The 29 Best WordPress Plugins for Just About Any Site
These premium and free WordPress plugins can help you take your site to the next level in minutes!

best wordpress plugins
 

Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

Jan. 27, 2020

 

Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites around the world. In this fully-packed, step-by-step guide, you’ll learn about the top 29 WordPress plugins for just about any website. Let’s dive in!

  • Level of Expertise:
    Beginner
  • Time To Complete:
    30 Minutes
  • What You Get:
    Working Knowledge

For the record: It’s super important for us to keep this site 100% free for you and 100% high quality. To help us do that, we’ve partnered with some of the products we recommend and earn a commission if you buy through our links. Read our full disclosure and partners list here.

Some things just instantly make other things better.

Three examples: 

  • Ketchup, french fries.
  • Coffee, mornings.
  • Plugins, WordPress.

Now there may be people living on the fringes of society and decency that would deny the first two.

But no one would claim WordPress is better without plugins.

No one.

Sure, they may say there are bad plugins to avoid if you don’t want your site to crash irreparably.

And they may counsel against installing every plugin imaginable if you want your site to load sometime today.

But every WordPress-based website can be supercharged in no time by adding at least one game-changing plugin.

With 55,630+ plugins available on WordPress.org plus thousands more on premium marketplaces like CodeCanyon, though, figuring out which plugins you actually want and need could take way more time than it’s worth.

Which is why we’re saving you the time today by taking the hours and hours we’ve spent researching and using plugins on the sites we’ve built to give you a getting started point.

We’ve got the best free and paid options for 14 different types of WordPress plugins so no matter your budget or the kind of site you want to create, you should find something useful!

best wordpress plugins

What are WordPress plugins?

WordPress plugins are basically bits of code that are super easy to upload and install on your WordPress website (think a couple of clicks) that expand its functionality.

Want to add a contact form that automatically emails you when someone wants to reach out?

Want to create a membership-based site complete with exclusive content and easy payments for your subscribers?

Want the flexibility and low cost of WordPress but the ease of use website builders provide?

As the saying goes in the WordPress community “there’s a plugin for that.”

And while plugins are written by programming experts in PHP (the same coding language WordPress is written in), you can easily install and use the vast majority of plugins without having to write a single line of code.

As long as you’re using WordPress.org not WordPress.com, you’ve got access to thousands of WordPress plugins for free on in the official WordPress plugin directory, plus tons of premium ones too.

Premium vs free WordPress plugins

With more free plugins than your grandma could shake a stick at in confusion and sadness, why would you want to pay for a premium plugin?

Well, two main reasons:

  • Premium WordPress plugins usually come from developers/companies that create plugins professionally, meaning there’s someone whose job it is to make sure the plugin stays compatible with every new version of WordPress and secure against the latest hacks.
  • Premium WordPress plugins also usually come with professional tech support, which means they have more time and interest in helping you solve whatever challenges you run into than a plugin coded by a developer for free in their spare time.

It’s worth noting that a lot of plugins also follow a “freemium” model, where you can get a very functional version for free, with the option to upgrade if you want to get more features and better support.

These tend to be our favorite plugins because you get the quality of a plugin that helps pay professionals a salary, and a clear upgrade path if you decide you really like the plugin.

All while letting you get some sweet site upgrades for nothing more than a bit of your time to start!

How to choose the best WordPress plugins for your site

Alright, so you’re sold on getting some WordPress plugins, how do you figure out which you should add to your site?

Well, step 0 (if you haven’t done it already) is to figure out the purpose of your site.

We’ve got some help for you here if you haven’t done that yet.

Now that you know what you’re aiming for with your site, you’ll have an idea what features/functions you’ll need and thus we have a starting place for our search.

Now, besides our list below, two of the best places to find the best WordPress plugins are:

Because free is good, let’s start our search in the official directory; the process is basically the same for CodeCanyon or any other premium WordPress plugin marketplace.

Let’s say we’re looking for an SEO plugin for WordPress – you’ll want to be able to rank just about any website you make in Google, and these plugins help with that.

So we head on over to the official directory and type in the obvious phrase “SEO.”

wordpress seo plugins search

Which, naturally, turns up results for WordPress SEO plugins:

wordpress seo plugins results

Each result will show you a few different pieces of relevant information:

  • Plugin name
  • Plugin rating and number of reviews
  • A short description
  • Who developed it
  • How many active installations/users it has
  • The latest version of WordPress it’s been tested with
wordpress yoast seo plugin search result

So from a page like this, you’re doing some basic analysis to figure out which (if any) of these WordPress plugins are worth looking further into/trying.

Things to look for:

  1. Does the plugin description sound like what you’re looking for? (If so, time for step 2!)
  2. What’s the rating and how many reviews does it have? (more stars/more reviews = better)
  3. How many active installations does it have? (more = better)
  4. What version has it been tested with? (if it’s a much lower version than most results, be cautious).

Once you’ve found maybe 2-4 plugins that sound good, open them up in new tabs and let’s take a deeper look.

yoast wordpress seo plugin page

Here you’ll find a more detailed description of the plugin so you can get a better idea of its features and whether or not this sounds like what you need.

At the bottom of this description, the best WordPress plugins will also include screenshots for you to get a better idea of how the plugin works:

yoast seo plugin screenshots

As well as an FAQ section to help you get fast answers to common questions you’ll have:

yoast seo plugin faq

You’ll also find a couple more useful pieces of info in the sidebar.

In the first section, on top of some info you saw on the main results page, there’s also “Last Updated” info.

yoast seo plugin last updated

Last week is great, 3 years ago and this plugin is probably not being maintained.

Meaning it’s more likely to break and you’re less likely to be able to get help from the creators when it does.

Next, you’ll be able to see a more detailed breakdown of the ratings.

yoast wordpress seo plugin ratings

Just like Amazon, you can click on around to see the reviews left for each star rating.

Just like Amazon, it’s helpful to read a few positive reviews and a few negative reviews to learn what people like and dislike about the plugin.

The last thing you’ll find useful in the sidebar is info about the plugin’s support:

yoast seo plugin support

The more resolved issues the better, though even the best WordPress plugins with the best support won’t have every single issue resolved.

How to add plugins to WordPress

There are two main ways to install a WordPress plugin.

The first and easiest is to just head over to the Plugins section of your WordPress dashboard and do a search.

Get the deets on how to do this in our how to use WordPress tutorial post here!

The second involves manually downloading and installing the plugin.

Back in the official WordPress plugin directory, you’ll find a download button on the plugin details page:

yoast wordpress seo plugin download button

Click that and you’ll get a zip file for the plugin.

Then you just head over to your WordPress dashboard, then plugins -> add new in the sidebar.

best wordpress plugins add new

Then, at the top of the page, click “upload plugin” and choose that  zip file on your computer and click “install now.”

best wordpress plugins how to upload zip file

Then click activate on the page that comes up and you’re golden.

wordpress plugins activate installed plugin

Sweet, so now that we’ve got the background out of the way, let’s get into our massive list of top WordPress plugins!

Best WordPress membership plugins

best WordPress membership plugins

Want to create your own private forum or social network to discuss world domination?

Maybe you just want to include a private community as part of your upcoming course on underwater basket weaving.

Either way, WordPress membership plugins help you easily add, remove, and manage users so you can create your own free or paid groups right within WordPress!

MemberPress (premium)

memberpress wordpress membership plugin homepage

MemberPress is the go-to premium plugin for building membership sites using WordPress.

Create subscriptions, limit access to content based on subscription levels, securely accept recurring payments… it’s all here and it’s all easy to set up and maintain.

But at the same time, you get a ton of control over how your memberships work, which is the kind of flexibility that makes WordPress plugins great in the first place.

Top Features

Premium
  • Detailed access rules (super specific control over what content your users can access based on the membership plan and/or products they’ve purchased).
  • Premium community forums (integrates seamlessly with WordPress forum plugins like BBPress so you can create your own private, paid forums).
  • Plenty of payment gateways (you can use Stripe, PayPal or Authorize.net to accept payments so there’s plenty of options on how your members can pay you).

Cost

memberpress wordpress membership plugin pricing table

MemberPress starts at $149/year for their basic plan which we know isn’t a small commitment when you’re getting started.

BUT it comes with a 14-day money back guarantee.

AND there’s our other WordPress membership plugin recommendation is 100% free if that’s more your speed atm.

Checkout Premium

BuddyPress (free)

buddypress wordpress membership plugin header image

BuddyPress is definitely the top free WordPress membership management plugin.

It’s built and maintained by a solid core of WordPress developers so in this case, free doesn’t mean out of date and no support.

That being said, while it does offer some essential features that can help you build your own mini social networking site, it’s geared a bit more towards developers than beginners.

Meaning it’ll work, you just might have to work a bit harder to make it work.

Top Features

buddypress wordpress membership plugin features
Free
  • Groups (allow your members to create their own sub-groups around certain topics/conversations).
  • Activity streams (members and groups have their own version of a social feed where they can see the latest happenings).
  • Private messaging (your members can message each other individually or in small groups, separate from the main streams).

Cost

This bad boy’s 100% free!

Download Free

Best WordPress backup plugins

Best WordPress backup plugins

As anyone who’s used a phone/the internet at all knows, sometimes tech fails us.

WordPress websites are unfortunately no exception.

But smart people know that. And they know how to code.

So they’ve created WordPress backup plugins so even beginners can keep their hard work safe from bugs and hacks.

All with just a couple of clicks to backup or restore.

UpdraftPlus (freemium)

updraftplus wordpress backup plugin header

Updraft is basically the first plugin we install on every site we make.

Hacks can happen. Updates can break things. And sometimes you change nothing but your site just doesn’t load right when you wake up.

UpdraftPlus makes none of these much of a hassle!

That’s because their free version lets you set up automated backups (so you don’t forget to do it), backup your site via email or Dropbox/Google Drive (so you’re covered even if something goes wrong at the web hosting level), and unlike other free options, they let you restore too (obviously important and pretty terrible that others don’t).

Top Features

updraftplus wordpress backup plugin features
Free
  • Automatic backups (scheduled so you don’t have to remember)
  • Cloud storage (like Dropbox or Google Drive so you won’t’ lose them if your web server goes down)
  • Instant restore (so you can get a working version of your site back up ASAP)
Premium
  • Incremental backups (saves space by just backing up changes, not your entire site)
  • Premium support (so you’ve got pro help if something goes wrong)
  • Automatic backups when updating (so you can instantly revert if something goes wrong; updates are one of the most common reasons WordPress sites break)

Cost

updraftplus wordpress backup plugin pricing

Updraft’s premium subscription starts at $70 for your first year, then $42 after that.

They don’t offer any automatic money back guarantee, but if you contact them within 10 days of purchase and can show you have a technical issue that can’t be fixed, they’ll refund you.

Download Free Checkout Premium

VaultPress (premium)

vaultpress wordpress backup plugin header

Built by Automattic, the company that created/maintains WordPress, VaultPress is a solid backup solution for beginners.

Yes, you’ll pay a bit of money which isn’t 100% necessary with an option like UpdraftPlus, but for that relatively small fee (a plan that’s more than enough for beginners is just $3/month), you get word class support, very easy setup, and one-click restore or migration.

Top Features

Premium
  • Automated daily backups (so you’ll never lose much, if any of your work)
  • 30-day backup offsite archive (so you don’t have to use your own Dropbox/Google Drive space, and you won’t lose your backups)
  • Priority support (so you’re not alone when you’re at your most desperate)

Cost

vaultpress wordpress backup plugin pricing

Daily backup plans are perfect for the vast majority of sites and are only $3 a month.

30-day refunds if you decide for some reason you made a mistake.

Checkout Premium

Best WordPress popup plugins

Best WordPress popup plugins

They can be annoying.

They can be frustrating.

But they can also increase your email list opt-ins by 1375%.

The key is to do them smartly, tastefully, more like a fancy french restaurant than the Golden Corral buffet.

These WordPress popup plugins can help you out there.

OptinMonster (premium)

optinmonster wordpress popup plugin header

OptinMonster is a beast of a plugin for helping you convert more of your website’s traffic into email subscribers and customers.

It comes loaded with pre-made, high-converting opt-in forms so you can swap out some text and hit “publish” in no time.

Even if you want to make a few more tweaks than that, their drag and drop builder makes building the exact form you want a breeze.

Even the best opt-in popup can fall flat if you just toss it onto every page of your site, though.

Which is where their powerful targeting and personalization comes in.

Is a user coming back to your eCommerce site and looking at one of your products for the third time?

Pop up a quick little 10% off coupon to get them to buy.

Want readers of your “How to Buy the Perfect Starter Camera” post to download your free checklist (while not bothering those that just land on your homepage)?

OptinMonster lets you make just the offer on just the right post, at just the right time (when they’ve READ the post not right when they get to it) so you can build your list that much faster.

Top Features

Premium
  • Drag and drop builder/templates (makes it easy to create high-converting popups)
  • Simple integration with email marketing (whether you use MailChimp, Drip, ConvertKit, etc – setup is just a couple of clicks)
  • Advanced targeting (so you can make the perfect offers at the perfect time without annoying people just getting to know you).

Cost

optinmonster wordpress popup plugin pricing

Get your popup bases covered with Basic plan starting at $9/month (billed annually).

And if you realize you’ve jumped in too deep, too soon you’re covered with their 14-day money back guarantee.

Checkout Premium

Sumo (freemium)

sumo wordpress popup plugin header

If OptinMonster is the machete of WordPress popup plugins, Sumo is more of the swiss army knife.

With OptinMonster, you’ll be able to crush any popup marketing campaign you want thanks to their advanced popup features.

BUT you’ll have to spend more time (and money) learning how to harness that power.

And you’ll need to get your own email marketing software (like Mailchimp or Drip).

Sumo, on the other hand, offers a complete popup and email marketing solution that’s great for beginners because:

  1. It’s just one tool to learn to grow your email list with timed popups, schedule one-off emails or drip campaigns, and win back customers with cart abandonment emails.
  2. They have a freemium model which means you can get started (and get a ton of value) without being on the hook for a recurring expense.

Top Features

Free
  • Email opt-in popups (for growing that sweet sweet subscribers list)
  • Unlimited subscribers, 10k emails a month (so you’ve got plenty of room to grow your list for free)
  • Essential visitor targeting (customize how your popups are displayed by URL, device, etc to maximize signups/minimize annoyance).
Premium
  • Unlimited emails and Sumo-driven revenue (so you can message your list as much as you want, and convert more subscribers/visitors into $$$)
  • A/B tests (so you can compare versions of a popup and figure out which converts the best)
  • Remove Sumo Branding (essential for making your site/brand feel 100% pro)

Cost

sumo wordpress popup plugin pricing

Free is free obviously; their premium version is $39/month with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Download Free Checkout Premium

Best WordPress security plugins

Best WordPress security plugins

Whether it’s avoiding hacking headaches or maintaining trust with your visitors, keeping your website secure is as essential as keeping your house secure.

These WordPress security plugins help you hinder hackers and spank spammers so you can stay focused on building/running your site.

Akismet (freemium)

akismet wordpress spam plugin header

Up first we’ve got everyone’s favorite WordPress spam plugin, Akismet.

The main targets of spam on any site you build will be the comment sections of posts and pages and any contact forms you have.

For the second (forms), CAPTCHAS are a big help (see our list of best WordPress form plugins below, they all include CAPTCHA support).

When it comes to comments, Akismet’s your go-to.

Built by Automattic (the team behind WordPress itself), the plugin makes fighting spam easy peasy.

Just install and setup the plugin when you have a couple of minutes, then their system will automatically mark any potential spam comments for you so you can review them yourself (or just leave ‘em be – Akismet’s probably right).

Top Features

Free
  • Automatic spam detection (checks every incoming comment and filters the ones that look like spam so you/another human can review them)
  • URLs in comment body (reveals any hidden or misleading links – spammers will try to use these to sneak past your guard)
  • Automatic spam discard (outright blocks the worst spam to save you disc space and boost your site speed)
Premium
  • Enables use on commercial sites (aka ones that make money)
  • Advanced stats (so you can better understand how spammers come at you)
  • Priority support (so you can solve your spam problems ASAP)

Cost

akismet wordpress spam plugin pricing

Akismet’s Plus plan is all you’ll need for just $5/month per site.

If you buy annually you can get a full refund within 30 days, if you pay monthly though you’ll just have to cancel and drink one less coffee (no money back there).

Download Free Checkout Premium

Sucuri (freemium)

sucuri wordpress security plugin header

Compared to Akismet, Sucuri is more of an all-around WordPress security plugin designed to help you protect your site from hacking (and fix it if it gets hacked).

Most of the essential features like site scans and basic website hardening come standard in the free version.

If you decide to upgrade to the paid version you’ll get access to their Website Firewall to protect against things like brute force and DDoS attacks, and they’ll help fix your site if you do get hacked (which is something you’d have to pay hundreds of dollars for without them).

And with users like Yoast (the SEO plugin), Rainmaker Digital (a pretty big digital marketing company), CrossFit (the gym/workout company), and WP Engine (one of the best WordPress hosting companies) – you’ll be in some good company working with them.

Top Features

sucuri wordpress security plugin features
Free
  • Ongoing security auditing (logs every security-related event so if something happens you/a security expert will have a record to figure out how to fix it).
  • Remote malware scanning (scans your website for virus infections using Sucuri’s servers so your website will run faster/you’ll be notified if there’s a hack).
  • Security hardening (applies a bunch of technical tweaks to your website setup to make it harder to hack based on Sucuri’s experience cleaning hundreds of websites a day)
Premium
  • Website firewall (protects your website from things like DDOS and brute force attacks)
  • Malware removal (instead of just letting you know when you’re sites been hacked, they’ll fix it for you)
  • WordPress CDN (lets you connect your site to their Content Delivery Network for faster load times)

Cost

sucuri wordpress security plugin pricing

Paid plans start at $199/year for their “Basic” plan which is good for most sites; 30-day money back guarantee.

Download Free Checkout Premium

WordFence Security (freemium)

wordfence wordpress security plugin header

WordFence is another solid all-around WordPress security plugin that offers security standards like website scanning, a firewall, and brute force hacking protection.

The plugin also offers real-time traffic reports for web crawlers and bots, logins to your site, and 404 errors so you can get a clearer picture of potentially suspicious activity – something that helps it stand out from competitor Sucuri.

Their firewall also comes in the free version (where you have to pay for it with Sucuri) which is nice, though Sucuri comes out ahead in that they offer some performance features and hack fixing/repair in their premium.

Top Features

wordfence wordpress security plugin features
Free
  • WordPress firewall (blocks malicious traffic from loading and accessing your site)
  • Security scanner (checks your website files and code for hacks)
  • Login security (login page CAPTCHA so bots can’t try to brute force break-in)
Premium
  • Real-time IP blacklist, firewall rule, and malware signature updates (so as soon as hackers start using a new technique to break into websites, your site will be protected)
  • Reputation monitoring (checks 3 major IP blacklists to make sure YOUR SITE hasn’t been put on them because hackers have broken in)
  • Premium support (so you can get questions answered and hacks fixed asap)

Cost

wordfence wordpress security plugin pricing

A license for one site starts at $99/year, with discounts for more licenses (for more than one site) or when you pay for multiple years in advance.

Their refund policy is unclear but they do say it’s at least possible to get one if you ask.

Download Free Checkout Premium

Best WordPress gallery plugins

A picture is worth…

Nah, we won’t go that cliche, you already know you want to put pictures, graphics, etc on your site.

Which you can definitely do with raw WordPress.

These WordPress gallery plugins give you some advanced options, though, if you’re going to build an image-heavy site.

Envira Gallery (freemium)

envira gallery wordpress gallery plugin header

Envira makes creating WordPress galleries easy – no developer required.

They’ve put a ton of time and effort into making their drag and drop gallery creator super beginner-friendly while also including tons of customization options and performance improvements.

Translation: you’ll be able to get started fast but as you get comfortable, you’ll be able to do just about anything you want with Envira.

The free version is definitely enough to get started and add a few galleries to your site, but there’s a lot of great stuff packed into the premium options that those are definitely worth considering if you’re going to be working with images a lot.

Top Features

envira gallery wordpress gallery plugin features
Free
  • Drag and Drop Builder (makes it easy to create spectacular looking galleries)
  • Performance and SEO optimized (so you don’t have to worry about your images slowing down your site and they can help you rank in search engines)
  • Mobile ready (so your galleries will look great on phones too!)
Premium
  • Advanced display options (set different options for mobile, get access to pre-built gallery themes, split your galleries into multiple posts and more)
  • Image protection (add watermarks and restrict visitors’ ability to right-click and download images)
  • Social media and ecommerce integrations (make it easy for people to share your photos on social media or buy them from you on your site)

Cost

envira gallery wordpress gallery plugin pricing

Plans start at $29/year for “Basic” but if you’re really going to be using this thing enough to pay, you’ll probably just want to go straight to their $99 pro version as it’ll give you access to everything.

But you’ve got a 14-day money back guarantee so definitely explore your options.

Download Free Checkout Premium

NextGen Gallery (freemium)

nextgen wordpress gallery plugin header

NextGen is another can’t go wrong WordPress gallery plugin.

One of the key ways it sets itself apart is its focus on image/media management, making it easy to batch upload, delete, rearrange, and sort images into galleries, as well as edit metadata and thumbnails.

The free version also strikes a nice balance between easy to use and customizable.

You’ll only get access to three essential gallery styles and two album styles, but all of these are fully customizable (whereas Envira makes you pay for some of its more advanced customizations and themes).

Our impression is that NextGEN is a great option for photographers/artists who want to regularly add new images and make them look great without having to do a ton of work to set things up.

Envira’s probably better for websites that don’t change images as much but could benefit from more advanced customization and performance options.

Top Features

nextgen wordpress gallery plugin features
Free
  • 5 basic album and gallery styles (enough to get started with solid-looking photo collections)
  • Enhanced gallery/ media management (makes it easier to manage your photos and reuse certain collections across your site)
  • Advanced gallery display options (while the style templates might be basic, you’ll get a lot of control over them)
Premium
  • 9 premium album and gallery styles (for super fancy double backflip type stuff that wows website visitors)
  • Full-screen lightbox (to really put your images front and center)
  • Image Protection (to prevent people from being able to download your images)

Cost

nextgen wordpress gallery plugin pricing

$79 a year gets you started with their Plus plan that adds more advanced display features.

No word on their site when it comes to money back/refunds.

Download Free Checkout Premium

Best WordPress SEO plugins

Best WordPress SEO plugins

Free traffic from Google. Loads of it.

That’s the whole point and purpose of “search engine optimization” aka “get me to the #1 spot on Google so the exact customer/audience member I can help the most finds me.”

WordPress SEO plugins won’t get you there on their own, but they’ll help make it possible.

Yoast SEO (freemium)

yoast wordpress seo plugin header

SEO stands for “search engine optimization” and that’s technically what it is.

But when 90% of searches are made on Google, it kind of actually means “Google optimization.”

And when it comes to “WordPress SEO plugins,” everyone basically means “Yoast.”

The free version is great, covering all the basics of SEO you need in posts (like editing meta descriptions) and outside of them (like having XML sitemaps so Google can figure out what your site is about faster).

And the plugin has this red, yellow, green light system for pages and posts that lets you know whether they’re properly optimized around your target keyword or need improvement (with specific action items).

While super-advanced search engine optimizers might want to dig deeper and further to get every last ounce of optimization they can, this plugin’s more than enough for the other 90% of us.

Top Features

yoast wordpress seo plugin features
Free
  • XML sitemaps (makes it easier for search engines to find your content – no need for a dedicated WordPress sitemap plugin)
  • SEO and readability analysis (gives you red, green, and yellow lights for each page/post so you’ll learn what you need to do to optimize your content)
  • Meta information editing (set canonical URLs, meta descriptions, slugs and more without having to get into backend code).
Premium
  • Internal linking tools (makes internal linking suggestions and includes a redirection tool so you can maintain your optimization beyond keyword usage)
  • Video, Local, and WooCommerce SEO integrations (additional SEO tools for more advanced situations)
  • Premium support (answers = faster)

Cost

yoast wordpress seo plugin pricing

If you do decide you want to get black-belt with the premium version, you’re looking at $89 a year for one site, 30-day refunds.

Download Free Checkout Premium

All in One SEO Pack (freemium)

all in one seo pack wordpress seo plugin header

Because we’re all about giving you options here, All in One SEO.

Really, it’s great too!

All the same basics are covered when it comes to SEO (meta descriptions, sitemaps, etc).

And it even has some more advanced controls/features like Schema.org markup in the free version.

But it doesn’t look as slick as Yoast and while it’s technically beginner friendly, we feel if you’re really going to take advantage of the extra benefits of this plugin over Yoast you’ve got to be a bit further in your knowledge and skill with SEO.

Top Features

all in one seo pack wordpress seo plugin features
Free
  • XML sitemaps (so search engine bots can find your site content more easily)
  • Schema.org markup and Google amp (these are more advanced tools for getting to the top of certain highly competitive searches – nice to have them in a free tool)
  • Automatic title optimization and meta tags (handy for beginners who aren’t quite sure what to do here)
Premium
  • Video and ecommerce SEO (for more advanced sites)
  • Support for Google Tag Manager and more advanced Google Analytics (so you can track how people use your website more closely)
  • Premium support (because at this level, you’ll want a pro to help fix things)

Cost

all in one seo pack wordpress seo plugin pricing

Premium starts at $79 a year but there are no refunds so be sure you need it before you buy.

Download Free Checkout Premium

Best Google Analytics WordPress plugins

Best Google Analytics WordPress plugins

Knowing where your visitors are coming from and what pages and posts on your site are most interesting to them is an essential component of creating and growing a pro website.

Google Analytics makes that possible by capturing information about the people that visit your site (anonymously, nothing creepy) and compiling it into super useful reports.

As you get more comfortable with the whole website building world, you don’t technically need a plugin to get Google Analytics running on your site.

But these Google Analytics WordPress plugins make it easy to get started.

MonsterInsights (freemium)

monster insights wordpress google analytics plugin header

MonsterInsights is by far the best known Google Analytics plugin for WordPress, and it delivers exactly what you want: an easy way to install and view your GA data right inside the WP dashboard.

So you’re saving time on the install (not having to learn the technical details of getting Google Analytics to work) and on the maintenance (don’t have to learn how to read the not-so-beginner-friendly Google Analytics reports).

You’ll be able to get basic stats like the number of visitors and pageviews in the free version – plenty of info for a new site/beginner website creator.

And once you’re ready to get more sophisticated, you can go grab the Premium version(s) to get ecommerce tracking, real-time data, and more.

Top Features

monster insights wordpress google analytics plugin features
Free
  • Super easy setup (they’ve got an onboarding system that takes you step by step through the setup process – no confusion needed!)
  • WordPress dashboard stats (get your essential site stats right in your WordPress dashboard)
  • Affiliate link and download tracking (so you can see when and where your visitors grab a free guide or click a link that could earn you $$)
Premium
  • Ecommerce tracking (so you can get insights into your product pages and sales)
  • Forms tracking (so you can see how people interact with your contact and other forms)
  • Detailed page insights (lets you view more information about how individual pages/posts perform right inside WordPress)

Cost

monster insights wordpress google analytics plugin pricing

Their premium plans start at $99.50/year and come with a 14-day money back guarantee.

Download Free Checkout Premium

Analytify (freemium)

analytify wordpress google analytics plugin header

While MonsterInsights is the monster plugin for WordPress Google Analytics, Analytify gives them a good run for their money.

While not quite as polished, it’s still very easy to install and use.

AND they offer some more advanced stats like Social media and search in their free plugin, which means you can get more out of it before you’ll want or need to upgrade to their pro version.

Lastly, at less than half the price if and when you do want that pro version, Analytify is definitely worth checking out to meet your Google Analytics WordPress plugin needs!

Top Features

analytify wordpress google analytics plugin features
Free
  • 1-click install (a lot simpler than manually adding Google Analytics, a bit easier than MonsterInsights).
  • Analytics dashboard in WordPress (view your essential site stats right inside WP)
  • Social media and search stats (see what keywords people use to get to your site and which social media sites they come from; this is a premium feature in Monster!)
Premium
  • Real-time stats (see where visitors are on your site – RIGHT NOW)
  • Ecommerce integration (for use with WooCommerce)
  • Priority support (solve problems and get answers faster)

Cost

analytify wordpress google analytics plugin pricing

Their pro plan costs just $39 a year which is pretty great, though you’ll need to pay extra if you want ecommerce integration.

Decide it’s not for you and you can get 100% of your money back for 14 days.

Download Free Checkout Premium

Best WordPress migration plugins

Best WordPress migration plugins

Every once in a while you might find yourself wanting to switch web hosts to get a better price or service.

Sometimes you create a lot of great content under one URL but are able to snag a better one and need to get things moved over.

Or perhaps you’re launching a new site update and want to build out the new version under a different domain name before moving everything over to your live site.

In these cases and more, you’re going to want to have one of these WordPress migration plugins to save you hours in the process.

Duplicator (freemium)

duplicator wordpress migration plugin header

Duplicator does just what its name suggests – duplicates your website for backup or migration.

It’s a solid WordPress migration that will help you get the job done a lot faster than any attempt to move things manually yourself.

It’s particularly useful, though, for those of you who want to get into the webmaster game (building and running multiple sites for yourself or other people).

Why? Two reasons:

  1. It’s a bit more technical to set up and use than our other migration plugin recommendation (there’s a solid quick start guide and it’s not too terribly difficult but there’s an extra layer of work/learning here).
  2. One of it’s strongest features is the ability to create site “packages;” eg if you like to use a certain set of plugins, themes, or pages, you can create a template website, “package” it up with Duplicator, then any time you need to make a new site, just load up your package and you’re done.

Top Features

duplicator wordpress migration plugin features
Free
  • Backup files and database (you’ll need copies of both in order to get a 100% copy of your current site)
  • Filters (so you can exclude certain parts like posts or plugins from your backup/migration)
  • Migration wizard (steps you through the process = makes things easy)
Premium
  • Cloud storage support (save your backup/migration files to Dropbox, Google Drive, etc)
  • Automatic Database creation (so you don’t need to manually create a new database/database user when you migrate)
  • Large site support (lets you move multi-GB sites)

Cost

duplicator wordpress migration plugin pricing

Pro plans at $59/year for up to 3 sites, and you’re more than covered against buyer’s remorse with their 60-day money back guarantee.

60 money back guarantee.

Download Free Checkout Premium

All-in-One WP Migration (freemium)

all in one wp migration wordpress migration plugin header

Are you a WordPress beginner who’s found yourself in need of moving a website (hey, the best of us have spent dozens of hours on a site before realizing we were paying too much for bad hosting)?

Or maybe you’ve got some solid WordPress experience, you just really like to save time.

Either way, we definitely recommend All-in-One WP Migration if you’re in need.

One-click to export, one-click to import, done.

It’s really that simple and we were shocked that it worked the first time we used it (not that we had any reason to doubt the team who made it, we just have a sense of how difficult WP migrations can be).

If you have a bigger site (over half a GB once it’s zipped up), you’ll need to buy one of their premium extensions to import your backup to a new WordPress install, but if you’ve got the cash (starting at $69), it’s well worth it.

If you don’t, you’re not going to go wrong with Duplicator (you’ll just need some extra time to figure out how to make it work).

Top Features

all in one wp migration wordpress migration plugin features
Free
  • Minimal setup (doesn’t need any special code, configuration, or a ton of options to be figured out; just install and run)
  • Export in one click (seriously easy; click export, click your destination (file, Dropbox, etc), wait a couple of minutes, done).
  • Import in one click (seriously easy; select where you’re file’s coming from, wait a few minutes, done).
Premium
  • Unlimited file sizes (so you can import a backup from your computer or cloud storage no matter how big your site’s backup file is)
  • Cloud storage support (export/import from Dropbox, Google Drive, etc)
  • Premium support (just in case you run into trouble)

Cost

all in one wp migration wordpress migration plugin pricing

Most of their extensions are $99 apiece, one-time payment which is nice…

But they don’t offer refunds so make sure you need them before you buy them.

Download Free Checkout Premium

Best WordPress ecommerce plugins

Best WordPress ecommerce plugins

Whether you want to sell your handmade oven mitts, dropship some sweet snowboarding gear, or sell courses and ebooks, your website’s going to need:

  1. A way for people to say “I want to buy this stuff”
  2. A way to process payments
  3. A way to make sure things get shipped/sent where, when, and to whom they’re supposed to.

WordPress ecommerce plugins do all that and more.

WooCommerce (freemium)

woocommerce wordpress ecommerce plugin header

When most people think about building an ecommerce website, they think Shopify.

It’s a solid choice.

BUT it can be expensive, and while they have a great community with lots of support and extensions, you’ll bump into boundaries at a certain point where you won’t be able to do something you want to because “that’s just how Shopify is.”

Which is why people like to do ecommerce through their WordPress websites.

And WooCommerce is the go-to for that.

Like WordPress itself (it’s run by the same company), this WordPress ecommerce plugin is 100% free to use, with plenty of free and paid themes and “extensions” (the WooCommerce version of plugins) to customize your store exactly how you want.

Top Features

woocommerce wordpress ecommerce plugin features
Free
  • Ecommerce pages (lets you create specially designed product cart, and checkout pages to sell your stuff)
  • Payment options (gives you the ability to securely accept and receive money from your customers)
  • Shipping and tax calculators (so you can set it and forget it when it comes to sending packages and tax $$).
Premium
  • Premium themes (get plug and play styles for your website specifically built for WooCommerce and doing bizniz).
  • Premium extensions (these let you do things like create subscriptions, bundles, memberships, and more)

Cost

woocommerce wordpress ecommerce plugin pricing

The WooCommerce plugin itself is free and has plenty to get a basic store up and running.

From there premium themes and extensions range anywhere from $29 to $300; how much you’ll end up spending depends on what you’re trying to do and how much you want to drop.

30-day money back guarantee on anything you don’t like.

Download Free Checkout Premium

Ecwid (freemium)

ecwid wordpress ecommerce plugin header

See yourself building a massive ecommerce empire, a brand with thousands (millions) of fans buying products they love from you day and night, across the world and the internet?

Then Ecwid is probably the WordPress ecommerce plugin for you.

Like Shopify, the company has built its software and services from the ground up for ecommerce – meaning they’ve incorporated a feature set that makes selling products online super easy, though you’ll trade that for 100% control over getting it to do what you want.

Unlike Shopify, they’ play well with WordPress (so you can have just your shopping cart/sales stuff handled by Ecwid while WordPress handles your content).

AND they have a free plan, so you can set up your store without committing to a monthly fee.

While not quite as flexible as WooCommerce, they’ve got a really solid “solution” for creating an ecommerce business – meaning they’ll help you manage inventory and market your biz in addition to enabling you to sell online.

Top Features

ecwid wordpress ecommerce plugin features
Free
  • Product catalog management (so you can keep track of everything you sell and easily make changes to price, description, etc)
  • Marketing tools (makes it easy to manage Google Analytics, coupons, Facebook ads, etc from the dashboard inside of WordPress)
  • Reports (go beyond store revenue with time to purchase, sales by category, and more – for free, in WordPress)
Premium
  • More sales channels (sell on Facebook, Insta)
  • Mobile app for management (so you can track your sales, inventory, etc on the go)
  • Additional store tools (like gift cards, coupons, and inventory management)

Cost

ecwid wordpress ecommerce plugin pricing

Premium plans start with “Venture” which is $12.50/mnth when you pay annually.

No refunds when you sign up BUT you can do a lot for free so you’ll get a good idea of whether or not you’ll want/need the paid versions as you build.

Download Free Checkout Premium

Best WordPress social media plugins

Best WordPress social media plugins

The whole point of having a website is to connect with people from around the world, beyond your local community.

Which is what social media is all about, too!

Whether you want to share stuff from your social feed on your website, or want to make it easy for people to share the sweet sweet content on your site with their networks, WordPress social media plugins can make it happen.

Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed (freemium)

smash balloon wordpress social media plugin header

Fun fact: it used to take hours to download one low-res photo from something called a BBS.

These days, we waste hours scrolling hundreds of photos on Instagram, FB, etc.

Maybe it’s not all a waste (Gary Vee’s gotten us pumped to tackle some big challenges)!

Whether you just want site visitors to drool over your puppy pics or you’re trying to get some more engagement on your digital nomad account, Smash Balloon makes it easy to share Instagram content on your website.

When you do that, it’s a win-win: people stay on your site longer and are more likely to come back.

And more people are likely to see and engage with your Insta content so you can keep it growing.

Top Features

smash balloon wordpress social media plugin features
Free
  • Show content from user feeds (show all the latest Insta posts from any public account)
  • Display options (get your feeds looking spiffy with tons of visual customization options)
  • Shortcodes (makes it easy to drop one or a ton of Insta feeds anywhere on your site)
Premium
  • Display hashtag feeds (so you can show all the content from a hashtag rather than a particular user)
  • Show captions, likes, comments (so people who visit your site can see engagement on posts, which could keep them on your site longer/make them more interested in you)
  • More feed layout options (for when you want to get fancy with dat feed)

Cost

smash balloon wordpress social media plugin pricing

Premium subs start at $49 for one site and a year of support/updates; 30 days to get your money back if you don’t really want it.

Download Free Checkout Premium

AddToAny (free)

addtoany wordpress social media plugin header

Over the last decade, we’ve seen a lot of social media sites come and stay and go (really glad we didn’t bother with G+).

The same’s been true with WordPress social media sharing plugins.

Unlike ecommerce/Woocommerce for example, we haven’t really seen a clear, consistent winner when it comes to adding those “Share this post on Facebook/Twitter/[insert site here]” buttons to our juiciest of content.

Some look great but are buggy. Others work well but only for one or two sites.

ATM and for a minute it seems AddToAny is the best option.

It works well. It’s free. It does what you want it to (lets you add share buttons for a ton of sites, either at the top/bottom of your posts or floating along the side).

Top Features

addtoany wordpress social media plugin features
Free
  • Choose where to share (add sharing buttons to the top/bottom of your content or have them float alongside as people scroll)
  • Share on over 100 sites (basically: if it’s a social network, there’s a button for it)
  • Share counts (track the when/where of shares in Google Analytics AND show your visitors how many times your content’s been shared)

Cost

AddToAny’s a community created plugin so she’s free for now and forever!

Download Free

Best WordPress form plugins

Best WordPress form plugins

Websites and forms go together like hot dogs and ketchup/mustard (whichever’s your favorite).

Technically you can have a hot dog without, but jeez you should really reevaluate your life if that’s where you’re at.

From surveys to collecting leads for your email list, collecting information on a potential client or just giving people a place to say “hey,” WordPress form plugins make it easy to get messages and information from visitors and have it sent to your email inbox, marketing software, etc.

WPForms (freemium)

wpforms wordpress form plugin header

If you’re just trying to get a basic contact form up fast, WPForms is your go-to (which is why it’s the one we use in our How to Create a Contact Form in WordPress guide).

The free version covers the essentials of “Name, Email, Message” plus a bit more.

The drag and drop builder combined with their helpful getting started videos mean even if this is your first time in WordPress you’ll have your form ready to publish in minutes.

And, while the premium versions can get expensive at the highest tiers, they options there mean you have plenty of room to get access to more features when and as you need them (so you don’t have to re-learn a new plugin when you need it to do more).

Top Features

wpforms wordpress form plugin features
Free
  • Drag and drop builder (solid-looking forms that do what you want, easy as pie to make)
  • Essential form templates (prebuilt contact and newsletter signup forms so you don’t have to start from 100% scratch)
  • Helpful getting started videos (walks you step by step through how to set up and launch your first forms – right inside WordPress)
Premium
  • Advanced fields (capture phone numbers, addresses, take payments, etc)
  • Multi-page forms with conditional logic (get more information from people without overwhelming them with too many fields to fill out at once)
  • Premium Support (not really needed for the free version but with some of the fancy extras you’ll get when you pay this can come in handy)

Cost

wpforms wordpress form plugin pricing

Paid plans start with “Basic” for $39.50 which is well worth it if you like the free version (it “basically” removes the main restrictions you’ll find annoying in the free version so you can cover 87% of your form building needs).

14-day money back guarantee if you’re not 100% happy with the purchase.

Download Free Checkout Premium

Gravity Forms (premium)

gravity forms wordpress form plugin header

The headline on Gravity Forms’ homepage basically sums up what we’d say about it: 

“..The Easiest, Most Trusted Tool to Create Advanced Forms for Your WordPress-Powered Website.”

Easy? Yes, it is.

Trusted? Well “most” is a big word but it’s a solid plugin supported by a solid team.

“Advanced” – this is the operative word.

Yes, it’s easy to use so there’s no need to be afraid of it if you’re a beginner; you’ll get a form up on your site in minutes.

BUT it is a premium-only plugin (which you really don’t need to pay for when you’re starting out, see WPForms above).

And where Gravity Forms really shines is in the incredible amount of functionality they’ve packed in – and that’s before you start diving into the 30+ integrations with other marketing software they have.

Which means if you want to do it with a form, it can be done with Gravity Forms.

Top Features

gravity forms wordpress form plugin features
Premium
  • Drag and drop builder (easy to get started fast; instructions are laid out step by step right inside the form builder)
  • Multi-page forms and conditional logic (capture lots of info in a user-friendly way)
  • Integration with tons of marketing platforms (works with pretty much any email marketing software as well as tools like Slack and Zapier for loads of automation magic)

Cost

gravity forms wordpress form plugin pricing

Plans start at $59/yr for a basic license that’ll get you essential features and 15 integrations.

30-day refunds mean you’ve got plenty of time to figure out if she’s worth keeping.

Checkout Premium

Best WordPress cache plugins

Best WordPress cache plugins

According to Google, 53% of mobile users will abandon a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

And depending on who you ask, mobile traffic accounts for anywhere from 40-60% of website traffic globally.

What the heck does this have to do with WordPress plugins?

Your sites have to be fast, and that’s a bigger challenge with mobile phones that don’t have as much computing power as laptops/desktops.

One of the key strategies for speeding up websites is to use caching, which basically means saving some or all of your website data in more than one place so people all around the world can get to it faster.

Technically there’s a lot more to it than that… which is what makes WordPress cache plugins so helpful.

WP Rocket (premium)

wp rocket wordpress cache plugin header

You’ll pay a premium for WP Rocket, but this is one we’d say is worth it – even for beginners.

In addition to the basic page caching a caching plugin has to offer, they’ve baked in a ton of optimizations to make your website load faster; things you might otherwise need at least 2 or three other plugins to do.

And it’s very, very easy to use. Just hitting the “install” button loads the plugin with basic settings that won’t break your site (a thing that can happen with any caching plugin when your website’s code/caching settings aren’t done right) but will speed things up.

Then you can customize/test from there to find the best settings for your site with the help of their guides and videos.

Top Features

wp rocket wordpress cache plugin features
Premium
  • Quick setup (assuming your site isn’t super complicated, you can basically just hit install and get an instant speed boost)
  • Page Caching with Browser and CDN support (these are the essential components of a WordPress caching plugin – WP Rocket covers them…)
  • Loads of other optimizations (…beyond caching, WP Rocket also offers performance enhancements like lazy loading, database optimization, and GZIP compression so you don’t need to install a bunch of other plugins to get your site 100% optimized)

Cost

wp rocket wordpress cache plugin pricing

For one site, you’re looking at $49 a year for your first year, half-price after that when you renew before your license expires.

If you find this plugin just isn’t your jam, you’ve got 14 days to get your money back.

Checkout Premium

W3 Total Cache (freemium)

w3 total cache wordpress cache plugin header

W3 is another great WordPress cache plugin, this time featuring a free version!

Now normally we’re all for these; in most cases, it makes sense for beginners to get as many free versions of things as they can because your website wants and needs will end up changing a lot as you learn and grow.

So it’s usually better to not spend hundreds on primo themes and plugins you might not even use 6 months from now.

If you’re really strapped for both cash and cache, W3 is a solid plugin that will help you speed up your site.

BUT it’s not so easy to set up or use, so if you have the $49 for a year’s worth of WP Rocket we’d recommend going with that.

Top Features

w3 total cache wordpress cache plugin features
Free
  • Page, browser, database caching (basically if it’s a part of a website that can be cached, W3 has you covered)
  • Static file CDN (have parts of your site’s code that don’t get updated based on user inputs hosted on a CDN for faster delivery)
  • Minification (removes spaces from your site’s HTML/CSS files so they’re smaller and quicker to load)
Premium
  • Full site CDN (lets you have all of your site code hosted on your CDN not just the static files)
  • Advanced caching stats (logs and stats to let you better troubleshoot and monitor your site’s performance)
  • Enhanced caching (allows caching of some of the more technical pieces of code than standard HTML/CSS caching)

Cost

w3 total cache wordpress cache plugin pricing

W3 pro will cost you $8.25 a month, you can get your money back for 30 days if you’re not happy in the first month.

Download Free Checkout Premium

Best WordPress page builder plugins

Best WordPress page builder plugins

WordPress is great because:

  1. The software itself is free (and hosting can cost as little as a few bucks a month).
  2. It’s basically 100% customizable… depending on your skill level.

To number 2, WordPress out of the box lets you do a lot with zero coding skillz.

Then you start adding themes and plugins and there’s a ton you can do with some typing and button clicks and youtube research.

When it comes to making your website look the way you want it too, website builders like Squarespace and Wix generally have an edge with their “What you see is what you get” drag and drop website creation tools.

Except there are WordPress page builder plugins like the ones below that let you get the same easy to build experience.

Beaver Builder (freemium)

beaver builder wordpress page builder plugin header

As great as Squarespace and Wix are, they can be expensive.

And they’ve done a great job at giving their users a lot of control over the design and functionality of their sites, but that level of control comes at the cost of steep learning curves to get things looking and working great.

Beaver Builder, on the other hand, is free to get started with.

And, while the free version does have limited options, it has enough that you can make a solid, basic, mobile-friendly website pretty easily.

If you’re more of a business owner just looking to get a website built for yourself or you don’t want to dive super deep into learning how to make a ton of ultra-custom websites, we’d probably go with Beaver Builder as it’s a good balance of easy to use and customizable.

Top Features

beaver builder wordpress page builder plugin features
Free
  • Easy to use (there’s a getting started guide and getting pages setup is well designed; the basic options are easy to find and the more advanced stuff is there but hidden so you’re not bombarded all at once)
  • Highly customizable (even in the free version, there are some pretty advanced customizations like CSS IDs and border-radius controls so you won’t feel stuck as you learn how to use these)
  • Mobile-friendly (the plugin does a good job of making your layouts work well on devices of every size and includes controls to let you make adjustments for phone/desktop versions of your pages)
Premium
  • Premium support (solve problems… faster)
  • Premium modules (add more advanced elements like contact forms, maps, and buttons)
  • Templates (get access to pre-built, professionally created page layout so you just need to customize for your needs, rather than having to do everything from scratch)

Cost

beaver builder wordpress page builder plugin pricing

Paid plans start at $99 for a year’s worth of access.

You’ll have 30 days to get a refund if you’re not for it.

Download Free Checkout Premium

Elementor (freemium)

elementor wordpress page builder plugin header

If you’re in this website building game for the long haul…

If you’re ready to spend a good bit of time learning how to use the tools you’ll need to make completely badass websites time and again…

If you don’t mind diving deep to see just where your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual limits lie…

Get Elementor.

Lol drama aside, this is another great WordPress page builder plugin we’d definitely recommend.

Compared to Beaver Builder, you’re going to get more options in the free version with just as much customization capability.

And you’ve got a lot you can do with the paid version.

But we feel these extra options and features mean it’s a bit harder to learn, so while you’ll save 90% of the time you’d spend trying to do some of the same things in WordPress itself without a page builder plugin, if you want the absolute easiest, most straightforward experience go with the free version of Beaver.

For the rest of you, Elementor is a solid, solid plugin.

Top Features

elementor wordpress page builder plugin features
Free
  • Loads of widgets (add text, videos, images yes – but also star ratings, progress bars, icon boxes; tons of pretty advanced stuff for a free plugin)
  • In-depth custom effects (add things like box shadows and element animations with just a few clicks and some playing around with how bouncy you want to make that star shooting across your page)
  • Global styles (lets you set a color scheme, fonts, and a ton of other design options across your page/site so you don’t have to manually make sure every button has the same exact shade of green)
Premium
  • Global widgets (lets you create custom layouts and widget designs, then reuse them across pages on your site eg if you spend 2 hours creating a contact form that looks 100, you can just copy/paste from there).
  • Pro widgets and templates (lets you start with professionally designed page layouts and include more advanced widgets like countdown timers, media carousels, and pricing tables)
  • Popups and ecommerce (the pro version lets you build your own website popups and design ecommerce pages for WooCommerce to help you get more sales)

Cost

elementor wordpress page builder plugin pricing

Elementor paid pans start with “Personal” for one site, $49/year with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Download Free Checkout Premium

Best WordPress optimization plugins

Best WordPress optimization plugins

Re: WordPress caching plugins/”your site has to load fast or people will leave” stats…

Your site has to load fast.

Caching is one way to help out site speeds, but there are a few other methods/things to do on the “make my site load like Ricky Bobby around the track.”

That’s where WordPress optimization/performance/image compression plugins come into the game.

EWWW Image Optimizer (freemium)

ewww wordpress optimization plugins header

If there’s one thing we know for sure about modern websites, it’s that they HAVE TO HAVE images.

But we also know that image files are a lot larger than text files, which on a website means slower loading times.

Thankfully, we’ve got solutions to these kinds of problems:

  • Image compression (make those files smaller through the black magic of hardcore computer science)
  • Lazy loading (only loading images when people start to scroll down the page, so they can see the content before 100% of it is loaded)
  • Content Delivery Networks (take a load off your web host’s servers and put website data closer to your visitors so everything loads that much faster).

EWWW is a WordPress image optimizer plugin that delivers all of these and more.

And while it has some powerful speed demon features that are paid and a bit more complex to set up, it’s got a free mode and some basic “get started” options that make it a solid plugin for WordPress performance plugin beginners and experts alike.

Top Features

ewww wordpress optimization plugins features
Free
  • Basic compression (reduces file sizes a bit for faster loading)
  • Lazy Loading (only loads images when people start to scroll close to them – so people can see the top of your page faster than if they had to wait for an image at the bottom to load first)
  • Metadata removal (gets rid of things like date, location, names, etc. that may be stored in an image’s file so that nothing but information on the pixels remains; saves space/saves loading time)
Premium
  • Premium compression (makes your images that much smaller/faster to load)
  • Automatic image resizing/scaling (makes sure images are just the right size for the screen your visitor is using, meaning not too small on desktop and not too big on mobile)
  • Image CDN (takes a load off your main host’s servers by loading images from data center locations around the world – a lot faster because the data is closer and your web hosts servers aren’t having to do as much work)

Cost

ewww wordpress optimization plugins pricing

Premium Image compression starts at just $0.003 per image (that’s $3 for 1k images for those of you who aren’t so fond of math).

Their other image optimization services (Image CDN, auto-resizing/scaling) start at $9.

Both have 30-day money back guarantees.

Download Free Checkout Premium

WP-Optimize (freemium)

wp optimize wordpress performance plugin header

So looking at the plugins we’ve covered so far, speeding up WordPress websites basically means a few things:

  • Making files smaller so they transfer faster.
  • Moving files to different locations (like other web servers or your visitor’s computers) so they transfer faster/less computing power is needed for your website’s main web server.
  • Some other computer/programming/science magic to make stuff faster.

WP-Optimize is a WordPress performance plugin that does a little bit of each of these.

Image compression makes your biggest files (images) smaller so they load faster.

Caching saves parts of your website that don’t change on your visitor’s computer so they can get them instantly when they come back to your site.

And database cleanup does some rearranging of backend computing stuff so that your web server doesn’t have to work as hard to load your site.

All of that makes WP-Optimize a solid performance plugin on its own, or as a supplement to other plugins like EWWW or WP Rocket.

Top Features

wp optimize wordpress performance plugin features
Free
  • Database cleaning (clears out unnecessary data so loading your site uses fewer computing resources)
  • Image compression (makes image files smaller so they load faster)
  • Caching (tells visitors’ browsers to save your pages/posts so they load from their computer not your web host’s servers when they revisit – if there aren’t any changes)
Premium
  • Optimization scheduling (put regular maintenance/optimization on autopilot)
  • Lazy loading (loads images only when users scroll near so your pages can be shown to visitors without having to wait for every image to load)
  • Premium support (WordPress performance optimization can get tricky – these pros will help if something goes wrong)

Cost

wp optimize wordpress performance plugin pricing

Premium starts at $39/year for one or two sites, but be sure you know you want premium before you buy – they have a 10-day refund policy but you have to show them the plugin doesn’t work.

If you just don’t like it they don’t promise they’ll refund you.

Download Free Checkout Premium

More WordPress knowledge for ya

Whew, we’ve made it through. All of us. Together.

With that covered, you’re probably pooped out on this WordPress stuff for a minute.

That’s fine, take a minute to relax and digest and dream.

If and when you’re ready for more, here are a couple of other helpful WordPress related guides for you:

How to Use WordPress Tutorial
Tutorial [2020]

Your step by step guide to creating a WordPress site!

 

Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

Jan. 9, 2020

 

Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites around the world. In this fully-packed, step-by-step guide, you’ll learn How To Use WordPress and how to create a website and publish your first post. Let’s dive in!

  • Level of Expertise:
    Beginner
  • Time To Complete:
    1 Hour
  • What You Get:
    A Functional Website

For the record: It’s super important for us to keep this site 100% free for you and 100% high quality. To help us do that, we’ve partnered with some of the products we recommend and earn a commission if you buy through our links. Read our full disclosure and partners list here.

What’s up y’all!

If you like the video and want more tutorials on creating a professional website you can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

More the reading type?

Looking to start a website?

The post:

WordPress is definitely a solid choice for creating awesome, professional websites.

Now you’ve just got to figure out how to use WordPress…

Good news: as always, we’ve got your back fam!

Here we’ve got a complete walkthrough of one of the best tools for building a website best website builders around including what you need to know about the dashboard, how to add pages and posts, install themes, and a ton more.

And because we were once beginners ourselves, we’ve got it all nice and organized in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step fashion so you can tackle this beast of a project and learn WordPress a piece at a time (it’s not as hard as you think, we promise!).

Alright, let’s get after it!

Note: you’ll need cheap WordPress hosting to follow along with this ‘un, grab that here to get up to 60% from our friends over at HostGator!

how to use WordPress tutorial featured image

What is WordPress and how does it work?

Short answer: WordPres is free to use open source software called a “Content Management System” (CMS) that lets you build your website and share it with the world – without knowing how to code.

With the help and support of a huge community of web developers and designers from around the world, it’s one of the most popular website publishing platforms in the world (an estimated 30% of the Internet is powered by WordPress and that’s a damn impressive accomplishment in our book).

Long answer: Check out the video above and our complete written guide on the what is WordPress question!

Now onto today’s how to build a WordPress website tutorial…

Step 1: How to get a domain name and web hosting

wordpress web-hosting-domain-name

So step number one in our “WordPress for dummies” tutorial is to get a domain name and web hosting.

Quick reminder/low down a domain name is the address people type in to get to your website (example: createaprowebsite.com) and web hosting is basically just a way to “rent” space on the internet so you can host all the images, text, videos, and code on your website.

More details aka the “high up” on what is a domain name and what is web hosting in our posts linked in this sentence for your convenience (oh how handy!).

Now, for this tutorial, we use HostGator to get both a domain name and hosting.

If you use this link you’ll be able to get a special discount we’ve worked out with them for both your domain name and hosting.

Note: we will make a bit of a commission if you buy through that link, but we used and loved HostGator for years before we started working with them so while we’ll earn a bit of cash as a thank you for recommending them (and you’ll get a discount), that’s not the only reason we recommend them.

In fact, we like a few different sites to buy domain names and get web hosting, so if you want to learn more about your options you can check out our Best Domain Registrars and Best Web Hosting Services guides.

For the rest of this section and for step 2, we’ll go through the process of buying a domain name, hosting, and installing WordPress using HostGator.

If you decide to get hosting/your domain name somewhere else the process will basically be the same.

But things will be exactly the same whether you work with our friends over at the big HG or not starting with step 3 (how to login to WordPress).

Alright, so with HostGator we recommend the Hatchling plan because it’s the cheapest and more than enough when you’re starting out with your first site.

With that, you’ll get one website/domain name, one-click WordPress install, unlimited bandwidth, and a free SSL certificate.

wordpress website hostgator hatchling plan

A proverbial “complete package.

So go ahead and smash that buy now button and you’ll land on a page where you can choose your domain name.

wordpress site hostgator domain name

Now if you’ve already grabbed your domain name just click the “I already own this domain” tab and enter it in, you’ll be able to connect your site to that domain name later.

If you’re still in the pre-domain days then those days are about to be over because you can buy one now.

Just type one into the search bar, in this example we’re going with “beginnerwptutorials.com.”

Hit enter and…

wordpress site tutorial domain name available

Boom, this one was available so we’re gonna buy it!

If your #1 domain name choice was taken (and, unfortunately, a lot of times they are), you’ll see a red warning and will have to try another domain name.

You’ll likely see some other variations of your chosen domain name like “[yourdomain].club” or “[yourdomain].site” but we highly recommend sticking with a “.com” or “.co” – those are the most professional for most sites (though there are cases where “.org” or “.io” are solid choices too).

Now with an available domain name chosen, scrolling down you’ll see some other recommended options but we can just ignore those for now (you only need one domain name for a website and we recommend you don’t start your website creation journey buying domain names that seem cool but you’ll probably never use #beentherelol).

“Add domain name privacy” should be automatically checked, make sure you leave it that way.

getting started with wordpress domain privacy

The reason being this keeps your contact information, which is needed to register your domain, from being posted publicly (which is the default; weird, yes, but people thought that was the right way to do it when the internet was being built).

That will lead to a flood of calls from people who will scrape the public listings and call you eight times a day saying they can build your website for you (another #beentherelol).

Scrolling down some more, you’ll see some plan options:

wordpress tutorial video choose hosting plan

Hatchling plan yes, 36-month billing cycle probably not.

You’ll get the best discount if you buy your domain name and hosting for 3 years, but that’s a long time, especially when you’re starting out.

We recommend going with a 12-month billing cycle as, no matter what, you’ve gotta get your domain name for 12 months so you might as well save a bit of money with your hosting as well (you can get hosting on a monthly cycle but that’s the most expensive option – even with our discount).

Next up, enter a username and security pin:

learning wordpress hosting username security pin

Then enter in your billing info just like you do for every other thing you buy online: 

wordpress basics hosting billing info

Heading down to the additional services, you’ll get a free SSL certificate which is great because it helps keep your site secure for visitors and is now essential if you want to rank in Google through SEO.

So go ahead and make sure that’s checked, but uncheck anything else they’re offering – a lot of stuff offered here like backing up and securing your site can be done for free in other ways (which we’ll get into below!).

wordpress for beginners hosting additional services

Then you can just check the box to agree to the terms of service then click that checkout now button:

learn wordpress hosting checkout now

You’ll then be sent over to a thank you/“setting up your account” page (which will take just a couple of minutes to do).

wordpress tutorial for beginners setting up account

And now we’re ready for…

Step 2: How to install WordPress

Alright so after that few minutes you’ll be taken to a page that might have a “tell us about yourself” popup just go ahead and click out of that (you can answer it if you want to but it’s not gonna help you with installing WordPress lol).

Then go on over to the Marketplace tab.

how to install wordpress hostgator marketplace

From there, just scroll down until you see the big blue “one-click installs” button and… click that bad boy!

installing wordpress one click hostgator

Then just click on “WordPress,” conveniently, oh so conveniently located at the top of the page.

hostgator one click wordpress install

Then just select your domain and click that next button.

how to install wordpress select domain

This’ll take you to a little settings form, fill out all the details, check the box to agree to the terms of service, then it’s time to click the install button.

hostgator installing wordpress details

Once WordPress is finished installing, be sure to copy your installation information and save it somewhere safe because you’re going to need that info/ridiculous password to log into WordPress (and change that password to something much more reasonable).

how to install wordpress login details

Now, if you open up a new tab and go to your domain name you’ll see a page that looks something like this:

installing wordpress domain name propagating

Why? Well, because your domain name has to “propagate” – basically, HostGator has to tell the world about your new domain name so people all over the place (including you) can access it from the web.

HG will tell you the process could take up to 24 hours, which is technically the case…

But in our experience, it’s never taken more than 20-30 minutes so go ahead and grab yourself a break then come back in a bit to keep truckin through step 3.

Step 3: How to login to WordPress

So once you’re back after that 20-30 break (hope snack time was awesome) time to check on your site and find your WordPress dashboard login page.

To start just type in your domain name again/refresh the page (if you’ve been waiting on the edge of your seat #beentherelol) and you should see a page that looks like this:

wordpress tutorial for beginners after propagation

Which means propagation has finished!

We’re going to ignore that that WordPress “Admin Login” button here because once you publish your site this will go away.

Because you should know how to access WordPress your admin section/dashboard always and forever (or at least for the year you bought hosting for).

To do that, just add “/wp-admin” to the end of your URL.

WordPress dashboard login url

In the future, if you’re already logged in this will automatically take you right to your WordPress dashboard!

If you’re not logged in (like we are now, there’s a first time for everything), it’ll take you to the WordPress admin login page that looks like this:

WordPress dashboard login page

Copy/paste your username and password and you’ll get taken to your dashboard.

This’ll look a little crazy at first because of a ton of “your new, you must need to know this” popup boxes.

Let’s just go ahead and click the “x’s” on all of those, we’ve got you in this tutorial.

wordpress tutorial for beginners dashboard

Step 4: How to navigate the WordPress dashboard

Now that we’re in the dashboard, let’s explore!

First off, the WordPress admin page has a couple of main places where you’ll make changes to your site.

The first is this here dashboard, where you’ll find the majority of tools to make changes to your site.

It’s only available to you/people you make WordPress accounts for.

There are also some “customize” options when you’re viewing your main site (and logged in), we’ll cover those below.

First, let’s go over the most important parts of the WordPress dashboard.

Those needles in the proverbial haystack of buttons and pages and options WordPress just dumped on you.

First, you’ll find the name of your site in the top left corner – mouse over this and click “visit site” to go see what your website looks like at the moment (and every time you make updates and changes):

wordpress tutorial for beginners visit site

On the left is the main menu where you’ll find all the tools you’ll use when creating your WordPress website.

wordpress tutorial for beginners dashboard options

Any WordPress website will include the following tools:

  • Updates is where you’ll be able to find and install updates to the WordPress platform as well as any plugins and themes you’ve installed.
  • Posts is where you’ll create new blog posts or update existing ones – things like “Top 10 WordPress Secrets” or “How to Use WordPress Tutorial”. Here you can also view and create categories and tags to help organize your posts.
  • Media where you can add or update all of the pictures, images, or other files on your site.
  • Pages is where you can create or update pages that aren’t part of your blog like the all-important “About” and “Contact Us.”
  • Comments is where you can read, approve, delete or respond to all the comments people leave on your posts and pages.
  • Appearance has a ton of options underneath it, for our purposes the main thing you can do here is install themes. BUT you can also manage widgets, menus, edit your blog’s header, and a few other things depending on the theme you install.
  • Plugins is where you can install different pieces of code that add apps and functionality to your website.
  • Users is where you can create or update accounts for other people on your site, as well as change your WordPress profile (name, password, etc.)
  • Tools by default, here you’ll be able to import and export blog content; plugins can add other options here.
  • Settings has… settings for a whole bunch of things like your blog, the WordPress page/post editor, comments, media, and permalinks.

On top of all that, you’ll also find menu options for plugins you install.

Depending on the plugin’s functionality and how it’s coded, you might find it in the main left-hand menu, or as an option underneath any of the above main menu items.

For example, in our tutorial, HostGator automatically installed a few extra things:

  • WP Forms is actually from a plugin; if you install WordPress through HostGator, they’ll automatically add this plugin for you, if you went with another host that didn’t include it you can add that later – it basically makes it super simple to create contact forms for your site (check out that tutorial here).
  • Marketplace is also something installed by HostGator specifically, it’s a place to get premium themes. We use other sites so this usually gets ignored.

For those of you who really like to be in the know, we’re about to deep dive into all of this.

If you’re looking to just follow along in a quick tutorial fashion, you can go ahead and skip on over to step 5 – how to install WordPress themes.

The WordPress dashboard: A deeper dive

Updates

wordpress dashboard updates option

Like any popular software (content management system or otherwise), WordPress releases a lot of updates – some that make major changes like new features, some that make minor bug fixes and security patches.

These days, WordPress will automatically install minor updates on its own and prompt you to make major updates (because these can sometimes break plugins and themes and they’re smart enough not to do that to you for the sake of everyone’s stress levels).

You will have to update plugins and themes yourself though, which can be done on this page or on the plugins/themes pages.

Posts

wordpress basics post settings

The Posts menu lets you control the content you add to your blog, a few options here:

  • All Posts takes you to a page that lists all of the posts in your dashboard. From here, you can quickly edit one or more posts to change things like categories, tags, and author, or you can click on a particular post to view it or edit its content.
  • Add New will automatically fire up a page where you can create a new blog post.
  • Categories lets you view all the categories your posts are listed under, then edit those and add new ones.
  • Tags is just like Categories, only for tags options-wise. The basic idea here is that each post should only have one Category that groups it with other posts that are similar, while a post might have a lot of Tags based on topics or keywords mentioned in your post.

Media

wordpress dashboard media options

The Media menu item lets you upload videos, images, audio and other files to your site then manage them (change meta details, add them to posts, pages, sidebars, etc).

You’ll find a couple of options here:

  • Library lets you view and edit all of the media you’ve uploaded to your site.
  • Add New is just like it sounds… a quick way to upload new media to your site!

Pages

wordpress dashboard pages options

Unlike blog posts, which show up on a “blog” page that lists all your blog posts in reverse chronological order (aka the last one you post is at the top), Pages are places on your site that don’t change much; things like About, Contact, Our Services, etc.

The usual suspects as far as options:

  • All Pages is basically the pages version of the “All Posts” option above (you can quickly edit all your pages or deep dive into editing one).
  • Add New lets you create a new page. Whoda thunk it!

Comments

wordpress dashboard comments option

Comments lets you manage messages left on your site from other people – both on pages and blog posts.

Clicking on this option will let you read comments that have been left across your site, approve, disapprove or delete them (because spam happens), and leave responses as well.

Appearance

wordpress dashboard appearance options

This menu item is how to a lot of the options for changing the design of your site (though not all of them – see below!).

Lots of options here (these are what any WordPress site will have, if you install certain themes and plugins you’ll find more):

  • Themes is where you can search for and install new themes from the WordPress themes directory, or upload and install themes you’ve found somewhere else online.
  • Customize this one changes a lot depending on the theme you’ve chosen. The basic options are your site’s title and tagline, color, background image, and whether or not you have a static homepage (or one that shows your latest blog posts). Themes/plugins will add a ton of other options to this list.
  • Widgets are boxes of special code you can add to various places on your site, like your homepage, header/footer, or sidebar. What’s “special code” mean? Anything from calendars, social media links, and recent posts to videos, audio players, and contact forms.
  • Menus are lists of links to pages/posts on your site; any WordPress website will have a header and footer menu, certain themes will have more.
  • Header will provide options for customizing your header menu; those options depend on the theme you’ve installed but generally include changing the background color and uploading your logo.
  • Theme Editor is for advanced users as you’ve gotta know at least a bit about coding to use it. Basically, this gives you access to the backend code files that WordPress uses to generate your site so you can add CSS, HTML, JavaScript, and PHP to change the look and functionality of your site.

Plugins

wordpress dashbord plugins options

Plugins are pieces of easy to install code that change how your site looks, feels, and functions.

They can add entirely new features like contact forms that integrate with an email management software like Mailchimp, extend your theme’s capabilities with a drag and drop editor, or let you do backend things like manage page redirects.

Options here:

  • Installed Plugins is the plugin version of “All Pages/Posts” – lets you manage and update the plugins you’ve already installed.
  • Add New lets you find and install new plugins.
  • Plugin Editor is like the theme editor – only for advanced users, definitely requires coding skills.

Users

wordpress dashboard users options

This menu item lets you create new accounts for people on your site (for example, for someone to write blog posts for you or for a web developer to make changes), as well as edit existing users and your own user account preferences.

Options you’ll find:

  • All Users lets you manage all the user accounts on your site.
  • Add New …we’ll let you guess this one.
  • Your Profile is where you can update your user account preferences (email address, password, profile image, etc.)

And each new user you add can have the following roles:

  • Administrators can do anything on your blog from adding new pages/posts/users, to installing plugins and themes and editing everything.
  • Editors can access all posts, pages, comments, categories, and tags but can’t edit appearance, themes, plugins or add new users.
  • Authors can publish and edit posts as well as upload media.
  • Contributors can write and edit their own posts, but can’t publish them or edit other posts/pages.
  • Subscribers can comment on posts and pages (by default anyone can comment, but you can enable “only people who are logged in can comment” in the settings).

Tools

wordpress dashboard tools options

Tools is kind of a catchall bucket for backend functions.

Plugins will add to this list but by default you’ve got three options:

  • Available Tools takes you to a page with a list of tools from certain plugins.
  • Import lets you import data from other website platforms (either another CMS or a website builder) into WordPress.
  • Export Lets you export content so you can import it into another WordPress installation.
  • Site Health shows stats, tips, and info about your site so you can make sure it stays running optimally.
  • Export Personal Data lets you export any personal information about users with accounts on your site.
  • Erase Personal Data lets you erase any personal information about users with accounts on your site.

Settings

wordpress dashboard settings options

This menu holds most of the general settings options for your WordPress site.

Plugins will add more options, the defaults include:

  • General – which lets you configure basic options like timezone, date format, site name, URL, etc.
  • Writing – which lets you set default categories and post format.
  • Reading – which lets you set your homepage to either a static page or your latest blog post and the number of posts to show on your blog page.
  • Discussion – which has settings for controlling how comments work on your site.
  • Media – which lets you change the default sizes for images you upload.
  • Permalinks – which lets you customize the structure of URLs on your site.

Step 5: How to install WordPress themes

Now that we’ve got the basic lay of the WordPress dashboard land, let’s add a new theme.

A WordPress theme is basically just a template you can install with a couple of clicks to drastically change (aka improve) the look and style of your website.

With the right WordPress theme, you can quickly and easily make a website that drops jaws and waters mouths.

So from the main dashboard mouse over to “Appearance” and click on “Themes.”

wordpress tutorial for beginners themes

From here you’ll see that the active theme at the moment is the basic WordPress default “Twenty Nineteen,” and that there are a few other themes (past year’s defaults, when you add a new theme they’ll show up on this page as well).

wordpress tutorial for beginners active theme

But we can do so much better fam, so scroll down a smidge and click on the giant “Add New Theme” box.

wordpress tutorial for beginners add new theme

From here, you can use the little bar to search by featured, popular,  and latest themes to find the one that speaks deeply to your website-building soul.

wordpress tutorial theme filters

By far our favorite “WordPress for beginners” theme is Hestia, which you can find by just typing that into the theme search bar next to the options we mentioned above.

Hestia’s great because it’s super clean, easy to use, and fairly customizable.

If you want the all out super duper most customizable but still super easy to use drag and drop WordPress theme – Divi’s your go to for sure.

If neither of those are quite your jam, check out our Top 5 Best Free WordPress Themes for Beginners and Top 10 Best and Responsive WordPress Themes posts!

Once you’ve picked out a theme (for our WordPress tutorial for beginners, we’re using Hestia), just click on the “Install” button then click that same button again once it becomes  “Activate.”

install theme wordpress tutorial for beginners

You’ll then get taken back to the Themes page, there’ll be a congratulations message at the top, and you’ll see Hestia in your themes list.

Boom, done, got it, nice job, theme installed!

Step 6: How to add plugins to WordPress

Once you’ve got a super sweet theme installed, plugins are the next major thing you’re going to want to look into/install.

WordPress plugins allow you to expand the functionality website.

For instance, if you want to make an online store, you’re going to need product pages, a shopping cart, payment processing, etc.

A lot of work to set up on your own, done for you in like 4 seconds when you install the WooCommerce plugin.

To install plugins, go over to the “Plugins” tab in the main menu, then click “Add New”.

add new plugins wordpress tutorial for beginners

From here you’ll see all the featured plugins and have sorting options just like with themes.

wordpress tutorial plugin page

Click on any of these and you’ll get a popup to learn more about what each does.

wordpress tutorial plugin details

For demonstration purposes here we’re going to install a WordPress plugin called Orbit Fox which adds a bunch of awesome customization options to whatever theme you installed.

So we’ll just search that in the plugin search bar:

search plugins wordpress tutorial for beginners

Click on “Install Now”:

orbit fox wordpress tutorial for beginners

Then once again, Activate once the install button changes over:

install plugins wordpress tutorial for beginners

You’ll then be able to find it in the list of installed plugins, also under the “Plugin” menu in your WordPress dashboard.

If you go there now, you’ll see there are a bunch of default plugins installed and as a WordPress beginner, you don’t really need any of these.

So to get rid of them, just click the checkboxes next to each one you want to deactivate:

bulk select plugins wordpress tutorial for beginners

Go up to the “Bulk Options” dropdown then click “Deactivate”:

deactivate plugins wordpress tutorial for beginners

Then smash that apply button.

Then to delete them, just follow the same checkbox process, just click “Delete” in the dropdown instead of “Deactivate.”

Ahh, feels so much cleaner now!

WordPress plugins: A few of the best

For the sake of keeping our WordPress tutorial quick, we just installed a few plugins and for the sake of time, those are a good place to start.

There are 100,000+ plugins out there so don’t go trying to find and explore them all. Please. For all our sakes.

But if you want to take a slightly longer route working your way through all this “how to use WordPress” stuff there are a few more plugins you’ll want to check out.

We’ve got a big ol’ post on the best WordPress plugins for you here.

If you don’t want to go that deep here’s a nice little starter list:

Features Plugins

Website Optimization Plugins

  • Yoast SEO – the go-to search engine optimization plugin for WordPress.
  • WP Rocket – helps speed up your website’s load times (good for both SEO and your visitors).
  • Autoptimize – makes your site faster by optimizing CSS, JavaScript, images, fonts and more.

Security Plugins

Step 7: How to customize your WordPress theme

Alright, for the next step in our WordPress tutorial, let’s customize the look and feel of your site using your new theme.

We choose Hestia and Orbit Fox for this tutorial because they give you a lot of options and is easy to customize.

If you chose a different theme like Divi (which is the best, just premium), or another customization plugin like Elementor (also a winner when it comes to WordPress customization), you’ll have a lot of similar options but some might be different/missing.

So, to start customizing your theme, head back over to your actual WordPress site by clicking your website name and the “Visit Site” link at the top of the dashboard.

Once you’re there, start customizing by clicking the “Customize” button at the top of the page.

customize wordpress tutorial for beginners

Bam, the website changes to show all the cool stuff Hestia includes by default.

customize homepage wordpress tutorial for beginners

This is exactly how our site is gonna look, minus all the stock images and text and the little pencil buttons.

And we’re gonna make all of it even more awesome!

All the items in the left-hand menu are the controls you can use to change your theme, every WordPress theme will have these (though different themes will give you some different options here).

customization settings wordpress tutorial for beginners

But with Hestia, if you want to change anything on your page, all you have to do is click one of the little pencil icons next to it – not something every theme has, definitely very “WordPress for beginners” friendly and that’s why we love it.

So if we want to change the title or header image, all you have to do is click that little blue icon:

customize element wordpress tutorial for beginners

That’ll open up the options on the left side to make those changes.

new homepage title wordpress tutorial for beginners

So if we change our title here to “Beginner WordPress Tutorials,” it’ll instantly be updated on the page!

new homepage title wordpress tutorial for beginners

Once you’ve made a few changes you’ll want to save your work, just like we used to do for those grade school English papers (this is very arguably more important than lol).

The “Publish” button at the top of the left sidebar will save your page changes and make them live on the internet, go for that if you want.

But, if you’re not quite ready to show your work to the world, click that little gear icon next to the Publish button.

page publishing settings wordpress tutorial for beginners

Click “Save Draft”

save draft homepage wordpress tutorial for beginners

Then that Publish button will now save a draft – your changes will be safe but they won’t be visible on your actual site when you click this.

So now that we’re safe and secure from the “internet is down” demons, let’s swap out the image in our header (that’s the section behind the page title we changed earlier).

Find that image in the sidebar.

update header image wordpress tutorial for beginners

Click “Remove” then “Select Image” when it appears once the image is removed.

homepage select image wordpress tutorial for beginners

From here, you can upload your own images by dragging/dropping them or clicking the button to search the files on your computer.

upload image wordpress tutorial for beginners

Upload an image, click on the “Choose Image” once it’s been uploaded, and boom

choose image wordpress tutorial for beginners

Now let’s say we don’t want the words of our title right in the middle, just click on the “Extra” tab in the sidebar.

customization back button wordpress tutorial for beginners

And you’ll get some layout options to move this over to the left, right, or middle.

font alignment wordpress tutorial for beginners

If you want to change the color of the button underneath our website title, click the back arrow twice to get out of the customization settings for this section:

extra customization options wordpress tutorial for beginners

Then go down to “Appearance Settings,” then “Colors.”

appearance settings wordpress tutorial for beginners

And you can change that pink accent color to whatever you want. We do love blue!

change button color wordpress tutorial for beginners

Now let’s change our fonts and font sizes, click that same back button again to get out of the Color settings and go to “Typography.”

typography settings wordpress tutorial for beginners

Here you’ll get options to change the “font family” for your headings and body text (that’s the text that’s not super big in the titles).

font settings wordpress tutorial for beginners

As well as your font sizes when you click on the, you guessed it, “Font Size” tab.

font size wordpress tutorial for beginners

Step 8: How to add pages in WordPress

Awesome, now that we know how to make our site look super spiffy, time to add some pages like “About” or “Contact” – things aren’t your homepage (always included) or blog posts (we’ll add those next).

Back in the trusty ol’ WordPress dashboard, go down to Pages and then Add New.

add new page wordpress tutorial for beginners

That’ll open up a new page to edit/create.

blank new page wordpress tutorial for beginners

The background around the “Add Title” is pink because that’s what Hestia comes with by default, change that by finding “Featured Images in the right-hand sidebar and add any image you want just like we did when customizing above.

set featured image wordpress tutorial for beginners

Now you can change the title text by clicking on it and typing in something new.

change page title wordpress tutorial for beginners

Then, we can start adding other text to our page by clicking the “Add Block” plus icon in the top right corner.

add block wordpress tutorial for beginners

We’re going to start by selecting a heading from the list here.

add heading wordpress tutorial for beginners

Then type in a heading, hit enter, and you can start typing in body text for your page.

add body text wordpress tutorial for beginners

When you’re at a good stopping point with your page content, hit “Save Draft” at the top of the page to save your work.

save page draft wordpress tutorial for beginners

Then the “Preview” button to see how your page will look when published.

preview page wordpress tutorial for beginners

Do that by clicking the “Publish” button next to the preview button, twice (WP wants you to be extra sure, thanks for having our backs WordPress!).

Now if you want to add this page to your header menu, go back to your main site using the “Visit Site” button at the top, then click “Customize” again, then on the right you’ll see the little blue pencil icon next to “Home” and “Blog” at the top of the page.

Guess what we’re gonna do?

Yep. Click that bad boy.

add menu option wordpress tutorial for beginners

On the left sidebar, the menu options will pop up.

This is our “Primary Menu” so we’re going to click the “Edit Menu” link underneath that.

edit menu wordpress tutorial for beginners

Then “Add Items.”

add page to menu wordpress tutorial for beginners

Then, in the case of this WordPress for beginners tutorial, click the “Our Mission” under “Pages” to add it.

add mission page to menu wordpress tutorial for beginners

Donzo.

mission page added to menu wordpress tutorial for beginners

Some key pages you’ll probably want to have

We just whipped up one page for our WordPress tutorial to show you what’s up on that front.

You’ll probably want a few pages for your site though (unless it’s a one-page design which is a thing these days).

Which pages you’ll want exactly depends on what your site is for, but we’ve got a list of the essentials in our How to Design a Website post here.

Step 9: How to create a blog post in WordPress

Blog posts. They’re what WordPress was built for. 

The how-to guides.

The top 10 tips.

We’ll show you how to add them to your site below.

First, a brief explanation of…

WordPress blog posts vs. pages

wordpress posts vs pages graphic

Well, both posts and pages will:

Posts, pages, what’s the big deal/difference?!

  • Have a title/headline (like “How to Use WordPress Tutorial” or “5-Day Free eCourse”)
  • Have body content (like all the words and images in this post)
  • Have meta info (author, publishing date, etc
  • Can be added, edited, and deleted.
  • Can be seen by anyone or password-protected so only certain people can see them.
  • Can contain text, video, auto, links, and images.
  • Can be spruced up visually and functionally with plugins and themes.

The difference is this:

Pages are less fluid, you tend to have a limited number of them that doesn’t change much over time, and they cover general info about your site, your services, products, etc. 

You might have an about page, contact page, and home page, and that’s it (in addition to your blog posts). 

Posts are displayed on a special “blog” page (like our Written Guides page) and you’ll continually create a lot of these. 

If you’re helping people out with a tutorial (like this ‘un ‘ere), sharing a travel story, recipe or your thoughts on proper deadlift form, that’s probably going to be a post.

Now back to the tutorial stuff…

Back in the dash, Posts -> Add New.

add new blog post wordpress tutorial for beginners

And you’ll have something that looks a lot like the page we made earlier.

That’s because they’re basically the same as far as creating them is concerned, a couple of differences with blog posts.

When it comes to creating your blog posts, the biggest difference is that posts can have “Categories” – groups of posts that all relate to a certain topic.

To add a category to a post, just find that option in the right-hand sidebar.

add new category wordpress tutorial for beginners

Then you can either click the checkbox on a category you’ve already created, or create a new category by typing one into the “New Category Name” box that pops up.

You might also use some different types of blocks like images, galleries, lists, quotes, etc. (You can add these to pages, too!).

Find all the different things you can add to your post in that “Add Block” plus icon at the top left of the page.

types of blocks wordpress tutorial for beginners

One other thing you might do a bit differently with your posts is have multiple heading sizes so that you can have sections of your page (like “Step 8: How to Create a WordPress Blog Post”) as well as sections within sections (eg we could have a “How to Change Your Heading Sizes” subsection inside of this section).

Heading sizes are labeled H2 through H4 in WordPress (H1 is reserved for the page/post title), just click on a heading block and click one of those labels to change that heading’s size.

change header size wordpress tutorial for beginners

When you’re done creating your posts, just hit that Publish button on the top right and you’re set!

Step 10: Creating WordPress Menus

When you smash that “Publish” button on a blog post, it’ll show up on your blog page right away.

BUT if you want your pages to show up in your header menu (which is where you usually link to pages), you’ve gotta add it to your site’s menu by hand (if you don’t have the “Automatically add new top-level pages to this menu” setting checked).

So once you’ve got your WordPress website pages built, jump on over to “Appearance” then “Menus” in the sidebar.

wordpress for dummies modifying menus

If you’re building a website with WordPress 100% from scratch, you won’t have any menus here (though sometimes themes like Hestia or WordPress page builders like Elementor will automatically add them).

Assuming you’re in the creating a website with WordPress 100% from scratch camp, start by creating a name for your new menu and selecting where it’ll be displayed (“header” is nice and clear, and you’ll probably want the “Primary” location though again, your theme might have a different name for the header menu location like “top” or “header”).

creating a website with wordpress make a menu

Tap that “create menu” button and you’ll be taken to the page where you can add pages; select all the pages you want people to have easy access to anywhere on your site, then give that “add to menu” a good clicking.

add to menu building a wordpress website

Now you can drag and drop your menu pages to change their order or make one page a sub-menu item of another.

changing menu order how to make a wordpress website

When you’ve got them where you want them, click the “save menu” button and jump over to your website to give your work a look and yourself a good pat on the back!

Step 11: How to publish your WordPress site

So we’ve definitely smashed that publish button a few times to save our work, but for a new WordPress site, your work won’t be live on the internet for the world to see until we publish… the website.

On the WordPress dashboard, you’re gonna see a little notification at the top that says “Your site is currently displaying a ‘Coming Soon’ page.”

Once you’re locked, loaded, ready to explode it (there’s a reason we’re not pro rappers)…

Crush that “click here” link and let the sparks fly!

publish website wordpress tutorial for beginners

Step 12: How to speed up WordPress

Ahh but we’re not done there yall!

Well, you could be for now – the above steps are all the basics to go from zero to “grandma can visit my website via the internet tubes.”’

BUT. WE’RE. NOT. GOING. TO. LEAVE. YOU. HANGIN’. THERE. FAM.

Because, in addition to creating your actual pages and blog posts and fully customizing your site to your heart’s content, there are a few other things you’ll want to do (on an ongoing sort of basis) to keep your WordPress site running in tip-top shape.

Starting with site speed.

This one’s important for 2 reasons:

  1. If you want free traffic from Google, they’ll want your site to be fast.
  2. If you want people to like using your site instead of leaving out of frustration, you’ll want your site to be fast.

As your website grows, so will the amount of text, images, code, etc.

The more you have, the longer it will take to load, in general.

BUT there are ways you can optimize your WordPress website to keep your pages loading faster than an Olympic 100 meter sprinter (much faster, if your site takes 9.58 seconds to load like our boy Usain took to run no one will visit you).

AND thanks to plugins and the bit of knowledge we’re about to drop, you can keep your site blazing fast and optimized without knowing how to code.

Here are your basic WordPress speed optimization tools and techniques.

WordPress caching plugins

wordpress caching plugins graphic

Step one in the optimization game is Caching using a plugin.

Without getting too technical, a “cache” is a temporary storage of data so it can be loaded faster, in the case of WordPress this include caching on your web hosting server and in the browsers of people that visit your site.

WordPress caching plugins work by creating static versions of your websites so they can be delivered to your visitor’s computers and loaded by their browsers a lot faster than if your web server had to send all the PHP and other code for their browser to compute first.

Some of the most popular WordPress caching plugins include:

WordPress image optimizer plugins

wordpress image optimizer graphic

On the whole, images are probably going to be the largest kind of file on your site.

And large files mean slow loading times.

But we’ve gotta have them in the highly visual world we live in, so what do you do to keep your site as fast as possible while having tons of super sweet images for people to drool over?

Well, there are two main reasons images might slow your loading times down:

  1. Your images are too large

For example, if you upload an image that’s 1080×1080 pixels but your site resizes that down to a 500×500 space when loaded, you’re losing speed for two reasons – you’ve gotta send that larger file over the internet, then your visitor’s browser has to scale down that image before it can be properly displayed.

  1. Your images aren’t fully compressed

Let’s say you’ve done the above work and have that same 500×500 scaled-down image. At full resolution, uncompressed it might be a 3MB file. You can then compress that image – maybe losing a bit of quality that no one will notice, maybe while maintaining full quality – and get that file size down to 2MB. Smaller file = faster loading speed.

Now, you can manually scale and compress your images before you upload them to your site.

But that takes a lot of time when you’re creating a lot of content!

That’s where a WordPress image optimizer plugins come in, including:

Enable gzip compression for WordPress

wordpress gzip compression graphic

Enabling gzip compression increases your WordPress site speed by manipulating the code and text to make it smaller.

It does this by finding similar pieces of text in files and replacing them (temporarily, when your page is loaded everything will show up just as you wrote it lol) which, because HTML and CSS files have so many repetitive pieces of text, can reduce the size of a WordPress page by 50-75%.

There is a technical way to enable gzip compression via your sites .htaccess file that’s less likely to break something… IF you know what you’re doing.

So in the meantime, let’s use plugins like:

Yep, the caching plugins we recommend above all have gzip compression built-in!

Defer parsing of JavaScript in WordPress

wordpress defer javascript parsing graphic

Most of the themes and plugins you’ll use in WordPress use a lot of JavaScript code to make fancy things like sliders and smooth scrolling happen.

By default, browsers will load that JS code first, which makes HTML and images only show up afterward, which makes the site feel slow.

The hack for this: make visual elements load first so people who visit your site see something, then load the JavaScript after so your page’s full functionality is up and running.

Plugins that’ll do that for ya:

Use a WordPress CDN

wordpress cdn servers in the sky graphic

A Content Delivery Network (aka “CDN” because that’s a mouthful), speeds up your WordPress site by caching (saving copies of your site’s files) in multiple data centers around the world.

Example: let’s say your website host has your site on a server in Los Angeles, and someone tries to access your site from London (UK).

It’s going to take time for your website’s files to get sent from LA across the pond to jolly old England (we’re talking milliseconds but it makes a difference).

Would be much faster if those files were already on a server in London; with a CDN, they could be.

To get these speedy speed improvements, you’ll need both a plugin to enable the CDN for your site, and an actual CDN service to distribute and host those files.

Plugins:

WordPress CDNs:

WordPress lazy loading plugins

wordpress lazy loading man snoozing

Normally, when someone visits a page on your site, all the content is loaded at once.

That’s called “eager loading.”

But some content, like images way down at the bottom of your page, doesn’t need to be loaded when someone first gets to the top of your page.

Instead, they could be loaded when, say, a visitor gets 75% of the way down your page, which means the top of the page will load faster.

Another WordPress speed hack!

Plugins that’ll let you lazy load images:

Step 13: How to secure your WordPress site

how to secure wordpress site laptop lock shield

Definitely don’t want your shiny new site to get hacked!

And since WordPress powers around 30% of the internet, there are plenty of hackers (tens of thousands? millions?) trying to break into WordPress sites 24/7.

So you’ve gotta make sure you keep your seals tight and your WordPress site secure.

That means a few things:

Use unique usernames and passwords

“Admin” is the username set by default for the first user created in all WordPress installs.

Definitely want to change that by creating a new Administrator account with a unique name and password.

Because there are a variety of ways a hacker can get or guess your password but not your username.

If that’s the case and you’re still using the “admin” username, well that part of the login equation is done for them.

If your WordPress username is something unreal like “donthackmebro69” well, that’ll be harder for them to get at.

Unless you use that same username on other sites (though you probably shouldn’t use it at all lol).

“Unique password” means all the things it usually does: include numbers, capital letters, and symbols; longer is better.

We recommend using a password manager like LastPass to manage your online/website making passwords – keeps them all in one easy to find place and lets you use unique ones for all your accounts without forgetting them.

Restrict access to your WordPress admin area

This one’s a bit more advanced but a good idea once you get comfortable with making changes to website files on your web host’s server.

As we showed above, you can access your WordPress dashboard – which lets you change pretty much anything on your site – by going to “[yourdomain].com/wp-admin”.

It’s actually possible to restrict access to that page on your site to only people from certain computers!

To do this you’ll need to first find your home IP address by visiting whatsmyip.com.

Then, you can go edit your .htaccess file in your WordPress folder and add the following code, replacing “xx.xxx.xxx.xxx” with your IP address.

<Files wp-login.php>

order deny,allow

Deny from all

Allow from xx.xxx.xxx.xxx

</Files>

If you need access from multiple computers (either for yourself or for people you work with), you can simply add the “Allow from xx.xxx.xxx.xxx” line with other IP addresses again.

All that might be a bit convenient and technical, though.

So as an alternative, you can limit the number of login attempts using:

WordPress security plugins

There are a lot of security plugins that have different functionality, but in general, these are going to offer a few things: 

  • Active security monitoring (to check for hacks in real-time)
  • Notifications for when a security threat is detected (so you can secure your site fast)
  • Malware scanning (to check for malicious code)
  • File scanning (to make sure nothing gets infected)
  • Blacklist monitoring (to protect your site from visits by people at IP addresses known to be used for hacking)
  • Post-hack help (to recover your site if it gets hacked)
  • Firewalls (to limit access to your website’s files)
  • Brute force attack protection (aka “limiting login attempts”)

A few of the top security plugins:

Keep your site up to date and backed up

Which we’re covering… now!

Step 14: How to update your WordPress site

On top of adding cool new features and stomping out annoying bugs, updates also patch up security holes.

With WordPress, you’ll have three things to keep updated:

  1. WordPress itself
  2. Your themes
  3. Your plugins

WordPress will automatically make small updates on its own, bigger ones will wait for your approval (because they might break your plugins/themes).

You’ll also have to do theme and plugin updates yourself.

For any of that, the easiest thing to do is go to your updates tab.

There you’ll be able to update all your plugins, themes, and WordPress itself at once.

Here’s what it’ll look like when everything’s up to date (know it’s not the most helpful screenshot we’ve taken, for security reasons we’re not gonna show you what plugins we use/what needs updating on the sites we care about lol):

how to update wordpress site updated example

Step 15: How to backup your WordPress site

Setting up WordPress backups is super easy but a key part of your security game.

No matter how much you lock your sh*t down using the above recommendations/plugins, accidents and hacks happen.

When they do, you’ll want to be able to get back up and running fast.

That’s what backups are for.

If you want a bit more on how to do this than we cover in the video above, check out our How to Backup a WordPress Site for Free post!

WordPress website tips, tricks

wordpress website tips and tricks rabbit magic hat

Alright, rounding out our WordPress tutorial we’re going to drop a few hot tips to help you get started.

Let’s dive in.

  1. Definitely be sure to customize your homepage and spend a bit more time here than you might on other pages. It’s likely going to be the most visited page on your site, so you want to make sure you have all the important info on what your site is about and that it looks super slick to make a solid first impression.
  2. WordPress has some great online support in the form of documentation and forums you can lean on when you get stuck. We also recommend Stack Overflow for technical questions (with WordPress, hosting, really anything web development related).
  3. In the “Reading” settings under “Settings” be sure to set “For each article in a feed, show” to “Summary” so people don’t have to scroll through each entire post when they get to your blog page. Instead, they’ll just get the first few sentences and can then click “read more” to get the full diggity.
  4. Use images and videos to help break up the text on your pages and posts! (This post is a decent example of that though we could probably stand to include even more visuals lol).
  5. Your “About Us” page is likely to be one of the most visited on your site, so be sure to tell your website’s story and mission in a compelling way here.
  6. We highly recommend using the “Post name” permalink setting (on the Permalink page under “Settings”) – it’s cleaner and better for SEO than including publishing dates in your post URLs.
  7. Make sure your WordPress website looks good on mobile; it’s almost guaranteed that most of your visitors will be reaching your site from their phones.
  8. Include your most important pages (and maybe posts) in your header menu.
  9. Disable comments on pages like “About Us” and “Contact” since you don’t need them there; that can be done by editing the page, you’ll find the option to enable/disable comments under “Discussion” in the right sidebar of the editor.
  10. If you use a sidebar on your site, keep the widgets there organized and at a minimum. You want people focusing on your page’s/post’s main content without getting distracted.
  11. Learn how to add google analytics to WordPress in our tutorial here!

WordPress Tutorial Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions?

TBH we worked hard on this how to make a WordPress website but we get it – there’s a sh*t ton to know.

Here are a few As to Qs you might still have:

Is using WordPress the only way to create a website?

Most definitely not, there are a ton of website builders like Wix and Squarespace you can use.

We like WordPress because, while it’s got more of a learning curve, it’s cheaper to build websites with WordPress and you get way more control over your site.

What do I need for building a website with WordPress?

Just three things (two of which you can get from our pals over at HostGator):

  1. Hosting (where your WordPress website files will be stored/accessed from)
  2. A domain name (the name people will use to get to your website)
  3. 60 minutes of your time and attention (the resources you’ll use to follow/complete the steps in this using WordPress tutorial 🙂

Do I need to know coding (HTML/CSS) when creating a website with WordPress?

NOPE!

Knowing these coding languages is helpful… eventually.

BUT you’ll pick up what you need to know about them along the way, and they definitely aren’t required to when building WordPress websites!

And using a drag and drop theme like Divi or site design plugin like Elementor will get you deep into customization without having to know a lick of code!

Is building a WordPress website free?

There are some free WordPress hosting sites, but we don’t recommend using them if you want to build pro websites like we teach you here.

Because?

Because they’ll place branding/ads on your site (ads you won’t get paid for) and most won’t let you use a custom domain name either.

How much does creating a website with WordPress cost?

It definitely depends on the kind of WordPress website you want to build, how many visitors your site gets per month, and which WordPress hosting site you use.

That being said, HostGator (our recommended WordPress host) will get you hooked up with a free domain name and a year’s worth of hosting for $5.95 per month when you get an annual subscription using our link!

How do I get a free domain name for my WordPress website?

Sign up for at least one year of hosting at HostGator using this here link!

Can I make money from my WordPress website?

You sure can!

The 4 main ways that’s done these days:

  1. With display advertising like Google Adsense (people visit your site, you get paid when they see your ads)
  2. With affiliate links (like the ones we use on this site – when you click a link to one of our partners, we get a small commission at no additional cost to you; sometimes you even get special discounts!!)
  3. By selling services (like building a WordPress website 🙂
  4. By creating an online store like we show you how to do in this post!

For even more online business ideas check out our big ol’ post on the topic!

Other WordPress tutorials

Alright y’all, that’s it for today’s tutorial but we’ve got so much more for you.

First, here are a few more WordPress tutorial written guides:

And there are a ton more how-to and tutorial videos on WordPress and anything else website creation related on our YouTube channel!

How to Create a Homepage Slider in WordPress
A simple, step-by-step guide to create a custom slider in WordPress.

homepage slider featured image
 

Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

Jul. 5, 2019

 

Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites around the world. In this simple, step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to add a slider to your WordPress website. Let’s dive in!

  • Level of Expertise:
    Beginner
  • Time To Complete:
    30 Minutes
  • What You Get:
    Full Website & Domain

For the record: It’s super important for us to keep this site 100% free for you and 100% high quality. To help us do that, we’ve partnered with some of the products we recommend and earn a commission if you buy through our links. Read our full disclosure and partners list here.

In today’s post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to create a slider in WordPress.

As always, here’s the video guide:

If you like the video and want more tutorials on creating a professional website you can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Now to the post…

Homepage slider

What Is a Slider in WordPress?

A slider is a super common website design element that showcases text, images, and videos by “sliding” from one slide to the next. 

They’re commonly used on business and portfolio websites. 

There are a ton of great free sliders to choose from, but you can also find some really nice paid sliders, too. 

Sliders can be programmed to run slideshows automatically, the moment someone hits your website – switching to the next slide every couple of seconds. 

Or, sliders can be static and let readers click a small arrow, for example, to swipe to the next slide. 

Some websites use sliders to display their most recent posts. They’ll usually add a link to the slides so that if someone wants to read the article, they can simply click the link and go to the content. 

One thing to keep in mind with sliders is that they may slow down your website a bit when it’s trying to load a bunch of images or other content. But this can be mitigated by speeding up image loading speeds.

Another potential issue is mobile readiness.

Google now prioritizes websites that are mobile-responsive, so you should make sure your website is made for mobile regardless of whether you use a slider or not. 

But if you do use a slider, you have to make sure it’s responsive as well so it doesn’t look weird on mobile devices, ruining the customer experience, and doesn’t match Google guidelines, reducing your SEO impact. 

But with all that said, sliders offer many benefits.

The Benefits of Homepage Sliders

Homepage sliders can help you do a number of things you wouldn’t be able to do without them. 

Sliders can showcase your products for you on your homepage, naturally leading visitors to click on them and see more, which is pretty common if you run an ecommerce website.

Sliders are visually appealing. They capture attention by displaying interesting content and can help ensure your visitors stick around on your website. 

Homepage sliders can be used to display important information. For example, sliders can be used to show all the services a business offers. Or it can be used to show the top projects in a freelancer’s portfolio. 

Sliders can show key text content, such as testimonials, one after another. This can be very powerful in proving to your website visitors they’re in the right place and you offer the right products and services for them. 

Now that you know what homepage sliders are and why you should have one, read on to see exactly how to put one on your website. 

How to Add a Homepage Slider in WordPress

Step #1 – Install the WordPress Homepage Slider Plugin

We’re gonna be using a free plugin called smart slider 3 that’s super easy to use.

First, go into your WordPress dashboard and find the “Plugins” tab on the left-hand side menu and click on “Add New.”

wordpress Plugins tab

Then type into the search bar the name of the slider, Slider 3. 

Install wordpress smart slider plugin

Once you see it, click on “Install Now” and then click “Activate.”

Step #2 – Create a New Slider

Now that you’ve installed Smart Slider 3, you’ll see it on the left-hand side menu in the dashboard. 

Scroll down and click on it. 

You’ll be presented with 2 options:

  1. Create a new slider from scratch
  2. Use a template

We’re all for creating your own template. If you feel comfortable with that, more power to you. 

But to be completely honest, we LOVE templates. It provides a solid foundation for creating something amazing that incorporates your unique flair within a proven framework. 

Plus, if you’re in a hurry or just plain lazy, templates are your best friend for getting things done with plenty of time to spare. 

So for this tutorial, we’re gonna click on “Template Library.”

You’ll be presented with tons of templates to choose from. Over 180 to be more exact. 

Some of them will cost you a pretty penny. 

But many of them are free. And if you only want to see the free templates, just click on the green “Free” button.

If you want to preview any of the sliders, simply click on them and you’ll be given a live preview of what one of these homepage sliders will look like and how it may function on your website.

Once you choose the slider you want to use, hover your mouse over the template and click on the “Import” button that appears. 

Import homepage slider

After it’s imported, you’ll see you now have 3 slides in your dashboard: slide 1, 2, and 3 that all add up to create a single slider.

You can now edit any of them to add text, images, and video. 

To edit them, hover over any of the slides and click on the “Edit” button. 

You’ll notice you’re now in the visual editor. 

If you want to change the text, simply click on the text and a small box will appear editor box will appear.

Inside this editor box, you can change the look and feel of the text by click on the paint can icon. That allows you to:

  • Add a link to the text.
  • Edit the color of the text.
  • Change the font.
  • Choose the size and weight of the font.
  • Etc. 

You can do the same with the button below the text by clicking on it. 

Another feature to change for the button is what it will look like if someone hovers their mouse cursor over it.

If you click on the pencil button you can change the button text and also provide a link that the button will take the reader to.

You can even edit the entire slider box, not just the elements in the box, by clicking on it (I just clicked the white background of the box itself to select it).

Here you can change things like the background color or opacity. If you bring the opacity down, you can make the box a bit more transparent, allowing visitors to see the ship behind the image. 

You have many options for customization. 

Next, we’re going to change the background image for this slide. 

So scroll up and click on “Background.”

Background of homepage slider settings

You’ll see that the image button is already selected so all you have to do is scroll down and find the row titled “Background.” Next to it, you’ll see “Image” and it should already contain an image that you can swap out for the one you want.

Get rid of this image by hovering over it and clicking on the tiny X that appears. 

Then just add a new one by clicking on the green button. After that, go over to “Upload Files” and click on “Select Files.”

Now, simply select the image you’re looking for and click on “Open” and then click “Select.”

Your new image is now in there!

Then go up and click on the Save button in the upper right-hand corner and then click on “Slider” in the upper left-hand corner to go back to the main dashboard. 

Before moving on, I do have one other helpful tip for you. 

Scroll down just slightly and you’ll see a menu bar with tabs that say “Publish,” “General,” “Size,” and so on. 

Click on “General.”

In here you’ll find a few more customization options for how your slider looks. 

For example, you could change how the animation of the slider works. The default setting is horizontal. If you wanted, you could change it to fade from one image to another when you click on the arrows. 

But we’re gonna leave it be for this guide. 

Step #3 – Display Your Slider on Your Website

I’m going to show you how to do this with the basic WordPress editor as well as the element or page builder.

First, let’s do the basic WordPress editor. 

How to Create a Homepage Slider Using WordPress Editor

All you have to do is simply go to the page that you want to put it on and edit that.

So we went to the dashboard on the left-hand side menu, clicked on “Pages” and added a new one. But you may want a homepage slider, so in that case, just go to your homepage in the WordPress dashboard. 

To add this slider at the top of this page, click on the little plus button in the upper left-hand corner and search for Smart Slider 3.

Plus button wordpress smart slider three

After you click on Smart Slider 3, it will appear on your page’s editor with a big blue button that says “Select Slider.” Go ahead and click it. 

Then select the slider you want to use.

Now all you have to do is click on “Publish” and then click “Publish” again. From there, you click on “View Page” to see what it looks like. 

Now you should see your homepage slider and it should work perfectly. 

Next, we’ll tell you how to display your slider using the element or page builder.

How to Create a Homepage Slider Using Element or Page Builder

So go back to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to whatever page you want to put the slider on, like your homepage. 

The easiest way to do this is to hover over your name in the upper left-hand corner of the WordPress dashboard and click on “Visit Site.”

You should be looking at your homepage. 

From here, click “Edit with Elementor” on that little menu bar on the page. 

Edit homepage slider with elementor

So if you want to add the slider right at the top of the homepage, simply click on the little blue plus button at the center top of the page. 

Then search for Smart Slider 3 in the box that appears on the left. 

You’ll see options to choose from, one with a WordPress icon and one with the slider icon. Choose the option with the slider icon and drag it into the space where you want your slider and then select the slider you want to use. 

You’ll see your slider and be able to test it out right in the editor itself. 

Now, if you’re like me, you might have these little white bars up at the top and the bottom of this slider. If you’d like to get rid of those, click on the “Advanced” tab in the editor menu on the left-hand side. 

Then underneath “Margin” change the value to negative 10. Those white bars should be completely gone at this point. 

Click “Update.”

OK, so that’s how to make a slider in WordPress!

If you found this homepage slider tutorial helpful be sure to check out our other written guides filled with all sorts of helpful website tips and tricks to help you launch your website!

How to Add Google Analytics to WordPress
Easily Set-Up Google Analytics With Just A Few Clicks

how to add Google Analytics to WordPress
 

Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

Jun. 28, 2019

 

Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites around the world. In this simple, step-by-step guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to add Google Analytics to your WordPress website. Let’s dive in!

  • Level of Expertise
    Beginner
  • Time To Complete
    20 Minutes
  • What You Get
    Google Analytics, Installed

For the record: It’s super important for us to keep this site 100% free for you and 100% high quality. To help us do that, we’ve partnered with some of the products we recommend and earn a commission if you buy through our links. Read our full disclosure and partners list here.

We’re flipping the script with a special blend of a couple videos mixed in below, so let’s jump straight to the post. Right. Now.

So you’ve heard a bit about Google Analytics and think you want to add it to WordPress?

Smart. It’s an essential tool in the pro website toolkit.

But what exactly is it?

And is there an easy way to install Google Analytics in WordPress (meaning without having to tear your hair out messing with code).

There sure is friends.

All will be explained below.

how to add Google Analytics to WordPress

What is Google Analytics?

So WTF is Google Analytics?

Put simply, it’s an awesome tool that allows you (and over 50 million other websites around the world) to track and analyze your website traffic aka visitors.

It works by adding a piece of JavaScript code to your page (don’t worry – you won’t have to mess with this when you follow our tutorial below!).

That Google Analytics tracking code then monitors the visitors that come to your site to show you things like how long they spend on each page, where they come from, and what things they do while they’re visiting you.

It then does some programming magic to present this truckload of data in the form of stats and reports so you can better understand your visitors and how they use your WordPress site.

Why You Should Use Google Analytics with WordPress Sites 

GAnalytics. Definitely a must-have tool in the pro website game.

Not having it is like driving a cruise ship with a blindfold on – unless you’re the saltiest of sailors with a birdlike sense of magnetic north (for real, we watch way too many nature documentaries), you’ll just have no idea where you’re going.

And that means you’ll go in circles at best (read: create a bunch of content, do a bunch of marketing and earn no $$).

At worst, you’ll run aground on some uncharted island (not so bad except death).

By adding Google Analytics to WordPress, you’ll be able to learn a whole bunch about your website including:

Who Visits

Where do your visitors come from? What browsers and devices do they use? What times do they visit most?

We don’t know.

And neither do you until you install Google Analytics in WordPress!

How They Find You

When you add Google Analytics to WordPress, you’ll also be able to see where your visitors come from – search engines, typing your website directly into the address bar, links from other sites, and social media.

GA also lets you know what percentage of your visitors come from each source, as well as particular breakdowns for each category e.g. for “search engines” you can see how much traffic comes from Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.

What They Do

Last but not least, setting up Google Analytics on WordPress will let you track which pages visitors land on first, where they go from there, and how long they stay on your pages.

And if you get fancy with the setup, you can even see what links people click on and create goals that let you track wins like lead magnet downloads and cart checkouts.

With all this juicy data, you’ll be able to effectively optimize your site to get more traffic and sales.

Examples:

  • Optimize your site for certain devices.
  • Invest in getting traffic from sources that work well for you.
  • Create content that better fits what your visitors are looking for to keep them on your site longer and build a stronger relationship with them.

Basically, installing Google Analytics on your WordPress site cuts out a lot of the guesswork so you can make decisions about where to go next based on what people actually do on your site.

Not gut instinct. We like that kind of moxie but it’s not pro website best practice.

Google Analytics Basics

Before we get into the details of how to add the Google Analytics tracking code to WordPress, let’s have a quick look at the main Google Analytics interface so you can start getting up to speed.

Google analytics wordpress dashboard

On the right, you’ll find a bunch of cool/important stats for your website like how many users (visitors) have come to your site recently, as well as how they’re getting to your site, when they visit, where they’re from, etc.

As you build your Google Analytics ninja skills, though, you’ll spend most of your time in the more specific “Reports,” which you’ll find from the sidebar on the left.

There are a ton of different sections here, but these are general types of reports you’ll find:

  • Real-Time: These reports show you what’s happening on your site in… real-time. Normally it takes 24 hours to see data in other reports, here you can see how many people are on your site, what they’re looking at, etc right now!
  • Audience: Here you’ll learn more about how many people have visited your site over the past x amount of time (you can adjust this), how long they staid on your site, plus demographic data.
  • Acquisition: These will show you where your traffic is coming from. Super valuable!
  • Behavior: Reports in this tab show you things like what pages visitors land on first, what pages they visit the most, how long they stay on each page and more.
  • Conversion: If/when you set up “Goals” in Google Analytics (a topic for another time), you’ll be able to see how well you do at getting visitors to complete those goals (eg email signups or product purchases).

Alright, time to deliver on what we promised in the headline…

Adding Google Analytics to WordPress

Step 1: Set Up a Google Analytics Account

Alright, first step in setting up Google Analytics on WordPress is to set up a Google Analytics account.

Totally free and super simple (especially if you already have a Google account).

Just head over to Google.com/analytics and click start for free.

Sign in to your Google account if you’re not already logged in, otherwise, just click “sign up.”

google analytics wordpress account signup

From here, Google’s going to ask you what you want to track (select “website”), then you’ll type in an account name (your business name works well, in case you want to build more websites later), then your website name (your domain name works here).

Select an industry and make sure your time zone is correct.

google analytics wordpress settings

Leave all the other boxes below that checked, then click “Get Tracking ID,” and accept the terms.

That’ll take you to your new Google Analytics dashboard and this step’s done!

Step 2: Install the Google Analytics WordPress Plugin

Next, time to install Google Analytics on WordPress, no code required!

Because we’re using a plugin baby. B)

Jump over to your WordPress dashboard, then “Plugins” and “Add New” in the sidebar.

google analytics wordpress plugin add new

From here, head over to the search box, type in “Google Analytics,” find the “Google Analytics Dashboard for WP” plugin, smash that “Install Now” button then “Activate” once that’s done.

wordpress google analytics plugin install

Sweet, now we’ve got to link your account to the Google Analytics WordPress plugin we just installed.

Easy enough, just go over to the sidebar menu on the left and scroll down until you see “Google Analytics,” then click on “General Settings.”

google analytics wordpress plugin settings

On the next page, click “Authorize Plugin.”

authorize google analytics wordpress plugin

Then on the page after that, click the “Get Access Code” link.

wordpress google analytics plugin get access code

This will open a new tab/window (depending on your chrome settings lol), from here just sign in to the Google account you signed up for Analytics with, then click “Allow.”

You’ll then get a code to copy:

google analytics code copy

Copy that bad boy, paste it into the aptly named “Access Code” field back in the Google Analytics WordPress plugin page, then click “Save Access Code.”

save wordpress google analytics tracking code

Assuming plugin authorization succeeded (if not you probably copied the code wrong; no biggie, we screw that up sometimes too), just scroll all the way down the plugin page and click “Save Changes”…

wordpress google analytics plugin save changes

And we’re set on Step 3!

Step 4: View Your Google Analytics Data;

Setup’s done, time to start checking out that sweet sweet website data!

We covered the basics of what you’ll find inside Google Analytics’ dashboard above (“Google Analytics Basics” in case you forgot or skipped it).

But one of the cool things about the Google Analytics WordPress plugin we installed is that it gives you a lot of this information right inside WordPress!

To check that out, head over to your main WordPress dashboard (click “Dashboard” in the sidebar if you’re not already there), scroll down and you’ll see a mini Google Analytics dashboard widget

google analytics wordpress plugin dashboard

This will start at zero because we just installed Google Analytics/the WordPress plugin, but over the next few weeks Analytics will record data and start displaying that here.

Here you’ll also find a couple of dropdown boxes to change what data is displayed in the little line graph.

In the one on the right, options include:

  • Sessions (how many times people visited your site; sometimes one person will have more than one “session”)
  • Users (how many people visited your site)
  • Organic (how much traffic you got from search engines)
  • Page Views (how many pages users visited)
  • Bounce Rate (percentage of page views where users left without clicking to another page on your site)
  • Location (where users are coming from)
  • Pages (shows you which pages were visited the most)
  • Referrers (tells you what websites your traffic is coming from besides Google)
  • Searches (shows you what keywords searched when they found/clicked to your site)
  • Traffic (stats on what “channels” [search, direct, social media, other sites] users come from and whether they’re new or returning)
  • Technology (tells you what browsers, operating systems, and types of mobile device people use when visiting your site)
  • 404 Errors (lets you know if any of your pages have a “404 Not Found” error)
google analytics wordpress plugin reports

Using the dropdown on the left, you can set how far back you want this data to go, from Real Time (now!) up to Three Years (one day!).

wordpress google analytics plugin times

Google Analytics + WordPress = Done

Alright yall, that’s a bit on what Google Analytics is and how to add it to WordPress.

If you found our little tutorial here helpful be sure to check out our other written guides for more super helpful pro website tips and tricks.

See you over there!

How to Create a WordPress Contact Form for FREE
A Simple, Step-By-Step Guide To Creating A Contact Form For FREE

create-wordpress contact form free
 

Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

Jun. 20, 2019

 

Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites through our interactive video tutorials and written guides. In this simple, step-by-step guide, we’ll get you up to speed quickly on how to create a WordPress contact form. For FREE!

  • Level of Expertise
    Beginner
  • Time To Complete
    30 Minutes
  • What You Get
    Full Website & Domain

For the record: It’s super important for us to keep this site 100% free for you and 100% high quality. To help us do that, we’ve partnered with some of the products we recommend and earn a commission if you buy through our links. Read our full disclosure and partners list here.

Do you want to create a beautiful image slider for your WordPress website or blog? This tutorial shows you exactly what you need to do to create a stunning WordPress slider without any coding.

As always, here’s the video guide:

If you like the video and want more tutorials on creating a professional website you can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Now to the post…

What. Is. Going. On. Yall!

Today we’re gonna show you how to make a WordPress contact form the super easy way.

And for free!!

No matter what kind of site you have – whether it’s an online store, blog, or something else – always important to have a way for customers, clients, even potential partners to get in touch.

Don’t let those golden opportunities slip through the cracks because people don’t know how to reach out!

We’ve got four simple steps to walk through so you can learn how to add a contact form to your WordPress site and keep the growth train rolling.

When we’re done, visitors to your site will be able to fill out their name, email, and message, then you’ll get an email notification so you can follow up!

Alright, let’s get into it.

create wordpress contact form free

Why Do You Need a WordPress Contact Form?

Do you really need a contact form on your WordPress site?

Can’t you just add your email address and let people email you that way?

You could. Please don’t.

There was a time (like ’90s to mid-’00s) that most people did this.

And unfortunately, some still do.

Maybe you’re leaning that way because you think you’ll have to learn how to code to add a contact form to your site.

Good news: you definitely don’t friends!

And there are a few good reasons for using a contact form instead of just pasting your email on your contact page:

Spam

For us, this is more than enough reason to use a contact form.

If your site gets big enough, sure, create a “hello@[yourdomainname].com” and just know spam will be part of the daily email diet for whoever has to check that inbox.

In the meantime, don’t beg spammers to bombard your personal email by posting it on your website where it’s easily scraped by bots.

Automation

If you make visitors send you an email, you’ll get all sorts of different information from them as they try to figure out what you need to know to follow up with them.

Plus, they’ll all have different subject lines – which means you’re more likely to get confused about how/why that person is emailing you, and they’re more likely to forget they sent you that email and what it was about when they see your reply.

Set up your WordPress contact forms right, and you’ll be able to set a specific subject line so everyone knows what’s up, and you’ll be able to automatically collect certain information you need by adding fields for people to fill out before hitting send.

On top of that: when you use a solid WordPress contact form plugin, you can set up automatic confirmations via email or page redirects to let people know that they successfully sent their message and what happens next.

User Experience

Plain and simple: these days everyone knows what a contact form is and how to fill one out. So if they see yours, it’s that much easier for them to get in touch.

For starters, it’s less digging through your site to hopefully find your email, then copying it, opening a new tab to get to Gmail, then pasting in your email address.

Only to then have to think about what they want to say to you (see above).

Plus, for so many reasons, we sometimes avoid opening our emails (grandma sends us too many “forward this email or you’ll die” chains) – other people do that too!

Don’t make them have to face death or a thousand unopened emails to talk to you.

On top of that, contact forms just look awesome. So much more pro, and that’s what we’re going for here.

The Best WordPress Contact Form Plugin

Like we said above, you DON’T have to learn to code to add a contact form to your WordPress site.

We’ve got plugins friends!

Knowing there’s such a huge demand for these, quite a few WordPress developers have cranked away to create free and paid WordPress contact form plugins for you to choose from.

We’re fans of one simply called “Contact Form” by WPForms.

Besides the “of course this is what I need” name, there are a couple of reasons for that:

  • It’s dead simple, super beginner friendly; just drag/drop fields in their builder to create your form, paste a shortcode (more on that later) onto your page, done.
  • They’ve got a free version (WPForms Lite), always handy when you’re getting started. Bonus: they have a sweet paid version, so once you get more advanced with your web work you can get additional features you’ll need without having to switch up your plugin/redo everything (that sucks a lot).

Alright, contact form prep work out of the way, let’s dive into this tutorial!

How to Add a Contact Form in WordPress: 4 Simple Steps

Step 1: Install the WPForms WordPress Contact Form Plugin

First, we’ve gotta install that plugin!

From your WordPress dashboard, just head over to the “Plugins” tab, click the “add new” button, then search for “WPForms” and you’ll see it pop up.

create wordpress contact form free

Smash that “Install Now” button, then activate and we’ve reached the proverbial “good to go.”

create wordpress contact form free

Step 2: Create a Simple Contact Form

Next up, let’s create our new WordPress contact form.

Once you’ve gotten WPForms installed, it’ll send you to a screen to create your first form (if you somehow miss this, just click the “WPForms” tab in your WordPress Dashboard sidebar).

create wordpress contact form free

Scroll down and you’ll find the “create your first form” button. Handy, because that’s exactly what we’re trying to do!

Click that sucker and you’ll be taken to a page to get started.

wpforms simple contact form

Start by inputting a name for your form, then (for the purposes of this tutorial), select “Blank Contact Form.” WPForms has your back with a few templates like “Simple Contact Form,” “Newsletter Signup Form,” and “Suggestion Form.”

We’re going with “Blank” to show you all the basics, once you get this one done feel free to play with the templates.

wpforms contact form fields

From here, just need to click on one of the boxes in the “Add Fields” tab to start adding things to your form.

Name, email, and message (which in WPForms is called “Paragraph Text”) are the basics, so that’s what we added!

wpforms contact form fields

Since our paragraph text in this case is for their “Message,” just click on it and that’ll pull up the “Field Options” tab.

wpforms contact form fields

You’ll see “Label” there – change that bad boy to “Message.” Boom!]

Next, we’re going over to the settings tab all the way over to the left of your screen.

Here, under “General,” you can change a bunch of settings like the text of your submit button.

wpforms wordpress contact form general settings

For now, we’re just going to head to “Notifications” and change the email address that WPForms will send a notification to when someone submits our form.

Simple enough to do: just input your best email address into the “Send To Email Address.”

wpforms wordpress contact form notification settings

Then, head over to “Confirmation” and change the confirmation message if you want something a bit more custom, a bit more snazzy than the default text.

You can also direct them to a different page/URL on your site, for example if you have a fun little “thanks for reaching out, we’ll get back to you ASAP” video to share, you could post that on another page and send people who submit your for to it for bonus “I like you” points.

wpforms wordpress contact form notification settings

Done with confirmations?

Sweet, click “Save” and once the little spinning gear icon turns back into a checkmark, click the “x” right next to it to exit out of the form editor.

wpforms wordpress contact form notification settings

Step 3: Add the Form to Your WordPress Contact Us Page

Step three, we’ve got to add this WordPress contact form to one of your pages!

First up, create a contact page by mousing over to the “Pages” tab of the WordPress dashboard and clicking “Add New.”

wordpress contact page new

Keeping it simple for the tutorial, we’re naming this page “Contact” (feel free to get fancy with “Contact Us” if you’re feeling it).

Once you’ve added the name/title (that’s what WordPress calls page names), add your contact form by going up to the plus button at the top left of the page, scroll down to “Widgets,” click to open this part up and you’ll see “WPForms.”

wordpress contact form widget

Click on that and a dropdown box will pop up on the page that lets you choose a contact form, select the form we just made.

simple contact form wordpress

While we’re here, let’s add a bit of heading text to make it abundantly clear to visitors that this is our contact form (not that they’re dumb and don’t realize that, it’s just that we want to make it as clear and easy as possible for them to reach out!).

Click that plus sign again and add a “Heading” block, type out “Contact Me” or whatever you want to call this thing, then slide that heading up above the form.

Then click the blue “Publish” button in the top right corner twice (WordPress really wants to make sure you mean it when you publish a new page) and it’s live!

One more click, this time the “View Page” link that appears to check it out.

wordpress contact us page

Awesome, this is it. But it could look so much better…

Bonus Step: Make Your WordPress Contact Page Look Sweet with Elementor!

Elementor. Our favorite free WordPress page builder plugin.

Install it the same way you installed WPForms (go to plugins -> add new -> search “Elementor” -> Install Now -> Activate).

Then go to your Contact page and at the top, you’ll see a blue “Edit with Elementor” button.

For our tutorial, we’re going to add the form to Dale’s site’s homepage (since it’s already set up with Elementor).

elementor wordpress homepage

In this case, we’re adding it underneath the “Contact Me” banner (how handy he already had that setup and waiting for us!).

From here, click on the little plus sign under that banner to add a section.

elementor wordpress homepage

Then go over to “Search Widget” in the sidebar, type in WPForms, then drag/drop it into the new section we just created.

Select the form from the dropdown that appears in the sidebar, select our favorite (and only) form and you’ll see it show up on your page!

elementor wordpress homepage

Play around with the design from here by clicking the six dots that show up next to the plus sign we clicked earlier to edit the look of your form to your heart’s complete content.

elementor wordpress contact form design settings

Step 4: Send a Test Email from your WordPress Contact Form

Alright, last step here – let’s test our WordPress contact us form baby out!

Just head over to your contact page (“contact us” if you got fancy) then fill out your form: name, email, quick message (“This is a test” always seems to work for this type of thing).

wordpress contact form test message

Smash that submit button then open up the inbox for the email you set your form to send notifications to in step 2.

When we tried this, our test email wasn’t in our inbox.

It went to spam. Thanks Gmail! [facepalm]

wordpress contact form message sent to spam

We can fix this!

Head over to your email folders on the left side of Gmail, scroll down and click “More,” scroll down again and click the spam folder.

Find your test message in there (we cleared our spam folder for the sake of this tutorial so it was easy, search for the Subject line you set for your form email notifications in step 2 to find it if it’s buried because that’s the more likely scenario).

Once you find and open up the email, you’ll see a nice big “Report Not Spam” button at the top, click that and this test message plus any others your form sends you will end up in your Inbox!

remove wordpress contact us form message from spam

WordPress contact forms and GDPR

On May 25th 2018, the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect and with it, a lot of changes to the laws that concern the use of personal information online for people in the EU.

Why does this matter? Are we about to go all Matlock on you here (kudos if you get that reference without having to Google “Matlock”)?

No we’re not, it somewhat matters.

Because contact forms collect personal data, and if you fall under the jurisdiction of GDPR regulations (definitely if you live/host your website in the EU, probably if some of your visitors live there).

Definitely want to be clear we’re not lawyers and this isn’t legal advice!!

It’s just a few thoughts and tips you might want to consider when creating contact forms for WordPress.

So if you get in trouble don’t sue us please and thank you.

And realistically, if you take a couple of simple steps and don’t end up creating a giant website like Amazon, you’ll probably be fine.

WordPress contact forms GDPR Tips

  • Disable Tracking: If you use a contact form that tracks things like cookies or user IP addresses, you’ll need to disable this.
  • Don’t collect data you don’t need: All of the best WordPress forms plugins give you a choice of what fields to include. If you don’t need a piece of information, don’t collect it, saves many potential headaches – legal and otherwise.
  • Have a privacy policy: Every pro website needs one of these anyway, but GDPR is another reason to make one if you don’t have one that explains what data you collect and why.
  • Implement HTTPS: You should do this anyway for SEO purposes and if you follow our guides for setting up websites with WordPress it’ll just be one easy step included in the process 😉
  • Get absolute consent: Add a checkbox to your form for people to consent to you collecting their data (WordPress form plugins are starting to add this feature just for GDPR). Make sure there’s a message that says what you collect and why, and don’t have the box checked by default (users have to check it themselves).

Other best WordPress form plugins

WPForms is great, but there are a few other WordPress contact form plugins that are great too.

Here’s a bit more on the best WordPress forms plugins.

WPForms (Freemium)

WPForms best wordpress forms

WPForms is our favorite (and the one we used in the tutorial for a couple of reasons:

It’s got a free version that’s perfect for beginners, with a premium version that’s packed with powerful features like email subscriptions and multi-page forms so when you’re ready to get even more pro with your site and WordPress contact forms, you’re just a couple clicks away!

Pros

  • Super user-friendly drag and drop form builder
  • Free WPForms Lite version that includes all the basic form fields, captchas, email notifications, and thank you pages
  • Premium version packed with powerful features like multi-page contact forms, email subscriptions, geo-location, and more

Cons

  • You can get more features in other free WordPress contact form plugins than WPForms Lite offers

Check out WPForms

Gravity Forms (Premium)

Gravity forms wordpress contact page

Gravity Forms is a paid-only WordPress form builder plugin with all the advanced functionality and features you’d want in a contact form plugin.

They’ve also got a killer support staff that’s built to help advanced WordPress developers build super complex forms to save website owners loads of manual backend work trying to connect this form field to that app then trigger this other thing to pop out one of those jigamabobs.

Pros

  • Drag and drop WordPress contact forms plugin with over 30 form field types and conditional logic
  • Create surveys, quizzes, web directories and connect with tools like AWeber, Dropbox, Freshbooks, PayPal through add-ons
  • Premium support (FAQ, knowledge base, forums, email)

Cons

  • Premium only (starts at $59/year for one site)
  • User friendly enough but all the features add complexity/can be overwhelming

Check out Gravity Forms

Ninja Forms (Freemium)

ninja forms wordpress contact forms plugin

Ninja Forms is another freemium WordPress form plugin with a slick UI and plenty of functionality for beginners and experts alike.

Pros

  • Easy to use drag and drop builder with 27+ fields, templates, email notifications, easy GDPR compliance, and automatic translation into over 16 languages
  • Dedicated support with a 24 hour response time – even for free users
  • Fully mobile responsive and designed to match your theme’s existing CSS styles

Cons

  • Free version is a bit basic
  • Lots of addons – can save you $$ over other premium contact forms for WordPress if you only need one or two, more than that and you’re looking at more expensive premium plans

Check out Ninja Forms

Formidable Forms (Freemium)

formidable forms wordpress contact form

Formidable forms is a serious competitor to top of the game plugin Gravity Forms.

They’ve got tons of in-built features for beginners and extended functionality for developers who want to build super complex forms.

AND they have a free version!

Pros

  • Powerful drag and drop builder with all the basics covered plus…
  • Really unique features like online calculators, polls and surveys, digital signatures, and built-in graphs and charts to visualize form data without having to export to something like Google Sheets
  • Mobile responsive with visual styler so you can change colors, borders, etc without code

Cons

  • Even the cheapest premium option is double the cost of other best WordPress form plugins on our list
  • Email is the only support option

Check out Formidable Forms

Contact Form 7 (Free)

contact form 7 best wordpress form plugin

It’s the oldest and most downloaded for a reason – this tank of a contact form plugin is tried, true, and ready for battle on just about any WordPress site!

Pros

  • Free for now, free forever – this one’s a passion project from the community so you get it all without having to pay a dime (though donations are appreciated)
  • Covers the basics most will need in a form plugin – radio buttons, quizzes, checkboxes, dropdowns
  • Very minimal – easy to learn and won’t bog your site speed down by loading a bunch of extra code

Cons

  • Lacks features you can get in other free WordPress form plugins
  • Limited support (some decent Docs and FAQs, and the WordPress support forum is all you get)

Check out Contact Form 7

Contact Forms! We’ve got WordPress Contact Forms here!

That’s it friends – how to add a contact form in WordPress!

As always, we hope you found that super helpful.

If you want more tips, tricks, tutorials, step-by-step guides – all the help with creating an awesome, professional website, go check out our Youtube Channel for more of the good stuff!

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Top 10 Best WordPress Themes [2020]
A Collection of the Most Popular Premium WordPress Themes

Top 10 Best Responsive WordPress Themes Featured Image
 

Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

May 24, 2019

 

Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites around the world. In this simple, step-by-step guide, we’ll cover our 10 favorite WordPress Themes for this year. Let’s dive in!

  • Level of Expertise:
    Beginner
  • Time To Complete:
    30 Minutes
  • What You Get:
    Full Website & Domain

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Now to the post…

Finding just the *right* WordPress theme – nay, the BEST WordPress theme – is very difficult.

But you probably already know that. Which is why you’re here reading this post.

And I would guess that the reason you’re having trouble finding a theme is simple:

There are SO MANY themes out there!

Approximately 31,010 themes, to be specific.

Which makes sense…

I mean, 34% of the entire internet is using WordPress to run their websites.

And with 1.68 billion websites in existence at the time of this writing, WordPress powers 574 million of them.

Sooo…

There’s a massive market for WordPress themes.

Which is why I want to make the search for the best WordPress theme much easier for you.

To be clear, we’re covering PREMIUM WordPress themes in today’s post. In the future, I’ll cover the best free themes. But the themes covered today are well worth their price tag, as you’ll soon discover.

So if you’re ready, let’s get started!

best wordpress themes

Top 10 Best and Responsive WordPress Themes | 2019

10. The7

The7 best WordPress theme
The7 comes with tons of options for customizing everything.

Coming in at number 10 is a responsive WordPress theme called The7.

The first thing that stands out about this theme is the price:

$39.

Which is roughly have the price of the average premium WordPress theme.

And you get a lot of bang for your buck with this one.

First off, you get a clean design.

The sections of the theme are separated by white and light grey color schemes. It has a very apple.com feel to it.

Of course, you can choose a different color scheme. In fact, you can customize the entire theme in any way you like. The7 actually bills itself as the most customizable theme on the market.

You also get a ton of cool sections with awesome buttons.

And like all the themes on this list, The7 provides different demos to preview what the theme would look like live on your website.

But better than just showing what your site will look like, the demos give you ideas on how you can structure your content, providing a prebuilt layout and design for your content you just need to fill in with your images, and text, and colors.

Oh, and this is a responsive WordPress theme. All the themes on this list are responsive.

What that basically means is that if someone looks at your website on their mobile device or tablet, it will still look fantastic. Text or links won’t be out of place. The design won’t change. And the user experience will be just as good.

That means more people sticking around on your website. And that’s what we all want, isn’t it?

9. Newspaper 9

Newspaper 9 best WordPress theme

 

Newspaper 9 is used by all sorts of magazines, news sites, and popular blogs.

Next up we have Newspaper 9.

(I swear, not all of the themes on this list will have numbers in them. It just so happens that some really good themes use numbers in their title. Don’t ask me why.)

It’s a fair bit pricier than the last theme, but still below the industry average.

Apparently, this theme is extremely popular with magazines, news sites, and news blogs.

The base design is great, but then they give you like 70+ different demos to choose from. This is great if you don’t even want to think about designing your own site and want to plug in a powerful demo and run with it.

For example, their “Wine Aroma” demo is super clean, with light, bubbly colors. Perfect for selling various products, but especially beverages.

But if you are going to use this theme for a news-based blog, then another demo I recommend checking out is “Lifestyle Magazine.”

You’ll notice right away that it’s designed to push your blog posts front and center for your website visitors. It also includes an Instagram feed if you want to pull in content from your social media accounts and showcase them on your blog.

This is easily one of the best WordPress themes if you care more about featuring your latest posts and updates and less about having a static homepage.

8. Avada

Avada best WordPress theme

 

People just can’t stop themselves from buying this epic theme.

OK, number 8 on our list is Avada.

It literally costs $1 more than Newspaper 9 and is the best-selling theme of all time – it’s been purchased 500,000 times in 2019 alone and we’re only halfway through the year!

We’ll have to take the creators word that Avada is the best-selling theme of all time, but regardless, the blogosphere certainly loves it. If you search other lists of the best WordPress themes you’ll find Avada on probably every single one of them.

And for good reason:

It’s very user-friendly, has 48 prebuilt websites to choose from, and has a 5-star customer satisfaction rating.

Avada is one of those themes that can be used for anything.

From ecommerce to news to hobby blogging.

Whatever your jam, Avada will be your jelly.

It comes with a powerful website design software that any non-coder can easily use called Fusion. No coding necessary to use it.

But if you do want a prebuilt theme, I really liked “Freelancer.”

It gives you a cool parallax effect and slanted dividers and comes with a bunch of awesome buttons that are fully customizable.

In short, Avada is a standout winner at an affordable price.

7. Massive Dynamic M7

Massive dynamic M7 best WordPress theme

 

M7 is the most affordable WordPress theme on our list.

The lucky number 7 theme is Massive Dynamic’s M7.

And let me just say, this one is particularly cool – especially if you’re into fashion and design.

For example, the template “Design Studio” is eye-popping and bold. Very photo-forward. Perfect template if you run your own design or creative agency and want to showcase your gorgeous photography or other images mixed with just the right words.

This WordPress theme is only $39, so it’s another one that’s affordable and offers a lot at a low price.

I mentioned Design Studio, but that’s just one of 70 templates to choose from.

And if you’re already a designer, perhaps a web designer like me, then you can use their simple drag-and-drop editor to whip up your own site in no time.

Oh, and Massive Dynamic integrates with WooCommerce seamlessly. So if you’re selling clothes or photos or anything else through your website and want to use WooCommerce, Massive Dynamic makes it happen with ease.

Considering the price and the options, this is a top choice for you if you’re looking for a visually stunning WordPress theme.

6. Bridge

Bridge best WordPress theme

 

The Bridge theme just pops with creativity, energy, and color.

WordPress theme number 6 is Bridge.

Right away, Bridge displays an awesome opener that I just really enjoy.

This theme is great for pretty much anything you do online; any type of website you’re building.

They have a TON of demos to choose from. Over 370, to be exact.

That’s why I say, no matter your business, hobby, or online pursuit…

Bridge has something for you.

Like, I gotta keep harping on this. I’ve never seen anybody put so much work into their demos and preset websites.

Each and every template to choose from is perfectly designed for that particular industry, that particular niche.

You operate a fast food restaurant? Grab this template and swap out their content for yours and you’re ready to go.

You’re a makeup artist building your brand online? Here’s a template you must have.

I could go on, but you get the point.

Now because they put so much work into this theme, it does carry a higher price of $59. But considering everything you get, that price shouldn’t scare you at all.

If you simply can’t be bothered to design your own site and want something that will look great and perform excellently right out of the box, Bridge is what you need.

5. Oshine

Oshine best WordPress theme

 

Oshine has a variety of templates to choose from and thousands of happy customers.

Oshine is the 5th theme featured on our list.

It bills itself as one of the best-selling creative WordPress themes on the market. And it shows.

It comes loaded with 47 different templates to choose from, most of which are very image-heavy. The templates have names like “new photography” and “web design agency” and “modern creative agency.”

Meaning, they’re made for photographers, designers, fashionistas, and a host of creative agencies.

The theme comes complete with sliders, carousels, and even password-protected photo galleries.

Oshine is the same price as Bridge and others on this list at $59. Not bad.

It was built for WooCommerce, so if you’re selling fashion products like clothing or accessories, one of these templates are ready to use right out of the box as your brand’s store.

But you’re more than welcome to design your own site using their built-in webpage builder, Tatsu.

And this theme wasn’t made for agencies exclusively. It was also designed with solopreneurs and freelancers in mind to showcase their work to potential clients.

So however you express your creativity, Oshine will help you show it off.

4. BeTheme

Betheme best WordPress theme

 

With over 400 pre-built websites, you’ll have yours ready to go in a few clicks.

Over halfway through this list now, and here we have BeTheme.

This one also costs $59 and is full of cool stuff.

The first thing that caught my attention about BeTheme is how it was built to support a variety of multimedia. If you’re going to be using videos on your site, this is the theme for you.

And it comes with over 400 pre-built websites that can be installed in one click. In fact, BeTheme claims that they have the most intuitive website installer ever. Whether that’s true or not, it certainly means setting up your website is going to be a breeze.

It seems other customers love BeTheme, too.

They have 60,000+ reviews, and many of them are glowing with praise.

Plenty of them praise BeTheme’s website builder which lets you choose a base grid style, add in customizable headers and logos, and it’s optimized to be a fast-loading, fast-performing theme.

And this theme is compatible with a ton of essential third-party apps like Mailchimp (for email marketing), Yoast (for SEO), and WooCommerce (for ecommerce shops).

Whatever your needs, BeTheme can satisfy them.

3. Flatsome

Flatsome best WordPress theme

 

If you’re trying to sell any products through your website then Flatsome is for you.

OK, we finally made it to the top 3!

The theme that gets the bronze trophy is Flatsome.

They make it clear right away that they’re “The #1 Bestselling WooCommerce & Business theme.”

So yeah, you can sell anything with this theme. And thousands of people do.

Which, if that’s something you want to do but don’t know how, I suppose now is a good time to drop a link to another video/written guide I’ve done titled, How to Make an Online Store (eCommerce Website).

Actually, in that video I show how to use a free theme to setup your ecommerce site.

But if you want all the bells and whistles, then Flatsome gets my highest recommendation.

They make it easy to segment the different products you may sell using categories like “best-selling” and “weekly featured.”

The theme is also optimized for speed (which is critical when people are making buying decisions).

Bottom line is that this theme is designed to help you sell as many of your goods as possible.

2. X Theme

X theme best WordPress theme

 

X theme was made for high-powered internet marketing by some great internet marketers.

Number 2 is called X theme.

This is like the ultimate internet marketing theme. One of the creators is Perry Marshall, a living titan of online persuasion, buyer psychology, and business-building.

So if you’re a serious online entrepreneur who wants to scale their sales, this is the theme for you.

It was designed with a heavy emphasis on landing pages, one of the keys to gaining more subscribers and driving consistent sales.

X theme comes with 4 unique designs they call “Stacks.” And each stack comes with different demos to give you an idea of how versatile and customizable they are.

Honestly, I don’t need to spend a lot of time on this one. The price is $59 and it’s got all the features you need to build your business online. ‘Nuff said.

1. Divi

Divi best WordPress theme

 

Divi is simply the most popular WordPress theme and features a one-of-a-kind website builder.

Well, we made it to number one!

And Divi deserves this spot. They’re apparently the most popular WordPress theme in the entire freaking world!

And they claim they have the ultimate WordPress page builder. Whether it’s the ultimate or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s awesome.

Basically, Divi replaced WordPress’s post editor with a visual editor. It allows you to create phenomenal designs with ease. It really is unlike any editor I’ve seen.

They give you over 40 elements to mix and match in any way you choose, from call-to-actions to testimonials to sliders.

But get this…

Divi comes with over 800 pre-made website designs. And they’re constantly adding new layouts. Plus, they’re always giving you more royalty free images, icons, and illustrations.

But everything is customizable so you’re never stuck with a design you hate.

Divi was literally built for everyone so absolutely anyone can use it.

So What Theme Will You Use?

I hope that list helped narrow down the options to some of the best WordPress themes you can possibly get.

Now it’s just a matter of choosing the one that works best for you.

Anyway, if you enjoyed this post, make sure to check out the other written guides I’ve put together to help you create and run a powerful (and profitable) website in 2019 and beyond!