Adding WordPress features using high-quality (mostly free!) plugins

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Now that we have WordPress ready to go, let’s start building on that foundation with a few must-have plugins to keep your site easy to use and keep updated. We’ll also go over some important things to remember now that you’re a website admin.

Choosing high-quality plugins

When installing plugins, it’s important to know that the quality of the code and the developer is of a high standard. An easy way to tell is by the rating, date updated, the number of installations, and how responsive the devs are in the support forum.

WordPress is so extensible and with the right plugins you can mold it into any type of site you want. Most of the plugins in the WordPress repository have paid upgrades, for better or worse. I’ve been burned by under-supported and abandoned plugins on marketplaces like Envato so I tend to stick to highly-reviewed plugins and extensions made by reliable developers.

For instance, you might find an extension for WooCommerce cheaper on Envato but spending the extra money for the support and reliability of the officially endorsed alternative ultimately tends to pay off in spades when something doesn’t work quite right and you need help.

Standard plugins for any site

There are a set of plugins that I like to use for every site, I call it my site blueprint. These are all free (except for an upgrade for Elementor that I can’t live without) and make WordPress a full-featured CMS (Content Management System).

  • Central Color Palette – Branding
  • Duplicator – Backups and migrations
  • Elementor (+ Elementor Pro, optional) – Design
  • Regenerate Thumbnails – Image Maintenance
  • Replace Media – Image Maintenance
  • SVG Support – Image Maintenance
  • SEO Framework – Search Engine Optimization
  • Swift Performance – Speed
  • WordFence – Security

Adding additional features for niche websites

Once you have the basic plugins installed and configured for your individual website, it’s time to start adding more specialized features.

Shops

Does your website need ecommerce ability? These plugins can power any type of shop you need.

  • Physical Products – WooCommerce
  • Digital Products – Easy Digital Downloads
  • Courses – LifterLMS
  • Payment Processing – Stripe

Dynamic Content

Another powerful aspect of WordPress is the ability to create Custom Post Types. Using CPTs allows you to add entirely new groups of posts that have their own archive lists, categories, tags, and custom content fields.

  • Content fields for posts and pages – Advanced Custom Fields
  • Content filtering – FacetWP

Opt-in delivery and lead generation

Lead generation is a critical feature for most websites, as the purpose of most websites is to convert the visitor into a customer or client. Having multiple opt-ins to nurture different types of leads can be hard to manage but finding the right system is important. ConvertKit and it’s competitors are great options, but you can also use your WordPress website to power your opt-ins.

Thrive Leads is the WordPress alternative to using a managed solution like ConvertKit. In my experience, a combo of Thrive Leads and Elementor can replace tools like Lead Pages but you’ll still need an email service provider so you may find you can’t completely ditch something like ConvertKit. I use Mailchimp, and Mailerlite is a popular alternative, and the good news is both of those services are free!

One more thing before you go…

Plugins can add amazing features but they can also pose security risks if you don’t keep your website updated. WordPress powers a lot of websites, so it’s a popular target for hackers. Updates fix bugs and backdoors as well as adding new features so keeping your themes, plugins, and WordPress core files up to date is the most basic way to keep your website safe. Make sure to backup your site using something like Duplicator or UpdraftPlus before updating and then let the WordPress updater do it’s thing.

What’s your favorite WordPress plugin?

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About the author
Natasha Cozad
Natasha Cozad
Hey there! I'm Natasha Cozad. I have 20 Years of experience in branding + web design. I started my first website in 1998 when I was 13 years old. I transitioned those years of learning and practice into a career that has allowed me to constantly learn, grow, and help other people find their path as entrepreneurs.

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