Plugins – Essential & recommended

ESSENTIALS

Updraft Plus: For backups. *NB* Install this pretty much straight away to make sure those long hours of configuration aren’t wasted if something goes wrong.  Use Updraft Plus to make an immediate backup, and then schedule backups at intervals best suited to your blog posting schedule.  Unlike some other backup offerings it’s completely non-geek and is also free.  Add-ons  for migration and other purposes are available at a low cost on a modular basis to be purchased as/if needed.

Wordfence: For security. And for critical help if your site does get hacked.  *NB* Install this straight away also.  Wordfence locks out human and bot hack attempts.  It scans your site routinely and notifies you by e-mail of any file changes, highlighting malicious looking changes and offering a repair/restore function.  It does a lot more, but what this means is that if a site is compromised, you know quickly.  It’s much easier to fix a hacked site immediately from the dashboard than when the rot has spread and the host company has taken the site offline, at which stage it needs to be investigated manually.  Not fun.

TRIED & TRUSTED – THE PLUGINS I USE REGULARLY

Simple Social Icons: This widget adds pretty little social icons to add into a sidebar, footer or other widget on your site.  It’s nice and flexible in terms of colour and appearance, is simple to use and covers all the big social platforms.

Easy Recipe: There are heaps of recipe plugins out there.  I’ve been through a lot of them and there are quite a few others I love.  The reason I’m recommending this one is that it keeps it’s formatting in tact when it is auto shipped to an e-mail list via MailChimp, and lots of others don’t.  It is also easy to use though doesn’t offer some features in the free version which other plugins do offer.  Adding an image to your recipe, or making text bold etc are pro-version features, so an upgrade to pro will probably be needed sooner rather than later.  The pro-upgrade is reasonably priced at $24.95.  I use this plugin for storing recipes and for instructables also, just to offer an easy print option.

Regenerate Thumbnails: This plugin comes in handy if you change a wordpress theme and all of a sudden your images, which are sized perfectly in the old theme, look a bit all over the place in the new theme.  Install this, run it, and all will be well again.

WooCommerce: For shops.  WooCommerce was always great, but since its purchase by Automattic in May 2015 it’s safer to assume it will integrate with most WordPress themes, not just WooThemes. WooCommerce itself is free, and means you can set up a full shop on a WordPress website within a realistic hour.  Extra features are available as paid extensions.

AutoChimp: For post to e-mail campaigns.  The elephant in the wardrobe here is that this plugin hasn’t been updated in over 2 years, which is technically a big red flag.  But it’s great and I use it because it’s easy and there is no replacement.  AutoChimp connects a WordPress website with a MailChimp account and can be configured to send posts automatically to a selected e-mail list on publication of post.  If you select this option, be careful not to publish until all proofing is done.  It also offers a ‘save draft’ facility, where the campaign is saved in MailChimp for manual sending.  This great post by Heather Hogan explains how to configure a template in MailChimp to take the post content.

 

Mailchimp – how to create a signup form for your website

Log into your Mailchimp Dashboard

  • Go to ‘Lists’ in the top menu.
  • Select a list. This will be the list to which subscribers are added.
  • Select ‘signup forms’
  •  Different form types are offered General, embedded, subscriber pop-up (ew!) or an assisted option.  Choose embedded.
  • Classic, Super Slim, Horizontal, Naked, Advanced are all the design options offered.  Read about the differences here. It’s really a matter of preference and how much or little detail you need collected.
  • The most bare option is Horizontal, while Classic gives a flexible box.
  • Select your preferences and copy and paste the code generated into a text widget or page on your site.