WordPress Wednesday – Favourite Plugins, Part 1

by Tony Gamble

wordpress-pluginsI am a bit of a WordPress nerd. Almost every website I build is constructed using this versatile content management system. The biggest reason is because of the user-friendly admin interface, and the extensibility of the platform through the use of easily implemented plugins. This means I don’t have to spend time writing thousands of lines of code to provide the functionality our clients seek. I’m often asked what some of my favourite plugins are, so today I thought I would present a short list of recommendations.

The Events Calendar

This brilliant plugin from Modern Tribe creates a new post type called Events in your admin. This makes posting a new event to the calendar as easy as writing a new post, with some additional relevant fields. Each time you fill in the field for Venue and Organizer, it is saved for future use through a handy dropdown menu. Displaying the calendar to the public-facing site is as simple as directing the user to the Events page (www.yoursite.com/events by default), or by using their simple widget. Viewing a single event gives users the option of adding it to their Google or Apple calendar and even provides an interactive Google map to the venue location.

Async Social Sharing

Simple, lightweight and asynchronous. Eh, what? Using asynchronous script, this plugin can tack on social media sharing widgets to your posts and/or pages without impacting your page load times by loading them simultaneously to each other. Twitter taking a bit longer to respond? No problem. All of the other scripts on your page will continue loading. The settings for this plugin are about as simple as you can get. Just check the social network sharing widgets you want to display, choose where you want them to show up (before or after the content) and for which post types they should be displayed. Easy peasy.

Easy Modal

We all generally hate popups on the websites we visit, but Easy Modal is a different popup tool. Popups are triggered only when clicked by the user, making it a great option for displaying forms. It presents itself much like the Lightbox-style overlay you get when you click to view a photo on Facebook, darkening the background to focus attention on your popup content. Building a modal uses the same WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface you use to write a post or page. You can also customize the display theme and animations with just a few clicks. Best of all, a popup doesn’t take your user away from the page they’re on. Click anywhere outside the modal box and the popup disappears.

Download Manager

The WordPress Media Library works great for adding pictures, videos, documents and more, but Download Manager is a true file management system. It adds a new Downloads post type in your WordPress admin sidebar and offers valuable features like download tracking, access restrictions, custom icons and a growing library of useful add-ons, both free and premium. In fact, one such free add-on gives you access to your Google Drive files so you don’t even have to host them on your site.

These are just a few of the great plugins I’ve used time and time again. There are many, many more, so be sure to follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more from WordPress Wednesdays.

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