Top 5 WordPress Plugins to Enhance Your Website

Do you use WordPress as your content management system? Here at Echosurge, we develop most of our client sites in WordPress because it is a robust platform that is also easy to use. The other great thing about WordPress is, because so many people use it, there are a number of fantastic plugins that allow you to add some great features to your WordPress site. Some of these plugins are paid and some are free, but they are all worth a look. Here’s a list of our top five in no particular order:

Disqus

Disqus is an excellent comment management system that replaces the WordPress comment system. It allows users to sign in to comment on your website via Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo and countless other services. It is a great option for cutting down on spam and provides an easy way to manage your comments on your WordPress site. All of your existing comments are synched so you don’t lose any by switching over. It is used as a commenting system on top websites including CNN and Time Magazine. All you have to do is sign up for a free account and install the plugin and you are up and running.

Price: Free

Gravity Forms

Let’s face it; forms aren’t glamorous. They are definitely important though, and a lot of the standard form plugins just don’t cut it. This is where Gravity Forms comes in. Over 400,000 WordPress websites use Gravity Forms and with good reason. They have plenty of integrations: Aweber, Campaign Monitor, Mailchimp, Paypal, Authorize.net, Freshbooks, and others. You can make simple forms with the drag and drop editor. You can create forms to collect payments, create multipage forms, limit the number of entries, schedule forms, and completely customize the look and feel using CSS. You can also set up your forms with autoresponders to thank your visitors.

Price: $39 for a Personal license, $99 for Business license which includes email marketing add ons, $199 for a Developer license which includes Authorize.net, Paypal, Freshbooks, Polls, Signatures, and User Registration.
www.gravityforms.com

Jetpack

Jetpack in made by Automattic, the people who run WordPress.com. The plugin includes some great basic features: stats, subscriptions by email, spelling and grammar, sidebar widgets and more. Jetpack also includes Vaultpress, which is real time backup and security for $15 a month for a basic version. There is also a carousel for image galleries, sharing tools, custom CSS, shortcode embeds, gravatar cards, and a mobile theme just in case your site isn’t already responsive. The features in Jetpack are definitely worth a look.

Price: Free, Some features require paid subscriptions
www.Jetpack.me

Slidedeck 2

Do you like sliders? We do! (Doesn’t everybody?) Slidedeck is an amazing Slider plugin designed for WordPress. You can go to slidedeck.com and try the demo. It allows you to pull content from various sources for your sliders including: Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo, Instagram and Google+. With a developer version you can create custom HTML slides as well as adding custom video, picture and text slides. They have different “lenses” for your content which styles the slider in different ways as well as the ability to make custom lenses. It includes an easy WYSIWYG editor to put together your sliders and allows you to drag and drop the order of your slides. You can even make custom covers for your slideshow. It is definitely the only slider plugin you need.

Price: $49 for Personal License (1 site), $99 for Professional (3 sites) and $149 for Developer (unlimited sites and custom video, html slides and lens editing)
www.slidedeck.com

WordPress SEO by Yoast

You need to stay on top of your SEO and WordPress SEO by Yoast helps you do it. You can set up your default settings as well as easily setting titles and meta descriptions for each page and post. You can input the keyword that you are trying to focus on and WordPress SEO will analyze your page and tell you how you’re doing. It is a great plugin to make sure that you are focused on your keyword strategy and all of your pages are optimized properly. You can also generate XML sitemaps to make sure that your site gets indexed properly by search engines.

Price: Free

Okay, so we realize that five just isn’t enough. These are just a few of the great plugins that we use for WordPress. Do you have some favorite plugins that we didn’t list? Please sound off in the comments.

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