WordPress started out as a simple blogging platform.
“Unbelievable”, one might say reading that sentence, because of where it stands today. Having grown leaps and bounds from a simple blogging platform, WordPress now stands to be one of the most powerful content management systems. Although we have a number of other CMSes, their usage requires a fair bit of technical expertise. WordPress, on the other hand, is completely WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), which helps you get things up and running really quick.
There’s a reason that websites like Time, Bata, BBC America, Walt Disney, have chosen WordPress as their CMS. This also goes to prove that no matter your business, you can always rock it with a WordPress website. WordPress has a repository of plugins for all your needs. Let’s talk a bit about them.
What are WordPress plugins?
In essence, plugins are code snippets that are required if you wish to add additional features to your WordPress website. As the name suggests, these can be plugged in, as per your use. WordPress comes with a large pool of free (as well as paid) plugins that serve a variety of purposes.
Because of the extremely rich repository of plugins that WordPress comes with, the chances are extremely bright that you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for. No matter your area of operation or the size of your organization/website, if there’s an additional functionality you want to add to your platform, you’ll find a plugin for it. The types of plugins we’re going to discuss cover all the essentials required for any online platform build on WordPress. Let’s look at the types:
Caching is one of the most important terms among website developers. When it comes to reducing the load time of your website, caching is what you require. The faster the website loads, the better will be your search engine rank, and the higher will be the influx of users on your platform. No matter the domain you operate in, having a website that loads fast is imperative in today’s world. These plugins take care of all the essential items required to ensure a faster load time of your website. There are numerous caching plugins in the WordPress repository for you to pick from. Some of the outstanding plugins, based on the number of official downloads, are W3 Total Cache, W3 Super Cache, and WP Rocket.
As a webmaster, you should be aware of where are you headed with your online platform. Without having insights such as your visitor count, most favorable region, least favorable region, etc., it’ll be difficult for you to take the correct subsequent steps. The WordPress plugins specific to your analytics needs can help you with all the relevant insight to scale and engage your website. MonsterInsight, ExactMetrics, and Google Analytics are amongst the most used analytics plugins.
3. Landing Pages
They say, “the first impression is the last impression”. To hook your visitors from the very first visit, you need to have an attractive landing page. You’re in luck because WordPress has a number of plugins to help you design an interactive and appealing landing pages that cater to almost all the needs you have. Quards, Thrive Landing, Optimize Press, Beaver Builder are among the top used landing pages plugins.
4. Chat Integration
If user interaction is what you’re aiming for, a chat integration is precisely what you need. Real-time chat has grown to become the most popular modes of communication for use cases and it’s about time you make use of it. You can, very easily, integrate a real-time chat plugin on your WordPress website. Offering features like video calling, group chat, private/public chat, and collaborative whiteboards among others. These chat plugins provide your users with the platform they need to get transparent views and hold meaningful discussions with each other. They not only enable a clear mode of communication but also ensure an engagement like never before. These real-time chat solutions, despite your domain of operation, help your users engage better. Today, many such solutions provide additional features to help your users collaborate better. The likes of a collaborative whiteboard, the ability to work on documents together in real-time and more enable your users to stay connected.
5. SEO-based Plugins
Search engines are definitely a major source of traffic for your platform. Just designing the website as per the latest trends and using a caching tool to speed it up are not enough. To ensure you are visible to your audience, you need to perform, what is known as, Search Engine Optimization. Although WordPress is known for being SEO-friendly even just “out of the box”, it’s still recommended to pick one of the thousands of plugins available to turn your platform into an SEO powerhouse. Some of such plugins, depending on their usability and preference among developers, include Yoast WordPress SEO, SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool.io.
6. Subscription Forms
The importance of building a mailing list cannot be overstated. After all, that’s the way you can directly reach out to your users with any offers or other information that you might have for them. For building a solid mailing list out of your platform, you require subscriptions forms. These are forms that generally pop-up when your user lands on your website – prompting them to subscribe to your mailing list to stay updated. There are various WordPress plugins that help you create, maintain, and manage such mailing lists. Some of the most downloaded subscription form plugins include OptinMonster, Leadpages, ConvertPlug WordPress Plugin, and Opt-in Panda.
7. Backup Plugins
Creating routine backups of your platform is a recommended step. Backups are what save you if, god forbid, your platform gets hacked, or even if you accidentally lock yourself out of the dashboard. Thankfully, WordPress plugins have got you covered here. These plugins are fairly easy to use and take control of creating routinely backups of your platform. You can, then, get these backups either in your inbox or get it hosted to the cloud – depending on your preference. Based on the ease of use, some of the best backup plugins include Backup Buddy, UpdraftPlus, BackWPUp, BackUpWordPress, etc.
8. Coming soon/maintenance mode pages
If you’re in the nascent stage and have just taken your first steps towards developing the platform, you need a coming soon page. A well designed coming soon page allows you to market your platform even before it’s live. Users can visit the URL to know what you’re all about, and you can even add a subscription form to the landing page to help them join your mailing list. Even if you aren’t in a completely nascent stage, you still might require a maintenance plugin. Especially if you’re overhauling some features on your website and would want your visitors to know that the site’s going through maintenance. Again, it helps with your SEO rankings and also keeps your users in the loop. Some of the best plugins, in terms of the design options and customizability they provide, include Minimal Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode, Maintenance, Easy Coming Soon, EZP Coming Soon Page, etc.
But there’s a little catch when it comes to WordPress and its plugins. With so many options available, you’ll often find yourself confused. That brings us to the next important question:
How to pick the best plugin for your website?
To help you with that, let’s look at some things you might want to consider before picking the plugin for your WordPress website:
It is important to ensure that the plugin seamlessly integrates with your website. You should be able to modify a single configuration file as per your site structure with no modifications to your site code.
Customization is of utmost importance when you talk about user engagement – and isn’t that the topmost priority for any organization? By customization, we mean features that should not only speak out to your audience but also blend in well with your website and your offerings. The plugin you should select should be customizable as per your needs and requirements.
The plugin of your choice should provide ample administrative tools for your perusal. These tools give you the options of easily playing around with your plugin without it affecting the rest of your site. Ideally, the administrative tools should allow you to view, analyze, gather insights from activity logs and give you ample amount of control over each and every feature of the plugin.
Features that you need
In all honesty, when it comes to real-time chat, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that you can follow and get away with. Your users will change depending on the industry you operate in, and so will their demography, interests, requirements, and other essential things. Knowing that you should provide features that fit their needs well, and you should look for a plugin that offers similar features. For instance, if you operate an e-learning or a dating platform, you cannot do without a one-on-one chat feature – so, having that in your plugin is imperative. If, on the other hand, you’re involved in a gaming platform, it’s better to have open chat forums wherein users can participate and discuss.
Creating a community where people are constantly engaged is a tough task, but WordPress and the various plugins it provides make it a lot easier. Suited for most of your needs, these plugins help transform your online platform into something much more superior, and hence of more use to your visitors.
So now that you have an idea of the benefits of WordPress and how to go about with the WordPress plugins, why don’t you go all guns blazing and pick the best plugins for your need?