Considering the fact that it was launched in 2003 as a standalone program, the subsequent diversity of WordPress plugins is quite breathtaking. There are now over 55,600 separate plugins, which augment the basic WordPress framework. Some of these are frivolous, while others could best be described as being of niche appeal. However, many have been lovingly engineered to ensure customer-facing websites offer greater functionality or operate more smoothly.
No article can fully cover the breadth and depth of WordPress plugins now available. However, these are some of the plugins which will improve the customer experience on your website, and most should be relevant to companies in any client-facing business…
WooCommerce. Requires: WordPress version 4.7 or higher. Cost: Free.
Few WordPress plugins are more balanced and powerful than Automattic’s WooCommerce. The undisputed world leader in WordPress ecommerce solutions, it supports the sale and shipment of physical and/or digital goods. Advanced functionalities cover affiliate sales, recurring subscriptions, international shipping, and even site loading time acceleration. Its popularity is such that WooCommerce meetups are now held around the world.
Yoast SEO. Requires: WordPress version 4.8 or higher. Cost: Freemium.
Celebrating its tenth birthday, and boasting almost 22,000 five-star reviews on WordPress.org, Yoast is to SEO what WooCommerce is to online sales. It helps companies improve their online presence, ensuring customers find what they need from Google or Bing. Meta descriptions provide concise page summaries, canonical URLs prevent customers from seeing duplicate content and keyword advice link websites with the most relevant terms.
Social Warfare. Requires: WordPress version 3.5.1 or higher. Cost: Freemium.
You’ll have to upgrade to the paid Social Warfare platform to fully utilize its social sharing functionalities. However, even the free version avoids the sluggish responses of similar social sharing plugins. All the main platforms are represented with buttons which can be fixed anywhere on the page or left to float alongside the scrollbar. It displays popular or pinned posts and also prevents content hijacking by unscrupulous advertisers.
Quick and Easy FAQs. Requires: WordPress version 4.0 or higher. Cost: Free.
The FAQ section of a customer-facing website is a valuable resource. It resolves concerns, negates common customer enquiries and brings positive SEO benefits. There are many WordPress plugins handling FAQs, but Quick and Easy is highly recommended for its display options and translation-ready functions. The interface is straightforward to use, and it’s endlessly expandable as a company grows or new customer queries arise.
BirchPress Scheduler. Requires: WordPress 3.7 or higher. Cost: Freemium.
BirchPress Scheduler lets professional services personnel from contractors to motel owners create user-friendly online booking forms. There’s support for multiple locations, specific times of day, particular employees and different currencies. The premium version goes further, providing automatic field filling and page redirection after booking confirmation. It dovetails with other plugins, including WooCommerce and PayPal.
WP Super Cache. Requires: WordPress 3.1 or higher. Cost: Free.
Performing strongly in industry acceleration tests, WP Super Cache generates static HTML files from WordPress pages. These are served to users who don’t need to log in, ensuring faster page displays for smoother repeat visits. Super Cache works across posts, categories and tags, while the installation page on WordPress.org is packed with troubleshooting advice and explanations of how dynamic page elements will be automatically updated.
Envira Gallery. Requires: WordPress 4.0 or higher. Cost: Freemium.
If a picture tells a thousand words, an image gallery will often help to make customers’ minds up about potential purchases. Having been downloaded over a million times, Envira makes light work of lightboxes, albums, and slideshows. It supports image tags and metadata, Pinterest pins, Dropbox importation and even watermarking for copyright protection. Existing templates are available, though customers may also create their own.
Ninja Forms. Requires: WordPress 4.7 or higher. Cost: Freemium.
Customers will often complete a web form as the first part of an inquiry. Ninja Forms comprises a free plugin with premium extensions for Freshbooks, Salesforce and even SMS notifications. Drag-and-drop form creation provides code-free flexibility, while customized fields can be saved and imported into other forms at a later date. It also entails anti-spam options including reCaptcha, ensuring only legitimate messages are received.
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