Design has always had a bit of a peculiar relationship with the other areas of responsibility a business has. Barring a select few outliers, most successful companies in modern times haven’t placed much emphasis on good design—they weren’t necessarily creating products with horrible design, per say, though some were—more that it wasn’t an ingrained part of the company ethos.
WordPress is a powerful, user-friendly content management system that gives users an almost endless number of options they can use to alter and customize the platform. This flexibility makes it an ideal solution for small business owners, and the numbers agree – almost 19% of all websites on the Internet ran on WordPress in 2013 and there were 4 billion page views for WordPress websites. Tens of thousands of websites are created with WordPress every day, and small business owners aren’t alone in their love of WordPress. Big brands like CNN, the National Football League, Time, and Major League Baseball have all made their homes on the web using WordPress.
WordPress’s customization options are many. Two of the best ways for users, both advanced and not-so-advanced, are widgets and plugins. Users can utilize both widgets and plugins to customize a WordPress site, but widgets are typically used to allow the user to have more control over the structure and design of their website’s theme. Plugins on the other hand have a wide variety of uses, everything from assisting with search engine optimization to creating backups of the website to moderating visitors’ comments.
Plugins and widgets can save small business owners time as well as help them to do twice the work in the same amount of time.
So, what are some useful plugins that small businesses can take advantage of?
Not a WordPress or HTML wizard? Not a problem. The Image Widget lets users skip the HTML editing and helps them easily add photos, logos, banners, and other images to the design of their website. Users can also align the image on the page, link to other webpages, add alt text to an image, and chooses whether or not a linked image opens in a new window.
Every business owner knows (or should know) how important search engine optimization is for websites. The Yoast SEO plugin makes it incredibly easy for small business owners to optimize their websites, whether it is meta descriptions, page titles, images, sitemaps, and more. Small business owners looking to prime their websites for search engines should seriously consider this plugin.
With this plugin users can define the days and hours that their business is open. The plugin then displays this information on the website. Opening Hours is ideal for all types of small businesses, whether they have a physical retail store or are strictly an eCommerce business. The plugin also lets users displays the days that they are closed.
Small business owners don’t have time to wade through dozens of spam comments and delete them. Thankfully the Akismet plugin automates the process. Any blog or website that has comments enabled can benefit from this plugin, as it identifies and filters out spammy comments.
With this plugin a small business owner can display all relevant contact information, including email address, phone number, and a physical address, if applicable. It also allows the user to display a map and their business hours, and offers six different styles to choose from so site operators can change the look to match their site design.
One of the flaws with WordPress is that it doesn’t have the functionality to create and manage contact forms on a website. Thankfully with Gravity Forms, however, users can quickly create and display well-designed contact forms on their website. It is a paid plugin, but the ease of use and practicality makes it worth the cost.
Small business owners interested in allowing their website visitors to rate comments, pages, and posts on their websites can install this plugin. It even allows users to display a list of the top-rated site content in WordPress’s widget area. Users can upgrade to the pro version, which costs $3.99 and $8.99 per domain per month. Depending on the chosen plan, users of this plugin can receive Google Rich Snippets integration, BuddyPress integration, ratings analytics, and bbPress.
This plugin automatically checks a website for broken links and images. Keeping a site free of broken images and links is vital – and it’s important to spot them before customers do.
The selection of plugins and widgets for WordPress is as robust and comprehensive as the content management system itself. If a small business owner has a need, there is probably a plugin out there to meet it. When choosing plugins and widgets it is important to keep business goals in mind and choose the best option to help you meet those goals.