How to choose and use
Plugins expand WordPress’s functionality by making WordPress sites capable of almost anything (except maybe cooking your dinner.)
My cloth diaper client wanted a counter on his home page showing how many disposable diapers his service kept out of landfills. So we found a calculation app that could be configured to do just that!
He’s now up to 488,376 diapers saved!
Being able to make my clients websites interesting and unique, not just with design but with features as well, is a big reason that I use WordPress at Fresh Eggs.
How to pick a plugin
With over 54K FREE plugins plus more for sale, it can be hard to know which ones to use to add features to WordPress.
A good starting place is to look at:
1 – the number of installs (a few thousand or less should give one pause)
2 – when was the last time the plugin was updated (if not recently, it may not be well supported)
3 – look at the reviews (to give clues, like if it’s well coded)
4 – does the plugin have a lot of features (this could mean it’s complicated and may slow down the website).
I have gone through trial an error with many plugins. And I don’t always land on the right one in the first try. But because I work in WordPress daily and monitor industry news, I can usually find ones that are a good fit easily.
WordPress is a great solution for a small business because of its flexibility to add features and its scalability to grow with a business.
Plugins and Performance
Plugins add a lot of great functionality to a Wordpress website, but using them for the sake of having bells and whistles is never a good practice because too many can slow a website down. If a plugin is poorly coded or does too many things, website performance will suffer.
For instance “sliders” often slow down a website. A slider moves images and words across a webpage. This affects performance because the slider has to be loaded and executed each time the page loads. The irony is, most website users don’t even stop to read sliders and only 1% click on them.
I use the less is more rule when picking plugins for websites. If the plugin isn’t essential for website function or doesn’t help get the viewer to take action, then it is usually unnecessary.
Do you have patience for slow loading websites? Not many do.
How much business will you lose if your site is slow?
Gravity forms stands out
One of my favorite WordPress plugins is Gravity Forms. It adds forms to a website like you would expect.
It easily connects to my client’s CRM’s (like HubSpot, MailChimp, Constant Contact etc..) to collect email addresses.
It is accessible and compliant so it can be used by people with disabilities.
It has almost limitless possibilities for configuration to collect data like taking payments and providing digital downloads.
Most of my clients use Gravity Forms for their contact forms. I have one client, a functional medicine practice, that uses it for scheduling and payments for COVID testing. They were one of the first to offer COVID testing and the office was inundated with people, so this helped streamline the process.
Do you make it easy for users to fill out your forms on your website?
I always start with the same software stack (plugins and theme) on every website I build because I trust it and am familiar with the nuances. This includes a premium theme, premium backup and security software, as well as pro versions of plugins for forms, image compression and performance.
This software is included in the webcare service for Fresh Eggs clients. They get premium software functionality on their websites while saving them close to $400 annually in licensing fees.
A lot of components go into to building a WordPress website. If you take time to research and use good quality plugins your website will not only perform better, it should save you time as well as make it easier for users on your website which will increase your sales.