Plugins – and custom code – bring added features & functionality to your website
Yes, it can
WordPress can be adapted for use in all sorts of situations via the addition of ‘plugins’, sort of bolt-on tools designed to enhance the core functionality of the essentially presentation-based platform.
Of course the functionality outlined here may have little in common with your requirements, but it will at least give you an insight into how WordPress can be adapted for many different sets of requirements.
Over and above these examples of ready-made plugins, we can also delve into the heart of WordPress code to add custom functionality where needed.
The GeneratePress Foundation
Well, yes, not strictly-speaking a plugin. The GeneratePress foundation allows us to create web sites that have a dividing wall between the underlying code of WordPress, and the aesthetic aspect of your site – the theme and design.
It allows us to build very fast, responsive and customised sites while maintaining ease of use for clients. Incidentally, we also love GenerateBlocks from the same developer.
Next: ACF – Advanced Custom Fields
ACF – Advanced Custom Fields
This plugin is pretty much top-of-list for any use case that requires extra ‘fields’ – database values – to match a business requirement. It allows you to store and display pretty much any type of information on the front or back-end, truly unlocking the potential of your site. We are also keen on PODS and Toolset.
Next: Events Calendar
Display any sort of event, link through to event details, integrate with ticket booking, show availability and integrate with online reservation, and so on and so on.
Display locations with mapping, enable date-based searching – the possibilities are many, the usability is best-of-breed.
Next: Email options
Not all email is created equal.
You’ll know when you need more control over your email campaigns, or your transactional emails. Come that day you’ll likely be looking at using an external SMTP service (Postmark, Mailgun, Sendgrid).
WP Mail SMTP will likely go most of the way towards solving your email deliverability and connectivity issues and can cope with Gmail and Microsoft integrations.
Woo Commerce shop & cart
What better demonstration of how WordPress has evolved? From blogging to e-commerce, all inside WordPress.
Whilst we’d advise a full-blown e-commerce solution for anything beyond a few handfuls of products, or for products that are complicated and/or require working in a multi-faceted business environment, Woo Commerce will usually get the job done if you’re just starting out.
Next: Updraft Plus Backup
Updraft Plus backups
Not everything is about presentation or functionality. You’ll want to know your site is safe and saved should anything go wrong. That might be an ‘oops, I’ve messed that up, how do I rollback?’ moment, or it might be a more catastrophic failure.
Either way, having a serious backup tool in place (and working away in the background) is essential, giving you both on- and off-site backups for complete peace of mind.
We also use other excellent backup tools – WPVivid Pro and Akeeba.
Next: Plausible Analytics
Google Analytics is, needless to say, the big beast of tracking, monitoring and testing. For some, it’s both too big and too beastly – it can be a sledgehammer to crack a nut and it really beds in to user’s browsers for the long haul.
Why not take a look at our blog piece, ‘Measuring Website Traffic & Visitors‘?
Next: SEO Press
Search Engine Optimisation isn’t something that you ‘do’ or fix by virtue of adding a plugin. It requires analysis, best use and presentation of content, it requires intelligence, investment and upkeep.
That said, you can make the most of your content with a plugin, and we recommend SEO Press. It gives an easy way to add custom titles and meta-content to your posts (as opposed to the default WordPress approach of using the on-page title) and it allows for correct linking and integration of Social Media.
Next: PODS Framework
‘WordPress Evolved’ they say on their site. And that’s about right.
PODS allows for WordPress to contain what are called custom Content Types and these custom containers, in a custom database, mean that WordPress can be used for many, many different types of projects. We use PODS (or ACF or Toolset) when we need to present a template style with unique requirements such as a set of product features or a group of characteristics used to describe holiday rental listings, for example.
Suffice to say, with PODS or similar on top of WordPress, the answer to ‘Can I use WordPress for x, y or z?’ is pretty much always ‘yes’.
Next: LiteSpeed Cache
You want a fast site, your audience demands a fast site, and Google will mark you down if you don’t have a fast site. Cacheing, a method of serving up pages more quickly to users, is critical.
We tweak everything to ensure we score well in tests such as Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix. We use what we’ve found to be the best UK host for WordPress – Guru – and they in turn use the fastest web server for WP – LiteSpeed.
We take this further by fine-tuning and tweaking settings via the LiteSpeed plugin. Read some more on our blog: ‘Slow Website Syndrome‘.
Next: Amelia booking
Amelia: Booking & reservations
Amelia offers highly customisable options for booking appointments, events and services for your customers and users. Payment options can be integrated, and there is full back-end integration with calendars and various API systems.
Manage reservations and appointments, staff, services, working hours, employees, set availability, groups sizes and much more. Emails can be fully automated, and there are also options for SMS notifications.
Next: Formidable Forms
Forms are usually present on a site as a contact form and that’s about as far as it goes. But they can be used as a key part of any data-driven process or application, such as surveys, or if > then question and answer inputs; this data can be collected and saved, or it can be taken as a search input to produce data-tailored results.
Next: BBQ Firewall
WordPress and security. In the past, perhaps not the happiest couple on the web. But that was then. Now there’s BBQ Firewall, a silent but effective gatekeeper.
A Firewall for WordPress, it will automatically monitor and block attacks on your site. Not quite fire and forget, but not far off it. And why BBQ, you ask? Because it Blocks Bad Queries, the sort of automated traffic aimed at breaking-in to your site.
To ensure that sites don’t fall foul of bad actors getting hold of login details, it is now pretty much essential that site logins go beyond standard username & password access.
What’s needed is the extra layer of security offered by Two-Factor Authentication – someone may well have got hold, somehow, of your login details, but with 2FA they will also need to have gotten hold of your phone or tablet, devices used to generate unique codes without which a user cannot login.
Two Factor Authentication, combined with limiting the number of failed logins by using a plugin like Limit Login Attempts will go a very long way in the battle for security.