Best WordPress Themes & Plugins



Originally posted 2018-02-12 16:20:54.

customise wordpress with themes and pluginsIf you were to do a Google search for WordPress Themes, you would get a lot of results for your search. So what things should you use to help you decide on a theme for your business or blog? There really is no absolute answer to this question however perhaps we can tell you what we do and why and that might help you with your decision.

Responsive Design

Probably one of the first things to think about. Responsive themes are made so that the give a great user experience to users viewing your site on any device. Commonly this is referred to as being mobile friendly. Almost 50% of people viewing websites do so on a tablet or phone these days so it is vital that your site looks good on those devices, not just on a desktop computer. You should always see what your site looks like on a phone.

Paid or Free?

There are also a multitude of free themes you can download and many of them are awesome. Paid themes often have free versions that have less features and a lower level of priority support or no support. Often it is a good idea to try a free version of a theme you are interested in before upgrading to the full version. That way you can also see what their support is like if any is provided.

Which Themes do you use?

I am currently using 3 different themes. For Small Business websites I am using Accelerate Plus, a paid theme from Themegrill. I first started using the Accelerate Free theme before upgrading to get some more features but also to financially support them. To be honest, with the things you can’t do in the free theme you will pretty much find plugins (free) that will fill in those cracks. However, I found their support to be exceptionally good. I am based in Australia and I found that their support people come online in the early afternoon and even as a ‘free’ customer their support was fast and efficient and always helpful. I can not speak more highly of any theme developer. On another one of my sites I use another theme from Themegrill called Colormag Pro. The way they handle sales is by way of a once-off payment which gives you access to all their themes forever although you can but just the one theme and updates for 12 months. Look at their pricing structure and you can see that it’s a no-brainer to buy lifetime. Also just check for specialy on holidays and black-friday and you will get a good discount.

One thing to be aware of when you go from a free version of a theme to the pro version is that some of your widget settings may appear to have been deleted however, if you look at all the other widget settings (usually the new areas they have added) you will find all your customisations have just been moved and it will only take you a few minutes to move them back into the right spot.

The other theme I am using is Divi by Elegant Themes. Divi seems to get an aweful lot of love around the net and it certainly has some great features and a lively facebook group. Divi is very flexible and you can pretty much make a site look like anything. I came to grief changing a site over that I already had to Divi. I think if I had just used it to build a new site I would have been happier with the result. Once you start using Divi on a site there’s no turning back without a lot of grief. Surprisingly, I can only rate their support as ‘very poor’ which is a real shame. They were slow and obtuse and sometimes downright rude. However it is a great theme. Like Themegrill, a once off fee gives you access to all of their themes. Additionally, if you like the Divi builder interface, you can use it with other themes as you can download it as a plugin for other sites. Again, I would recommend buying the lifetime to get all their themes and plugins and updates for life.

Plugins I use

The table below lists the WordPress Plugins and Authors for plugins I use. When considering plugins, important points are:

  • Pick plugins with a large number of downloads
  • Pick plugins with good feedback
  • Check that the plugin has been updated not more than 6 months ago. Sometimes, authors grow sick of their plugins and they can be compromised with security exploits. Wordfence Plugin will warn you about this.

This is not an exhaustive list. These are just some of the ones I use. All of these plugins are free and some come with paid versions as well.

Table of Plugins Used

PluginsWriterComments
Ad Inserter Igor FunaI use this plugin to control how the ads appear on my sites. This plugin is very versatile and configurable.
AddToAny Share Buttons AddToAnyThis plugin adds the social media share buttons. Themes often have these built in anyway but I like how thgis one makes everything look.
Akismet Anti-SpamAutomatticThis is an anti-spam plugin that helps stop spammers from contacting you and also from commenting on pages and posts.
All In One SEO PackMichael TorbertAll in one SEO has as it's main function adding content to the meta on the site to help the search engines to know what the site and page is about and index it correctly for the right keywords. It also connects to Google Analytics
Auto Terms of Service and Privacy PolicyWPAutoTermsThis plugin adds a Terms of Service and Privacy Policy to your site.
Broken Link CheckerJanis Elsts, Vladimir PrelovacThis plugin checks your site to make sure you don't have any broken links. Broken links will negatively affect your search engine ranking.
Contact Form 7Takayuki MiyoshiA contact-form plugin to enable visitors to send feedback and messages to you
Google XML Sitemaps Arne BrachholdHelps Google with indexing your site.
ManageWP - WorkerManageWPWP Worker creates monthly backups and also checks your sites to make sure all themes, WordPress and Plugins are up-to-date. Very important for security.
Optimize Database after Deleting RevisionsCAGE Web Design | Rolf van Gelder, Eindhoven, The NetherlandsI use this plugin to ensure there is no residual data clogging up your database and keeping the site running smoothly.
Republish Old PostsMarios AlexandrouOn the Blog page, this plugin will rotate posts so that the same post is not showing at the top all the time.
Set Wordpress Admin One YearDEW IT & Web ServicesI wrote this plugin so that I would not keep getting logged out of wordpress and have to enter a user/password all the time.
TablePressTobias BäthgeThis table of plugins is an example. TablePress is a table builder with navigation and sorting controls
UpdraftPlus - Backup/Restore UpdraftPlus.Com, DavidAndersonPerforms automated offsite backups on a schedule
Wordfence Security WordfenceA firewall and security scanner for your site
WordPress Related PostsSovrn, zemantaShows related posts under a post from the same category or tag so your visitor can easily see other similar posts on your site.
WP Super CacheAutomatticA caching plugin to speed up the site.
WP-OptimizeDavid Anderson, Ruhani Rabin, Team UpdraftOptimises the WordPress Database
Wordpress Plugins


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