Pop quiz: How many WordPress plugins do you have on your WordPress website? Go look.
Got more than 4 plugins? More than 10? Did you know that every plugin lowers your site speed on Google SpeedTest by 3 points?
The best WP plugins can provide a magical experience – add features and functions to your WordPress site with just the click of a button.
And the WordPress plugin repository offers a seemingly endless treasure trove of options to extend your WordPress website and create a better experience for your users. Need help setting up your SEO? There’s a plugin for that. Want to feed your latest Instagram posts into your footer? Just search for a plugins, install and activate, right? Well, not so fast.
Not all WP plugins are healthy for your WordPress site, and too many “junky” plugins can really slow things down (beware the yucky WP plugin bloat). It’s important to pick your WP plugins wisely, because some can really hurt your site. They’re snippets of code authored by strangers, after all. The open source community that created and grew WordPress is largely wonderful, but it does require a roadmap.
Here’s a handy checklist to help you pick the best plugin for your WordPress site:
- Has it been tested with the current version of WordPress? Or at least, the version your site is running? How to tell what WordPress version your site is running
- When was the plugin last updated? If it’s been more than 4 months or so, that might be a sign no one is manning the controls or keeping it up-to-date.
- How many support tickets are there? Has the plugin developer been replying? It’s always wisest to choose plugins that clearly have a team behind them, paying attention to the ever-changing security and code landscape.
- Does it have a good star rating? Plugins in the WordPress plugin repository are rated, just like restaurants on Yelp. Click through to read the issues reported by the best and worst reviewers just like you might before buying an Amazon mattress.
- Can it be accomplished without a plugin? The fastest sites are the leanest, and the web loves speed. Your site visitors are giving you 15 seconds, max. They don’t want to wait for a splashy graphics show with music – they just want you and what you have to offer.
- Will I remember to keep it up-to-date? Because nothing is more dangerous to the health of your WordPress website than an out-of-date plugin. Skipping updates leaves the back door open to hacks and other threats. Adopt a system or reach out for help, we’re here for you
Your website is like a houseplant.
It needs attention and care, it wants sunlight and water and even to be sung to. I’m serious, sort of…
The first time I said this in a pre-launch discussion, while doling out important advice about the need to keep up with plugin updates and other regular maintenance, my client laughed. And I realized, that’s a great analogy. A website really is like a house plant.
Just like a house plant, a website thrives best with watchful care and attention. An abandoned site will wilt and stagnate; one that is lovingly cared for will flourish and shine.
Your website, no matter what platform it’s on, needs regular care and attention. Just like you’d water a plant regularly, it’s vital to regularly log in to your website and make some changes. Add a blog post, tweak the call to action on your homepage to try a different tact, spruce up your imagery. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you do something to show the search bots there’s a person behind the curtain.
Check out this handy infographic, Your Website Care Guide, for an at-home how-to guide for website care. And be sure to share with friends and followers who would benefit, too!
Get your print-friendly version here:
If you’ve enjoyed my website care guide, please share it with others by sharing this post on your favorite social media platform. And don’t forget to follow me, too, to see more resources and tips. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
A client emailed me recently with a link to a site that she really admired. It wasn’t the content, images, or even layout she liked – the business was in a totally different industry – but the tone. “It’s very approachable,” she told me. “How can we build something that feels so… inviting?”
What made that site so approachable was it’s direct attention to the needs and wants of the site visitor. As soon as I clicked through to check it out, I felt listened to, and heard. Rather than talk about how they’ve served others in the past, this site talked about how it could serve me, today. I felt like this business really understood my problems and was ready with a solution.
This is key capturing leads – visitors don’t want to browse through your top hits and see how others have benefited, they want to know how you’re relevant to them and how you’re going to solve their problems.
A good web site anticipates the problems visitors bring to the site, validates that “pain”, and readily offers actionable solutions. Whether you’re selling items, outlining services, or serving up content, be sure your copy and content always puts the visitor first. Do your research, understand why and how people will come to your site, and turn that experience into a satisfying solution that will bring them back again and again.
Develop “personas”, or profiles of a variety of potential visitors who will come to your site. Who are they, where do they live, what do they do with their time? Then consider why they’re looking at your site, what problem(s) they’re trying to solve, and what action steps they’re ready to take today. And, most importantly, make it easy to take those steps through intuitive navigation and clear calls-to-action through the site. Understanding why they’re browsing helps us to give them the buttons and tools that make taking that next step easy.