The third step in our guide to building a website is the selection of plugins that will support its creation and functioning. In the previous two steps, we chose the CMS we will work on – in this case, WordPress, and then we presented a selection of free and paid themes that will allow you to create a modern-looking, transparent portal.
What Purpose do WordPress Plugins Serve?
WordPress is a simple and intuitive content management system. Its functionality is, however, limited in certain ways. Many options are not readily available to users right after the system’s installation. Plugins solve this problem.
The official WordPress repository contains (as of the day this text is published) 56.764 plugins. They allow for an extensive increase in WordPress capabilities. Thanks to plugins you may improve the SEO functionalities of your web portal, add forms, create interesting-looking pages or entries, optimize your site, make sure you have up-to-date backup files, or insert an advertisement.
What you must remember, though, is that excessive use of plugins may cause lags, or other errors on your website. Keeping your site orderly is very important, so do not install plugins that you will not use. If you need a plugin just for one thing, you should remove it once it’s been used. Another important issue is updating your plugins regularly.
How Do You Install Plugins in WordPress
You may install Plugins in WordPress in one of two ways. The source of your plugin in both those situations is WordPress.org. The first way is to install the plugin directly from the repository. In order to do that you need to go to the Plugins tab in the administrative panel of your portal and then select ‘Add new’. You may select a plugin from the list, search for it by name of the author, or use tags. Once you found the plug-in you’re interested in, all you need to do is click the ‘Install now’ button next to its name and once it’s been installed, click ‘Activate’.
The second option is downloading the install package from wordpress.org. After opening the website go to the plug-in tab. Just like in the first method, you should search for the correct plugin and o to its dedicated page in the repository. Once there, you click on the ‘Download’ button. This action will let you download the plugin to your disc. Once you’ll have saved the plugin, you will need to add it to your portal. You need to go to the administrative panel of your portal, go to the ‘Plugins’ tab, and select ‘Add new’. At the top of the page, you’ll find a button that says ‘Send the plugin to the server’. You must indicate the install package you have previously downloaded, through ‘Choose file’ and then click ‘Install now’. After receiving the message about successful installation, just select ‘Activate now’.
What Plugins Should I Choose for my Web Portal?
Having in mind the functionality of your web portal, and attempting to maintain the minimalism in the use of plugins, you should only choose plugins that are absolutely necessary and would not clutter your website. In an attempt to expand the capabilities of our portal, while taking care of its efficiency, we chose eight free plugins (some of them have the option of upgrading to a PRO version) that are available in the WordPress repository.
SEO, search engine optimization, is one of the most relevant issues in the functioning of nowadays internet portals. Site owners strive for their site to index well in search engines and for their content to locate high on the search engine results page. The Yoast SEO plugin is going to help you achieve those results. Because of it, you may determine what elements of your portal should be indexed by search engines, what are the key phrases of each text, you may add meta descriptions. Yoast SEO will also help you in creating a sitemap, which you must send to Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tool. The plugin will also allow you to master the Open Graph meta tags, that makes the content from your portal, that is shared on social media, present well.
Your website should include the possibility for the users to contact its authors and/or owners. Instead of providing an e-mail address, you may give your users a contact form. It’s useful when you want your readers to tell you about some interesting topics, or expect someone to contact you for advertising purposes. Such form may be created with Contact Form 7. This plugin allows you to create even truly sophisticated contact forms, that include a message for the user concerning the success or lack thereof of sending their message (for example, when not all required fields were filled). You place the form in the structure of your page or article with the use of a shortcode – it’s enough to simply copy and paste the code in the place of your choosing.
You have already taken care of SEO, and you have prepared contact forms for your portal. Now it’s time for the advertisement. Providing your readers with new and interesting content pertaining for example to current events is the basis on which your portal functions. Its further development includes ways to monetize your website. AdFoxly is a plugin that helps with this, as it allows you to create and manage ads and advertising campaigns. With it, you may easily insert add banners obtained from your contractors, or use code received from advertising networks (such as Google AdSense, AppNexus, Rubicon Project, PubMatic, Index Exchange, Openx, or Media.net). You may place ads within the articles, insert advertising pop-ups, have ads pinned to the top or bottom of your portal, have them in the side panel. You may also add the ads.txt file provided by advertising networks.
When we were presenting themes available for building a website, we mentioned that some of them allowed creating a page using widgets, while other themes required page builders. Elementor is a page builder. This is a plugin that helps you create a website without any knowledge of coding. Within Elementor you’ll find a database of elements, as well as page structures that you may use and modify to your expectations. Theme developers often create additional blocks within their themes, dedicated to the Elementor plugin. WordPress users consider Elementor among the most lightweight page builders.
An internet portal consists not only of articles, advertisements, but it’s also user comments. WordPress allows users to comment on your entries without the necessity to install any plugins. However, the default support does not allow you to change the appearance of the comment scheme or the forms. The wpDiscuz plugin makes it possible for you to modify each and every element included in the comment systems. With it you may adjust the colors of all the elements, you may select the pattern of comments that suits you and you may create the comment form that meets your expectations. This plugin will allow you to customize the comments in a way that makes them consistent with the appearance of your entire portal.
Having taken care of the visual side of your portal, you should now focus on the elements that your users cannot see, but that are just as important for its functionality. No users appreciate if the page they want to see takes a long time to load. It discourages them from using it and returning to it in the future. If you want to solve this problem, you may try using WP SuperCache plugin. With its help, you’ll use cache and as a result, you will reduce the use of servers and therefore – page loading time.
One all the issues concerning the positioning of your portal, its appearance, optimization, and advertising have been dealt with, it’s worth to spend some time on the backups. Usually, the hosting on which you store your site performs backups, but they are usually weekly or even monthly. It may not be enough. Backups should be created fairly often so that in the event of failure or data loss, you would be able to restore your site to the state closest to the one right before such an event. The UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin provides excellent relief in such cases. Thanks to it you will be able to create a backup for the entire portal, design an automated backup schedule according to your requirements, and indicate cloud as a destination for your files (for example Google Drive or Dropbox), as well as an FTP account on another hosting service. In the event of failure, you will be able to use the backed-up data and restore your site from the plugin settings.
Plugins for WordPress allow you to significantly expand its capabilities. Because of them you may create contact forms, build pages, insert advertisements, and optimize your portal. You should analyze your needs and expectations toward plugins before you decide which ones to install. Also, remember to keep all your plugins up to date. They will make your web portal visually attractive and functional.