WordPress is a great choice for many websites, from a simple blog to a slick website and even a more complex e-commerce build. Out of the box, it is very versatile but a key draw for many is the availability of plugins, which allow non-programmers to extend the functionality of their website in just a few clicks, in many cases without needing to write any code.
At the time of writing this, there are over 57,000 plugins in the WordPress plugin directory giving you all the functionality you could ever need and many of these are actively maintained by the developers who built them, so they stay up to date.
When it comes to plugins, be careful of adding too many as they can slow your website down but we definitely advocate using them, and below are some of our favourites based on years of trying different approaches.
Before I get into our favourites, it’s worth noting that where possible, we recommend only downloading plugins from the WordPress directory, and in any event only download from somewhere reputable (if you’re in doubt, drop us an email and we’ll be happy to advise).
1. Advanced Custom Fields
Out of the box, editing pages is easy enough but can be somewhat time-consuming if you’re trying to create a particular layout, and in this regard the What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG AKA Whizzy Wig) editor can be a bit limiting. The block editor provided in newer versions of WordPress can help here and there are page building extensions that bring real drag and drop functionality, but for sites that need a more uniform structure to the content management system, we highly recommend Advanced Custom Fields (ACF).
ACF allows to you add lots of different fields to the WordPress page creator and once built-in, managing your content is incredibly easy. To set ACF up fully, you’ll need a developer to create the initial page templates and to plug the custom fields into your WordPress site but once this is done you’ll have a robust, easy to manage content management platform that brings some standardisation to your workflows.
There is a free version of ACF and a premium version which gives you a bunch of added features. At the time of writing, this Pro licences start at $49 per year for a single site.
2. All-In-One WP Migration
If you’ve ever needed to move a website you’ll know it can be a bit fiddly, pulling your files and database down from one server and then uploading onto your new server. With a plugin like All-In-One WP Migration (by ServMask) you can manage this in a few clicks. Simply install the plugin and then follow the steps to export your entire site + database, or pick and choose what to include/exclude in the export.
Install WordPress on your new server and then install the All-In-One WP Migration in your new version of WordPress and then select the import function. The free version will allow you to migrate sites up to 512mb and for larger sites there is an unlimited version starting at $69 plus a number of other extensions to allow you to backup to Google Drive, Amazon S3, Dropbox, etc.
3. Ninja Forms
There are some really good contact form plugins for WordPress but for anyone wanting an easy to use form builder that integrates with marketing automation platforms then Ninja Forms is brilliant. At the time of writing this, there are over 1 Million active Ninja Forms installations and 4.5 out of 5 from over 1k reviews, so many others are enjoying Ninja Forms.
True drag and drop functionality lets anyone create professional contact forms in minutes and drop them into your pages. Easily manage GDPR compliance and use some of the pre-built templates to get up and running even faster.
If you need extra functionality then Ninja Forms can help here too with a range of additional features available individually so you can extend as much or as little as you need to within your budget. For the most part, though, the freely available version will give you enough functionality.
4. Yoast SEO
SEO is so important for B2B websites, but not everyone is an SEO expert. Yoast has become the benchmark for SEO plugins in recent years and their strapline “SEO for Everyone” sums up what the plugin offers really well. You’ll get a clearly laid out interface that enables you to easily manage your on-page SEO elements including titles, descriptions, readability, and more.
There are some more technical aspects to the plugin enabling you to manage robots meta tags, index/noindex, etc but these are easy to manage and the Yoast SEO blog is really useful.
It’s a really powerful plugin that will help you create content which your users will love (SEO priority 1!) and also help you satisfy the Search Engines to help you increase your rankings and drive more traffic to your website.
Security is a very real concern for website owners and managers, with the seemingly endless number of cyber attacks, so it pays to take precautions and Wordfence is a great option. There is of course a paid version but you’ll find a strong set of features in the free version to check the integrity of your WordPress core files, provides a basic but good firewall for blocking dodgy traffic, a malware scanner, known vulnerability checker and more.
The premium version extends the firewall and malware capabilities and unlocks a few extra bells and whistles to really sure up your website’s security, such as real-time firewall updates, IP address blocking, and advanced rules for blocking specific traffic.
In B2B, things can change quickly, pages need updating, removing, or migrating and this can leave you with SEO related headaches. Redirection comes in really handy here. This easy to use plugin will help you manage 301 redirects and help with 404-page management, both of which will help reduce site errors.
The redirect manager gives you the ability to create and edit redirects without needing to get into Apache or Nginx, a real help for anyone not familiar with these. What’s more, there are all kinds of URL matching options giving you a really powerful tool.
Redirection has been around for over 10 years, remains free to use, and is updated regularly, so it’s well worth activating on your site.
7. W3 Total Cache
At Upp, we love great user experience and B2B website users, love fast websites. People are busy, they don’t want to hang around waiting for a page to load. Caching is an important part of ensuring a fast web experience and it works by storing data elements to recall them quicker next time a request is made by a visitor’s browser.
No B2B marketing strategy is complete without marketing automation and our team have worked with many different platforms. When it comes to bringing automation and customer relationship management into WordPress, the plugin from HubSpot is excellent.
One of the main reasons to bring automation into your marketing is to save your team time so you can focus on the bigger picture. The HubSpot plugin really helps with this and brings forms, live chat, CRM, and email marketing into WordPress so you don’t need to flick back and forth between different windows/tabs. Everything is tied together with HubSpot’s analytics and with no coding needed you can manage your HubSpot account directly from WordPress.
9. WPS Hide Login
WordPress is well known and by default, the login URL will sit at www.yourdomain.com/wp-login.php. This isn’t an issue if you have a strong password but it does make it easier for potentially dodgy people to try to access your site. WPS Hide Login gives you a simple way of changing the default login URL, to one of your choosing, giving you a really important extra layer of security.
WPS Hide Login doesn’t change files or add any rewrite rules, it simply intercepts requests and if you deactivate the plugin the default URL will return. It’s worth noting that if when you do update your URL with the plugin, the default wp-login.php URL will become inaccessible so make a note of or bookmark your new URL so you can still access your site.
We love WordPress and have great experience with custom builds and integrating plugins to give you all the functionality you need to effectively manage your website. For plugin advice or to discuss a web build, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0161 786 8040.