WordPress theme development is becoming quickly divided with the announcement to require all Themes on the WordPress theme directory to eliminate option pages and exclusively use Customizer. There are arguments on both sides and should the decision be cemented (October is the cut off for Option Pages) the agenda to push all themes farther away from plugin functionality will take a massive leap forward. I’ve supported this for some time now and almost everything new I am creating is 99% using Customizer exclusively to handle all theme options.
However creating a WordPress site that isn’t just a standard blog takes work. When a theme isn’t loaded with a thousand options it falls to the plugins to extend the functionality of WordPress to make something great. Extending WordPress is what plugins are for after all. DevDmBootstrap3 is my FREE theme geared toward the developer enabling them to exercise freedom of creation with Bootstrap 3.x without the crazy bloated options.
Over time I’ve found myself using these same plugins over and over with success to create WordPress CMS flavored sites. I’ve found these plugins to be essential when using a more bare bones theme like DevDmBootstrap3.
Custom Post Widget fills one of the biggest holes in WordPress in creating user friendly editable blocks of content that can be assigned to widget areas or embedded via a shortcode into your content. I loved the module system in Joomla for this reason. This plugin enables you to go in and create “Content Blocks” that are editable in the same way that you would edit a Post or Page. You are then able to assign these content blocks to widget areas in the theme. I can’t think of any site I have created for someone (in recent memory) where I haven’t put this on there. It is just TOO good for enabling people to create custom widget content. That pain point of uploading a picture through the Media area, copying the URL and pasting it into an HTML coded text widget is just gone.
No matter how SEO friendly a theme can claim to be there isn’t gong to be the functionality to do custom SEO work if you are using a bare bones theme. This plugin enables you to edit SEO meta data on each Post and Page you create. It also will let you paste in your Analytics tracking code and inject it on your content. If it ONLY did those two things I would still use it but it can so much more. It is extremely valuable.
How many times have you been blasting away making content and not paying attention to the fact your pictures are linking to themselves? Later you painfully realize people are clicking your images and leaving your site? Lame right?
There are a ton of lightbox plugins out there but I like the ones that automatically intercept my linked images and also detect galleries. This plugin is my safety net to avoid looking like a doofus while making all of my clickable media and galleries look nice across all platforms and devices.
This plugin really only applies to Bootstrap 3 enabled themes but it will optionally load its own assets allowing you to use Bootstrap components if you choose. Shortcodes are NOT friendly for the average Joe WordPress user but for a developer “in charge” of it all they are a God send. Having the ability to incorporate Bootstrap components into your content for formatting alone is a massive boost for any developer attempting to make visually pleasing responsive content inside Pages and Post.
Lastly I’m recommending Jetpack. This isn’t a popular opinion among the developer community because of all the bloat it can potentially bring to your site if you enable all the features but if you are selective only enabling what you need -I think it is great. The site stats in the Dashboard, easy share buttons, automatic notifications of new posts to Twitter and Facebook, Widget Visibility (I was using a Plugin to handle this before) are all just a few of the GREAT features that most websites can benefit from. It also has the professionals at Automattic working on it and putting in new stuff ALL the time.