You’ve probably poured a lot of resources into your website to make the interface user-friendly and the design look great, but you may have neglected some of the more subtle aspects of your website. Especially if your website is your storefront (and isn’t that more or less the case for all of us these days?), it’s worth going the extra mile to ensure your potential customers have the best experience possible.
Luckily for those websites on WordPress, there are plugins to do a lot of the hard work for you. You just have to know which ones to install! That’s why we’ve compiled this list of 7 essential plugins that we recommend for any site.
If your website allows commenting, this plugin can really boost your customer engagement. First, it allows people to sign in through more avenues; they can use Facebook, Twitter, Google, Disqus’s own network, or just your email address. It’s got a ton more moderator options, including whitelists and blacklists, and with the new 2012 Discovery Tools, you can even use Disqus to help visitors find related content and share to social media.
Contact Form 7
There are lots of contact form plugins out there, but this one is dead simple and reliable. It’s also easy to personalize the look of it in your stylesheet if you know CSS. You can have multiple contact us forms and customize the notification emails, and if you want an extra layer of security, this plugin integrates nicely with Really Simple CAPTCHA to keep out all the spambots.
Better WP Security
Since the botnet attacks that targeted WordPress accounts last month, more people are concerned with the security of their website, and you should be too! Even if you aren’t storing credit card or any other sensitive information on your site, it’s worth your while to take a few minutes to install this plugin that limits login attempts, changes your login URL, secures your administrative account, and more. Trust us, it’s much less time consuming that dealing with a hacked website!
Now to be extra safe, though, you need a backup service – and this is definitely a good one, and free! It will backup your files and your database (most backup plugins and the WordPress exporter will only save your database), and send them straight to your email, or to a designated folder in your Dropbox, Amazon S3, Google Drive, or FTP account. If you’re looking for a service that will not only perform the backup but also store the files, you might try BlogVault, which is only $9 a month for a single website.
All in One SEO Pack
Your site is secure, backed up, and ready for comments and calls to action, but people need to find it first! This plugin automatically generates meta tags for your posts and optimizes your titles, plus connects with Google Analytics. It works right out of the box, too, so beginners to SEO don’t need to tweak the settings, but advanced users can fine-tune the plugin to their needs.
WP Super Cache
With all that traffic, you’ll need to ensure your site is running smoothly and quickly. A caching plugin will help your site load faster for repeat visitors by storing elements of the site offline on their computers. The browser will have quicker access to slower loading parts of your site, like images, so no one is stuck watching the pinwheel of death instead of reading your content! This site works right out of the box too, but has lots of options for the advanced user. Plus, it’s got an easy “delete cache” button so if you make big changes, you can be sure visitors won’t see a cached version of your site on their next visit.
If you take a look at your site visit analytics, we’d bet you anything that more and more of your visitors are checking out your site from a mobile device every month. That’s why it’s really important for your website to look good from phones and tablets. If your theme didn’t come preloaded with a mobile theme, this easy plugin will automatically send mobile visitors to a simplified, mobile-friendly version of your site with a drop down menu. The free version allows you to change the theme color for your mobile site, but if you want more customization, WP Touch Pro ($59) has tons of pre-made themes and options to perfect your mobile experience.
From sharing to security, we hope these plugins help your site performance, boost social sharing, and bring you the customers you want!