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Join Justin Seeley, lynda.com staff author and design enthusiast, each week for a new 5-minute, self-contained tutorial that you can use to instantly improve your design workflow. This series covers techniques for print, digital, and web design, addressing the tools that creative professionals like you use most. Learn new ways to leverage layer styles and vector shapes in Adobe Photoshop, work more efficiently with text in Illustrator, and embed videos and even tweets in WordPress posts, and much more. Check back each week for a new installment, and a new design hack.
Hey there. Welcome back to another installment of Creative Quick Tips. My name is Justin Seely. And this week, I'm taking you through ten WordPress plugins that are essential for your new WordPress site. Let's go through these, one-by-one. First, and foremost is something that I highly recommend to anyone with a WordPress blog, but especially those of you who have large followings. It's called W3 Total Cache, and it's touted as the web performance optimization engine for WordPress. Basically ,what this thing does is it speeds up your WordPress site significantly by doing something called caching.
And so caching just basically means that it's taking a snapshot of your web page or blog post or whatever the case may be. And kind of storing it so that people will just see that snapshot each time they come there, without really having to load all of the things that might be there: images, videos, et cetera. And so, the W3 Total Cache plugin does a really great job of actually walking you through the steps of every single aspect of your site that you need to speed up. And it also includes the ability to use browser caching, page caching, object caching, database caching.
It minifies your code. It also has content delivery network support. So, if you're delivering things from a CDN, like Amazon Cloud Front or something like that. This is the total package when it comes to speeding up your WordPress sites. So, if you've had speed issues with load times and things like that, I would highly recommend checking out this plugin and then watching some of their screen casts to help get you set up. Number two. Something called Better WP Security, which is quote unquote, the best way to secure WordPress.
And so this is something I installed, once I had a couple of hacking attempts on my site and things like that, this thing really does a great job of sort of helping you understand the security risk to your WordPress site and also protecting it in ways, like hiding parts of the site that doesn't need to be. It'll scan your site to tell you if there are any vulnerabilities and help you fix them. It'll ban certain bots and hosts from visiting your site. It's a really great plugin, and I highly recommend it to anyone running a WordPress site. Because, now, more than ever, we have to be concerned with malware attacks.
So, I definitely would check out Better WP Security, as well. Next up, one of my favorite plugins WordPress SEO by Yoast, and so, this is great plugin for improving your website search engine optimization, and the author of this plugin does a great job of walking you through each and every piece of the plugin inside the documentation to explain what each individual section means, why you would set it up this way. They have a great FAQ section, lots of screen shots to look at. It's a great plugin for helping you improve your SEO, and thus hopefully, boosting your page rank and getting you more clicks and all that kind of stuff.
So just take a look at that. It's WordPress SEO by Yoast. Great plugin, especially if you're just getting started with WordPress. Now, here's another one of my favorites. It's not really a widely popular plugin, but it's actually a function that I think should be inside of Wordpress by default, but it's not. And so, it's something called WPThumb. This basically adds an on-demand image generation replacement for WordPress's default featured image engine. So, you know when you are adding a featured image to a post inside of WordPress, you get to upload an image, but you don't get any control over the image.
Well, with this particular plugin, you actually get to control how the image is cropped, how it's sized, all that good stuff. It's called WPThumb, and it really does a great job. So, I highly recommend checking that out, as well. If you are selling digital goods online, this is the plugin for you. It's called Easy Digital Downloads. It is a free plugin, but it should be a premium plugin because it does so much. It's a great plugin by someone named Pippin. And he does a lot of great plugins. If you go to pippinsplugins.com, you can see all of his plugins that he has.
But this is one of the free ones that is actually really, really great. And we actually have a course on this, in the lynda.com online training library, by Morton Rand-Hendricksen on how to use this plugin. How to set it up. How to start selling digital goods. So, if you want to sells things, e-books, images, stock photos, whatever it is that you're wanting to sell online, this is the plugin to do just that. Another great plugin, which is also free, is something called Advanced Custom Fields. This allows you to extend the capability of WordPress by default by adding things to your post windows and things like that, and then you can call out to the fields on the front end and do some really interesting stuff.
If you don't know what custom fields are, you might want to go and watch some of our WordPress training at lynda.com, the WordPress Essential Training and that kind of thing to get up to speed on exactly what these are. But these are a great way to really add some extra functionality to your site that doesn't actually exist, right out of the box, and it's super easy to add this functionality to your blog using this plugin, and then to call it out on the front end, just a couple little code snippets, and they give you all of that in the documentation, which makes it super useful. Next up is one that actually is made by the folks who make WordPress.
And a lot of people just sort of dismiss this, but I think it's actually got some great stuff in it. It's called Jetpack by WordPress. And there's a lot of different things in here. For instance, you get to use their custom URL shortener; you get lots of site statistics; you get integration with social media and things like that. It's just a great way to sort of extend a lot of the default functionality of WordPress. And also a way to get a lot of the WordPress.com features into a WordPress.org site. Now, if you don't know the difference between those, again, I highly recommend watching our WordPress Essential Training at lynda.com because they explain that in that training course, but just know that this is a great plugin; it has a ton of features, as you can see, way too many for me to list here in this video but just check it out, see if some of the things are something you might be interested in, then install it and see which ones you might want to use on your blog.
So, that's it for the free ones that we're going to be talking about. I have three quote, unquote premium plugins that I also want to talk about. The first of which is called Backup Buddy by a company called iThemes. And the Backup Buddy basically allows you to back up, restore and migrate your site to new servers. It also allows you to take a locally developed site and easily move it to a production environment live on the Internet. It is a great plugin by a company called iThemes. And, if you go here, you can see that you have three basic options to buy it.
You can buy two licenses for 80 bucks. You can buy 10 licenses for 100 bucks. Or you can buy unlimited licenses for 150 bucks. Or you can buy something called their Dev Suite, which includes all of their plugins for 197 bucks. So, it is sort of on the expensive side, but I can tell you this, I would not build a WordPress site that didn't have Backup Buddy attached to it these days. It's just something I use all the time. It's what I use to back up my WordPress site on a daily, monthly and weekly basis. Database and full backups, as well, and the best part about it is you can send it to different locations.
You can send it to like Amazon, Rackspace; you can send it to Dropbox. All different types of things that you do with this backup plugin; I think it is really, really well done. The next one on the list, Gravity Forms. Gravity Forms is a forms plugin for WordPress. There's no default forms inside of WordPress, so if you want to do contact forms; you want to do quizzes. You want to do just questionnaires, whatever the case may be; Gravity Forms is the plugin for that. It is the best, it is a Wiziwig-type form-building program, and it's really, really well done. You can see here's a pricing; there's a business license for 99 bucks.
Developer for 199 and personal for 39, all of which have different pieces and add-ons and things like that available. But just check that out. You can find this at gravityforms.com by a company called Rocket Genius. The last one on the list is something that I think is really, really important if you want to be able to sell memberships on your site, or you want to be able to restrict content behind a pay wall. This is a plugin by Pippin Williamson. Again, it is called Restrict Content Pro.
You can see there are lot of different add-ons that he has for this, on this website here. But Restrict Content Pro is one of my favorite, favorite plugins for putting things behind a pay wall and making sure that only certain members have access to certain things. And so, Restrict Content Pro, you can find that at pippinsplugins.com. And if you go here to his plugin store, you can actually see the different plugins that he has for sale. And you can see Restrict Content Pro in this list, as well. So, if you find Restrict Content Pro right here, you can click on that.
And that's going to take you over to this page where you can actually see all of the information about it. The purchase information over here on the right-hand side a single site's 42 bucks, two to five, 86 bucks, unlimited, 132, unlimited with all the extensions is 155. So again, if you want to put stuff behind a pay wall and easily create a membership site with WordPress, Restrict Content Pro is what I recommend. So, there you go. Ten WordPress plugins that I think you should take a look at and explore and see which ones fit your needs for your next blog project.
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