pages-and-plugins-maximizing-your-wordpress-experience

Some of WordPress’ features (especially the more complex ones) may take newer users some time to be familiar with. And if you are one of these newer users, WordPress’ intricate jargon might have the tendency to send you towards a spiral of intimidation, especially when getting that near-inevitable feel of information overload. Yikes.

Now, if you’re a part of this particular percentage of WordPress users, we implore you not to fret; the good news is that it is but a misconception that being a WordPress noob automatically equates to a limited WordPress experience. This brand of thinking is a common error that almost anyone makes, and we urge you not to make that very same mistake.

The truth is, you needn’t have that much of an in-depth grasp of the inner workings of software and code in order to begin building a site– or to get one to work in your desired way, for the matter. “How is that possible?” you might ask? Well, one of the ways this can be achieved is in the form of creating pages on your site, and adding in plugins.

WordPress is both complex and convenient, and through a bunch of our articles for beginners, we’ve pretty much gotten that covered. Previously, we’ve also discussed how plugins contribute to WordPress’ customizability and flexibility, and how they allow its users to make the best out of their WordPress experience. And while familiarizing yourself with the importance of plugins is pivotal to your site-building journey, the basic elements of WordPress–such as the existence of pages, can get you off to a pretty good start as well.

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Pages VS Posts Defined

In the realm of WordPress, the term “page” is almost always associated with the term “post” –as in “pages and posts”– and there are times when people mistake them for interchangeable terms. Arguably, it’s easy to get confused between the two (especially if you’re still wading around the shallow end of the WordPress Beginner pool). So with that in mind, take note that while these things may seem trivial, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself around WordPress’ little things, especially if you’re just starting out.

An easy identifier for differentiating between posts and pages is that posts are the individual entries you create on your site (this article you’re reading right now, for instance, is a post). These entries aren’t exactly a necessity for websites, unless yours has an active blog like ours. However, what may be a crucial element of your site are setting up pages, which is what this article will be a bit more centered on.

Pages are Building Blocks

Unless you’ve never touched a computer before (which we assume is unlikely), chances are, you’ve already seen or heard of website pages before, or at least have a fair idea of what they might be. If you are unfamiliar, don’t worry; it’s also likely that you’ve already stumbled upon pages on your visits to other websites: FAQ and/or About sections, contact forms, and picture galleries. For beginners and freshly-built websites, they can be akin to building blocks, in a sense. If put together, they make up the essentials of what your site’s all about, and what it has to offer.

So it’s all well and good to be wary of these basic differences, yes. But combined with your basic plugin know-how, you’re actually in a perfect position to take advantage of your newfound knowledge on WordPress pages, even if you are a beginner. The question now though, is how.

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Taking Advantage: Basic Plugins You Can Install

On a basic WordPress site, creating pages is easy, sure. You’d just have to work your way through it, read a few instructions, click a few buttons and you’re good to go. If you want anything more than that, though, you’re going to have to install a couple of plugins.

  1. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plugins

Getting your site out there in the open is hard enough, and the task of spreading word about your site is much harder. Believe me. That’s why a little help from SEO plugins are crucial for your site to get that boost in ranking.

Here at Sandwich, we use Yoast, which is often dubbed as today’s leading SEO plugin in the market. There are a bunch of other SEO’s to choose from though, and there are numerous sites, such as SitePoint, that compare and contrast the different SEO plugins if you want to weigh in your options.

  1. Back-Up plugins

Backing up is one of the most important precautions you have to take when you set up your site; you really can never be too careful. After all, it’s better to take a few minutes (or hours, depending on your experience) to set up a good back-up plugin, than spending an eternity setting up your site all over again if your data accidentally gets wiped clean.

  1. Security plugins

It’s a cruel, cruel world out there, even in the realm of the interwebz. Bad guys will want to steal your data and even hack into your site, among other things. And so it’s always a good idea to install a security plugin along with your back-up for good measure. We use VaultPress for both back-up and security.

  1. Anti-Spam plugins

No one wants spam, unless it’s the food. Delicious.

Well, popular canned goods aside, there are plenty of ways unwanted spam can creep its way into your WordPress site. According to WPExplorer, while it’s possible to manually tweak WordPress to prevent spam, you can also opt for a quicker solution: installing an anti-spam plugin for your site.

  1. Cache

Installing a caching plugin is a sure-fire way to speed up your site’s and server’s performance. We’ve been using WP Fastest Cache for some time now, but there are a lot of other high-rated, trusted cache plugins too – like W3 Total Cache – which you may also want to give a go.

You can learn more about caching on the WordPress Codex site.

FUN FACT: Cache is pronounced ˈkash not kashè

Additional Plugins for Your Pages

1. Contact Form Plugin

As the site owner, you are responsible for answering your audience’s queries and responding to their suggestions. So at some point, after your site-building journey, they may want – or even need – to reach you; and this is what contact forms plugins are for. While it is possible to build a contact form for your site from scratch, we have to admit there are times when doing so wouldn’t be very practical, considering that it will definitely take some time for you to do so, especially if you’re a beginner.

WPBeginner has a list of what they rate as the best contact form plugins in the market, while Site Point has a similar article of ones that are available for free.

2. Social Media Plugin

Unless you’re a website that people frequently flock to, it’s admittedly a bit challenging to get your site’s content (such as articles) going around. This is why there are times when the need for a social media plugin arises. Chances are, if your audience finds your content interesting enough, they might want to share it with their friends on social media outlets.

3. Commenting Tools / Disqus

Like we’ve mentioned, communicating with your audience is a must, especially if your site content revolves around feature articles. Getting to know your audience gives you a leverage too; you can use whatever feedback they have to better your site and/or your products.

Disqus is a very popular commenting tool, and one of the most popular ones in the market. Kikolani also has a very handy article that might help you in deciding which commenting tool will work best for your site.

There Are More Plugins Than You Think

The list of plugins available for WordPress sites doesn’t stop with this article. These are but a few that we find very helpful; the realm of WordPress plugins definitely holds more than the eight we’ve enumerated above.

That being said, we probably didn’t get to cover anything. So do you have a plugin in mind that you think should make the list? Tell us in the comments section below, and we might just take in your suggestions for one of our future articles!

Happy Site-Building!

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