I receive a lot of inquiries from fellow artists regarding how my Powers Fine Art Studio website operates. While there is a lot of custom coding in place, there are also some really nice WordPress plugins implemented to help accomplish many of the site’s basic tasks. I thought it would be fun to share some of the plugins I use with my self-hosted WordPress installation since I have experimented with many others and these particular ones have proven to be my most trusted.
Do you have WordPress plugins that you find to be indispensable? If so, feel free to list them in this article’s comment section. I would enjoy hearing what other WordPress users are implementing.
Wordfence – I really like the newsletter this company sends out. It has great information about current security vulnerabilities in many themes and WordPress plugins. This is a great plugin but I found that it used quite a bit of server resources for the real-time traffic analysis. Other users have complained of this problem as well but its overall functionality is still first-rate. The 2 factor sign-in authentication and file-modification scanning are excellent features that several comparable plugins don’t provide.
BulletProof Security – This plugin does a great job of letting you know what file permissions to set for your WordPress installation as well as modifying .htaccess files to accomplish different security tasks. However, it has a very “clunky” user interface and is really awkward to use.
All In One WP Security and Firewall – This has taken the place of the above two plugins for me. It does most of what the previous plugins do as well as offers a method of modifying the self-hosted WordPress installation’s .htaccess file to obscure the WP Administrator Login screen unless a particular cookie is set. This has really helped me eliminate brute force login attempts which eat up bandwidth, etc… I was literally getting several hundred brute force login attempts daily and this has put a stop to them. The bots can’t attempt to log in if they can’t even reach the login screen. This plugin also has some core file scanning capabilities, log in logging, etc… It is very impressive and has become a recent favorite of mine.
W3 Total Cache – I have tried several caching plugins for WordPress and this one is my personal favorite. Caching plugins can be a little more complicated to set up but the performance boost to one’s WordPress installation can be very impressive. Google’s Page Speed Insights tool demonstrated great page speed loading improvements by using this plug-in. Plus…we all know that Google now assesses page loading speed as another factor in their search engine ranking so this is a very important website element to consider.
WP Smush.it – This plugin automatically reduces image file sizes and improves performance by utilizing the Yahoo Smush.it API within WordPress. Smush.it uses optimization techniques specific to image formats to remove unnecessary bytes from image files. It is a “lossless” tool, which means it optimizes the images without changing their look or visual quality.
UpDraft Plus Backup and Restore – I have tried several backup utilities but I have really found this one meets my needs the best. I schedule backups and have them saved to my DropBox. I have found this to be an essential plugin and have had to use backup versions of files on several occasions (mainly due to the fact I had been previously hacked!).
WP Clean Up – This utility helps clean up the WordPress database in order to minimize its size and maximize the speed at which it can be accessed by removing unnecessary and redundant content.
WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast – This plugin is fantastic and is a “must-have” in my book. It analyzes several elements of your blog posts and static pages to aid in search engine optimization. In addition to helping with META data, etc…, it will also analyze posts to help you structure URL’s, post content, # of words, etc… to maximize your content’s ranking potential. Not only did this help me create better posts and content, it also helped me learn things about website SEO that I hadn’t even previously considered. This one is a great plugin!
Tweetily – This addon will periodically tweet a random post or page from your blog automatically to promote a website’s content and drive traffic. The user sets the time interval and the number of Tweets and the plugin does the rest. The selection of Tweeted content is very customizable. This is a great way to bring previously useful posts to the eyes of new readers.
Wp eStore Plugin – If you are looking for a really easy to use and simple shopping cart system, this one has proven to be invaluable for me. I purchased the premium version in order to have some inventory management ability for my original watercolor painting sales and have been very pleased. It integrates very well with several different Payment gateways although my personal experience is with PayPal. You can also use it to implement squeeze forms, etc… This one was worth buying since it was one of the few that would integrate into my site’s theme exactly the way I wanted.
WYSIJA Newsletters – This plugin which is now known as MailPoet, creates and sends newsletters, posts, portfolio additions, and post extracts. You can Import and manage your subscriber lists as well as add subscription forms in widgets, articles and pages. Wysija is a freemium plugin that is updated regularly with new features and has one of the best user-friendly interfaces I have used.
eStore WYSIJA Newsletter Addon – Since I have been actively using WYSIJA or MailPoet as it is currently being called, this addon for Wp eStore allows product purchasers to be automatically subscribed to a MailPoet newsletter list. This is a great way to create a simple customer mailing list.
Accessibility and Appearance:
Font Resizer – This plugin allows visitors to a WordPress blog to change the font size for easier readability. I implemented this plugin after I had a reader complain that the responsive design of my website made it impossible for them to adjust the text size in articles which hindered the readability.
Google Maps v3 Shortcode multiple Markers – This plugin allows you to embed a custom Google map with multiple pin markers into your posts or pages. I use this plugin for my Sold Paintings Location Map. It works by utilizing a simple shortcode. Although this plugin hasn’t been updated for a couple years, it still appears to operate correctly.
Multicons – This plugin automatically creates the code necessary to implement a Favicon and an Apple Favicon for a website.
Olimometer – This highly customizable WordPress addon creates a dynamic fundraising thermometer with PayPal integration, customisable height, currency, background color, transparency and skins. I use it to simply illustrate the current status of my Charitable Artwork Donations although it is capable of much more sophisticated tasks as well as automated fundraising donation processing.
PHP Text Widget – This plugin extends the functionality of the standard WordPress Text Widget to allow PHP code processing. I use it to conditionally display my View Cart button on this website. I thought it was confusing to have the View Cart button visible when a customer was utilizing my Fine Art America Integrated Print Shop since my original artwork shopping cart system and FAA’s print shop are separate entities.
Post and Categories Index Generator – This plugin has allowed my to create a simply categorized list of all my blog articles. This is handy for those who are only interested in reading about very specific topics from my eclectic Weblog.
WP Jquery Lightbox – This plugin is one of the few lightbox plugins that doesn’t conflict with my theme and WordPress installation. It has many customizable features and adds an extra level of professionalism to any WordPress site. Visitors may click images on the site which then smoothly enlarge for easier viewing.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – YARRP is a plugin that creates a list of blog posts that are similar to one that is currently being read. This list is then added to the end of a post to increase a blog’s accessibility and to increase the number of internal links within a website which is beneficial to SEO.Tagged with: backup, business, ecommerce, optimization, plugin, seo, wordpress