Pick the right plugins for your WordPress site

Pick the right plugins for your WordPress site

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?

wordpress pluginsThe 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:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
Install Divi Layouts from your WordPress dashboard

Install Divi Layouts from your WordPress dashboard

The best part about the Divi theme by elegantthemes.com is the vast layout library and the ease with which you can install a pre-built layout right into your dashboard. I’ve worked with a lot of themes over the years (and I mean, A LOT), and Divi is the only one I’ve encountered that let’s you mix-and-match your layouts on a page-by-page basis within the same site. It’s like my sister & me with our leggings and big baggy sweaters in the ’90s. Mix and match it up, sister!

This custom video tutorial will walk you through installing divi layouts from directly within your WordPress dashboard. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s fun.

If it’s helpful to you, share it on social media! And follow my YouTube channel to be notified of future videos. I’m also sharing WordPress tips and resources on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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Your Website Care Guide

Your Website Care Guide

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!

Website Care Guide | Kate M. Gilbert

 

Get your print-friendly version here:

website care guide

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.

Why I host with WPEngine

Why I host with WPEngine

Host with WPEngineWPEngine is my preferred host for not just my own websites but for the sites I build for clients, too. But why?

WPEngine just works.

It’s that simple. We host with WPEngine because their servers just work. They keep our sites online 24/7, and provide all the user-friendly bells and whistles that a DIY site owner wants and needs in a good web host:

  • Live US-based phone support
  • User portal that’s easy to navigate
  • Full site backups every 24 hours
  • Plugin and update oversight
  • Hidden bonuses to your site’s SEO

Wait, what’s that last one again?

Hosting with WPEngine helps your site’s SEO

 

Websites hosted on WPEngine rank lower on Google, on average, than those built and hosted by Squarespace, Weebly, Wix or GoDaddy.  This according  to a recent  review on Fresh Chalk blog, check it out here >

WPEngine hosts faster sites

Another interesting stat from Fresh Chalk’s review of web site builders and web hosting providers is this little chart highlighting page load time on WPEngine vs. the competition.

Sites hosted on WPEngine, on average, load more than 1ms. faster on WPEngine than they do on competitors like Squarespace, Wix, and GoDaddy. That’s significant site load time!

 

Switch to WPEngine and get 3 months free!

Ready to make the switch to more solid hosting?

Readers of this blog can get 3 months free on annual Startup, Growth, and Scale plans when you use coupon code WPE3FREE. If you choose to pay monthly, the deal converts to 10% off your first three months, which is still pretty sweet.

With WPEngine hosting, switching is easy, so what are you waiting for? Make the switch to host with WPEngine today >

Web Support Done Right

Web Support Done Right

How I work

Since 2006 or so, I’ve been building and supporting WordPress websites. I’ve built and launched more than 100 WordPress sites in the past decade, for clients and collaborations as varied as you can imagine.

But I’m no longer building websites from scratch for clients. I’m not offering ongoing hosting and management, either. In fact, I’m moving past done-for-you web development, towards a new model.

I want to help you build your own website

I’m no longer building websites for others, save for the rare passion project. I’m focused instead on done-with-you web support, showing you directly how to achieve what you desire and envision, online, the simple way. Eye to eye.

Because I believe all of us can have websites we love, without the hassle and high cost of digital agencies, designers and developers. And I want to show you how.

 

Want to know if Office Hours is right for you?

Office Hours help is right for you if you already have a WordPress site, or a hosting account and a plan to set up WordPress, and desire to do it yourself but need someone to lean on. I’ve been building and supporting WordPress sites for 12+ years and I know the platform inside out. Tap into my expertise to set your site straight the right away. And know how to do it next time!

I’m offering free support, too. And referrals.

If you’re not ready to book an hour on my calendar, that’s okay, you can still benefit from my help and guidance on your WordPress site. Subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow me on Instagram and Facebook to catch tips, tutorials, videos and more tailored at the WordPress site owner. And if you’re looking for a done-for-you developer, check out my recommended referrals list right here > [coming soon]

Need help with your site right now?

Create sites that hear the visitor

Create sites that hear the visitor

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.

Action Plan:

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.