Wordpress plugins, who needs them?

Article

We've talked before about why we choose Perch over Wordpress. Perch is a fantastic content management system that allows us all full control over the design process and ensures that you never get lost in a sea of plugins, updates and confusing content regions.

What about plugins though?

It's common for people to think that, as Wordpress has an extensive and user manageable plugin system, you can extend and improve your website without the help of a web developer. On the face of it, this is true but if you've worked with a design team to create a tailored theme for your website (as we'd recommend) it's likely that plugins you add yourself will lead to style and functionality issues with your site, as these eventualities are unlikely to have been considered in the original design and build phases of your project.

Worse still, plugins added over the months and years will all add code to your pages - some of which you might not be aware of. We've helped Wordpress customers in the past who've become tangled up with literally hundreds of useless lines of code in their site headers - all loading before a single image or block of text appears on a page. In a short space of time you can end up with a slower website that's falling foul of Google's page-speed metrics, through no fault of your own - you're just adding functionality to your site, right?

How does Perch fix this problem?

Whilst it's true that installation of plugins or apps in Perch is best left to your development team, we thought we'd take a look at some of the most popular plugins available in the Wordpress world and see how Perch stacks up functionality wise.

All in One SEO/Yoast

These popular plugins promise to look after your XML sitemap (the sitemap we submit to Google to let them know where all your content lives) and your Google Analytics setup. They also promise custom post types for your blog plus a range of other features, many of which come as standard with a Root Studio, Perch setup.

We use Perch's template architecture to autogenerate XML sitemaps for your site and we set you up with Google Analytics as standard (should you wish). If you prefer to go the extra mile and take advantage of the additional title and meta data tools we can also install apps to help you with this too but a good web agency will always tell you that unique content (that isn't auto-generated) will always win-out in the race to the top of Google.

We always work with customers to let them know what makes for good titles and meta data and Perch allows us to customise this data to structure it perfectly for your site. This ability, plus our handy content toolkit will ensure you won't need the help of a plugin to get your website a good natural listing.

Contact Form 7

Wordpress doesn't ship with contact form support as standard. This usually means installing a contact form generator (such as this one) to create a form and then place it inside a more standard page template using short-codes.

If your site needs a contact form, again Perch can handle this out of the box and we build this support in for you. Perch's forms can even collect the submitted information within the CMS and give you export options allowing you to easily collect data and create spreadsheets. Of course, email support is in as standard too, so we can send those enquires direct to those who need them.

Akismet

A handy tool for combating spam from your contact forms, Akismet support is enabled as standard in Perch. All we would need is your account details and API key and we can ensure that Akismet is checking for spam on your Perch site too. Alternatively we can also build in a range of other spam combating options as standard that would need plugin support in a Wordpress build, such as honeypot trap fields and Google's reCaptcha for example.

NextGen Gallery

This plugin makes adding a gallery to your site straightforward but would also rely on template support. Our Perch sites include asset management meaning you can use and re-use old assets uploaded to the site in new regions and galleries. Buckets make sorting your images and videos easy and with the use of blocks and repeating regions in page templates, we ensure that adding images to your pages is a breeze.

WP Super Cache

This plugin generates static html files from the PHP templates used in your blog. Essentially this is an effort to ensure your site speed remains good, even after adding plugins and addition code to your Wordpress pages. However, we prefer to ensure that your site code is optimised as much as possible using our hand-coded development process - we work hard to ensure that sites we produce score well for both mobile and desktop speed where possible and our regular website reviews help us, to help you, stay ahead of any speed ranking changes that occur over time. If that's not enough, Perch also offers built in static caching support for content regions.

Still need a plugin?

We understand that the thought of not being able to 'extend' your CMS with plugins might sound restrictive and daunting but we know from experience that our customers are much better off with a website that achieves their aims out of the box. Root Studio take a collaborative approach with all our customers and regular website reviews ensure that customers are able to make the best out of the tools available to them in their CMS for years after launch, usually with no further financial investment.

Out of the box

Where Perch really excels is its excellent API (an API gives us access to Perch's core code, enabling us to extend its functionality). Using Perch's documentation we can build custom applications, tailored to your individual needs, quickly and easily. We've used this functionality to build custom booking, events and location applications for customers recently and having the extendability to hand ensures that any more complex features your website might require are catered for. Watch this space for more information about our custom Perch applications.

Have we missed any popular plugins? Do you have other concerns about moving away from using Wordpress for your CMS? Catch us on social media or contact us to discuss your requirements.