The days of the specialists are almost over, or at least in the eyes of the clients. If you are like most graphic designers, you might have come across situations or heard of situations, where the client wants a logo, website, SEO and then Artificial Intelligence! Maybe not Artificial Intelligence…
And if you find yourself unable to spend the time to learn programming and be a pro, do not worry, WordPress Community is here! Interesting fact about WordPress is that it is the astest growing Content Management System ever. More than 28% of all websites are built with WordPress. What truly makes WordPress great is the fact that the WordPress community is a really warm, helpful and entrepreneurial bunch of people. The sheer number and quality of people making quality plugins and themes for WordPress and helping out in the forums/groups makes it worth to bet on WordPress.
In this post, I wanted to focus on tools that help graphic designers make the jump to building really good and advanced websites with very minimal to nil programming knowledge. This post does not include information on getting started with WordPress (comment below if you want more information on getting started, and I would be happy to help out), but assuming you have some idea, talks about what you can do with some popular and useful WordPress plugins.
1. Page Builders: Visual Composer
Visual Composer is a drag-and-drop page builder for WordPress by VCBakery. It lets you create a page layout just by dragging and drop columns, rows and content-widgets. It has a backend and a front-end editor. The front-end editor shows you a live preview of the changes you make. Must check out!
Cost: $34 with 6 months support per site.
2. Element Builder : Elementary
Elementary is a Visual Element builder for WordPress by Pauple Studios (us). Using Elementary, you can create robust layouts, custom elements, masonry layouts (like Pinterest). In essence, it lets you filter any content from your WordPress website and attach it to any of many design elements. We are interested in making a tool for designers to express their design and put content together with design without losing control over the separation of design and content and merge it as they see fit.
To make Elementary do things that people actually want to do, we actually use Elementary to make elements and archives in our website ( this website )
You can create new elements / archives for posts from WooCommerce, BuddyPress, and any custom post type create by any plugin.
Combinations are countless,
Card Design + WooCommerce products
Pin Card + Masonry Layout ( like pinterest ) + Blogs
Badges + Standard Layout + Gallery Images.
goes on and on and on….
Cost: $25 / year for upto 2 sites and $69 for unlimited websites.
3. Ecommerce: WooCommerce
What if your client wants a web store to sell his/her product? WooCommerce to the rescue.
WooCommerce is a WordPress e-commerce plugin that lets you create a web-store in your WordPress website. You can easily create products, set pricing, setup a shopping cart and payment gateways. It also has a lot of add-ons that really makes it powerful.
Cost: base version – free / single extension : free – $150
4. Social: BuddyPress
Making a social website? BuddyPress is your buddy! BuddyPress let’s your site users create profiles, join groups, see activity stream, message each other and more. If you making a small social network or if you want to create a strong community for your brand, you can depend on BuddyPress.
Cost: base version – free / single plugin : free – $30 / month
5. Forms: Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is almost essential in every website. Why? Because, every website needs a contact form. A website is a marketing tool and in the end, we need to generate sales, enquiries or just a email address as a lead. Using Contact Form 7 you can create simple forms and have them sent to your mail on submission and/or store them in your WordPress DB which can be viewed from your WordPress dashboard.
6. Backup: BackUpBuddy
Most designers starting out in web design fail to understand the importance of backing up their websites ( or their client’s ). But the day they have a royal mess up, they become enlightened: There are only two kinds of people, the ones who backup, the ones who are about to find out why they should.
BackUpBuddy is your next buddy. The folks at IThemes built BackUpBuddy because they experienced a catastrophic crash in their servers themselves. Its fair to say that they understand your pain. What can BackUpBuddy help you with?
i. Full Backups: A complete backup of everything.
ii. Database Backups: Backup only your database.
iii. Offsite Storage: Store your website in BackupBuddy Stash, Amazon S3, Dropbox, Rackspace Cloud, FTP or email.
iv. Scheduled Backups: Schedule your backups before hand and chill.
v. BackUpBuddy Stash: BackUpBuddy’s own central storage for you to handle every backup at a central location.
vi. Specific backups: Backup Specific files and exclude what you do not need. ( database tables, files, etc )
vii. Backup Profiles: Create profiles of preferred options and reuse them for different backups.
Cost: From $80/2 sites / year – $297/unlimited sites/unlimited years update ( 1 year ticketed support )
7. Security: WordFence Security
Another area where most of us are guilty of being lethargic is Security. I confess I have been too, and that is why I started using WordFence Security, one of the most popular Security plugins for WordPress. There is an interesting real-time infographic depicting the attacks and WordFence plugin’s response across the globe. Take a look: https://www.wordfence.com
Cost: free / premium is $39/year/site and good discounts ( upto 90% ) for multiple sites / years.
Please feel free to add your thoughts and also let me know if you want me to write on any other topic that would be helpful.