What are website plugins?

Ellis Jones builds websites. We build them using popular content management system (CMS), WordPress. It’s one of the more user-friendly website building platforms on the web which is why over 60 million people have opted to build their websites using it. One reason WordPress is so widely utilised is because it is extremely customisable. You can build almost any function imaginable by adding ‘plugins’ to your base site. But what are website plugins?

Website plugins are extra juice for your website. They allow a website to display additional content that a base site alone is not capable of facilitating. A base site will display content (text and imagery) only. If your business website is simple, this will be all it requires, but with the addition of a few plugins, your website can do so much more. Things like forms, eCommerce, page translators and detailed search functionality can all be added to your site using plugins.

When figuring out what plugins to use, think about what offline business processes you want your website to achieve. Nine times out of ten, someone has developed a plugin to help reach these goals online.

Here’s three plugins we use:

1. Gravity Forms

Forms allow the collection of information from website users. These can be anything from contact forms, forms to enable tour bookings, forms to request more information or register interest etc etc etc. Adding the Gravity Forms plugin to your site means you can build forms to collect any information you need from your website users. It is super easy to use as it literally walks you through the process along the way.

Whilst there are many WordPress form builder plugins, none have as many features as Gravity Forms. This plugin has hundreds of add-ons that expand on its features, including integration with PayPal to attract revenue.

Although Gravity Forms is not free, you can include it on your website for as low as $39 with one year of support and updates.

2. WordPress SEO by Yoast

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving your website’s position in ‘organic’ searches on whichever search engine you like to use (ie: Google or Bing etc). More on what SEO actually is here.

WordPress SEO by Yoast is considered by many to be the best SEO plugin around. It offers a wide range of features to help you cover the more technical aspects of optimisation and also helps you write better content. The way it works is by forcing you to select a focus keyword or phrase when writing an article. It then ensures that keyword is populated throughout the content of your web page.

The list of features is quite impressive and includes: snippet previews, page analysis, automatic optimisation and meta tag insertion, link elements, XML sitemaps, RSS optimization, breadcrumbs, editing your .htaccess and robots.txt file, social integration, import & export functionality, Google News SEO module, a set of steak knives and more. Can’t recommend this highly enough.

3. Akismet

Nobody likes spam. If you have a blog on your website, you will definitely be targeted by spammers who use the comments section of your blog to push their online wares.

Although there are lots of plugins out there to help you combat spam, we always go with Akismet. It is one of the best options because it comes with WordPress out of the box and it’s free for personal use. Business websites need to pay a minimal fee of around $5.

Setting up Akismet is very simple – all you need to do is go to Akismet.com and register your website to get a WordPress key. Once you’re assigned a key, its a matter of inserting it in the Akismet settings on your website. And that’s it – goodbye spam!

These are just three reliable plugins we use. With a whole suite of them ready to go, we consider user experience and value for money to create features and functionality for our clients that can be easily incorporated into any web development project.

Talk to us about extra juice for your website.

Image credit: Andreas Kambanis via Flickr Creative Commons