There are thousands of WordPress plugins out there and below are a list of plugins that will enhance your website with faster load times, added customized forms, social media share features, enhanced search features, and more search engine optimization (SEO) tools. There are new options popping up every day so feel free to contact us about which is the latest or recommend one that you like.
Social Media Plugins
A quick and easy way to add a little more interaction to your WordPress website is with social share buttons. ShareThis lets you select between several different button styles and can automatically add these buttons to your pages and/or posts. If you want to really get fancy with your social media share buttons, try Digg Digg which adds a floating bar next to your posts that always remains visible as you scroll down the page. Also feel free to read our article on How to Integrate your WordPress posts with Facebook and Twitter so that you can save time and money in automatically updating your posts on your social network sites.
There are many free contact form plugins but they sometimes require knowledge of code, like Contact Form 7. But if you want to EASILY set up your own custom forms, we recommend Gravity Forms which costs $39/personal site and far outweighs its competition in this department. It allows you to set up standard and advanced fields like file uploads, and enables you to customize your confirmation message, schedule a form’s availability, create order forms, and even utilizes conditional logic to show or hide a field based on a previous user selection. Gravity Forms also provides free plugins that allow you to hook your form up to iContact, Constant Contact, or SalesForce, but you must have a purchased license first. Check out their awesome video tutorial on the homepage!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Plugins
SEO Smart Links can automatically link keywords and phrases in your posts and comments with corresponding posts, pages, categories and tags on your blog and therefore is a great way to build Page Rank throughout your site.
SimpleReach Slide recommends related posts from within your site on a widget that “slides” in at the bottom of the page. It is the best way to help readers discover more of your content but it usually takes a day or so for their servers to index your content so just be patient for the slide to work.
There is a tiny plugin that drastically improves the usability of your search. Normally when you search a WordPress site, the search results display a list of the pages and posts where that search term appears, but it’s not clear in what context or where they appear in the page/post. With the Search Excerpt plugin, the specific excerpt is shown and the search term is highlighted. Note that there is no official plugin page for this script — you’ll need to download and install it manually. Contact Evolv if you need help!
Advanced WYSIWYG Editor Plugins
Are you unhappy with your basic WordPress WYSIWYG editor? Does your content in the editor look different from your actual webpage content? With the TinyMCE Advanced plugin, you get more advanced options like tables, subscript/superscript, special characters, spellcheck, toggle full screen, find, undo/redo, and even edit CSS styles. Also, your humble web developer can set up custom styles for you to select from a pulldown thus allowing your content to match the look of your actual webpages. This way you will truly see the meaning of the acronym WYSIWYG — What You See Is What You Get.
Decrease Load time Plugins
Sites with a lot of content or plugins installed can tend to load sluggishly, because all that awesome content you are delivering starts to add up. W3 Total Cache helps to load your pages faster by caching images and pages – similar to your browser “history/cache”. Just remember to enable the W3 Total Cache plugin AFTER your website development is complete!
Another plugin that helps control load time is Revision Control which allows you to enable/disable/limit the number of revisions saved for each page/post. (If you can’t see how many revisions you have, just edit a page/post and click on the Screen Options tab at top right corner of screen (next to Help tab) and check the box next to Revisions to enable. You will now see this section at the bottom of your page/post.)
WPtouch is a great plugin that automatically transforms your WordPress website into an application-like mobile theme, complete with ajax loading articles and effects when viewed from the most popular mobile web browsing devices, but does NOT affect your regular desktop theme. There is also a for-purchase version with more features called WPtouch Pro.
Popup Lead/Ad Generation Plugins
You may not like popups, but when it comes to generating leads Popup Domination is the best. It is a lightbox software that cost $77 and is loaded with different themes and theme options to match the look and feel of your site. If you need to grow your list subscribers, this is a good way to do it.
How to Install WordPress Plugins
When you find a plugin you like, login to your WordPress website and go to Plugins > Add New. Use the search box to find the specific plugin you’re after and install from there. If you cannot find it through search, you can install the plugin manually by following the directions on the particular plugin page or have Evolv do it for you. You may also need to click activate underneath the plugin for the plugin to start doing its job. Depending on the plugin, there may be further configuration needed. Find the individual settings for that plugin – this may be under Settings, Tools, or possibly in a new tab on your sidebar.
Don’t Go Overboard!
Once you discover all the nifty tricks that plugins can do, the temptation is to install them left and right until your plugins folder is bursting. However, the more plugins you install, the more you have to update. Plus, your site may slow down, conflicts between plugins might arise, and there will be more avenues for hackers to get through. So please be thoughtful about which plugins you need, and if you find yourself really needing dozens of plugins – well then WordPress may not be the ideal platform for your website. You may need a more complex CMS.