WordPress is a great CMS (Content Management System) platform for a church website and web design as it is extremely flexible and very easy to use. Part of this flexibility comes from WordPress’ ability to take advantage of the programming skills of people from around the world who have designed various small add-on applications for WordPress called plugins. There are many hundreds of plugins to be found in the WordPress Plugins Database. A web search for specific plugins will open a long list of possibilities. If you need a particular functionality on your website the chances are that someone has already designed a plugin for it. There are also sites which list the top plugins (here are a couple – Top 50 and Usefull WordPress Plugins )
I have spent considerable numbers of hours researching the net and searching for just the right plugins for the Northwest site. The following is a list of some of my favorites and a short description of their function.
- The WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin.
WordPress is continually being improved both for functionality and security. This plugin allows the webmaster of a WordPress powered web to easily update to newer versions of WordPress, automatically taking care of backing up the site first and then updating the WordPress code. This plugin makes the webmaster’s life a whole lot easier.
- The Author Image plugin.
On a website like the Northwest site where we have multiple contributors and authors – it is a valuable feature to have the author’s photo automatically linked to their article or blog. This plugin facilitates that.
- The word processing plugin "Deans FCKEditor".
The word processing editor that comes packaged with WordPress is a somewhat "bare-bones" editor. This plugin expands the functionality of the editor so that it acts much like a normal word processor.
- The Event Calendar plugin.
Northwest always has some sort of up-coming event. This plugin help to keep track of those events via the WordPress web interface. Adding a new event can be done by any of the regular contributors to the Northwest site by adding an Event Calendar activated post.
- The FormBuilder plugin.
Forms through which people can respond to you (i.e. ask questions, submit prayer requests, comment on items on the site etc.) are a normal part of creating a website. Forms need to be secure and able to filter out junk and spam. This plugin allows one to create any number of forms on a site and have them all share the same security features. This plugin rates special mention as it is designed and maintained by my son who is a web programmer with Power to Change.
- The Google Site Map Generator plugin.
This plugin creates a sitemap for your website and informs search engines of any changes or additions.
- The NextGen Image Gallery plugin.
Putting images on the web in an orderly fashion can be an onerous task and if you want them to be displayed in fancy ways requires knowledge of web scripting languages. This plugin takes care of the details and allows you to add galleries and albums of photos to your web. The header on the Northwest site is powered by this plugin.
- The Role Manager plugin.
The Northwest website has a number of people who use the site to post their articles and edit their information on the static pages. User levels of permission are designed into WordPress and this plugin gives the webmaster greater flexibility in assigning those permissions.
- The Simply Exclude plugin.
Sometimes it is desirable to keep a particular category of posts (articles) from appearing on the front page of the website. Yet they need to be accessible some other way. This plugin allows one to designate categories to be excluded from the front page.
- The Themed Login plugin.
The default WordPress login page is very plain and merely displays the WordPress logo. This plugin allows one to use one’s theme as the login page. If you click on the login link you can see what it looks like.
- The Search Pages plugin
WordPress uses both ‘Pages’ and ‘Posts’. Pages are static while ‘Posts’ are the blog part of the site. WordPress search function only searches posts. This plugin allows one to search both posts and pages.
These are just 10 plugins. There are many-many more. There are e-commerce powered plugins which would allow you to add a "shopping cart" to your site. There are mailing plugins which would allow you to manage users in a mailing list. The list of possibilities is virtually endless.
Installing and using these plugins is as simple as uploading the plugin folder to the correct spot in your WordPress powered website and then activating it. Usually each plugin comes with complete instructions as to how to use it.
If you are using WordPress for your church website – let me know – send me a link to your site. Share what techniques you have learned or what hasn’t worked for you.
If you are interested in this topic don’t forget to read the other articles that I have written on church websites.