WordPress Plugins Basics – Getting Started

Aren’t WordPress plugins great? Of course they are, these days it seems like there is a plugin for almost anything you can think of. From the mandatory such as SEO & security plugins, to complex systems such as selling products & creating courses, all the way to the ridiculous such as theme roulette or even a Chuck Norris joke widget.

Wordpress Melbourne Plugin

But with so many plugins now on offer (getting close to 50,000 on the WordPress Directory) being able to find the right one can be daunting, and worse, selecting the wrong one could turn into a major headache.

WordPress Page Builder with Advanced Custom Fields

I’m a big fan of the Advanced custom fields plugin, not only is it extremely flexible it also handles the job of many plugins in one package so it reduces the need for excess plugins (because you should always keep plugins to a minimum). The code it produces is light weight and you to have control of your HTML, CSS, and JS eliminating the code bloat of most plugins around. Once you learn the basics you’ll find many creative ways coming to use it to provide custom solutions that fulfill your website requirements. It integrates seamlessly into the WordPress backend UI making updates in WordPress once it is set up. All round it’s a win-win for me.

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There are many guides on setting up basic custom fields but here’s a technique that I have developed for creating a clean and simple page builder. Yes there are many page builders around but from reviewing these do all excess code bloating your site files, they also have many options that make things not only confusing for the end user making updates but can allow for updates that neglect a style guide and go “off brand”. I’m a firm believer in brand consistency so this is an issue.

The SEO & UX benefits of a good 404

A custom 404 page might not seem like a big deal but are you losing traffic and affecting your search engine positioning without one? There are many benefits to you and your website visitors if you know how to create a 404 page that works.

What a 404 page is and when it’s displayed:

a 404 is an HTTP error page that gets displayed when a user tries to visit a page that does not exist. This happens for various reasons but some of the most common are when a  page has been deleted, renamed or simply when the user has typed in the address incorrectly.

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There is some debate over missing page best practices and whether or not 404 or 301 will give you the best SEO results as well as UX. To achieve the best results you need a method of combining both 404 and 301 approaches.

But what a 301 is and why is it important:

A 301 is simply a redirect that sends your user from one URL to another. This happens instantly without loading the first URL so the user is unaware that a 301 has been used.  This is perfect if you’ve renamed a page or if you are launching a new website where multiple page names are different but the same or similar content is available as a substitute. Rather allowing a 404 error to load the best approach here is to set up a 301 redirect from your old pages to the most relevant new page. This helps google index your new pages and gives your user a seamless experience.

The easiest way to set up a 301 is with a .htaccess file where you first reference the location of your current URL and then the full HTTP address of your redirect. eg:

Redirect 301 /oldurl/ http://www.mysite.com/newurl/