My Favorite WordPress Plugins

By Natalie Schloesser, IMPACT's Website Manager You’ve probably looked at a WordPress site today. In fact, IMPACT is built on WordPress! For those who don’t know, WordPress is an Open Source CMS Platform that drives nearly 20% of all websites today*.

In English please? Let’s work backwards. All websites are built on a ‘platform’ – basically software that helps the site work. CMS stands for “Content Management System”. If you can login to your website and change the content on a page, you have a CMS. Open Source** is a term that is used across the Internet; it’s a community of developers that work together to constantly build and improve upon software that is available to the general public at no cost.

Being a website developer and designer, I’ve worked with numerous different platforms, numerous different CMS’s, and numerous different Open Source products. Embarrassingly enough, I must admit: for a long time I did not jump on the WordPress bandwagon. I hesitated when building my first site in WordPress. Now I am happy to say that my first experience was so extremely pleasant that since then I have built every single new client site in WordPress and converted many of my current clients to the WordPress platform.

One great thing about WordPress are the plugins. Plugins are additions – “bells and whistles”, if you may – that offer you extra functionality to make your site do what you want. Side note: Widgets are the things you see in the sidebar columns or footer columns. Who knew the internet would bring us a whole new glossary of terms?

My Favorite WordPress Plugins Though this list could be much longer than it is, I thought I’d keep it to five. Here are my favorite WordPress Plugins, many of them on every site I build:

  1. nextGEN Photo Gallery A very powerful photo gallery that helps to organize your photos into albums. Automatically creates thumbnails, allows a title and caption for each photo, completely customizable page layout, and more.
  2. Social Profiles Widget This plugin is a widget that goes in your sidebar or footer columns. It has each social media icon ready for your social profile to save you the hassle of manually adding in each individual social website.
  3. Google Calendar Events If you use Google Calendar and need your calendar on your website, this is the way to go. The design is customizable, it can display events as a list or in a calendar grid, it comes complete with a widget for your sidebar or footer, and multiple Google Calendar feeds can be shown in one list/grid.
  4. Custom Contact Forms Most WordPress designs come with a basic contact form built in; name, email, text box, and submit button. This plugin comes in handy when you need a more robust contact form with many questions to ask. Though a bit clunky and not incredibly intuitive to set up, this plugin is extremely powerful and customizable, sure to meet your needs.
  5. All in One SEO Take control of your Search Engine Optimization with this powerful plugin. Designed for beginners through advanced users, it can either work out of the box or be fine-tuned and formatted as you wish.

If you have a WordPress site and would like one of these plugins, we’d be happy to help! Thinking of switching to WordPress? Contact us with questions! No matter what, you can’t deny that WordPress is one of the fastest growing platforms on the Internet. With developers worldwide contributing to the widgets, plugins, and the platform itself it will continue to grow and constantly improve.

*Infographic, http://cdn.yoast.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/wordpress-stats-infographic-yoast-full.jpg
**http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source