Possibly the greatest aspect of WordPress are its plugins which offer a wealth of new features and exciting additions to the base program. These plugins allow us to fully customize and tailor our blogs to meet each and every need. As you may already know, there are over 30,000 to choose from, so knowing which ones are the best is key to avoiding lesser options. Once you’ve learned how to start a blog, these are your next step.
All plugins are not created equal, which is why I’ve created this list of 4 essential WordPress plugins for bloggers. These are proven to work well, and do not burden your blog with poor coding and extraneous lines that slow the site down. These are light plugins that do their jobs quietly and without disturbing the other aspects of your blog.
Four Essential Plugins and Why You Need Them Today
Below I’ve described and linked to top WordPress plugins that you can download and install today. These represent a great value, top notch programming, and key elements that will elevate your blog to the next level.
What is it: This is a plugin that allows you to provide your readers with a contact that form that rests on the top of your website and converts your visitors into leads and eventually customers. The plugin collects information on the social media profiles of each lead and ultimately provides you with a rating for them, in addition to a wealth of information to pursue the potential lead.
Why You Need it: You can have all the traffic in the world, but if you’re not converting your leads into customers, then it doesn’t affect your bottom line. This easy to use, and free tool allows you to tap into that traffic and learn more about these individuals by examining their social media profiles, their IP address and their location. All of this can help you decide if the lead is worth pursuing.
What is it: This plugin allows you to create microsurveys which have been proven, according to the company’s website, to be answered more than a standard survey by 700%. People don’t like to be taken away for a survey, so this one appears on the page and allows you to collect information on-the-go. The plugin also allows for options on where to place the microsurveys.
Why You Need it: Having additional insight into your customer base is one of the most precious resources a blogger has. If you have an extensive amount of traffic, but you know nothing about them, you’re just treading water. By using these hassle free microsurveys, you can glimpse into the minds of your readers and find out what they want from you and your blog.
What is it: This is a full suite of applications that you can use to customize your blogs various elements and increase traffic on a number of fronts. Once you’ve registered your account and installed the plugin, you can begin downloading apps that will allow for further customization. For example, image sharer is a fantastic way to provide images that your readers can share on their social media profiles.
List builder allows you to collect emails and pursue leads for additional customers. There are analytic apps, contact forms, and plenty of other tools at your disposal with this all inclusive marketplace.
Why You Need it: With so much potential and a wide variety of features at your disposal, this one plugin can provide you with a huge increase in traffic for your blog. You also save time by not having to scour the internet for additional plugins when this one can provide you with solutions for all of your needs. Everything from email collection, to image sharing, to social media buttons are at your disposal here.
What is it: This handy plugin allows you to create a fully customizable form for your WordPress blog. With the form created, you can invite visitors to add their email to your contact list. Upon doing so, they will be added to your GetResponse campaign and they will receive a confirmation email. This plugin will also offer a signup form when guests leave a comment.
Why You Need it: Collecting emails is vital to understanding and engaging your readers. GetResponse also offers a number of marketing options that you can opt-in for. This plugin integrates with those other options seamlessly, creating the ideal scenario for gaining and keeping your readers.
Tips for Extending and Modifying Your WordPress Plugins
Those who have a suite of coding experience can utilize it to extend and customize the plugins they install for WordPress. The software is open source so things like this are welcome and accepted. That being said, altering or extending a plugin can be detrimental to the security and stability of it, which is why there are some best practices around doing such things.
When seeking to modify a plugin, some people will simply go in and make changes directly to the code. This presents a problem in the sense that upgrading will now have to be done by reconciling the current version with the original one. It presents a complicated situation where one must patch the new plugin and refresh it every single time a new update is released.
If you’re considering some modifications, here are some tips from a great resource that will allow you to make those changes in a way that doesn’t compromise the overall structure of the plugin.
- Speak with the Developer, see if they have some insight on how to approach the project.
- Extend the plugin without modifying it. You can add new features without taking anything away.
- Some developers add support for custom hooks which allow you to write and run a separate plugin on the side that registers callbacks for the hooks the original plugin provides.
- If the support for hooks isn’t there, you can create custom hook functionality of your own to allow for the support while still keeping the original coding intact.
Anything you can do to avoid modifying the actual coding works best in the long run and prevents any issues in upcoming updates.
A Final Note
Quality plugins are hard to come by, but the ones listed here are top notch options. Remember to avoid altering the code of plugins when you seek to customize or extend them. This way you can avoid any holes in your security. Thanks as always for reading and be sure to tell us about your favorite plugins in the comments!