Essential WordPress Plugins

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Essential WordPress Plugins. Byte of Texas 2015 Austin Food Blogger Alliance Margaret Dornbusch MadSweetWorld.com. Agenda. About Me What are plugins? How to use plugins Essential plugins. About Me. And a Disclaimer. About Me. Started with hand-coding in 1990s - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Essential WordPress Plugins

Essential WordPress PluginsByte of Texas 2015 Austin Food Blogger AllianceMargaret Dornbusch MadSweetWorld.com

Hamster Hot Dog Eating Contest1AgendaAbout MeWhat are plugins?How to use pluginsEssential plugins

madsweetworld.comGood afternoon. Glad to see so many nearly awake faces.

My name is Margaret Dornbusch, and Im going to talk about WordPress plugins today. And because my blog, MadSweetWorld, is all about fudge, were going to have a little fudge, too.

Because this is an after-lunch and after-cupcake-break presentation, I brought two wake-me-up fudge flavors my signature fudge, Red Hot Fudge, and my partners favorite caffeine-laden fudge, Espresso Fudge. Please help yourself anytime during this presentation. Lets keep that blood sugar high!

2About MeAnd a Disclaimer

3About MeStarted with hand-coding in 1990sDidnt really know I was bloggingUsed free Greymatter Database not required, output HTMLCouldnt afford other blogging solutionsWordPress in 2003 free, barebones, no pluginsWordPress in 2014 Wow! Still free! Lots of plugins!madsweetworld.comI started writing on the web in the late 1990s stuff like travelogues for our vacation trips and things we did to fix up our fixer-upper on the cheap. Nobody called that blogging, but thats kind of what it was.

I used blogger.com (before Google bought it). However, I wanted more control, so I bought my domains and went to self-hosted blogs. At that point, I used an application called Greymatter. It was slow and clunky, but it worked. But then the creator decided to stop supporting it, so I had to search for another solution.After much research of the various blogging software out there at the time, I decided to go with the WordPress. Because it had just been released, it was a little clunky then, too, but gave me much more flexibility than Greymatter.Ive used WordPress ever since. I took a hiatus from blogging from 2009 to September of last year, but I was strongly encouraged to reenter the blogging world last year to share my fudge recipes. Thus, madsweetworld.com was born.While I was on hiatus, WordPress made some huge strides. Compared to early versions, the current package is amazing. The dashboard is fantastic. And all the themes and plug-ins! Wow! I was blown away when I installed it last year.

4DisclaimerIm not an expertWe are merely scratching the surfacemadsweetworld.comIm no expert. When I first decided to do this presentation, my thought was that plugins were easy and that this would be an easy presentation. I did a lot of research and realized hat I was very wrong.

In fact, this presentation just barely even scratches the surface. There are 33,000 plugins available to self-hosted Wordpress users. Plugins can be easy, but they can also be extremely complicated, as I found during my research. The breadth of the available plugins just blew my mind.

In some cases, Ill be making specific recommendations. In other cases, Ill be talking generically and will leave it up to you to search for and try out an appropriate plug-in.

5What are Plugins?

6What are Plugins?Dependent componentAdds features to an existing applicationsEnables customizationSome plug-ins have pluginsBuddyPress Provides an entire ecosystem for groups communicationshttps://wordpress.org/plugins/buddypress/madsweetworld.comFrom Wikipedia: A plugin is a dependent software component that adds a specific feature to an existing software application. When an application supports plug-ins, it enables customization.

But does it need to be software-based?7Plugin Example

madsweetworld.comNot really. You could say that false teeth are plugins.8How to Use Plugins

9How to Use PluginsFindingInstallingConfiguringAdding code (if necessary)madsweetworld.com10Finding Plugins33,485 plugins availableWordPress plugin searchStar ratings in search resultsPopular or Favorites tabsGooglebest plugins for food bloggersbest seo pluginsRecommendations from other bloggersAustin Food Blogger AllianceAustin Bloggers Facebook pageAustin WordPress meetupmadsweetworld.comBecause there are so many plugins available, how do you go about finding the plugins you need? What about plugins you dont know you need, but you really do?11Installing PluginsInstalling plugins is easyFrom the Plugins page, click Add New.Search for the plugin you want to add.Click Install Now.Click Activate Plugin (or activate later if you want).

madsweetworld.comThats it. But is it really that simple? Yes, its just that easy. Its configuring the plugins that can be the hard part.12Configuring PluginsFollow any directions

34 Settings!madsweetworld.comSometimes configuring plugins is easy and requires you to set no settings. Sometimes, it requires a lot of effort, including learning new things. Jetpack, for instance, has 34 separate settings. Others, such as Yoasts WordPress SEO plugin, require verification or validation from services outside your blog, such as Google Analytics information or webmaster tools. Others require a paid subscription (VaultPress). Still others require you to buy the plugin for advanced functionality (EasyRecipePlus).13Configuring Plugins (cont.)Some plugins require adding a bit of code to your template or uploading a file to your website

Some require adding short codes to your templateBits of code that represent longer sections of codeExample: [donate] adds a Donate button

madsweetworld.comFavicon is that little icon you see in the tab when you browse to a website.14Installation Demo

Creative Image Slider

15Essential Plugins

16Absolutely EssentialComment SpamSign up with Akismet (Automattic)http://akismet.com/Activate the pluginClick Get your API key or enter your API key manually

madsweetworld.comWhat is comment spam?Wikipedia: a broad category of spambot or spammer postings which abuse web-based forms to post unsolicited advertisements as comments on forums, blogs, wikis and online guestbooks.Funny looking comments that *almost* sound logical, but they arent. They also contain weird-looking links to websites you probably dont ever want to visit.

You can sign up with Akismet for free or low-cost, depending on your budget. Considering even my little blog has generated a significant amount of comment spam, its definitely worth whatever you can afford to donate.

NOTE: Any plug-in from Automattic or wordpress.com is created and maintained by Automattic, the people who created WordPress. I would probably trust that plugin to work. 17Absolutely Essential (cont.)BackupVaultPress (Automattic)subscription backup serviceSecurityWordfence Securityfree security scans

madsweetworld.comBackupEvery website needs a good back-up system, whether you back it up manually on a regular basis, or whether you have it done for you automatically. Best practices indicate that you should never NOT back up your website.

Example: When I was working on this presentation, I created a test installation of Wordpress. I didnt bother to back it up because I was going to use it only for a couple of weeks. When I was about half done writing the presentation, something I installed caused the test site to blow up. Did I have a back up? No. I had to start over. Do I have a backup of the new test site? No. I like living on the edge. Do I have a back-up of MadSweetWorld? Absolutely.

VaultPress, another plugin owned by Automattic, is a subscription backup service. It runs automatically and without having to do anything beyond set it up. (I use my providers back-up solution so I dont need this plug-in.)

SecurityKeep your website updated with the latest version of WP and any plugins.

Wordfence: VaultPress also offers security scans if you sign up for their highest price service. I cant afford that, so I run Wordfence. They also have a paid option, but the free option is good enough for me for now.

18Search Engine Optimization (SEO)Yoast WordPress SEO (requires verification from Google Webmaster Tools)Google AnalyticsGoogle AnalyticatorOther analytics plug-insShare buttons (Pinterest/Facebook/Twitter, etc.)Simple Share Buttons

madsweetworld.comWhat is Search Engine Optimization?Wikipedia: the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.

Yoast Wordpress SEO is a wide-ranging plugin that incorporates everything from a snippet preview to page analysis functionality that helps you optimize your pages content, images titles, meta descriptions and more to XML sitemaps, and loads of optimization options in between. Its like SEO in a box.

Google Analytics is probably the most recognized website analysis tools. Google Analytics gives you a bit of code that includes an account number that you add to your website. Plugins can add that code automatically and also display a high-level view of your stats on the WordPress dashboard.

There are two kinds of share buttons the kind that point people to your social medial sites and those that allow readers to share your posts to their social media sites. Simple Share Buttons is an example of a plugin that puts the second kind of share buttons at the end of each post, making it easy for readers to share your message.

19BloggingEvent CalendarGoogleBlog-onlyEditorial CalendarEditorial Calendar 3.3 Manage posts from a calendar view

madsweetworld.comEvent calendars are useful if you are attending or hosting various events you want your readers to know about. There are several kind of events calendars. One kind uses data from your Google calendar. This kind of plugin is helpful if you allow others to edit your calendar. Instead of giving them access to your website, they can just have write access to