My Favorite Things to use with WordPress

You’ve seen the show. You’ve seen the hype, and you have certainly coveted missing being an audience member on the day Oprah tapes her “Favorite Things” show. Well with WordPress we can have favorite things all year round, and here are some of mine.

 

Framework


Woo Themes – Woo is my all time favorite framework. Not only do they make stunning themes straight out of the box, but they also have built a bunch of really cool plugins that correlate with the theme and integrate nicely. Some themes even have them built in. Don’t want to use that part of the theme? No problem. Most themes allow you strip them down and it still looks nice and runs smooth without then. From sliders, to featured areas, and fancy fun shortcodes I can’t get enough of Woo. We build most of our child themes with the Woo framework. As a developer signing up for the developer license is a must. Then you have access to all themes, and all psds. A really nice touch to tell your clients you are including the cost of the theme in the price.

 

Theme

Simplicity – Naturally since Woo is my favorite framework I am of course going to choose a Woo Theme, and that would be Simplicity. Canvas is Woo Themes flagship theme, but I have to beg to differ. Simplicity is what it is called…simple. We have customized the crap out of Simplicity and made completely different looking themes which because I am a geek is super fun. Some of the different child themes we created using Simplicity are :

You can see how there is a lot to do with Simplicity, and the possibilites are limitless.

Backup Plugin

Backup Buddy- Often times when people setup backups on their site they either do one or the other files or database. Well this one does both. It is especially useful to use to migrate clients sites from your developer server. It also has a cool feature where it will do a Malware scan on the files too to make sure you are uploading a secure and safe version of the clients site.

SEO Plugin


WordPress SEO by Yoast - I used to be a big proponent of All-In-One SEO pack and Platinum SEO pack, but after switching to Yoast I never looked back. It also killed two birds with one stone by being able to create my XML sitemap with one plugin instead of having to install a 2nd plugin, Google XML sitemaps. I really like it’s setup for page settings as well. Woo themes comes with an SEO portion integrated, but I always recommend using a plugin for this because you will always end up with a different theme down the road.

 

Social Sharing Plugin

Twitter Facebook Social Share-  TF Social Share for short this plugin includes the top social sharing items even Pinterest. It has counters and non counter icons if you want to keep it plain. It also has some styling items included which let you do a border and background color. It isn’t that popular, and I consider it my little secret.

 

Slider Plugin

Nivo Slider- I LOVE NIVO!  If you are not using a theme that already has a slider integrated then Nivo is your best bet. It has some cool features for background options and is super simple to install. It allows for linking to any page or post, and you can even add text to it.

 

Forms Plugin


Gravity Forms – Gravity forms is the…well, you know what. It rules. It integrates with a bunch of payments processors. It allows for front end post contributing and is hands down the nicest and easiest form plugin to use. Sorry Contact Form 7, you lose. It’s super nice drag and drop ability allows you to create a form in minutes, and adding it to a page is just a simple shortcode. It has fancy drop downs, calendars, and even does multi page forms which can make your payment checkout look super sweet. Again, this plugin has a developer license so it allows for that perk of telling your clients it is included. Gravity forms also has a MailChimp add on so you can hook it right up.

 

3rd Party Email Marketing System


Mail Chimp – Not only does Mail Chimps website and branding  just simply blow Aweber out of the water, so does their functionality. Mailchimp also seamlessly integrates with Woo themes and their dashboard. It easily connects all subscribe forms on the site to Mal Chimp and all you have to do is insert your Mail Chimp email address into your Woo dashboard. It has way better looking forms too if you aren’t using Woo. Have you ever tried to build a form in Aweber? I rest my case.

 

Want to ask me what my favorite thing is beyond my top list above? Do you have any favorite WordPress plugins? Feel free to leave a comment and ask!

Rachael Butts
Rachael Butts is the CEO and lead designer for Rachaelbutts.com. She is a self-made WordPress gal who loves running her own shop, making clients happy, and coffee.

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Comments

  1. Very helpful information and suggestions Rachel, thank you. We are MailChimp fans and clients and have had nothing but success with all of their offerings! GoodJob!

  2. dkzody says:

    Mail Chimp is the best. Used this with a nonprofit for whom I worked last year. Easy to use.

  3. Rachel, excellent post, and now I have homework again. Blog sites and plugins certainly have come a long way….Thanks so much for sharing, can't wait to check some these out.

  4. Thanks! Yes they have come a long way and actually I don't even call them blogs anymore, just a website. I make WP sites all the times that don't even use a blog. :)

  5. Mallie Hart says:

    Wonderful, you named several that we already use so I got some validation, plus you shared a couple I plan to check out, so innovation! Makes Mallie a happy camper!

  6. Tiana Kai says:

    I need to install a forms plugin for a client tomorrow, so will definitely check Gravity out. Thanks for the detailed reviews on the rest.

  7. awesome! Hope it works out!

  8. TheJackB says:

    I am with AWeber now, but have been thinking about switching over to Mailchimp, good to hear they are easy to work with.

    • I used Aweber for a couple years and am still an affiliate, but Mail Chimp just integrates with a lot of stuff more easily, PLUS they have a free membership for under a certain amount of subscribers.

  9. jacobkcurtis says:

    Hey Rachel,

    Glad we share the same taste in a few of our plugins – Yoast SEO for example.

    A few suggested plugins:

    I really really really like "Tweetily" – it's a plugin that will periodically tweet a random post or page automatically to promote your content and drive traffic to your site. You set the time, number of tweets, and it does the rest.

    Would also recommend Google XML Sitemap for Videos if you have a blog that showcases numerous YouTube/Vimeo embeds. Simply create a video sitemap and submit it to Google/Bing webmaster tools to be indexed.

    Finally, find a nice Favicon plugin to your page tab stand out.

    Other than that I'm taking a look at Gravity Forms and Slider Plugin after reading this post.

    Thanks for the suggestions!

    Jacob

    • Hey Jacob!

      Thanks for sharing. Just out of curiosity is there a reason you don't use Yoasts sitemap instead of installing a second plugin?

      For favicons if the theme doesn't have a favicon uploader I just install in manually. I am a big fan of having as little as possible plugins just for sheer fun factor :)

      • jacobkcurtis says:

        A video sitemap is entirely separate from the basic sitemap for pictures and posts/pages that Yoast generates for indexing.

        I use Google XML Sitemap for Videos plugin which generates a sitemap specifically to index my videos on my site. I have not seen the option in Yoast to generate a "Video Sitemap" which is why I use the second plugin.

        I also agree on limiting the amount of plugins especially for the load time of your site! Keep it clean!

        Thanks for the reply!

  10. Jennifer says:

    I love Gravity Forms for everything and I "was" a huge fan of MailChimp, however, apparently anyone who promotes affiliate links or products on their website or in their emails can have their entire list removed without warning. It seems like a huge risk and so I don't advise anyone to use it anymore, which is unfortunate because the interface is incredibly simple.

    • Hi Jennifer-

      I think what you are talking about is that if you are promoting their service on your site you have to have some simple text stating that you are an affiliate or this is an affiliate link. Every single service that offers affiliate links has to do this now not just MailChimp. It is a new law that was put into place. So, not to fret. Just add the text to your site and keep using it :)

  11. Jose HC says:

    Thanks for the tips… My site is in need of some shake-up and I may test your tips out.

    Cheers!

  12. I definitely still need to give MailChimp a go as we move from 2012 into 2013!

  13. Mike Edwards says:

    Rachel, I love Mailchimp’s Social plugin, it works like a dream. I have also just started using Visual Composer by Codecanyon… It seems to work really well.

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