Clicky

Mini Guide

Step 07 - Install Essential Plugins

Next you need to install your core plugins.  At this stage you only activate the ones that add any value during development. For example, there is no point in activating caching plugins whilst you are building a site.  It will only frustrate you.

I have detailed my preferred list of plugins below. Note the ones required for this course are marked as such

Backup/Restore And Move Plugin

Required For The Course?

While these two plugins are not required for my course, they will make your life easier when it comes to backups, restores and moving sites from one location to another.  This plugin helps make you less reliant on others.

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Even though your host will provide website backups, it's a good idea to be independent and have your own. You can set your backups to happen more frequently than say, once per day, which is typical of most hosts.   For example, during an intensive development period you could set your backup plugin to run every hour, or you could use it to do manual backups at will, from the WP Dashboard with one click of a button.

Some hosts will store your backups off server - often at extra cost -  but other hosts will store backups literally on the same  server as your site.  If the server suffers a technical problem, they should be able to restore it, but what if they cannot?  Further, even if your host performs hourly backups, some will only keep these for 24 hours.

It's for these reasons I like to have my own backup method. You could call it a belt and braces approach.

The plugin I use (linked above) comes as two plugins. The free plugin is available at the WordPress repository.  But it works best if you also buy the premium extension. The premium extension allows the plugin to deal with larger sites (larger than 512mb) and to facilitate storage in the cloud. You need both these things.

There are several cloud storage extensions to choose from. I also use the Google Drive extension plugin which allows me to work with sites larger than 512mb, and also to back everything up to my Google Drive account.   If Google Drive does not suit you, they have extensions covering the mains cloud offerings such as Amazon S3, DropBox and pCloud.

SEO Plugin

  • The SEO Framework (free - search for it, and install from the WordPress dashboard)

Required For The Course?

Yes - you will need an SEO plugin and it may as well be this one.  There are many premium plugins available, but I haven't seen any better than this free one. Many of the premium plugins try to do too much.

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This is a simple plugin that reminds you to provide titles and meta descriptions for each page. 0It is the lightest-weight and fastest SEO plugin.

SEO Plugin Speed test
SEO Framework is the fastest, lightest SEO plugin

Maintenance Plugin

  • Super Simple Site Offline (free - search for it, and install from the WordPress dashboard)

Required For The Course?

Yes - you should use a maintenance plugin to keep prying eyes from seeing your site before you're ready to launch it.

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Again, a great free plugin. So many paid maintenance plugins feel the need to add too much functionality and complexity to justify their price. This one is simple and perfect. However it has not been updated in a while. I hope it has not been abandoned by the developer.

Code Snippets Plugin

Required For The Course?

Yes - a code snippets plugin is required for the course. You can get a free one such as Code Snippets, but this one is much better.

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This plugin will save you a lot of time and make your sites better. This is because it has one huge advantage over other code snippets plugins - it allows you to store code snippets in the cloud, right from the WordPress dashboard.

So if someone gives you a code snippet you can put it into your site, but at the same time you can also store it in the cloud. Then, when you need it on a different site and can't quite remember what the code was or which site you last put it on, it's magically already there, at your fingertips. You simply click a button and it appears on the new site.

This has saved me a lot of time.

Another advantage of it is that you can use it for all your custom CSS as well.

Custom Post Types Plugin

Required For The Course?

This plugin is required if you're planning on crafting a fully-fledged blog with lots of different types of information. If you are only building say, landing pages, this plugin is not required.

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For example, your WordPress site might not only contain blog posts. It could also contain recipes or book reviews or trip reports, or any other kind of information that might have certain expected characteristics, or be categorised very differently to everyday blog posts.

For example a blog post comprises a title, and the content. Whereas a book review would have a pre-determined list of items such as a book review title, the name of the book, the author of the book, the date it was published, your review, a precis of the story, a photo of the book cover, and so on. A book review, due to its rigid structure, would be an ideal candidate for a custom post type.

Page Builder Plugin

Required For The Course?

Yes - the course is about building sites in Oxygen so Oxygen Builder is required. However in the near future, we will be moving to Bricks Builder. Please note that if you want to future-proof your WordPress development, BricksBuilder will raise their price on 11-Nov-2022, so get it before then.

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Oxygen Builder is a site building plugin allowing great flexibility. You still need to know HTML and CSS to use it, in my opinion, but you can also get started with it, without knowing those technologies. Using Oxygen Builder will encourage you to learn them.

Custom Fields Plugin

Required For The Course?

Yes - this plugin is required if you are building out a fully featured blog with your own custom post types. If you are only building landing pages it is not required.

More Information

I use Advanced Custom Fields, to add extra functionality to my sites. This is something you can decide to buy later if in doubt.

CSS Framework Plugin

Required For The Course?

Yes - this is absolutely required for this course. It's at the core of what we'll be doing.

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When using Oxygen Builder or Bricks Builder, CSS is at the heart of everything you'll be doing. Automatic makes it much easier to deal with the sometimes complex CSS you'll need to use. This is a game changer and a must-have.

Forms Plugin

Required For The Course?

You will need a forms plugin. This is the one that I've always used despite having bought some others such as Formidable Forms.

More Information

Gravity Forms works with a simple plugin that we've written to help combat form and comment spam.

Menu Plugin

  • Max Mega Menu (search for, and install from the WordPress dashboard)
  • Max Mega Menu Pro (one lifetime payment)

Required For The Course?

Yes - having a site that is as accessible as possible is good for SEO and for your users. Max Mega Menu is accessible.

More Information

This is not particularly easy to use, but if you are one of my students, I will of course show you how to set it up. It's a powerful plugin once you get used to it. The reason I use it is due to the number of accessibility features that are built in. Note, there is a free version available but the pro version has more options. At the very least, start with the free version and add the pro version when you are ready to do so.

Performance Plugin

Required For The Course?

Performance plugins are not required for the course, but be aware that the faster your site is, the better it will do in general.

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If you have excellent quality hosting, then a caching plugin is not necessary as your host will provide the fastest caching possible. The best place to do caching is on the server, not in a plugin.

However not all hosts provide high quality server level caching. If you enjoy a great host like mine (GridPane) who provide excellent server-level caching, you will not gain very much from a page caching plugin and they may even conflict.

However plugins like WP Rocket have benefits other than just the provision of page caching. So if you still want to benefit from the many other features that WP Rocket provides you can also install this plugin that disables the page caching elements of WP Rocket.

Or you have good server level caching, you can install PerfMatters instead of, or alongside WPRocket. Both WPRocket and PerfMatters do many of the same things, but they also each do something the other does not. Therefore you may decide to install both and just pick and choose various aspects of them.

However, if you want to pick one, I would say that if you need caching because your host isn't that great, use WPRocket. If you have an excellent host with fast server-level caching, use PerfMatters.

Stats Plugin

Sign up for Clicky. It is so much easier to use than Google Analytics.

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I am not saying you will not have to install Google Analytics on your site - you will. But if you also have Clicky it means you'll have a very easy way to see what's happening on your site without having to wade through Google Analytics every day.

Clicky is service, not a plugin. You will get a small amount of code to add to your site which wil be added via the WPCodeBox plugin. I will show you how to do this. Clicky is available for free forever, but if you want all the useful features you will need to upgrade to at least Pro.

Other Steps In This Mini Guide

Step 01 - Getting Started

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Step 02 - Decide On Your Logo

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Step 03 - Domains, Hosts, DNS

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Step 04 - Install A WordPress Theme

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Step 05 - Install WordPress

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Step 06 - WordPress User Settings

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Step 08 - Activate Oxygen For The First Time

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Step 09 - Create A Home Page

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Step 10 - Theme Styles Settings

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Step 11 - Create Blog Category

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Step 12 - General WordPress Settings

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Step 13 Reading WordPress Settings

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Step 14 - Discussion WordPress Settings

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Step 15 - Media WordPress Settings

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Step 16 - Permalinks WordPress Settings

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Step 17 - Add Favicon

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Step 18 - Activate The SEO Plugin

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Step 19 - Create Some Essential Pages

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Step 20 - Create WordPress Menus

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Step 21 - Add Oxygen Templates

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