Building a Business Website with WordPress: My Essential Free Plugins
There are a ridiculous amount of WordPress business themes available with most features you will ever need built-in. However, if you decide to go the custom theme route and build your own from scratch, there will be a certain amount of functionality required and you don’t always have to build this yourself – the beauty of WordPress is there are loads of great quality ( and usually free ) plugins you can use to do the job. In today’s post I’m going to be taking a look at the main types of pages you will need for most business sites and will recommend my favourite plugins f0r achieving this.
A popular design element at the moment is a “featured icons” area, I like to include this facility in my themes and I also use it on my product sites. Its a good way to draw visual attention to your product or service’s main selling points. One plugin that provides the ability to add these featured icons by shortcode, widget or template tag is the free plugin “Features by WooThemes“.
Check out the plugin, or if you would like to learn how to create this yourself, see our guide to featured icon boxes.
Yes, Sliders have become so ubiquitous that there seems to be a back-lash against them at the moment. The fact remains though, the reason for their popularity is that they can be visually appealing and make good use of your available screen space. If you have high quality imagery and don’t overdo the gimmicks then a slider can add to your homepage. My pick here is Soliloquy which has a free version and also a more featured, pro version.
Building a newsletter is one of the most effective sales and marketing strategies you can adopt for your business. It costs next to nothing to implement and the benefits are huge. My pick here is a free plugin called “Mailbag” by Mike at OkayThemes.
Mailbag lets you add a newsletter signup form using either Campaign Monitor or Mailchimp. It’s simple to setup and easy to place using a short code.
About / Staff Pages
I wrote a post which covers how to create a custom post type for listing staff members and using departments as a custom taxonomy. You can view it here.
Using a custom port type would be recommend only if you have a large amount of staff in different departments so it might be overkill for most smaller companies, in which case listing your team members with their photos in a grid layout might be better.
Adding a portfolio section to your site is easy, I recommend the “Portfolio Post Type” plugin by Devin Price, its nice and simple, adding a new menu for portfolio items to your WordPress admin and custom taxonomies for categories and tags. To customize the output on the front-end you just create templates for archive-portfolio.php and single-portfolio.php. This is the plugin I have incorporated the code from with most themes I create.
Every business site needs a contact page, the simplest and best free plugin that I use is “Contact Form 7“. You can set up multiple contact forms, place them with shortcodes, use a Captcha, multiple languages, AJAX, Akismet support and so on.
Easy to setup and powerful to use, what’s not to love about this plugin ?
If you need something with even more features then the best premium form plugin is Gravity Forms, it has endless features and add-ons – chances are it will do what you need.
If your business has a physical location, then using a Google map plugin is a great way to show visitors where you are and let them get directions to your location. The one I recommend here is “Comprehensive Google Map Plugin”
How about you ? What other plugins do you need for a business site ?