This was originally intended to be a top ten list, however, Looking at my own sites I realized that I didn’t even run 10 plugins or extensions on a website. I didn’t realize that until I went to write the article. I was shocked at first because I used to install tons of extensions with gadgets clients would never use, I probably never did either. Now, I look at client needs and server capabilities so I only install the necessary functionality. I like to keep it simple so that problems & conflicts are few, rare and much easier to handle if they even arise. This is my simple list of quality extensions I consider to be core components to most site builds.
A Little Cash Goes A Long Way In The Software World
I like to use licensed software. The advantage you gain from using licenced commercial extensions on your business site are many. I only use what I consider to be the best extensions for my clients & using the best extensions from some of the largest companies helps give me and my clients security and confidence. The bottom line is, I feel like I have a whole team of programmers dedicated to making sure individual aspects of my website are being coded and cared for with greater precision than I could achieve alone.
These companies are dedicated to specific extensions, focused. These businesses who create extension, software publishers, blow my mind with the sweet integrations and functionality they dream up. The flexibility they give you in how new features are implemented is surreal and you can be sure it’s well coded. For the most part I’ve found that professional software companies who build the best extensions for the largest content management systems dream up things far craftier than I’d have imagined or actually sat down to elegantly code myself. They look great on both the back-end as well as the front-end.
In many cases, if you’re running a small business, the single site license for common and powerful extensions are reasonably priced but in most cases, free version of software are simple and elegant short term solutions to the functionality you need to get business done. Personally, I love all the bells and whistles of the paid version for most extensions. I have this thing about being sure my clients have a Ferrari.
Not a Guide To Grill Your Webmaster
There’s a saying we have in the web development industry. These are basically simple suggestions on how to make your website better.
“Code is Poetry”
If you have a webmaster and you’re happy with his results you probably have a webmaster that is already implementing most or all of these pieces of functionality in one way or another. I just want to list some of the most elegant solutions I’ve found to perform otherwise complex integrations that are common to most websites. All content managment systems have different ways of handling the things I list. All content managment systems have their own sets of leading extension publishers, both paid and free.
Here we go…
Back That $%&T UP… with Back WP Up!
I’ve use more than one WordPress Backup Plugin and I feel like BackWPUP has been the most reliable free back-up solution. My favorite integration is through Dropbox. Using the dropbox upload integration feature of this plugin allows me to upload a backup of my clients websites to a shared folder within dropbox giving clients the added security of seeing those backups in the folder and having access to them. It’s a trust issue.
Track That $%&T UP… with Google Analytics for WordPress!
Forgive me, I can’t help myself. I once heard a google analytics advocate declare that neglecting to use goals in Google Analytics Tracking is a crime against humanity. Google Analytics For WordPress is another extension by Yoast that I trust. The thing I like most about this is that it allows me to use custom variables to filter out myself, as an account administrator and any other logged-in users so I can be certain the data I’m looking at is representative of actual site traffic as opposed to traffic by the people working on and obsessing over the website. This gives me a much more accurate representation of where I stand with a site.
Organically Toast The Competition with Yoast
You can find out all about Yoast at the Yoast Website. They publish two extensions on this list, both geared towards analytics and tracking. They’re a company I trust, their plugins have never caused me headaches and perform common but vitally important features like Counting Your Page Title Character length so you can be sure your snippets are appearing the way you think they are in the organic search engine results.
Wooing Your Customers or Clients
C’mon! We all have something to sell. Whether it’s your time, a handcrafted product or anything really. let me back up, if you don’t already know, WooCommerce is a free e-commerce extension for the WordPress Content Management System. WooCommerce can quickly and easily allow you to start selling items online for free and offers relatively easy payment gateway setup through paypal making getting up and running a snap. I can tell you first hand, if you build a beautiful online marketplace for your products, you will get sales online.
WooCommerce also offers a host of other extension that make the power of the free version even more robust. To name a few, there is the new Bookings extension, as well as publishers that provide their own extensions like Event Ticket Sales using WooCommerce.
Blast-Off with Tons of Sweet Integrations
I think most novice webmasters have at least two extensions that could be replaced by Jetpack. You can’t ignore Jetpack anymore. I didn’t install it myself for awhile but now I can’t even begin to unravel the laundry list of extensions it offers. It’s grown to say the least. I can tell you that it’s has captivated me with all the extra sidebar widgets, out of the box Facebook Like Widget, Twitter Widget and more. It just saves time. Open your mind to Jetpack. Don’t browse this list and think “I’ve already got that“. Because you might be able to get rid of 5 plugins you don’t need and just use this 1 plugin (that’s maintained by the same people who maintain the actual content management system).
You’ll need to visit Jetpack to find out everything but here is the shortlist of functionality I use most.
- Publicize will Automatically Publish To
- Tiled Photo Galleries That Are Beautiful and Awesome
- Related Posts at the Bottom of Each Post
- Google Webmaster Tools Site Verification
- Extra Sidebar Widgets
- Sidebar Widget Visibility
- Sharing Buttons On Posts & Pages
This list of basic extensions to the already free wordpress content management system may not seem, at first glance, like they’ll change your life. But imagine creating an ecommerce website, socially integrated, search engine optimized backed-up and secure. That is what this simple package will do. It does take time, effort and dedication but this shortlist of extensions will make you cash in the long run and give you more personal freedom.