A brief list of WordPress Plugins that we have found useful .
Following, is a list of plugins that we have used in various sites and have found to be useful and reliable.
Replaces the default editor for working in pages and posts. Has table support, which I find useful for some fidgety content, and adds the ability to use different colored text. WordPress 3.9 has a very nice version of TinyMCE that comes standard, but CKEditor is still a nice addition as it adds some helpful features.
Offers lightbox viewing on any image on a page.
NEXTGEN GALLERY AND GALLERY SIDEBAR WIDGET
Many features, customizations, ways to use, easy to configure. NextGen Gallery is supported a great many folk to such an extent that there are numerous plugins to work with this plugin.
TWITTER WIDGET PRO
Does what you’d expect–displays your latest tweets in a widget. I tried a few others but liked this one the best.
FAST AND SECURE CONTACT FORM
A little limited in that it restricts you to something like 8 custom fields but for simple contact forms it is attractive and integrates easy Captcha features. I have been using Contact Form 7 until now but really like “Fast and Secure Contact Form”, at least today.
CONTACT FORM 7
For more complicated forms. You can create some very complicated forms.
GOOGLE ANALYTICS FOR WORDPRESS
Well done, free analytics. Your Development Director will love this information.
Gives you lots of those little sharing buttons for the various social media sites. We have used ShareThis on Plone sites for a while now and find it to be very helpful.
LIST CATEGORY POSTS
Very handy for listing objects by category. Includes some basic parameters for sorting. Drawback is that formatting the output can be tricky.
BackWPup allows you to backup both the filesystem and the database. You can save to zip file, tar file, or tar-zip file formats. It uses cron to setup automated backups and, here is the really cool part, it can send the backup off-site to an ftp site, sftp site, e-mail address, Amazon S3, Dropbox, SugarSync, or Rackspace Cloud. The FTP and rackspace methods work nicely. You can also export contents in XML format for import into another WordPress site.
Notes on Installation and Use: Make certain to specify a backup folder (I usually create one right off of the root of the site). Make certain to exclude the backup folder from backup jobs. Change the permissions on the backup folder to 700 in order to keep it safe from the public and to avoid some annoying error messages. Use the .zip option when creating backup files. I know that tar, and GZip are my preferred archiving options but if you have to restore this site to some other system you may not have those options available. Sure you can install a tool that will un-tar and un-gzip for you but meanwhile your client is breathing down your neck and you have too many other things to think about. .zip is available everywhere that I have found.
IMPORT USERS FROM CSV
Does what it says. We use Excel to format the list and then save the Excel spreadsheet as a Comma Separated Variable (CSV) file. With your CSV file and this plugin you can add many subscribers quickly into the site and automatically send out new user/pass info.
To set what user roles can see/do what on the site. This takes you beyond the basic WordPress user functionality.
To add a simple and easily customizable login form widget (rather than using
a Meta or Text widget with a link to the login page).
WEBSITEDEFENDER WORDPRESS SECURITY
From the distributor: “The WebsiteDefender WordPress Security plugin is a free and comprehensive security tool that helps you secure your WordPress installation and suggests corrective measures for: strengthening passwords, securing file permissions, security of the database, version hiding, WordPress admin protection and lots more.”
J SHORTCODES – BUTTONS AND BOXES
Makes buttons and boxes (columns too) using a selection of corner types and allows you to choose the colors. Handy for DONATION buttons!
Provides a convenient way to manage 301 re-directions and 404 errors. Nice if you have to change page names but want to make certain that the old page name directs to the new one.
Provides a slider shortcode and widget that you can use to create a slideshow of posts or pages (including the featured image of that post or page. Many settings for fine tuning
Very nice event management in WordPress. Very slick. Heaps of features. Commercial plugin. $60 (and worth it)
Nice free plugin that allows you to have basic event registration in addition to creating events that have a Google Map and saved event locations.
E-Commerce with payment gateways to many popular gateways that your bank may support, which means lower fees on credit card transactions. $55 plus an additional $45 fee for specific payment gateway add-ons. Some payment gateways are included with the Shopp core plugin itself. There are also shipping add-ons (for more money, but still worth it).
TEMPLATE TAG SHORTCODES
This is a shortcode lovers’ delight. This plugin provides shortcodes that you can embed in pages and posts for 40 different WordPress functions. Want a list of pages? There is a shortcode for that. Want to show a tag cloud list? Yup, got that too. Want to make a list of authors? Sure! Want it to install some copper plumbing in your house? Uh… maybe?
There have been problems recently (version 3.0.4? – 3.4.1 and more?) where the creation and handling of paragraphs
has been less than optimal. This affects tables inserted into WordPress Pages/Posts. Many folks say that tables should not be used anymore, but others are of the mind that, even though old, tables are a tried and true method for formatting content on a page. Debate about tables and testing or the WordPress editor’s use of
continues, but in the meantime there is WP-Tables Reloaded to not only fill the gap but take table creation to the next level.
WP-Tables Reloaded allows you to easily create tables, edit tables, even apply styles to specific tables. You create your table, then you insert a shortcode that includes the specific table ID and viola! You can place the same table on any Post or Page and then edit the source of all of these tables in just one place. This I like! We tried this out for one client and it behaved beautifully. More on the author’s webpage.
This may be a plugin that you do not want to try because sometimes ignorance is bliss. Plugin Performance Profiler (P3) is a handy tool that scans your page loads and determines how much time is spent loading plugins. P3 breaks its reports down by actual time and as percentages. You can even have it e-mail the results to you or a friend. But do you really want to know? I ran this on one of our sites and found that one of my favorite plugins (NextGen Gallery) accounted for 25% of all my plugin loading time. Now what do I do? I love performance, but I also love the capabilities that my cherished plugins provide. Oh, the choices. Sniff.
BETTER WP SECURITY
I have been installing this on every site that we build because of the great features it has for securing a site. My favorite is Site Lockout. I install this plugin just for this feature even though I now know that it slows down page load speed (see the P3 plugin). The Site Lockout feature will lockout the IP address of users who fail to login successfully too many times and then e-mail you to tell you this. Take that hackers! There are oodles of other features and handy suggestions for making your site safe.
Here is hoping you never have to recover from a hack, but if you do Exploit Scanner is a nice plugin to install. It does not fix anything but notes where suspicious behavior exists, you must make the fixes.
PS AUTO SITEMAP
There are several sitemap plugins out that work well, but PS Auto Sitemap has a bunch of predefined styles that allow you to change the format of your sitemap listing. Setup is a bit confusing at first since you have to find the “Post ID” of the page on which you want the site map to appear (go to Pages, and hover over the entry for that page and read the “postid” from the url – works in chrome and Firefox).
Plugins That Have Received Good Reviews But We Have Not Tried
WordPress Security (very popular).
Adjust media or Flash files in headers.
SEO TITLE TAGS
GOOGLE SITEMAPS GENERATOR
RSS PLUGINS LIST
CHAP SECURE LOGIN
ANTIVIRUS FOR WORDPRESS
ULTIMATE SECURITY CHECKER
Commercial product. Can do:
Multi-Page Forms with Progress bars
Post Fields – build a form that creates WordPress Posts
User Registration Add-On
Role Management –
Gravity Forms works with roles via the Members plugin.
User Registration Add-On
Personal – $39
Pop-up forms for capturing newsletter sign-ups, quick surveys, etc. $49 for one site.
MOBILE THEME SWITCHER
Just like it sounds, this plugin detects a mobile browser and switches the user to the mobile theme for the site. This means you have to have two themes installed and maintained.
While this is not a plugin it is a service that I am going to try for one of my personal sites. The fonts are on the Typekit servers and your site pulls fonts from there. There is a free subscription for two fonts, then there are other plans costing $25 or $50 year for many more fonts. Google Fonts does something similar.
WP CATEGORY POST LIST WIDGET
Have installed this but have not had the chance to review its use, but the listed feature set is great including custom CSS classes, many display options and documentation that is easy to find.
VIDEO SEO FOR WORDPRESS
A new commercial SEO plugin by Yoast (makers of popular free SEO plugins). $89 may be worth it if you have a lot of videos that you want hit.
There are two basic avenues to pursue when taking credit card information through your site; take some basic information then make a Hand-Off to your payment gateway where the donor fills out an additional form for the credit card info, or, take all of the information from the donor in one form so that the donor never “leaves” your site; the Integrated Approach.
The Hand-Off Approach is cheaper, but the donor is taken to a second, secure, site where they fill in their credit card info, then returned to your site after the transaction is complete. I have listed several good plugins below, most of them free, that use this approach. The plugins that use the Hand-Off Approach use the free PayPal Standard plan as a payment gateway provider.
The Integrated Approach costs you more, but the donor never “leaves” your site. The Integrated Approach requires that your site have a dedicated IP address and a secure web certificate. The dedicated IP address, the address of your server on the Internet, usually costs $5 or $6 dollars per month in addition to your monthly hosting charges. The secure web certificate costs anywhere from $15/year to $250/year, depending on where you can purchase it from. Some hosting companies require you to use their web certificate provider. In addition, the WordPress plugins that I have found that use the Integrated Approach have to be purchased. Their prices range from $75 to $199 and I have listed three good candidates below.
My recommendation is to go with a commercial product that uses the Integrated Approach. My reasons for this recommendation are:
Donor does not have to leave your site
Commercial plugins are updated regularly to fix bugs and add features
Commercial plugins allow you to choose between multiple Payment Gateways in case you want change gateway providers.
HAND-OFF APPROACH PLUGINS (ALL FREE)
Donate Extra (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/donate-extra/)
Donate Plus (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/donate-plus)
Paid Memberships Pro (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/paid-memberships-pro)
INTEGRATED APPROACH (ALL COST SOMETHING, REQUIRE A DEDICATED IP ADDRESS AND AN SSL CERTIFICATE)
Authorize.net for WordPress (http://www.danielwatrous.com/authorizenet-for-wordpress ) – $90 – This is a nice plugin that gives you a transaction history on your site as well.
Simple Authorize.net Payments WordPress Plugin (http://shop.social-ink.net/products/simple-authorize-payments-wordpress-plugin) – $75 – Another nice plugin that gives you a transaction history on your site as well. You can export this transaction history.
Gravity Forms or WordPress – Developer Version (http://www.gravityforms.com) – $199 (Coupon for 25% off Gravity Forms here: http://www.wpbeginner.com/deals/gravity-forms-coupons/) – Gravity Forms goes beyond what you need in that it will allow you to create multiple forms for donations as well as forms for all sorts of other functions (newsletter sign-up, volunteer forms, surveys, online applications, etc.)
All of these solutions require installing an SSL certificate on your site and a dedicated IP address. These are fairly easy to install at most hosting companies.