Words by Colin GoodmanMarch 20, 2017
WordPress is a powerful CMS in its own right and with a wealth of very good plugins available, you can really extend the power of WordPress.
At Atomic Smash we use various plugins, here are some of the most commonly used ones that help us deliver high end WordPress driven websites.
Out of the plugins we use this has to be the most important and definitely the one to mention first. Advanced Custom Fields or ACF is a very popular plugin created by Elliot Condon and can be used for free or by purchasing the PRO version at a small cost.
Custom fields are native to WordPress and can be used without ACF, however using the native custom fields can look awkward and difficult to use when creating pages or posts. ACF is aimed at being a GUI layer for custom fields by displaying custom fields in a more structured way, and can be edited to your requirements to an extent.
Once you have downloaded ACF its not as simple as install and you’re good to go, there is a learning curve on how to display data stored in ACF fields but its defiantly worth learning. If this sounds like it could be a plugin for you check these posts out as well to gain a further understanding of this awesome plugin.
Timber is a free plugin that helps you create fully-customized WordPress themes faster with more sustainable code. It’s mainly aimed at separating your HTML from your PHP code, making your theme a lot cleaner and easier to manage going forward.
After using Timber regularly, all I can say is that its such a powerful tool and I can’t imagine not using it now. The learning curve is quite easy and Timber is aimed at WordPress pros and rookies, so don’t be afraid to give it a go even if it looks a bit daunting at first.
This plugin is aimed at improving the WordPress search functionality by replacing it with a partial-match search that sorts results by relevance. When the plugin is installed and activated there are many settings that you can set to configure the search functionality suited to your build.
Similar to ACF this plugin is available in a free version, however there is a premium version that further extends the plugin, which contains support for a MultiSite setup.
The main reason we chose to use Relevanssi is after testing many plugins this one was the easiest to setup to index ACF data. WordPress by default will not recognise or index content that is saved using ACF, this plugin gets around that easily by having to set one option in the settings, +1!
One of the most popular form plugins that offers a lot of options when building forms within WordPress. It comes with an easy to use form builder, which consists of you clicking various fields that will be needed to build the form you require. You can add custom labels, styling and conditional logic to any field, which offers great flexibility when constructing your form.
A cool feature of Gravity forms is the entries tab. Each form you create will have an entries tab tied to it, which stores all of the successful form submissions, for that form. So you can retrieve and use this data anytime you like, which could come in handy if you’re thinking of creating a mailing list.
There is no free version of Gravity Forms but you can try a demo by visiting the demo site. Most popular form plugins will come with a cost and Gravity Forms cost is very competitive compared to some of the other options like Ninja Forms, so defiantly worth considering if you are thinking of what form plugin to use.
Mailgun is a email automation engine and can be used to send, receive and track email effortlessly. It also has an API available which can help speed up the work involved of setting up your email requirements.
It is available to use with a free account, but is based on the amount of emails you will be sending throughout a month. Although it can get quite costly the cost seems very reasonable and having an API to use is great to have.