Review: Download Monitor

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

Download Monitor answers the age old question, “How can I track downloads on my website?”. It’s a lightweight plugin that allows the admin user to track how many times a specific file has been clicked and downloaded from the back-end of  your website

Problem We Faced

I’ve had a few people ask me if Google Analytics can track how many times an image had been clicked or if visitors were downloading their content. While Google Analytics is an awesome tool for tracking page analytics and user geography,  it’s not able to drill into this kind of specific information.

The Solution

Once we found and tested this plugin, I knew Download Monitor would work for our clients. It’s easy enough for someone with minimal WordPress experience to use and provides real time numbers for those who want to take analytics tracking a step further.

What We Would Change

While this plugin is simple to use, it can be tedious to get set up if you have a lot of downloads that you want to track.

 

 

 

Review: PrintFriendly & PDF Pro

Price: $40/year

Platform: Can be used on multiple platforms including WordPress, Drupal and Joomla

Overview

PrintFriendly & PDF Pro is a simple plugin that allows you to print your website beautifully with the click of a button.

Problem We Faced

We’ve had a few clients who have needed their content to automatically format correctly when printed and not all WordPress themes focus on making content printable.

The Solution

This plugin proved to be the right solution with it’s user-friendly interface that could be used on a number of platforms.

If you’re working with an HTML site, the entire configuration of this plugin is done on the developer’s site, where you choose from a variety of options and it populates an HTML code that can be embedded onto the website.  When using with a WordPress site, configuration is just as simple and can be done through the plugin.

What We Liked

Besides the fact that is plugin saves on ink/paper by rearranging content for best possible fit, it’s easy, no-nonsense set up and options make it a great fit for our websites.

 

 

Review: Hide YouTube Related Videos

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

Hide YouTube Related Videos does exactly what it says — hide related videos that would show up after playing a YouTube video on any WordPress website.

Problem We Faced

One of our clients had a YouTube video embedded in their site and when it was done playing, we noticed a bunch of “related” videos would appear to the user. Since these were not related to our video at all, we needed a way to just go back to the beginning after it was done playing.

The Solution

All we had to do for this plugin was download and activate with no configuration or coding necessary. Once the activation was done, we just needed to refresh the page and the plugin had done its job. We no longer had related videos show at the end of playing.

What We Liked

Ease of use is why we will continue using this plugin for YouTube videos on our sites. It turned a task that could have required time and custom coding, to a quick fix that takes just a few minutes to complete.

A project schedule can be an essential tool for any job. A well thought-out schedule serves as an “at-a-glance” project overview while also informing all parties of their responsibilities and due dates.

That said, a project schedule is not a “set it and forget it” proposition. I’ve worked on many projects where a schedule is agreed to at the beginning, but falls apart as soon as there is a scope change. Therefore an effective project schedule needs to be flexible, so it can be adjusted to account for unforeseen changes.

This brings me to my recommended project scheduling tool – Smartsheet. It allows me to quickly create schedules for each of our web projects, and share them in real-time with our clients. Our clients can view the schedule whenever they want. And from an administrative standpoint, Smartsheet allows me to create templates that can be used as a starting point for new project schedules.

Finally, Smartsheet is dynamic. So when you change one date, all of the other dates automatically update. This allows me to quickly let a client know of how any scope changes would affect the overall project schedule. For example, let’s say a web client decides to add eCommerce to her site mid-project. This additional work will require two days of extra labor. I can just add some line items to the schedule and the project completion date will be pushed two days into the future.

Above is a sample Smartsheet schedule we might use for our projects. I hope some of you find this tool as powerful as we do.

Is your website the best it can be? You don’t need to be a web expert or spend any money to find out. You can audit your own site using the simple survey below.

  1. Is the site responsive and compatible with mobile devices, such as cell phones and tablets, which now account for over 50% of all web traffic?

  2. Is the site optimized for key SEO terms?

  3. How does the website appear in Google search results?

  4. Does the site have a content management system so that it can be easily updated and maintained by the user? If so, is the CMS up to date?

  5. Does the site load quickly?

  6. How does the website look when it’s shared on social media?

  7. Is the website running Google Analytics to accurately report data on the site’s traffic?

  8. Is the site backed up on a weekly basis so that it can be restored in the event of corruption, a security breach, or other catastrophic event?

  9. Is the site being kept up to date with the most recent security patches?

  10. Does the site have a blog to maximize SEO and user engagement? If so, is it current?

  11. Does the site have prominent links to social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter?

  12. Is there a prominent signup form that’s integrated into a web marketing platform such as Constant Contact or MailChimp?

  13. Does the website allow users to view calendars and sign up for events?

  14. Can visitors make secure purchases directly on the website? If so, is the shopping cart optimized for SEO and user experience? Is there an SSL certificate for security?

  15. Is there any other critical functionality that could easily be added to the site?

If you answered yes to every question, you’re well on your way to a great site! If not, call us at 877-302-2185 and we’d be happy to personally review your site for free to help you come up with some great solutions.

 

 

Review: SEO Redirection Premium

Price: $49 – $99

Platform: WordPress

Overview

This premium plugin saves time and effort by allowing the admin to manage WordPress 301 redirects and prevent 404 errors with ease. The user can organize redirects into groups, view history of past redirects, and easy upload and download new or existing URLs.

Problem We Faced

Many times, we build websites for clients that already have an existing site. We needed a quick way to point their old URLs to pages on the new site, so they weren’t losing visitors who had an outdated link. SEO was also an important factor as we didn’t want clients to have to start over with their Google search rankings.

The Solution

This plugin has been a huge time saver for us since we purchased it. The redirect feature alone is worth the price of a developers license, which gives us unlimited access to this plugin on any one of our sites.

What We Liked

Our favorite thing about this plugin is the ability to import redirects onto the site with just a csv sheet. It took a task that could take hours to complete, to now just a few minutes.

 

 

 

 

Review: Juicer

Price: Free to $100

Platform: WordPress

Overview

Juicer compiles all your social media feeds into one beautifully laid out design. Just choose the social media accounts you want displayed on your website and configure the WordPress plugin. Once installed, there is no need to to touch it again and posts from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. will be continually added to your page.

Problem We Faced

On a new site we were building, we wanted to showcase our client’s social media in a more unique way than just showing a few feeds around the site. They also wanted their users to be able to access all their accounts on one page, without clicking off the site.

The Solution

Once we found Juicer, we knew this was the solution to our problem. After set up is complete, the plugin automatically pulls in new posts from your social media accounts onto WordPress. New posts are featured at the top and older posts are shown when the user scrolls down.

What We Liked

We loved that we didn’t have to do any custom design on our end. This plugins comes with multiple layouts to choose from, so you know it will fit into any website. We also liked that Juicer was responsive, so there was no need for any additional programming for viewers to see the feed on mobile.

 

 

 

 

Review: Better Notifications for WordPress

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

Better Notifications is a great way to send out automatic email notifications to individuals, groups or users by role on WordPress. With this plugin you can customize the email using the WYSIWYG editor and short-codes. For example, the administrator can notify all subscribers when a new post has gone up on the website and include a logo, a link to the website and an unsubscribe button in the email.

Problem We Faced

We had a client that wanted to notify new WordPress users when their account had been set up.

The Solution

After a little bit of searching, this plugin seemed like the best solution for our client. We were able to set up notifications to a user when their account was set up, with a customized email featuring link to the site and instructions on how to log in for the first time.

What We Liked

We liked the automation of this plugin. Once it’s set up to the proper specifications, the administrator will no longer have to send out a manual email whenever an update is made, a new user is created or any other custom notification.

What We Didn’t Liked

While we loved that this plugin came with several automated email notifications, some of these weren’t user friendly, and can be difficult for site administrators to update.

 

 

Review: Disable Comments

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

As the name suggests, this plugin can disable comments site wide in just a single step. This includes comments on posts, pages and attachments.

Problem We Faced

On most of the sites we build, our clients ask us to disallow comments on blog posts to minimize annoying spam. For this particular site, we didn’t want comments to be allowed anywhere on the site, not just on certain posts (comments can be removed selectively on individual posts standard with WordPress).

The Solution

This plugin has been a standard on our sites for some time now. We have found that disabling comments is a great way to tighten up security and is one less thing an admin needs to monitor on the website.

What We Liked

What we loved most was the quick and easy solution. Once the plugin is downloaded and activated, it only needs to be set up once so that comments are disabled throughout the site.

 

 

 

 

Review: Social Share & Locker Pro

Price: $19

Platform: WordPress

Overview
Make it easy for visitors to email posts or articles from your WordPress blog without leaving the website.
Problem We Faced

Our client didn’t like that other plugins directed you off of their site in order to share their article via email.

The Solution

This plugin gave us everything we were hoping for and more. Besides the fact that the share buttons were super easy to install, our favorite part was that the pop up allows the user to share the post without having to configure an email on another page.

The pop up shows that the sender only needs to add the recipient’s name and email. They can also add more text along with the attached article, but it’s not required.

What We Liked

Given the five star rating, there was nothing about this plugin we didn’t like. The email pop up feature alone made the $19 purchase well worth it and the countless icon options were just icing on the cake.