WordPress is one of the most flexible and easy to use content management systems out there, and we use it quite a bit when setting up websites for clients that want to manage their content themselves. Over time, we’ve put together a set of plugins that we install on pretty much every company website we set up. So without further ado, here are our top tried-and-true WordPress plugins for business users.
Unlike a blog, a business website is usually more page-centric and hierarchically organized with pages like “About Us’, “Contact Us’, etc. If you have a page-centric company website rather than a post-centric website like a blog, site management plugins are a real godsend!
- Admin Menu Tree Page View, by Pär Thernström
Where to find it: integrated into the “Pages” navigation menu.
The plugin adds a tree view of all your site’s pages in an explorer tree, with the option to collapse or expand pages’ lists of subpages. It also has a nice little search box at the top so that you can quickly filter the tree view to find the pages you want to edit.
- CMS Tree Page View, by Pär Thernström
Where to find it: under the expanded “Pages” navigation menu as “Pages Tree View”.
I was originally using CMS Page Order by Bill Ericksen, but after I found Admin Menu Tree Page View I started using this plugin by the same author instead. It is being more actively developed, has a much nicer interface and has several spiffy options such as the ability to add new pages either before, after or inside the level of other pages in your site page hierarchy. Plus you can drag and drop pages to reorganize them, which is far easier and more intuitive than trying to fiddle with the numeric page order values.
- TinyMCE Advanced, by Andrew Ozz
Where to find it: under the “Settings” navigation menu as “TinyMCE Advanced” and as an expanded toolbar in the page and post editors.
For those who want to do more than basic text formatting but don’t want to have to constantly delve into HTML (or don’t have the skills to do so), this plugin is a must-have. Not only can you completely rearrange the existing buttons to better accommodate your workflow, but there are boatloads of extra formatting and feature buttons you can enable for things like tables, special characters, etc.
- WordPress Mobile Pack, by James Pearce & friends
Where to find it: under the “Appearance” navigation menu as “Mobile …”, under the “Tools” menu as “Mobile Analytics”, and under the “Settings” menu as “mpexo”.
Completely takes away the pain of getting your site optimized for mobile devices, and tracks statistics for mobile device users. You can select any installed theme as the one to use for mobile devices, and there are various configuration options for including sidebars and widgets.
- qTranslate, by Qian Qin
Where to find it: under the “Settings” navigation menu as “Languages” and adds additional language tabs and title boxes in the page and post editors.
If you need to maintain your site in multiple languages, such as a English+French for Canada or English+Spanish for the USA, this plugin is invaluable. While it does have some quirks, it is by far the easiest way to maintain multiple versions of the same page in different languages.
- WP Better Emails, by ArtyShow
Where to find it: under the “Settings” navigation menu as “WP Better Emails”.
Branding is all important, and this plugin lets you modify the standard WordPress email template to include any sort of custom HTML including image embedding for logos and letterheads.
Knowing who’s visiting your page, how they got there and what pages they spend time on is key to any well managed business website. There’s quite a few plugins out there to choose from, and your business model might require very specific metrics. That being said, here’s the best all around plugins for analytics.
- Google XML Sitemaps, by Arne Brachhold
Where to find it: under the “Settings” navigation menu as “XML-Sitemap”.
An XML sitemap helps search engines such as Google, Bing, etc. more efficiently index your site. It builds this for you with several customization options, and also rebuilds it automatically and alerts search engines to check it whenever you update your site.
- SEO Ultimate, by SEO Design Solutions
Where to find it: under the navigation menu as “SEO”, under the “Settings” navigation menu as “SEO Ultimate”, and as the section “SEO Settings” in the page and post editors.
This is one of the easiest SEO tools to use, especially with the per post/page settings section added to the editor. While the default settings are usually good enough, it also has tons of advanced feature for those who want to get down and dirty with SEO tools. It’s only real drawbacks are quite a few false positives in the broken links “404 Monitor” and it’s insistence on using the new notifications indicator for alerts about new white papers (hardly important enough that it should be hijacking the alert indicator!).
- WassUp, by Michele Marcucci and Helene Duncker
Where to find it: under the navigation menu as “WassUp”.
Wassup offers tons of great graphs and tracking information that are easy to read and understand, and has more site specific details that are easier to dig out than with services like Google Analytics.
- WP SlimStat, by Camu
Where to find it: under the navigation menu as “SlimStat”.
Like Wassup, SlimStat also has nice graphs and a multitude of visitor stats. While it has more depth than WassUp, for the novice it’s not as easy to grasp what’s going on and what the stats are reporting.
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Where to find it: under the “Tools” navigation menu as “P3 Plugin Profiler”.
It does a fantastic job of profiling your site’s pages to see what plugins are slowing down your page load times. Since speed is of the essence as visitors generally abandon if a site takes more than a couple seconds to load, this plugin provides a huge advantage in trying to determine what’s slowing down your page loads.
Social media integration is pretty much de rigueur for any website these days regardless of the actual purpose of the website. And if your website encourages members or subscribers, the ease of being able to sign up and log in with a social media ID certainly ups conversion rates.
- Really simple Facebook Twitter share buttons, by WhileTrue
Where to find it: under the “Settings” navigation menu as “Really simple share”.
After evaluating an endless parade of social media button plugins, I found this one was the best compromise between customizability and ease of use. It doesn’t use a boatload of special effects (many of which don’t play nice with a lot of themes), it just adds the sharing buttons to the specified place on the specified content. It also doesn’t cover every social media site under the sun, just the top dozen major sites. The main social sharing sites is all that’s generally needed , anyway; anything more is generally either way too visually cluttered or simply too hard to search through and find the sharing button a visitor actually wants to use.
- Simple Facebook Connect, by Otto
Where to find it: under the “Settings” navigation menu as “Simple Facebook Connect”.
Facebook’s discontinuation of the “Notes” feature that allowed automatic posting of a feed was a huge headache for many sites that incorporated blogs and that wanted to maintain content consistently between their websites and their Facebook pages. This plugin helps work around the problem by the somewhat complicated method of creating a custom Facebook app that the plugin interfaces with to post content to your page. While a bit difficult to set up, the ability to automatically keep Facebook synced with site content is well worth it.
- Social Connect Widget, by Scrybes WordPress Hosting
Where to find it: under the “Settings” navigation menu as “Social Connect Widget” and as a new widget available in the “Appearance”->”Widgets” section.
This is a particularly nice looking widget to add to your sidebar with buttons linking to your page for the dozen main social media sites. Again, this plugin strikes a nice balance between customizability and ease of use.
- Social Login, by Claude Schlesser
Where to find it: under the navigation menu as “Social Login”.
A free professional plugin that integrates with about two dozen social media and identity maintenance sites (such as Facebook and Google) via the company’s servers to mediate social media site logins to your website. While tedious to configure, the instructions are well written and tech support responds quickly to email inquiries.