WordPress Plugins I Can’t live Without
I try to use as WordPress plugins as little as possible, but there are a few that are simply too good to pass up. For most of you, these are old news, but for anyone else, they’ll change the way you do things. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I launched a WordPress site with #1 & #2, and #3 is a must if you need any form of e-commerce.
Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) allows WordPress to become much more than a blogging platform. In fact, before I began using ACF, I wasn’t a big fan of WordPress as a whole. I just didn’t feel like it was flexible enough to do what I needed.
With ACF, you can make WordPress as flexible as any CMS. It allows you to add custom fields to just about anything including posts, pages, custom post types, and widget, and there are 20 field types included out of the box. Here are a few of my favorite:
- Relationship – The Relationship field is used for advance linking to another object. A use case for a relationship field might be attaching a custom post type, like a resource, as the call to action on a page.
- Repeater – The Repeater field allows you to create a field or group of fields and repeat that as many times as needed. A use case for this might be on an FAQ page where you have an arbitrary number of questions and answers.
- Flexible Content – You can do some crazy stuff with Flexible Content fields. It’s a lot like repeater except you can create different groups of fields. For example, you might create a group of fields for a full width image, a pull-quote, and a block of copy and then you can use them as many times and in any order you want.
There are a lot of SEO WordPress plugins available and many of them work very well, but I’ve not seen one that helps foster good SEO habits as well as Yoast SEO. Of course you can do all the normal SEO tasks like XML sitemaps, cleaning up permalink, and meta data, but where it really shines is with its content analysis.
Once you enter a keyword for a page or post in the meta data, the plugin tells you exactly what you need to do to improve the chances that it will rank highly. It considers things as simple as the page title to as obscure as the Flesch Readability score and tells you exactly what you can do to make it better. It also assigns a color to your post as whole (red, orange, yellow, green) so you can see you you’re doing at a glance.
WooCommerce has become my go-to e-commerce solution in WordPress. While not every site I work on has an e-commerce component, more and more do, and I always choose WooCommerce. It handles all the standard sales needs well including shipping, taxes, digital items, and payment/order processing processing and has a relatively easy to use theme/hook development system (though I think it could be a bit simpler).
Where WooCommerce sets itself apart is with the number of extensions it supports. Here are some examples I’ve used:
- UPS Shipping Extension – This extension grabs shipping costs based on weight and size from the UPS API and charges customers based on what it finds so you always have an accurate representation of what shipping will cost.
- WooCommerce Groups – With this extension, you can sell a subscription to online content. When paired with the groups plugin, you can make entire sections of the site members-only and charge for access.
- Mijireh – Mijireh because is a payment gateway that will automatically detect the look of your site and match it nearly perfectly plus it keeps me from having to buy an SSL certificate or worrying about PCI compliance so I love it.