As a person who started my web-designing days coding HTML by hand, I have to tell you – I love WordPress. It’s simple, visual, intuitive and, my favorite part – offers a ton of functionality without a need to code.
Most of the WordPress functionality comes from the theme you install on your site, but, if you need even more bells and whistles, that’s where the plugins come in.
We call this magic the Plugins.
Plugins are small packaged pieces of code you install on your WordPress site by:
- Clicking Plugins on your left side menu bar of your WordPress Dashboard when in Admin mode
- Clicking on Add New
- Entering functionality (for example SEO or pop-up) in the Search Plugins search bar on the upper right
- Scrolling through the offerings and picking the one that looks good (usually the one with the most 5 star ratings)
- Clicking on Install Now button next to that plugin
- After the installation is done, Clicking on Activate Plugin
- Going into setup menu for the plugin and updating the settings
I will cover a detailed install of a plugin in another post, but in this post I want to highlight the first 5 plugins that you need to get onto your WordPress site as soon as it’s installed.
Offers a superb protection from spam, weird comments, trash that people are trying to post into your comments, etc.
Often, Akismet comes as a part of your WordPress install. If not, once you install the Akismet plugin you need to register and activate it with Akistmet’s website. Here is a good “how-to” on doing it. Akismet offers free activation for individuals and a low-cost activation for businesses.
2. Contact Form 7
A super easy way to create the fields that go onto your Contact Us page. As soon as it is installed, it gives you one single line of code to place onto your blank Contact Us page and voila, all the necessary form fields appear. By default, you get Name, Email, Subject and Message fields. This plugin is free. See how to install it here.
3. Monster Insights Analytics
Once installed in your WordPress and connected to your Google Analytics account, this plugin allows you to look at your visitor stats right on your WordPress admin dashboard. This plugin offers a lot of functionality for free, but there are premium versions if you are interested in advanced functionality.
4. WordPress SEO by Yoast
An excellent tool that brings the power of SEO to your site by use of simple forms that guide you and explain everything. In addition, as you write your blog posts, the WordPress SEO by Yoast checks your post and advises you on how good SEO is in it. It gives you details on any issues you have or improvements you can make to your work to raise its chances of ranking higher in search engines. This plugin offers global site settings as well as local post settings. The plugin is free, but also offers a premium version for more advanced functionality.
5. SumoMe for email list
SumoMe offers a variety of products for your blog/website management. Here, I specifically recommend an email-gathering pop-up plugin. Once installed on your WordPress site and connected to email provider of your choice (Mailchimp or Aweber, for example), this plugin will start gathering the email addresses of those who want to sign up for your email list. SumoMe offers different pricing structures. The most basic option that gathers only the email address is available for free and you can control the color of the button and the text of the popup. If you want to be able to add Name field or any other bells and whistles, you will need to upgrade to higher cost plan.
These are just 5 plugins that you can use on your WordPress site.