It seems that as developers, we are always faced with deadlines for web development projects. If your company is similar to our web design company in Philadelphia, you probably also get a lot of requests for WordPress content management websites. Many of these requests also include the ability for users to maintain specific information within a header section or sidebar of the site that generally would not be editable without the knowledge of HTML and CSS. Many users also want easily maintained photo galleries, and many types of contact forms.
With this in mind, we would like to recommend three essential WordPress plugins that we use to significantly reduce the time it takes to develop sites with these specific needs.
PODS CMS Plugin for WordPress
PODS is a CMS framework for WordPress that allows you to add and display your own group of input fields for an entity that you define. A good source of information is at the PODS website at http://podscms.org/.
Each entity you create will get its own admin section in WordPress just like a Post or a Page. With this plugin, you can set different input fields like text, date, number, file upload and relationship or “pick”. The pick field can be very useful if your client wants to relate to existing WordPress content or even existing Pods content. In this example you can see a rotating header where the client can easily enter a photo slide with a headline that links to an article. They can administer the order of the slides, the photos, text and links.
PODS will allow you to show data anywhere on your WordPress site. You can define templates that pull data from your Pods. Those templates can easily be output on WordPress pages through use of shortcodes or even good ole’ php code within WordPress template files. This plugin saves hours of custom programming time, and can be adapted to many complex situations where clients need tight control over the layout of a page, but still need to be able to edit it themselves without knowing HTML/CSS.
Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is a flexible and simple form builder that allows customization and management of multiple contact forms. It also allows for customization of the mail contents flexibly using simple markup. According to the official plugin site at http://contactform7.com, the form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.
Our final WordPress plugin that seems to save lots of time in development is NEXTGen Gallery, since many clients want to have a custom photo gallery on their websites. This image gallery plugin has a slideshow option that can handle multiple photo galleries.
Clients can easily crop and edit and add to their slide shows, and it is very customizable so that you can make each slideshow look and work the way you want easily. Click here to see several demonstrations of the types of galleries that this plugin can readily create: Demonstration
It is possible to add watermarks easily, and there is even a jQuery or Flash solution that makes the photos move like a video.
I hope these WordPress plugins save you time. They have certainly cut down development time at our web design shop in the Philadelphia area.