You’ve now finished planning and building your website’s main structure, which includes content, images, and pages. If you haven’t taken a look at part 2 of this series, regarding homepages and inner pages, you can check it out here. Now it’s time to talk about additional features that you can add to make your website even more professional and appealing to your target audience.
About WordPress Plugins
Since BoldGrid is a site builder built on the WordPress platform, you have access to the wide range of features available through WordPress, and can add any feature to your site in no time. A major benefit of using BoldGrid is the access you have to all of the WordPress plugins. While other site builders may have an app store with a few apps or plugins, WordPress literally has thousands with a huge variety of functionalities. Plugins are a way to add unique functionalities and features to your website without having to use complicated code. If you were a web developer, you could simply write the code yourself for each feature that you need. For the rest of us non-coders, plugins are something we can install that basically takes pre-written code for a feature and adds it to our site.
Not all plugins are free, and not all plugins work. Since WordPress is an open source platform, it’s not really monitored, so anyone can create and upload their plugins and without anyone’s approval to make sure that they really do what they’re supposed to do. It is important to read reviews, look at ratings, and even try a couple of different plugins out with the same functionality to find the one that is perfect for your site.
Best Plugins for Small Business Websites
Before you start browsing plugins, which can take a lifetime, here’s a list of plugins that are great for small business websites. Since there are many of plugins for every feature, we’ll list the features you should look for, and a few popular plugins for each.
- SEO – SEO plugins make it easy for you to optimize your site for search engines, and manage the meta content of each page (meta title, meta description, and meta keywords). The most popular plugin is Yoast, which is free and very easy to use. Additional good SEO plugins are All-In-One SEO Pack, WP Social SEO Booster, SEO Pressor, and Rankie.
- Speed – The faster your page loads, the higher it will rank in Google and the less visitors you’ll lose. One way to make it faster is to install a plugin that presents a cached version of your website to your visitors instantly. Popular plugins for this are Hummingbird and W3 Total Cache.
- Plugin packs – There are plugin packs that install a number of useful plugins at once so that you don’t have to go searching one by one. Jetpack is the most popular pack and includes content tools, engagement features, social sharing, related posts, and more.
- Forms – Getting a good form plugin is important so that you can make it easy for your visitors to contact you through a good looking form that fits your design. BoldGrid automatically uses NinjaForms, which is very popular and easy to use. Another popular plugin is Contact Form 7.
- Social – There are two types of social plugins to consider. The first is feeds, which allows you to share your social feeds on your website. This isn’t a must and depends on your audience and products. The other type is sharing buttons for social media and that is crucial, especially if you have a blog. We recommend Shareaholic or Floating Social.
There are many more besides the ones that we mentioned above, so if they aren’t just right for you, try out a few others until you find the perfect one.
How to Find and Install Plugins
If you know the name of the plugin you want, this is a fast and easy process. Simply hover over “Plugins” in the side menu and click “Add New”. Enter the name of the plugin you want in the search box and then click “Install Now”. Make sure to look at the additional details, like rating or if the plugin works with your WordPress version.
If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, you can enter a search term like “forms”, “social sharing”, or “SEO” to find relevant plugins and then install one based on its rating, features, and compatibility.
Once you install a plugin, you’ll have to activate it. You can do that right after you install by clicking “Activate”, or clicking “Plugins” in the side menu where you can view all of your installed plugins and their status. You can activate or deactivate any plugin from there.
Adding and Editing Forms with BoldGrid
By default, BoldGrid uses the NinjaForms plugin to create forms. To edit forms, go to “Forms” in the side menu and click “Edit Forms”. You’ll see a list of existing forms, simply choose the one you would like to edit. You can drag each section in the form and change the order of the items. To edit each item, click the little arrow and you’ll be able to easily change the placeholder text and access advanced settings.
If you want additional fields, like an address or a text box, you can drag them from the left and customize them. When your form is ready, you’ll need to make sure you get notifications when someone fills it out. Save your form and then click Email, and Actions. Edit the notifications that your visitors will get when they fill out the form and your own email preferences.
To add the form to your page, visit the page’s editor and click “Add Media” and then click “Forms” in the side menu of the popup window. Choose the form you want and add it to your page.
When you’re done adding plugins and new features to your website, make sure to test them all out to make sure they work. Fill out your forms and see what notifications you get and what your visitors get, try to share your posts to see what your visitors see, and so on. This can be a time-consuming test, but you’ll be surprised at the small messages you forgot to add and usability issues you discover.