I love WordPress plugins. I know it might be geeky to say so, you may think I need to get a life but these little mini applications get me excited.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with plugins they are add-ons that make your site more feature rich. For example, we have a plugin for this site that lets us easily add banners to the bottom of our blog posts. (XYZ Html). We also have a neat one for the social sharing buttons. Sumome.
I’m always on the look out for new plugins, ones that are better than the ones we currently use or ones that take up less space. I spoke to six Irish bloggers and asked them to tell me about their favourite plugins. Here are their recommendations.
One warning, before you go plugin mad note that having a lot of plugins on your site can make your website load slowly so don’t go overboard.
Sian Phillips – Tweak Your Biz
As the Managing Editor for Tweak Your Biz I find the Yoast SEO plugin makes my job a lot easier. It’s very simple to use with an easy layout plus it makes you think about the SEO too.
Obviously it’s very important that the SEO on our posts work well so we can get our contributors seen and found easily. For non SEO people Yoast makes it very simple to learn what needs to be done to optimise your post properly.
The page analysis is perfect for our writers to check how their post reads and the suggestions for improving the SEO are really easy to follow. On Tweak Your Biz we also use the advanced feature for when we republish content from our Publisher Channel Content partners, making use of the Canonical URL box.
Beatrice Whelan – Sage
Do you share contents from your WordPress site to Twitter? How does your tweet looks in Twitter when you are sharing your blog/post link? Twitter cards are summaries of the content you are linking to that appear under a tweet (see below).
This is where Twitter cards come in. By using this plugin you can automatically have a Twitter card for each blog post. Anything that increases the shareability of your blog posts is a great addition.
Remember to choose your plugins based on popularity and version comparability to ensure blog security and to be confident it will work. Only add the plugins you need. Every plugin increases the loading time of every page on your blog.
Gerry Walsh – MensSheds.ie
I get a great kick out of the events plugin I use on our Mens Sheds site. The plug in is called Events Calendar Pro, its powerful addition to Menssheds.ie.
It add’s a Google map to the event which is dead handy for people travelling any distance to find out where the event is on. Because we often have events at different location’s we can choose to use a previous location or create a new location.
It great being able to set how much tickets would cost and provides a link to where people can get tickets if there is a charge to the event being organised.
From the front end of the website, events created can easily be added to Google calendars.
Susan Fitzgerald – Vibrant Ireland
I’m brutal at WordPress! It just isn’t intuitive to me, but I like having control over my design, and in the past I’ve changed/added things rather frequently. I need expert help in this; Ken at Event Media has been my godsend. He’s SO patient & helpful. Last year he added my favourite WordPress plug-in, WPBakery Visual Composer, so I could set up different pages layouts myself. It was so easy, especially after my previous hours of frustration! I may not have done anything super fancy with it, but I was chuffed that I could do it quickly, myself. And it’s simple to make changes later. I’ll use their blurb to explain what it does:
“A drag and drop page builder for WordPress. Take full control over your WordPress site, build any layout you can imagine – no programming knowledge required. Add columns/elements with single click, then use your mouse to drag elements around to re-arrange them.”
Check out vc.wpbakery.com for more information. This is certainly a plug-in to consider if you can’t code.
Kate McQuillan – Pet Sitters Ireland
I have been blogging now for the last 5 years and coming up with content was always something that I did on a spreadsheet or in a notebook. That meant I would have a table of ideas and dates when I was planning to publish them. It was time-consuming and not very easy to share with other people working on content for us.
I love using the WordPress Editorial Calendar as it means you can see all the content you have published in a month and what is scheduled for which days. It also allows me to add the titles in for the month ahead that we are going to create blogs about, and both myself and my assistant can see what we have coming up.
It’s also easy to drag and drop scheduled blog posts to a different date if you decide you want to publish them on a different day. You can also immediately see if there is a gap in the content for the month. It’s a free plugin, but I would be happy to pay for it as its made planning my content much easier and more efficient. It’s super easy to install and you can be up and running with it straight away.
Simon Lewis – Anseo.net
I’ve been using WordPress for about 8 years so to pick my favourite plugin is as difficult as picking my favourite song – it really depends on the context and the genre of the web site. Over the years, I have developed close to a dozen blogs in WordPress, but lately, I’ve noticed, while there are lots of good free plugins, the real power comes with a small amount of expense.
Gravity Forms is my go to plugin for any kind of work with forms. While it isn’t free, it allows me to create extremely powerful forms that allow my readers to contribute posts to my web site and even as a job application form. Gravity Forms can tie beautifully with other plugins such as Woocommerce and I’d highly recommend it.
In the last couple of years, sliders have become an essential part of a blog. I’ve tried out various ones and they are generally all pretty good but I really like LayerSlider WP. It is really easy to use and comes with a Parallax Effect generator and over 200 transitions.