WordPress can provide infinite possibilities through it’s use of themes, plug-ins and widgets

Themes

I can install a pre-built theme for you that you might have purchased from one of the many Theme marketplaces that have become popular ov er the last few years, such as ThemeForest. However using a pre-built theme made by someone else, especially if it’s a complex one, does limit the amount of customisation I can put into the website as it quite often requires me to reverse engineer the theme. Many pre-built themes come bundled with additional plug-ins and whilst this may seem like good value at the outset, quite often all these additions do is add ‘bloat’ to your website.

For maximum customisation I prefer to convert HTML templates into WordPress where I can then control the build process, adding in features as needed and avoiding ‘plug-in bloat’ making your website as fast as possible and as usable as possible. There are plenty of HTML templates available from ThemeForest, they’re often half the price of WordPress themes and quite often the HTML template version of a WordPress theme is available.

Plug-ins

Customising WordPress has been made easier through the use of plug-ins. They can add all sorts of functionality to WordPress. Here are a few plug-ins I have worked with with live example sites where appropriate showing the plug-in in action.

Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)

I refer to this as the Swiss Army Knife of plug-ins as it can allow for some very advanced configurations in the WordPress dashboard. I use this on all but the very basic of websites to customise not only the editing experience in the WordPress dashboard, but also the display of content on the front-end of the website.

Slider Revolution

Quite simply this is one of the most advanced slider plug-ins around allowing for some very advanced animations as well as embedding videos in sliders.

Easy Social Share Buttons (ESSB)

Employing ESSB on your blog can greatly increase the amount of social shares your blog posts receive. It automatically sets up the correct share URL for each button and includes buttons for all the major social networks. It’s also mobile friendly.

Yoast SEO

I have recently converted to using Yoast SEO from another plug-in, All in One SEO Pack. I found that Yoast was more comprehensive in it’s treatment of meta data tags, especially Twitter Cards and OpenGraph Data. If using Yoast SEO you might need to filter it’s output if also using the ESSB plug-in above.

GravityForms (GF)

Using GravityForms is quite a special use case. If you need advanced form functionality within WordPress then you’ll need GF. It has a WYSIWYG for builder that allows for some highly complex forms to be produced.

GravityPDF

GravityPDF adds the ability to convert the results of a GF into a PDF. PDF’s are useful for producing non-editable documents.

WooCommerce

The original e-commerce plug-in for WordPress

Regenerate Thumbnails

Quite often when building a custom theme I have very specific dimensions for WordPress to use for images that are uploaded via the WordPress Media Library. Sometimes these dimensions alter over time and this plug-in will re-generate all image sizes for all the images in the media library.

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