their plug-ins and this allows others to answer questions if the actual plugin developer is not taking support questions.
- You will run into the dreaded nightmare of finally finding the perfect plug-in that works exactly how you need it to only to find out when you install it, it’s not compatible with the newest version of WordPress.
- Have too many plugins installed at once can cause major problems with your blogs layout and can even create dead pages and error messages. You will know the moment you activate it and refresh your live site page. Sometimes your not able to even get back into your dashboard. If that happens, it’s always best to FTP your way in and delete the plugin from there.
My top 5 Most Useful Plugin List
Google XML Sitemaps – Every site should have this plugin. I highly recommend to use this one carefully and make sure your comfortable with all the settings you choose since these configurations are VERY important for your site search-ability. There is alot of great documentation about this plugin, so if your unfamiliar about sitemaps but know you need one, this one is great.
Contact Form 7
If your in need of a simple, easy to use contact form, them you cannot go wrong with Contact Form 7. This plugin is so easy it would be hard to see how you can not get it right. It has great documentation on how to use it right on the download page.
Page Links To
This plug-in is super easy and no frills. It makes life very simple if you want to direct an entire page or post to another web site or url on your site. On the WordPress.org site, the description states
This plugin allows you to make a WordPress page or post link to a URL of your choosing, instead of its WordPress page or post URL. It also will redirect people who go to the old (or “normal”) URL to the new one you’ve chosen.
And guess what? That is exactly what it does. It’s lightweight and works well with other plug-ins!
I LOVE this plugin like a family pet. Gone are the days of WordPress circa 2007 when you used to have to add html image codes in your text widget to get images in your sidebar. Now you can simply drag this amazing widget into your sidebar and directly upload the image from the widget itself! You can also link out that widget to whatever url you chose. This is also a great easy solution for for ad placements. I’ve used this plugin for years and it seems to work with every version of WordPress so far.
This plugin is in a league of it’s own. If your looking to take your site to the next level you should read up on this. This plugin requires private servers to work at it’s most optimal. They say you can use it on shared servers which is true, but I have learned from my personal experience working with buddypress that private servers are the most reliable option. The official description of BuddyPress from WordPress.org
BuddyPress lets users register on your site and start creating profiles, posting messages, making connections, creating and interacting in groups and much more. A social network in a box, BuddyPress lets you build a social network for your company, school, sports team or niche community.
Please remember that plugins can sometimes not be compatible with newer versions of WordPress. The great thing about WordPress is that it updates frequently. Unfortunately this can cause older plugins to simply not work and then the back and forth search for the perfect fit continues. Overall, most plug-ins get the job done, and in my opinion makes life tremendously easier.