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WordPress Plugins for Your Wellness Website: Look Before Leaping

Our recent article “Ten Types of WordPress Plugins Your Wellness Website Needs” included our 10 recommendations for “download now” WordPress plugins. Find out why after reviewing dozens of plugins these 20 top-in-search-results candidates still didn’t make the list.

1. Polling plugins

– What they do: Allow you to poll your readership and gather information from.
– Upside: If you need to get information from your readers, it’s relatively simple and convenient. The right questions, and you know more about the folks who subscribe to your content feeds.
– Downside: Most folks don’t do much with that data, and often waste valuable interaction opportunities gathering information that can’t be used to further engagement with readers (e.g., lead development). Also, if your dialogue with readers is fairly one-sided, not only can polls feel artificial and forced, but they can turn off otherwise interested prospects who feel like you’re fishing for personal details you don’t know them well enough to ask.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: Unless you have a strongly defined purpose for polling, what’s the point?

2. Caching plugins

– What they do: Improve performance of high traffic blogs
– Upside: Faster download times, fewer delays in reading your content.
– Downside: Unless your blog runs over a dial-up modem in deepest Africa OR you are Coke, HP, General Motors or Apple, you customer traffic is probably not going to overwhelm your ability to serve content. Besides, if you have dynamic content (for example, web pages rendered in real time, such as order confirmation pages), it won’t be cacheable anyway.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: Not for everybody. If you have a large, content rich, or high-traffic site, these can be very useful. Most wellness businesses, even the big ones, don’t. You’ll know when you actually need this. It will be obvious.

3. Security plugins

– What they do: obscure sensitive information, block unauthorized users, increase password security, and warn you of bots, service attacks, and probes for site vulnerability.
Upside: More secure is USUALLY better.
Downside: Extra security also makes some things harder, and if you’re up to date on your installed version of WordPress, you probably already have many of the security updates. Moreover, sometimes downloads intended to close security gaps cause other plugins that rely on them to stop working; at that point you have to decide if you want a secure site or one that works — not a pleasant choice.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: Read up thoroughly on what the plugin provides, what you already have, and what people say who have downloaded the plugin. If the answers are uniformly negative, take a pass.

4. Revision control plugins

– What they do: Allow you the ability to successively “undo” changes you’ve made in content. Some revision control systems also enable support for multiple users editing the same content.
– Upside: It’s nice to be able to keep track of who changed what, and to go back to the “last good version”
– Downside: One more level of complexity, and one your WordPress install probably already has.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: There’s a lot you can do by just copying your last version of a post into the paste buffer before you make a major change. And if you don’t like the result and haven’t saved it, you can always abandon changes. Unless you’ve got a lot of editors who are writing over each other’s changes, you probably don’t need this.

5. “Contact Us” plugins

– What they do: Provide a simple pre-written contact form for readers to reach you.
– Upside: You don’t have to create one yourself. And many such plugins include CAPTCHA controls to prevent non-entities such as bots from signing up for your feeds.
– Downside: They’re not that hard to create, and you can probably get away for a while by just providing an email link.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: Nice to have, but not a must-have unless most of your readers are named “xjohnnyv_2345”. Download when you get around to it. And besides, you can get a lot of miles out of a simple mailto: link to your email address on your website. Yes, it’s possible for bots to harvest that link and spam you, but that’s what anti-spam software is for.

6. Popup plugins

– What they do: Provide functional and informational popups to specific all visitors or just a specific subset.
– Upside: When used carefully, can help guide and inform users.
– Downside: They’re usually not used carefully, and in fact, they’re annoying and distracting.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: Unless you have a strong need for something with a high nuisance factor, avoid downloading. They’re not as cool as you think, and remember how you feel the next time your visit gets interrupted by one.

7. Widget context plugins

– What they do: Allow you to selectively include elements on your WordPress website depending on the page, post, or other factors when your readers are visiting the site, rather than globally across the entire site.
Upside: Makes your site look more professional.
Downside: Can easily become an attention-sucking toy that gets in the way of actual work.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: Save for a time when you need the next level of dynamic content on your WordPress website.

8. Article index plugins

– What they do: Usually present a sidebar of articles belonging to the same category as the one being presented.
– Why you need one: Offers guidance on what to read while constraining the search for related information. Downside: If you’re not careful, you can discover you’ve got a lot of outdated content, content overloaded in one category but not others, and similar problems. Then again, you actually DO need to know when you’ve got content that’s outdated, overly focused on one topic, and so on.

9. Global search-and-replace plugins

– What they do: Allow you to search for and replace text in a post or on your site, across posts or pages.
– Upside: Makes it easy to replace phrases you don’t want any more.
– Downside: Very easy to accidentally globally change “mentoring” to “womentoring” if you’re not careful… only to find that now you wish you had downloaded the revision control or site backup plugin.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: Consider carefully. Keep in mind also that most browsers already have a “find on this page” capability that will quickly locate suspect text and allow you to change it manually. Global search-and-replace can also be a great way to accelerate damage to your website by changing a lot of stuff you didn’t intend to change.

10. Category-to-tag converter plugins

– What they do: Convert WordPress categories to tags. Tags are a little less structured and allow you to group content according to multiple key concepts it may contain.
– Upside: If you’re trying to convert categories to tags, what better tool than this?
– Downside: If you’ve never had that problem, then this won’t help.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: It’s not the kind of thing that you suddenly discover you need if you’ve never used categories OR tags. Download only if needed.

11. Editorial calendar plugins

– What they do: Remind you when you have content due
– Upside: If your blog has have a regular publication schedule, this will help you keep on top of it. They also allow you to schedule posts already written so that they go out on certain days.
– Downside: Blog posts aren’t scheduled in isolation, so the changes are pretty good your email newsletter already has a feed to your blog and the ability to schedule content. Downloading a separate tool for your blog will just confuse things.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken. If you’re constantly behind on content, it may be easier to develop a personal discipline for producing it on time and using your existing email management system to schedule content.

12. Event calendar plugins

– What they do: Manage the user interface for customer-facing calendar events
– Upside: It’s easy to just go in and name and schedule an event and let the tool do the rest.
– Downside: If you don’t have a lot of events, it may be a waste of time.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: Not everybody needs an event calendar. If you do a lot of events, probably worth the download.

13. Font plugins

– What they do: Enable sophisticated fonts beyond the default ones that come with WordPress.
– Upside: Can help make your site more professional.
– Downside: You need to know a little bit about fonts and style sheets to avoid messing things up royally.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: It can use up a lot of otherwise productive time to diddle around with fonts. Also, make sure you understand what you are doing, and don’t be afraid to get help before your little design project turns into the Titanic.

14. “Notice” plugins

– What they do: Call special temporary attention to certain content, such as time specific notices to readers. Can be anything from an embedded popup (i.e., one that appears to be part of the page) to a scrolling display to anything in between.
– Upside: Can be great if you have time sensitive content such as webinar notices, limited time offers, etc.
– Downside: A potentially annoying toy you probably won’t use frequently.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: Wait until you need it, then give yourself some extra time to master the tool.

15. E-book and podcast converter plugins

– what they do: Repurpose your website content into other formats
– Upside: Sounds like a great idea
– Downside: Garbage in, garbage out… it’s not like you won’t have to do your own work to make the content valuable in the new media format.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: Wait until you need it, then give yourself some extra time to master the tool.

16. Billing and invoicing plugins

– What they do: Allows you to send invoices from within WordPress. You create the invoice in a WP administrative screen, and email it to your client with a description and a unique link to pay via PayPal or credit card.
– Upside: Makes it easier to bill clients and get paid on time.
– Downside: If payment is received at time of service, may not be necessary.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: Not everybody in wellness runs a service business. A lot do, and if this is what you need, definitely download. Otherwise take a pass.

17. Email list builder plugins

– What they do: Automatically build an email subscriber list from within WP, and then lets you send subscribers emails automatically when you post. Comes with subscriber statistics, including opens, clicks, and unsubscribes.
– Upside: If most of your activity is blog-centered, you may not have to deal with a separate email newsletter.
– Downside: It’s rarely the case that you can avoid dealing with a separate email newsletter. After all, not all content is blog posts, and sometimes you want more control over what you send and when.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: If you jump on this before you investigate all the alternatives, you may find yourself trying to figure out how to export those lists from a plugin to your email management system or vice versa.

18. Mobile-enabling plugins

– What they do: Make it easier to take your existing WordPress website and render it in a mobile friendly fashion on handheld devices.
– Upside: You don’t have to pay a developer to create a separate mobile website.
– Downside: Some of the automated features in certain plugins result in very weird rendering of the site on mobile.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: May suddenly demand a lot of time for a goal that might have been peripheral at best. Download as an experiment, plan to spend some time getting it right, and don’t tell anyone you’ve mobile enabled your website until you’ve fully tested the result.

19. Video and YouTube plugins

– What they do: Video enables your WordPress website from YouTube and other sources. You can display videos as single videos, galleries, and in other formats.
– Upside: People like visuals. For some reason, the picture is worth way more than a thousand words.
– Downside: If the videos are poor quality, off message, or otherwise not professionally produced, it will showcase the creator’s poor production skills. Which is fine — as long as they’re not your videos.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: If your wellness business survives on its videos, then go ahead: download and try this out. Otherwise it’s probably just a distraction.

20. Live chat plugins

– What they do: What it sounds like — enables live chat on your website.
– Upside: If you’re set up to do business remotely, can help enable two-way conversation with customers.
– Downside: So can Skype, and you can always post your Skype ID on your site. Also, chat plugins aren’t much use if no one is ever there to answer the chat. And that puts you in the business of sitting at your desk waiting for a chat, rather than serving in-person customers, assisting your staff, or working on urgent projects.

WHY IT’S NOT IN THE TOP 10: This feels like playing house, there are other ways to do it, and you can still bill for your time using one of the other plugins.