Ben Holland discusses essential plugins for WordPress front end development that will help your site look great and will allow for easier visitor usability.
Hi, I’m Ben Holland, an account manager here at Vertical Measures, and today I’m going to answer a question we get a lot around here. How do you choose the right WordPress plugins to improve your front end development, to make your site more aesthetically pleasing and help out with usability?
I’m really a big fan of image sliders. They don’t need to take up a whole block of your page, you can just have them internal inside of a blog post or maybe on your services page. People can click through them, or you can automatically have it change pictures after a set amount of time. Now these are great way to not take up a whole lot of real estate on your website but still get all the images you want on there, and images are a great way to optimize your page with their alt tags and their descriptive file names.
Another great tool that coincides with images is a lightbox. A lightbox is something when you click a video or an image, it comes up, puts a small screen above the rest of the page, and then the image comes out in a much larger size so they can see a more detailed picture. I advise when you are doing a lightbox not to have the width of the image surpass the width of your page, unless it’s responsive, and then you can tie your images into being responsive as well.
I also highly recommend a form plugin. I use Contact Form 7. I’m a big fan of that, and it allows you to place forms anywhere on your site with simple short code, and then you can style these forms using CSS however you like. So you can have one form on your contact page that looks different than one in the footer. Or you could have a widget on your footer that has a form, so people can contact you at any time. It’s also a great way to make a lead page if you’re trying to squeeze somebody in and have them fill out a form. These are great tools to track the different forms and how well they’re converting.
Also, on your individual posts, you’ll want to have social buttons. A lot of people use those floating sidebars, and that’s a great plugin you can download. I’m not as big a fan of those because it makes the width of your website wider, and if you’re pulling it up on a mobile device, often those will be cut off. I like the ones that are the base of your website or at the top of your website. I’m a big fan of Shareaholic. It also has a counter on your Facebook, Twitter, and your Pinterest likes. So that way it’s going to motivate other people to share because they see others are doing so.
Then at the bottom of your posts you always want to have a author box. I’m a big fan of WP Biographia. It has a picture of you. It has links to your social media and a little blurb about you, and you can style those as well so your name and everything looks fancy.
Then below that you want your commenting. I’m a huge fan of Disqus. You can have multiple websites using the Disqus plugin, and you can go in there and track all of your comments through their web-based interface, and you don’t have to do it there. It also allows your users to log in using Facebook or Twitter or creating a Disqus account by themselves.
So those are all great front end plugins that you can put on your site to really help your users. By installing these front end plugins you’ll be able to make your site more aesthetically pleasing and increase the usability for your users.
I’m Ben Holland, and thank you for watching.