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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.

 

 

Review: Quiz Cat

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

Give your visitors a reason to stay on your WordPress site with Quiz Cat! This plugin is perfect for creating custom, interactive quizzes on your website that are a snap to make. With the trend of Facebook and Buzzfeed quizzes going around, there is no better time to customize one for your web audience.

Problem We Faced

We had a client who was looking for a unique way to interact with their website visitors.

The Solution

Quiz Cat was the best plugin we found for creating custom quizzes. From figuring out what WordPress host is best for their site, to what Friends’ character is most like them, the possibilities are endless and keeps visitors engaged.

It can also be a great way to help sell online inventory. For example, a site selling skin care products could set up a quiz titled “What cleanser is right for you?”. The results would link right to the product page, making it quick and easy for customers to make a purchase.

What We Liked

Easily the best thing about this plugin was how simple it was to create new quizzes. We were able to quickly show the client how to put one together so they could do it on their own in the future — no coding required.

 

 

Review: Enhanced Media Library

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

This plugin allows the user to organize their media library with as many tags or categories as they want. All an admin needs to do is add the desired categories to the plugin settings. From there, tagging new and existing media types is a breeze.

Problem We Faced

Every time we needed to find a specific image in our media library for posts and pages, it was a huge pain to go through hundreds of images and media types.

The Solution
2016-12-02_11-47-52Once we downloaded Enhanced Media Library, finding everything from PDF documents to portfolio images took just a couple seconds. Filtering out categories is simple with a drop down menu of options. Posts, portfolio images, head shots and demos were just a few of the tags we used to make our media library more efficient.

What We Liked

The best thing about this plugin is that you aren’t limited to a set of categories. You can have as many custom tags as you need. Feel free to be as detailed as you want, since you don’t have to worry about front end users seeing these tags.

 

 

 

Review: Adminimize

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

Clean up the admin area for your WordPress users. Administrators can hide unnecessary dashboard options so they can only see the items they’ll be using, based on the user’s role (ex. author, editor, subscribers, etc).

Problem We Faced

On multiple sites, we found that back-end users would get overwhelmed by the vast WordPress dashboard. One client in particular wanted recruiters to only be able to have access to job listings and candidates.

The Solution
Adminimize solved our problem because it gave our users exactly what they needed and nothing more. After installing this plugin, recruiters could only see and update job listings and candidates once they were logged in.

With the ability to tailor each user role’s dashboard with a restricted view, there is less confusion for WP beginners and a cleaner look for everyone else.

What We Liked

We loved that we could use this plugin on all roles, making everyone from contributors to administrators happy that they no longer had to guess what they had access to. Everything they could see, they were able to use.

 

 

Review: Import Users from CSV with Meta

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

Set up multiple WordPress users at once by importing them onto the back-end of your site using a CSV file.

Problem We Faced

Upon going live with a site, a client asked if we could set up login credentials for their new admins and editors. There were over 20 users and we didn’t want to waste time manually creating an account for each person.

The Solution
This plugin allows for the addition of many users at once using a CSV file with the new users’ password, email address and username. From there you only need to let the plugin know what admin level each new user will get, import your CSV, and you’re off to the races!

2016-09-19_13-32-10

What We Liked

Our favorite thing was simply how much time it saved us. It took a tedious task that could easily take 45 minutes to an hour, and took all of two minutes to complete once the CSV file was imported.

Another impressive feature was that the plugin would email all your new users their credentials. If you don’t want this feature, just uncheck the box.

What We Didn’t Liked

We would have liked if we could import users with different roles at one time. We ended up having to create two CSV files, one for admins and the other for shop managers. It only added a couple minutes to the process, but would have given the plugin five stars if not for this inconvenience.

Review: WP Live Chat Support

Price: Ranges from free to $149.95

Platform: WordPress

Overview

Chat with your site visitors — no third party connections or monthly subscriptions needed.

Problem We Faced

We were asked to find a solution to online chatting with customers that was user friendly for both the web visitor and the administrator.

The Solution

WP Live Chat Support was the perfect solution, with plenty of features we didn’t even know we wanted! The plugin will alert the admin when a chat request comes through and will give an away message if you aren’t at the computer. It’s super user friendly on the customers’ end and even shows if the agent is typing back.

What We Liked

Besides all the mandatory features we needed, such as offline messages, access to chat history and unlimited agents, we loved all the smaller features that combine to create an awesome user experience. The typing indicator, social icon integration and easy translations are just some of the reasons site visitors love this plugin.

To top it off, with easy customizations, it was easy to make the chat window look great on the site by incorporating the company’s colors and logo.

What We Didn’t Liked

The only thing that lost half a star for us was that it didn’t look as sleek on the back-end as it does to the end user. That isn’t to say it wasn’t intuitive for the admin — which is why this wasn’t a deal breaker for us.

Review: WP Dashboard Notes

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

Leave sticky notes on your WordPress dashboard as a reminder to yourself or other admins.

Problem We Faced

With multiple editors, admins and subscribers using the back-end of the site, keeping up with relevant changes was challenging. We wanted to be able to let back-end users know what previous edits had been made, to make sure tasks weren’t done multiple times.

The Solution

With Dashboard Notes, we were able to keep people posted when plugin updates had been made, if a post was edited, or if something was deleted.

What We Liked

It’s simple and to the point. The plugin is perfect for informing admins of any changes. The notes can be public or private and also come in multiple colors so they are sure to get your attention as soon as you’re on the dashboard.

For industries that rely on job listings, functionality and design should be carefully considered when building a website. You want your users to be able to easily apply for jobs as well as display a beautiful site that will excite visitors.

The biggest issues we found with online job boards was either an unappealing and difficult to navigate interface — or the site looked great and didn’t work as it should. The Jobify WordPress theme solves these problems with a simple live job search and filter to make finding relevant listings a breeze.

Jobify creates a community of employers and prospective employees that makes everyone’s life easier. For prospective employees, you can narrow listings down to your desired industry, location and position with an easy search and filter bar that can be customized based on the site’s needs. Capture2

For employers, the search engine can be used to find relevant resumes based on key words or phrases, saving time that would be used manually going through each applicant. Applications can be viewed and managed from your WordPress dashboard or sent to a separate email address to ensure information is given to the appropriate administrator.

As with most WordPress themes, Jobify is completely responsive, so applying for jobs on the go is just as simple as from your desktop.

listings

We love this theme for the easy integration of plugins, no matter the industry.  Our favorites are Resume Manger, Job Alerts, WC Paid Listings and Indeed Integrations. While we found Jobify was perfect for staffing agencies, we can see it working just as well for any company looking to post job listings.

So if you’re looking to add these features to your site, give us a call at 877-302-2185, and we’ll get you set up with a stunning website with even better user experience.

Organization: Vector Talent Resources

Bridge – Infographer: We love this theme for displaying data along with the highly intuitive and friendly to use framework.

Slider Revolution: “Shows almost any kind of content with highly customizable transitions, effects and custom animations.”

Constant Contact: “Integrate your website seamlessly with your Constant Contact account.”

Simple Share Buttons: Allow your visitors to share your content with ease with an icon set that fits with your designs best.

BackupBuddy:  Protects half a million WordPress sites from hacks, server crashes, malware and user error just to name a few.

Review: Tao Schedule Update

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

Make scheduled changes on your WordPress site based on a pre-made edits. With this plugin there is no need to be logged-in to the back-end of the site when these changes are being made.

Problem We Faced

We needed a contest page to close out at midnight and didn’t want to have to wait up to manually take the page down.

The Solution

We used Tao to take down the page for us so that entries would no longer be accepted after midnight. This plugin allowed us to sleep while the update was made.

What We Liked

This plugin is great because of the versatility. Not only can you take down an entire page like we did, but it also allows for small edits on the page to be made at a scheduled time.

Since this is a newer plugin, we’ll keep an eye out for any bugs, but so far Tao Schedule Update has worked like a charm!

 

3-star-review

Review: Real 3D FlipBook

Price: $32

Platform: WordPress

Overview

Real 3D FlipBook displays books, magazines and brochures on your site, set up to look like a real book. Readers can flip through the book on a desktop or mobile device that features moving pages.

Problem We Faced

A client came to us and wanted a way to present their literature and e-brochures in a more visually appealing way than just an attachable PDF.

The Solution

We used the Real 3D FlipBook plugin as an answer to our clients needs. We found that while it looked good on the site, it was not a reliable plugin.

What We Didn’t Like

The plugin was difficult to use and didn’t always work as promised. We had multiple books to create and so far have only found success in one. Even when the book is able to open, the pages flip slowly and the tools to zoom and change the layout lag.

Overall, we liked the concept of the plugin but were not impressed with the execution. We’ll keep you updated on solutions or a flipbook plugin we like better.

4 star review

Review: Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

This plugin shows a summary of your site’s Google Analytics account right from the dashboard of any WordPress site. We had previously reviewed another Google Analyics plugin and have recently found this one is easier for our clients to use with a more efficient set up.

Problem We Faced

CaptureA client came to us asking for a monthly analytics report of their website, including number of page views, sessions and bounce rate.

The Solution

The Google Analytics Dashboard made for a quick solution. All we had to do was download the free plugin and the settings were simple and intuitive to configure.

What We Liked Most

We love that the client is able to go on the back-end of their site and see their data without the inconvenience of opening a new page.

How Could This Plugin be Improved

As of now, we have no complaints about the Google Analytics Dashboard. We’ll keep you posted with any new developments.

Association: Illinois Landscape Contractors Association

For a professional association website, member functionality is usually high on the priority list. In the case of the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association, everything from online registration and payments to a member directory was a necessity. Using the MembershipWorks plugin, we were able to check off every item on ILCA’s list.

Integrating online registration and payments on the ILCA site was a great way to streamline their system. They are now able to view and accept applications on the back-end of the site, as well as accept online payments.  Members can pay their dues online with the option of automatic recurring billing. Once logged on, a user can renew their membership, update their profile, and access restricted members only content.

Administrators can see each member’s history with a timeline view of payments, upgrades, and renewal dates. They can then update a member profile if needed. See the image below for an example of the member timeline.

Easily view member history using the timeline feature.

ilca2ILCA had specific annual events they wanted to showcase. With MembershipWorks users can easily find events with a full calendar view of both annual and recurring events. From here, they can register and pay for the event right from the site.

For ILCA, a member directory was essential. MembershipWorks made it easy to to create a directory of every business in the association, with a map pinpointing each location. Our favorite feature is that each business is able to customize their profile with a logo and a description of their services. Whether a member is searching for a specific company, service, or location, criteria can be searched at the top of the directory to find information easily.

Above are just a few of the examples of how MembershipWorks was used to streamline and integrate systems for this association. If you would like to know how MembershipWorks can be used for your site, give us a call at 877-302-2185. We’re always happy to help find the best possible solution for your association website.

 

Organization: Van Beek & Co.

Bridge – Estate: Stunning design and functionality that is ready for customization.

Layer Slider: “Premium multi-purpose slider for creating image galleries, content sliders, and mind-blowing slideshows with must-see effects.”

Visual Composer: “Easy to use. Fast to Create. Build pages and posts like a pro.”

Gravity Forms: ” Build complex, powerful contact forms in just minutes.”

Yoast SEO:  “Optimize your page content, image titles, meta descriptions and more to XML sitemaps.”

4 star review

Review: Quick Remove Menu Item

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

The Quick Remove plugin allows you to quickly and easily delete menu items as well as its sub items in bulk.

Problem We Faced

CaptureBefore the we downloaded the plugin, we were forced to remove each sub item one by one, which was time consuming.

The Solution

Quick Remove fit the bill because it was fast and easy to use. Just click “x” to delete a single item or “xx” to get rid of the menu item as well as its sub items.

What We Liked Most

Our favorite aspect was how much time it saved us on what could be a tedious task. This will definitely be a plugin we add to all our future sites.

4 star review

Review: Embed Any Document

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

With the Embed Any Document plugin, inserting outside documents into a WordPress site is easier than ever. Now instead of linking off the page to a document, it can be viewed right from the site. The plugin is compatible with most file types including Microsoft Office, PDFs, and Adobe Illustrator.

Problem We Faced

We didn’t want to link viewers away from our page to read a PDF document. We also wanted the embedded document to look clean and to match the design of the rest of the site

The Solution

We found this plugin was a good solution to our problem because of the easy to upload and embed interface. It was also convenient that we could choose between Google Docs Viewer and Microsoft Office Online to display our documents.

What We Liked Most

While we were originally just looking to embed PDF documents, we loved that we could do the same with our Excel sheets and PowerPoint presentations. The option to upload an existing document or add from an existing URL, was also at the top of our features list for this plugin.

4 star review

Review: Limit Login Attempts

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

The Limit Login Attempts plugin does exactly what the name implies. It gives the user limited attempts to log into the back-end of any WordPress site, based on custom parameters set by the administrator.

Problem We Faced

Our client wanted an extra padding of security to minimize the risk of hackers breaking onto the site.

The Solution

CaptureThis plugin was a quick fix for our problem. It was easy to install, and setting the criteria to limit logins was simple enough for the client to do himself without any coding experience.

What We Liked Most

We loved this plugin because every aspect is customizable. For instance, you can give back-end users anywhere from one to a thousand attempts to log in based on the level of security you want.

How Could This Plugin be Improved

Although Limit Login Attempts works great, it hasn’t been updated in awhile and could have some problems down the road.

Review: Post Type Order

Price: $25 (Advanced option)

Platform: WordPress

Overview

Post Types Order is a powerful plugin that allows the back-end user to re-order any post type with a drag-and-drop interface. This can be done on both custom post types and default posts.

Problem We Faced

We were taking a lot of time to reorder portfolio images. It was originally necessary to change the date on each individual post to reorder it.

The Solution
CaptureThis plugin was an easy solution to our problem. Once activated we were able to move different posts exactly where we wanted them without displacing others in the process.

What We Liked 

We liked that we were able to use this on any custom post. Reordering our blog entries and portfolio images was a breeze and could be done quickly. It was straightforward and no additional coding was necessary.

How Could this Plugin be Improved

We found that this plugin would sometimes conflict with normal WordPress sorting options, depending on the theme being used.

 

 

 

Organization: Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan

Bridge – University Theme: “This modern and inviting academic WordPress theme is perfectly suited for colleges and other educational institutions.”

The Events Calendar: “Create and manage events with ease, along with professional-level quality and features”

Visual Composer: Fast and easy page builder with over 60 unique layouts.

Gravity Forms: Build complex and powerful contact forms with this plugin that comes packed with easy to use features.

Layer Slider: “Premium multi-purpose slider for creating image galleries, content sliders, and mind-blowing slideshows with must-see effects.”

 

Creating an online portfolio has become a necessary component for everyone from graphic designers to architects. In fields with such a heavy reliance on visuals, the importance of creating an alluring space for your work is a top priority. For these professionals’ websites, we love the Bridge – Creative Multi-Purpose theme, for a site that focuses on images rather than text.

With this theme, your portfolio images will be the heart of the site. The homepage features a Pinterest style layout, that will show off your favorite projects. For architects and engineers, you can display both finished projects as well as buildings in process. For designers and artists, this is the perfect way to lay out your pieces to match your vision.

Besides the portfolio, included in the theme is a place for a blog, allowing visitors insight on certain projects.

As with most modern WordPress themes, this too is completely responsive, meaning it will look great on all platforms from desktops and tablets to mobile. Overall, we think this theme is ideal for anyone looking to display their work in a clean and modern environment.

 

 

 

Review: MailPoet

Price: Varies based on number of sites

Platform: WordPress

Overview

MailPoet is the simple way to manage your newsletter campaigns that comes ready to use right out of the box. Included with any of the premium subscriptions is subscriber information, stats on opens and clicks and an easy newsletter editor.

Problem We Faced

We needed a way to let our visitors subscribe to our blog without leaving the site.

The Solution
CaptureWe purchased the premium plugin and it was exactly what we were looking for and more. Along with the easy blog sign up, now featured on our blog page, came newsletter solutions we didn’t even know we were looking for. With different theme options for the newsletter and the mobile responsive design, our newsletters look great no matter what device our readers open it.

What We Liked 

Besides self subscribe sidebar, we loved the statistics and reporting feature. We were able to collect data on links clicked, unsubscribes, and even gave us a list of our top newsletters based on what readers opened and clicked. Even creating the newsletter out of our recent blog posts was a breeze, thanks to the drag and drop interface.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?

So far, we haven’t found anything we don’t like about this plugin. MailPoet was well worth the price and delivered on functionality across the board.

 

 

In today’s world, your website plays a huge role in branding your company.  The site is usually one of the first things a client will see, and should reflect you and your brand appropriately. Branding can come from something as simple as the images and fonts you use, to your logo.  In the second part of our Maps Builder Pro blog series, we’ll discuss some of the features of the plugin that make it easy to brand your website’s maps to your company. 

Custom Marker Icons

CaptureOne the easiest ways to make your brand more recognizable is through the use of your logo. With the Custom Marker Icons feature you can upload your existing logo to the pinpoint on the map so returning visitors will be able to immediately recognize your location because of the unique image. When an icon is selected, details of the location appears with an address and description.

Snazzy Maps

We love the Snazzy Maps feature for custom designed map colors and themes. These different elements can mold the map to your site so it won’t feel like it doesn’t belong. For example, if your site has a monochromatic theme, your map could use a black and white style with different hues of grey. The best part about this feature is that while you can customize it to your exact specification, there are built in styles so custom creations are not always necessary.

Be on the lookout for the last installment of our Maps Builder Pro blog series!

4 star review

Review: Share Buttons

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Company: AddToAny

Overview

AddToAny’s Share Buttons are simple icons that can be integrated onto any platform to share posts and articles. It can optimize your site’s posts, encouraging your visitors to share your articles on their own social media pages or website.

Problem We Faced

We were looking for a simple way to allow site visitors to share content from our WordPress blog on social media.

The Solution

The Share Buttons plugin was an easy solution to our problem because of its responsive and easy to customize interface. We were able to create share buttons that would stay in place, even when scrolling, so content can be shared from any point on the page. It features a “share counter” so keeping track of shared posts is a breeze. Share Buttons also integrates your Google Analytics account so you are able to view all your statistics on one dashboard.

What We Liked Most

What we liked most about this plugin was its easy customizations. The clean set up is easy for WordPress beginners and is useful to any website. With its mobile capability, we were able to have our share buttons react even when visitors were not on a desktop. Finally, we loved that each share could be recorded into our existing Google Analytics without extra setup.

Today it seems like online maps are used on a daily basis. Whether it’s to find the nearest coffee shop or the five best dog parks in Chicago, we find ourselves relying on online maps to get us where we need to go. Your visitors have come to expect this on your site and we found the perfect solution to make them happy. In this blog series we’ll introduce Maps Builder Pro, some of its best features, and why we think it’s the most robust WordPress plugin on the market for creating Google Maps directly on your site.

Mashups

First on our favorite features list is Mashups. It allows you to link a map to any custom post type, making virtually endless possibilities for your website. For instance if you wanted to create a blog post about your ten favorite restaurants in D.C., the post would include a map pinpointing each restaurant on your list. Each location can have a clickable icon with an address, making it simple for the reader to visit each location.

MapThis feature is not limited to blog posts. To the right, the demo user set up a custom post about “Word Camps” and used Maps Builder to link each location to a point on the map where that specific event took place.

We love this feature because of the ease of use. Locations can be set up just by entering the information in a text box or selecting options from a drop box. This makes it easy to use for even the most inexperienced WordPress users because there is little to no coding involved.

Be on the look out for more in this series about our other favorite features of Maps Builder Pro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Hide My Site

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

With Hide My Site one password protects your entire site from everyone without credentials. The plugin is ideal for any site under development because it temporarily hides the site from the public and search engines.

Problem We Faced

We were creating a new site for a client and needed a way to keep the site hidden from everyone but the client and developers working on the site.

The Solution

Hide My Site was the ideal solution because it limited access to the site. We were able to give the password to our client when they wanted to see process on the site, while screening it from their visitors.

What We Liked 

screenshot-2 (2)The option to choose how many days you want a user to stayed logged on was one of our favorite features. We would give the client a few days to access the site so they could note any changes they wanted to make. After the three days, only our developers had access to work on the site. The plugin was very straightforward to use and, as of now, we have no complaints.

 

 

 

Review: Bulk Delete

Price: Varies based on addons

Platform: WordPress

Overview

The Bulk Delete plugin allows the back-end user of any WordPress site to delete posts, pages, attachments and users. You simply enter filter criteria to choose what you want to delete, and with a push of a button, it’s gone. Although there is a free version available, if you want advanced deleting capabilities, you must purchase separate addons.

Problem We Faced

We were looking to do some clean up on the back-end of one of our client’s site and didn’t want to waste time deleting one unwanted post at a time.

The Solution

We downloaded Bulk Plugin and it worked as promised. Deleting unwanted pages and posts was a breeze by entering in criteria for a set of posts we didn’t want. We were able to get rid of all drafts that were never published and delete posts by users who were no longer active on the site.

What We Liked 

Capture1We loved the option to eliminate posts that fell past a certain time period. Enter in “delete posts older than 80 days” and all those posts would be wiped out. Our client was able to easily use this plugin without previous coding experience.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?

While it’s convenient that you can purchase just the Bulk Delete addons you need, we would like the option to buy the plugin with all addons included in one price.

 

 

Today, many large companies and small businesses use their website to list everything from restaurant ratings to cars for sale. Whether you have five or 2,000 listings, they should look sleek and uniform so your visitors can easily find what they’re looking for.

CaptureOne of the best WordPress themes for directory websites is Listify. The theme is unique because if its combination of functionality and design. It matches the directory with great looking photography that will attract customers to your business.

Listify is built to integrate some of the best booking services right into the theme. It supports Open Table, Resurva, Guestful, and WooCommerce bookings. You can use your pre-existing login information and the theme will link up the systems, resulting in an easy to use reservation site for your users.

CaptureThere are several add-ons for this theme such as WooCommerce, Gravity Forms and FacetWP. With the WooCommerce plugin, revenue can be generated with your website by charging restaurants or other businesses to list on your site.

We also love that Listify is an easy solution for membership and association sites. Your members can pay to post their own listing, complete with images, location and business information. Overall, we think this mobile friendly WordPress theme is one of the best on the market.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for associations. To learn more, click here.

Today, our director Kristen Thomaselli had a great column in the Huffington Post about common WordPress myths and why they’re false. Here she puts to bed tales of WordPress used solely for blogs posts, its poor security, and more.

‘The Internet is abuzz over last month’s major WordPress update. After massive data breaches at Ashley Madison, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, cybersecurity has become a top priority for consumers, businesses, and even federal agencies.’

Click here to read more on the Huffington Post’s website.

For car dealerships, having a multi-purpose site is necessary in today’s world. Customers want a way to view your dealership’s inventory, find your location and schedule support, all from your website. We found the Car Demons plugin for WordPress was the easy answer to all of these demands for both small dealerships and large franchise dealer groups alike.

With Car Demons, the inventory management feature can be the best way to bring new clients to your website. Nowadays, many car shoppers will go online to look at a dealer’s inventory before even stepping foot in the physical location. With Car Demons, not only can you add and remove inventory photos, but site visitors can compare cars with different criteria or do a search for a specific make or model with the search widget.

Existing customers will appreciate they can find all the forms they need right on the site without having to go into the dealership to fill them out. Trade in forms, finance applications and service appointment forms are just a few of the files that are ready on the plugin.

Car Demons is set up to map multiple locations so customers can find the most convenient location for them. For example if one of your stores caters to repairs while the other is your inventory lot, the location feature makes the distinction and will be able to point clients to the correct address.

Overall, we think Car Demons is a great way to bring new customers in the door and make your website a powerful sales tool.

For engineering and architecture firms, your website plays an important role in marketing and branding your company. You want your website to represent your company with a modern design and user friendly features. The Bridge-Architecture theme for WordPress was our answer for a stylish, feature rich site. With 24 layout options, there are endless possibilities to make your site perfect for your firm.

CaptureShowcasing previous projects can be a key selling point for architects and engineers. We love the Architecture theme for showing off your work with an online portfolio right on your website. For prospective clients, this makes finding a firm easier because they don’t have to navigate to other sites looking for images and completed projects.

The Architecture theme is completely responsive, meaning it will look great on all platforms from desktops and tablets to mobile. Overall, we found this theme to be perfect for any engineering, architecture or design company thanks to its versatility and ability to act as a true marketing asset for your firm.

In today’s world your website is often the the first impression prospects will get of your firm. Whether you have a large firm or small practice, it’s important to convey professionalism right out of the gate while still maintaining a sleek interface that will impress prospective clients.

We found the CompanyLaw WordPress theme checked off all the boxes we were looking for in a modern law firm’s website. With bold images and lawyer specific posts, this theme is ready for complete customization based on your firm’s needs. It’s easy to show off recent cases, portfolios and client testimonials with a drag-and-drop page builder that can be personalized to best fit the site.

teamCaptureShowing off your firm’s team members is simple, with built in tools that allow you to showcase each attorney with a profile picture and bio. Clients will be able to see each lawyer’s body of work and specialty, making finding different specialties easy and convenient.

So, whether you’re a small practice with three partners or a large firm with a hundred lawyers in ten states, we highly recommend using the CompanyLaw WordPress theme as a starting template for your new website. And if you’re looking for an expert to get your website up and running, drop us a line. Ask for Mike. I’d be happy to help!

 

 

Review: Publishing Checklist

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Overview

The Publishing Checklist plugin allows the back-end user to create and utilize a checklist when building blog posts on WordPress. Every time a user saves a post, the plugin validates each task so the developer is sure the content is ready for release. If an item is not completed on the checklist, the user will be warned before publishing.

What We Liked 

checklistThe plugin was straight to the point and did exactly what it was supposed to do. For experienced developers, Publishing Checklist is an great way to make sure to check all your boxes before making any WordPress post live.

Problem We Faced

Our main issue with the plugin was that significant coding experience was required for setup. Since it does not come with any default checklists, custom coding is needed for each line item on the checklist. Many of our clients would not be able to use this plugin on their on their own because of the coding background needed to make it run.

While coding is needed for the plugin now, the developer did allude to default checklists in the future so check back with us for possible new updates.

 

Organization: Green Earth Cleaning

Divi Theme:  A beautiful and unique layout with a strong foundation of powerful features that gives you complete creative control over how you build your website.

Event Espresso:  “Trusted by thousands, Event Espresso is the best WordPress event online registration and ticketing manager plugin.”

Share Buttons by AddtoAny:  Share buttons for your pages including AddToAny’s universal sharing button, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, WhatsApp and many more.

St-Daily-Tip:  Automatically refresh a daily tip from a list uploaded from CSV file.

WP Store Locator:  An easy to use location management system that enables users to search for nearby physical stores.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for environmental organizations. To learn more, click here.

 

When creating a website for a building or engineering company, it is important to have a site that will excite and motivate clients to use your services. The Structure WordPress theme for construction and engineering sites is a great storefront for your company that shows off your projects and ideas in a modern way.

projectsStructure is designed for companies who are looking to showcase their work with bold images and a clean design. This WordPress theme is easy to use right out of the box and comes preloaded with over ten homepage versions and design schemes, so your website can match your branding needs exactly.

Since your portfolio is the best way to show off your work to prospective clients, why not make it sleek and stylish. The project page gives your visitors an easy way to filter through your portfolio, with large images and clickable information on each project.

CaptureThe Structure theme also allows you to integrate your blog right on the site so you can give your visitors everything from home improvement tips and new design ideas to in depth details on a specific project. We love the blog because it can give the personal touch needed to make your company stand out from the rest.

Overall, with its contemporary design and user-friendly features, Structure is the perfect way to showcase your construction or engineering company to attract new clients to your site.

 

Organization: Palmetto Promise Institute
Capture

Stylish Metro Theme: This elegant WordPress theme was the perfect template for a bright and colorful site with a video slider.

Gravity Forms: “Hands down the best contact form plugin for WordPress powered websites.” Simple drag-and-drop form creation and a smooth user experience.  

Emma Email Integration: Visitors can easily sign up for emails and online newsletters directly on the website.

Paypal Integration: Seamless Paypal integration for a donation form that allows automatic recurring payments.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for nonprofits. To learn more, click here.

In the last segment of the MembershipWorks blog series, we’ll discuss the membership management features of the plugin. Check out our previous three posts for more on member profiles, member billing and the event calendar from the MembershipWorks plugin.

Membership Management

For any professional association’s website, membership management is a huge component in making an organization run smoothly. Members can be labeled and put into folders, so they can be easily found by specialty, membership level, committee, etc. From here you can quickly email either all of your members at once or just a group directly from the administration panel. For example, if you were managing a site for a landscape association, you could set a filter to send your email to only landscapers who specialize in residential work in Georgetown.

Members of your association will appreciate how simple it is to sign in and maintain their own personal account information. From here they can pay dues or manage billing, with the option to make it recurring or just a one time payment. They can maintain their own personal member profile, with the ability to change images or text when updates are needed. Members can also be allowed access to content on the association’s website, that the public wouldn’t be able to see.

The MembershipWorks plugin supports group memberships with an independent sign on for each contact within the organization. In the example of the landscapers association website, Georgetown Landscaping could have one overall profile for their business, while each separate landscaper has their own login information to pay dues.

Digital tablet projecting social media profile on blue backgroundLastly, it’s a breeze to get at-a-glance membership metrics for all users. The administrator is able to see anything from a specific member’s history to overall membership signups, renewals or event sales all in one page.

Overall we liked that it was clear to see the activity of all the members, while still giving members an easy way to personalize their account information. We found that MembershipWorks is a great plugin that encompasses everything we were looking for when creating an effective website for a professional association. With features such as the event calendar, customizable member profiles and recurring member billing, this plugin can make any association’s website modern and user friendly.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for associations. To learn more, click here.

In part three of our MembershipWorks blog series, we’ll go over the event calendar and registration aspects of the plugin. To learn about the member directory and online payments, check out part one and two of the series. Be on the lookout for more in this series about MembershipWorks.

Event Calendar and Registration

listCaptureEvents can play a large part in creating a successful association. They can bring in revenue as well a encourage new members to join. With the events calendar and registration in the MembershipWorks plugin, there is a simple way to find, sign up and pay for events all on the same page. When visitors are searching for an event on the calendar, the event can be viewed in a full month format or as a scrolling list, and can be color coded by category. For example if you were an environmental organization, blue events on the calendar could be weekly member meetings and green could be “family day in the park”.

There are several configuration options when selling tickets to events. For example, if there are a limited number of seats at your banquet, the system can cap the number of tickets sold. MembershipWorks is able to set up member only events, in which only members are able to view and buy tickets. Members can also be set up to receive special pricing on tickets when they are under their login.

buyCaptureFor instance, if a non-member is buying $15 tickets for “family day in the park”, a member might get them for free. After making the purchase, they will both be automatically emailed receipts and calendar invites so they can easily add the event to their personal calendar. Whether its members or non-members registering for an event or buying tickets, the smooth one page checkout makes for a fast and easy transaction, minimizing drop-off during the checkout process.

Once people have signed up, registration data can be exported into a spreadsheet, making it easy to create a list of attendees. After the event, invoices, payments and fees can be put into QuickBooks so data is recorded appropriately.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for associations. To learn more, click here.

This is part two of our blog series on the key features of the MembershipWorks plugin and how they can be particularly useful for professional organizations. You can read about member profiles and directories in part one of the series here, with more segments on the other elements of the plugin to come.

Member Billing and Online Payments

For professional associations, member billing and payments are a crucial part of your organization. MembershipWorks has come up with a simple solution to integrate online payments onto your member website, in an easy one page checkout format.

new1CaptureMembershipWorks billing works with Stripe, Paypal, Braintree and Authorize.net so you can integrate your existing payment account onto your site. Payments can be made with all major credit cards and gives the option of different billing methods: automatic recurring billing, online billing, one-time billing or pay by check. Members are also able to purchase membership add-ons from their account. For example, if a member wanted to post an advertisement to the association website, they could purchase it as an add-on to their membership.

Non-members benefit from this plugin as well. When buying event tickets or making payments, they will be able to checkout right from the website, without navigating to another page. Both members and nonmembers are able to make a payment or purchase in a limited number of steps, so that checkout is easy and painless. Once the payment is made, receipts or event confirmations are emailed automatically and payments are recorded. If the customer was unsatisfied with their purchase, the site administrator is able to give a refund.

barCaptureWhen recording payments and tracking finances, MembershipWorks automatically charts your financial process, breaking down payments by membership fees, donations, and events. It also lets you export this information to Quickbooks or Excel so you can keep track of your data on multiple platforms.

Overall the billing functionality really ticks all the boxes for our membership billing needs. To learn more about the other MembershipWorks features, keep an eye out for upcoming posts on the online event calendar and membership management.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for associations. To learn more, click here.

A professional organization’s website plays an important role in getting your members connected with the appropriate client. In this blog series we’ll touch on the useful features of the MembershipWorks plugin and how they can be particularly effective for trade associations and professional groups. The pricing varies based on the number for members — for example 1,200 members would cost $79 a month. Given all the services it provides, we think it is well worth the price.

This post will focus on the Member Directory and be on the lookout for future posts covering their other features:

Membership Management

• Automatic Billing and Online Payments

• Event Calendar and Registration

 

Member Directory

mapCapture

One of the main features of the plugin is the member directory. This gives visitors a way to easily search for and connect with your users. For instance, if you’re a real estate association using this plugin, visitors can narrow down their search by neighborhood and then by broker type. Say a user is looking for a realtor in Georgetown who specializes in finding commercial buildings. All members fitting the criteria will appear on a list and the user can browse member profiles to find the best fit.

MembershipWorks is also versatile enough to allow members who have multiple locations to list them all with separate contact information and location for each. So, the example real estate association, a member real estate agency would be able to list multiple brokers with different locations

profileCaptureMembershipWorks also makes it simple for members to customize their own profiles with a drag-and-drop interface, allowing them to add images, social media links and contacts. Recommendations can also been seen on a member profile, giving visitors the option of providing a simple “thumbs up” or a written review on the page.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, the MembershipWorks is truly a robust WordPress association management system, and their member directory feature is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m looking forward to exploring the other features in future posts.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for associations. To learn more, click here.

5 star review

Review: Google Analyticator

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Company: SumoMe

Overview

With Google Analyticator, you are able to view your Google Analytics data right from your WordPress dashboard. One of its most prominent features is the 30-day snapshot, which displays a line graph of all relevant performance data, from site visits to top searches.

Problem We Faced

We were looking for a way to easily view visitor trends and data from the back-end of our websites for our clients. Our main goal was to give them a simple way to find the information they wanted without having to leave their website.

The Solution

Google Analyticator was the best option for our client because it provided a diverse range of settings for tracking and displaying data. For example, the plugin includes the option of making the widget visible on the public site to show off visitor statistics. It can also track the download of files such as brochures or programs, allowing the client to monitor what materials generate the most interest. We also found that this plugin was very straightforward for our client to use, even without extensive WordPress training.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?

This plugin has all the functionality features we were looking for when tracking website data. As of now, we wouldn’t change anything.

What We Liked Most

What we liked most about this plugin was how simple and effective it was. While it includes the same features of the original Google Analytics, its various options for viewing  really made it stand out to us. With the option to exclude logged-on viewers from being tracked, the plugin also prevents the possible collection of skewed data.

5 star review

Review: Domain Mapping

Price: $19 per month

Platform: WordPress

Overview

The Domain Mapping plugin offers multi-site users unique domain names on one primary hosting account. This allows users to drop excessive site names and identify a simplified, more clear one. For example, the plugin can change “ABCToys.com/products/trucks” to “ABCToyTrucks.com,” making your sites easier to find.

Problem We Faced

We had a client who needed multiple sites that were connected on the back end of WordPress but displayed different URL’s to the end user. The company didn’t want its employees to have to log in on separate WordPress accounts when it made more sense to connect both sites anyway. Finally they wanted a way to more easily share articles and images between both sites.

The Solution

We found that Domain Mapping was an excellent solution because it effectively fulfilled all of the needs of the client . We gave our client a shared account that was able to host completely separate sites with unique domain names but under one roof. It also provides individual network owners with the option of selling domain names directly from their network.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?

While we didn’t encounter any issues with Domain Mapping, we did find that it required more setup than most plugins.

What We Liked Most

Domain Mapping was very appealing because it enabled us to create multiple sites with different domain names under the same WordPress back-end.

0 comments

Company: RedOwl Analytics

Theme we used: For RedOwl, we used the Bridge – Minimalist theme so we could feature bold graphics that would really make the site pop. With this theme, we were able to streamline a once text-heavy site so visitors would be able to navigate and find information with ease.

Plugins we used: For this particular client, we found that the LayerSlider and the Easy Twitter Feed plugins best suited their needs. LayerSlider allowed us to insert smooth transitions onto the product page, an important design feature. With the Easy Twitter Feed, we integrated their Twitter feed onto their website so that users can now view the feed without leaving the RedOwl site.

Client Goals: RedOwl envisioned a bold website that would make them stand out among their competition. They wanted to create a site that was easier to navigate and less text-heavy,  in order to effectively convey their message. They also wanted to showcase their staff in a way that looked sleek and innovative, while still providing information on each employee.

Our Solution: Adding custom coding allowed us to fulfill their goals. For example, we created a sliding feature on their product page that would give the chart the ability to glide in from the side of the page. This custom solution made the page responsive, which was important in showcasing their product. We also used custom coding in formatting RedOwl’s leadership page. In order to make their staff to stand out, we created a design that featured the leadership as the main focus of the page,  displaying large pictures and clickable “read more” tabs that drop down to reveal their bios. Finally, to exhibit the other employees, we made a separate “meet the team” page with smaller photos and short individual bios that appear when the user hovers over each respective picture. Using the combination of a great theme and custom coding,we successfully created a site that the client loves and will be easy for them to maintain in the future.

 

5 star review

Review: AccessPress Social Icons

Price: $19

Platform: WordPress

Company: AccessPress

Overview
The Social Icons plugin gives a modern take on linking social media pages to your website. With this plugin it is easy to select icons from pre-designed sets or customize your own, in order to take your users to your social media platforms.

Problem We Faced

We wanted to incorporate the links of our social media pages seamlessly onto our website, without them looking like they didn’t belong on the page. We needed something that would be easy to customize, and had many different theme and style options.

The Solution

We tested Social Icons and discovered that it was a great solution to our problem. When testing the plugin, we found that you are able to upload your own icons if you want something that is completely unique to your site. With the professional version of this plugin there are 22 pre-designed icon themes, with the option to change fonts, colors and styles, to fit the design of your website. Another feature of Social Icons is that it allows you to use multiple icon sets if you want to put them in different locations on the site.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?

Since this is such a simple and easy to use plugin, we didn’t find anything that we thought needed improvements currently.

What We Liked Most

What we liked most about Social Icons was the many different ways we could customize these icons to fit in with any site we were working on. The plugin was also very easy to use and the drag and drop feature allowed us to play around with the icons to place them exactly where we wanted. Finally the plugin is compatible on mobile devices, making it more user friendly.

5 star review

Review: Newsletter Plugin

Price: Free – $97 (pricing options)

Platform: WordPress

Overview
This WordPress Newsletter plugin is everything we were looking for and more when creating a professional looking newsletter. With its easy to use design and customizable options, creating a newsletter to fit your specific needs is simple.

Problem We Faced

We wanted to create a newsletter that would be straightforward to use, seamless in design, but was also powerful enough to give us back information on newsletter clicks, opens and demographics.

The Solution

We tested Newsletter and found that it was a great solution for companies looking to send out a newsletter to as little or any many subscribers as they wanted. This plugin allows you to have an unlimited number of subscribers, allowing you to send as many emails without limiting your traffic. Under the professional subscription, you have the option to download add-ons for the plugin that include extended reports, sent newsletter archives, a Facebook extension, feed by mail and more. Newsletter can also generate detailed reports on clicks, opens, etc. The report can also include geolocation, that can be useful when targeting a specific area. One of the downloads we found most useful was the feed by mail extension. This allows the plugin to automatically generate newsletters using the latest content on your blog as frequently as you want (daily, monthly, etc).

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?

For now we don’t see anything that needs major improvement. If we come across any red flags we will be sure to keep you posted.

What We Liked Most

We liked Newsletter because of the useful options it provided, while still being easy to use. Our favorite downloads were the detailed reports and the automated newsletter options. Since most of the downloads on the professional extension were effective in creating a functional newsletter, we didn’t mind the paying for the premium subscription.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for associations. To learn more, click here.

5 star review

Review: EventON Plugin

Price: $28 (not including add-ons)

Platform: WordPress

Company: Ashanjay Product

Overview
This WordPress event calendar is a powerful tool for creating and managing events. The easy to use template has many features that will take your calendar to the next level.

Problem We Faced

We were looking for a sleek event calendar that was easy to use for both the creator and the user. We wanted something that had been used successfully before, so we knew we were getting a reliable product.

The Solution

We tested out this new plugin and found that there are many features that make EventON an effective tool in managing your events. Its interactive sliding event card and easy sorting make it a breeze for event goers to get all the information they need in one location. Along with a featured image, you also have the option of adding in Google Maps and event details all on the same page. Another feature of the plugin is the ability to show and sort multiple events with the the user able to jump around from month to month with ease. Finally, one of its main features is the add-ons, which you can buy based on your specific event’s needs. For example, if you wanted to sell tickets for the event on EventON, you would be able to buy the add-on to allow this function, without having to spend money on features that wouldn’t be useful to you.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?

While we liked the idea of the add-ons, as a developer it would be great if there was the option of buying all the add-ons at one bundled price.

What We Liked Most

We liked EventON because of the ease and style it brings to the online event calendar. We also liked the option of add-ons that allow for customization for the creator. We can see EventOn being useful for businesses as well as individuals looking for an interactive experience. Overall this plugin is functional while also being modern and user friendly.

0 comments

SEO plays a huge role in businesses today and is necessary in creating an effective web presence. We found that Google Trends is a great free tool for SEO keyword planning because it shows what is trending in your area of research and gives you insight to what keywords people are searching for, and if used correctly, can lead to more traffic to your website.

How it works

When using Google Trends, you have some options when setting your search parameters. Specifically, you can choose the country, time frame and category you want to research. You can also choose from different content types including web, image, news, video, etc.

Next you can compare terms, searching up to five at a time. For example, when testing out what keywords would improve Keybridge’s SEO, we searched “best web design company”, “best web design agency”, and “best web development company” on Google Trends. Since the data showed that “best web design agency” got fewer searches than the others, it made sense to take those keywords out. Google Trends is also able to give you related searches for that specific keyword so you can see if another relevant term is more Google friendly. We ended up using “best web development company” for the Keybridge website’s key terms, and is now on the first page of Google when those keywords are searched.

Capture full

One of the perks of Google Trends is that it allows you to break down your data and trends by regions of the country. For example you would be able to see if your target audience is showing more interest in your key phrases in the Washington DC area or the Richmond, Virginia area. This information can be helpful when putting out information specific to these regions.

Another useful feature of Google Trends is that it shows when interest in your target terms or phrases peak. You are able to see if interest increases or decreases over time or if there is a certain month of the year this keyword is searched the most. This data can be useful when putting together a content calendar to see when certain information searches are historically popular.

While there are many resources out there for SEO keyword planning, we found that Google Trends is an effective, high-level resources for identifying trends and comparing different keyword ideas. This will give you a way to see which keywords will be most effective for your specific SEO and business needs.

 

 

 

Many major newspapers such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have set up a paywall on their website. This allows some articles to be available to readers while others require a paid subscription. We found the WP-Members as a plugin that can help many newspapers enforce the paywall and manage the number of subscribers.

The WP-Members plugin gives subscribers a chance to register for an account to view news content quickly. Through the online registration system, newspapers can track what users are looking at and when they view the articles online. If there are subscribers writing vulgar comments on articles then admins of the news site can ban the user’s account and block their IP address to prevent the same user registering for another account.

The WP-Members plugin also allows newspapers to install an add-on features. If news sites decide to charge for content, PayPal  integration is an option. The  MailChimp integration can be beneficial to the news site if you need to email subscribers to renew their subscription, send out daily news articles, or to send a welcome message after registration.

News sites will not have to worry about how much content is shown to non-subscribers. After writers post their articles, the plugin can automatically create an excerpt of an article which non-subscribers can see or have writers manually pick how much a reader can see to create the paid content for the paywall. Overall, the WP-Members plugin can not only help your writers find out who is looking at their articles, it can help newspapers report what interests the public.

4 star review

Review: Twitter plugin

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Company: Niall Kennedy

Overview
We saw that Twitter and developer Niall Kennedy have teamed up together in creating a new plugin for WordPress.  Since Twitter is a well known social media platform, we wanted to check out the plugin and what has been created.

About the Plugin

We tested out this new plugin to see what features this plugin contains. The Twitter plugin contains many of the same features that other 3rd party plugins have. It allows users to embed tweets, add tweet buttons at the end of posts and add a follow button on the page. One interesting feature we saw was Twitter advertising measuring the target audience on websites.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?

This plugin can add an option for a scrolling twitter feed for users or hashtags.

What We Liked Most

Overall this is a very basic plugin. It comes directly from the social media platform so it has a lot of room for creativity. We liked that this plugin works with Twitter analytics so companies can create certain types of tweets to optimize their reach.

Your website can be a great avenue to recruit new talent. We recently found, an easy to use job management tool to help increase awareness about open positions — WP Job manager.

The WP Job Manager plugin allows managers to add on information such as job title, job description and location. The tool also allows job seekers search quickly for the type of industry field and location of the job. By default the plugin allows applicants to apply by sending an email to the company’s HR personnel.  After the application is submitted, company’s can send out automatic emails thanking the job seeker for their application.

This tool has a variety of add-ons that can enhance the number of applicants and interest in the $19 to $39 range. The WP job manager can allow the job posting to advertised or  have the posting redirected to a bigger employment websites such as Indeed  or Career builder. This plugin can allow applicants apply with  LinkedIn, XING or  Facebook. If employers want to build a standard form with name, email and resume attachment, you have to buy the forum add-on which is a standard for many job sites. Are no currently open positions? You can keep interest by allowing job seekers sign up to receive job alerts automatically after the company posts another job opportunity.

For association websites, this plugin gives access to different members to submit job openings they may have in their company. Overall this is a great plugin — it has so much potential to help many websites who are searching for employees.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for accountants. To learn more, click here.

4 star review

Review: Responsive Google Map Testimonials

Price: $16

Platform: WordPress

Company: Caduthuz

Problem We Faced

We had an e-commerce website who got constant orders of their product from different states.  They wanted to make sure they had an upper-hand among rival competitors, so we wanted  include location based testimonials from previous clients who have loved having their product.

The Solution

The plugin that stood out is Responsive Google Map Testimonials. The plugin includes a map of the world for international companies and the map of specific countries. The company can add videos or photos of customers on their website which really helps personalize their brand. Being specific on locations is no problem since the program uses longitude and latitude. It also gives you the option to view the map in different ways and will let you magnetize into certain areas.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved? 

We thought this was a great plugin — however, we noticed that it has not been updated in over a year, and does not have many sales.

What We Liked Most

We saw this plugin being useful for many major e-commerce websites, salons, construction and real estate companies since many of the companies are able to show off their product and how content people are with their services. It definitely gives viewers a different review experience.

 

Online classes have been beneficial to students who do not have the time to go to class during the day or to those who like to plan out their time and pace their learning experiences. Through the LearnDash plugin, online classes can be offered by instructors to create a virtual classroom. Whether it is an online a certification through an industry association or online courses for a university, instructors are able to set up programs for students to access and learn from courses to specific lessons to quizzes. LearnDash creates a virtual classroom to give students the some of the same qualities that they have a learning institution.

With LearnDash, instructors are able to set up different options for students to register and pay for their courses online. If students have not taken the beginner level then prerequisites can be enforced before taking the intermediate level. Lesson plans and quizzes can be scheduled to be released on certain days so students are not overwhelmed with information all at once. Lesson plans supports different types of media such as videos and pdf’s. Although it is a virtual classroom, instructors don’t have to worry about the lack of  peer interactions. Discussion boards and creating groups within the online website for an assignments keeps students active on the website outside of the lesson plans.

Students are able to keep up to date with their grades after the instructor reviews their assignments which can be submitted through LearnDash. Need to remind students about assignment due dates or changes in the syllabus? Easy, instructors can send a mass email with the changes and due dates. At the end of the student’s learning experience,  access will be expired to certain courses so there is not an overwhelming number of people enrolled in a course. Students are also able to gain a formal recognition through the certificate from the end of their completion of the courses. The learning tools provided by LearnDash gives certification by associations and learning institutions gives instructors an abundance of methods on how they would teach their virtual classroom. Through the online education and certification programs offered by associations and learning institutions, the opportunity for education grows. When the opportunity for education grows, the opportunity for advancement can grow within the industry for many of the students.

4 star review

Review: Photo Gallery 

Price: Free; Pro version (Personal $30 – Developer $60)

Platform: WordPress

Company: WebDorado

Problem We Faced
We had a client who hosted various networking events wanted to showcase to potential members how active they are within the community. Since this client had pictures from previous events, we thought giving a visual display would get viewers an idea on what the association does and the opportunities it offers.

The Solution
We used the Photo Gallery plugin so the client can easily organize their photos by event. There were several great display options out-of-the box, including tile view, slideshow, or grid view. The plugin makes it easy for any user to change the size and order of the photos which is great if users want to add photos on the website quickly.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?

It would be great if there was a way to display the event name (album name) underneath the photos.

What We Liked Most

This plugin is very straight forward and easy to organize. We thought the watermark was a good idea to protect others using photos for personal use. We also thought the Pro version was great because you could share your photos to social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for associations. To learn more, click here.

We found a great way for think tanks to moderate the effectiveness of their reports and articles is through a click of a button. Many think tanks do not have the time to moderate the comments section of their website and would rather have readers focus on the content rather than the comments.  A easy way to moderate the thoughts of commenters is through the reaction button  plugin.

How it works:

The reaction button plugin displays button options at the end of any articles or posts, similar to the buttons below:

post

The reader can easily choose a option that represents how they feel about the content. Think tanks can easily customize the these options to fit their needs. Some examples of may be:

  • agree
  • disagree
  • useful
  • not useful

This free and simple plugin then allows think tanks measure what readers think about the article through what the readers clicked. With a click of the button viewers can see how many people agree with them whether it is by percentage or the actual number of times the button was pressed. If cookies are enabled, web users are unable to click the same button twice unless they clear their browser history.

Why not use your think tank’s website to provide useful information and find out different responses readers may have? Comment sections are commonly disabled on think tank websites due to negatives comments between the occasional readers. The reaction button gives readers a chance to express what they feel without verbally attacking each other.  Without feedback from others, think tanks may disconnect from their audience and not provide content readers want to learn about. When you think of web design for think tanks, you want to be able to understand your current and future audience. The reaction button can help connect with the readers and can improve future content.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for nonprofits. To learn more, click here.

0 comments

5 star review

Review: WordPress SEO

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Company: Yoast

Problem We Faced
We wanted to make sure we were providing best-in-class SEO services for our clients. Using a plugin for search engine optimization (SEO) helps sites optimize website keywords and titles so they rank higher on the web pages of various search engines — particularly Google. We wanted to ensure clients were able to have their content work hard for them in order to boost their website’s SEO.

The Solution

One of our favorite plugins to boost search engine optimization is WordPress SEO  by Yoast. WordPress SEO by Yoast checks many of the main issues on why SEO is non-existent on your website. When writing new pages for your website, the plugin tries to optimize your ranking by checking your information. It will let you know if you do not have enough content or if you need to update your title to match keywords for your website through the page analytics bar. Through the SEO checks, content writers know to add in more quality information to draw in future readers whether it is adding in external links or making it easier to read. One of our favorite things about the Yoast SEO plugin is the ability to change your meta description and SEO title quickly since these are the first things viewers see on search engines.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?

We have noticed a few instances where the plugin does not pick up content from certain WordPress page builders.

What We Liked Most

This plugin has been around for years and currently enhances SEO on over a million websites. It is the best SEO plugins we have used because it gives the tools for straightforward SEO improvement without having to flip through the various pages of different SEO handbooks.

 

Potential home-buyers spend a lot of time on-line researching the purchase of a new home. One way to keep them on your site is to offer a financial calculator your website site. We found a plugin called the Responsive Mortgage Calculator, which real estate agents can add onto their website so potential buyers can estimate their future mortgage cost as they’re browsing home listings.

The Responsive Mortgage Calculator gives the breakdown on what buyers will need to pay when financing their property over time. The calculator includes total cost of property, down payment, fixed interest rate, loan term, payment period  and property tax interest rate. All the buyer needs to do is enter in the numbers and there is an estimate of the final cost. The  calculator is customizable to match the theme and can be seen on various devices.

When thinking about web design for real estate agents, you want to keep your site as user-friendly as possible. This plugin is a great way to accomplish that.

When searching for doctors and lawyers, many people ask their friends for references and do some online research on the firm or practice. They would like to know if the person they are retaining services from is experienced and has good credentials. One great way that doctors and lawyers are able to show off their impressive background is through a plugin called Resume Builder.

Resume Builder is an easy to install plugin that prompts users to enter in their background information quickly. It can display lists of skills, education highlights and experience. If the service provider wants, they can add in a head shot with a brief description so viewers can learn more about the provider. The contact information is shown on the side to help motivate and redirect the viewer to call or email immediately since the information is right in front of them.

We prefer using this plugin when it comes to showing off resumes since the format is universal if multiple people would like to display their resumes. Some websites like to display PDF’s of resumes but these can take a while to load, and are also not helpful for SEO. This plugin would give the firm or practice a clean, convenient and SEO friendly way to display professional resumes on your website.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for associations. To learn more, click here.

5 star review

Review: Bridge Minimalist Theme

Price: $58

Platform: WordPress

Company: Qode

Problem We Faced
When designing for RedOwl Analytics, the client wanted to have an sleek and edgy theme to showcase the company’s commitment to protection to their future consumers and future job hunters.

The Solution

We decided to use the Bridge Minimalist theme since it allows us many different options to customize each page. We were able to make the site shine by using the built-in parallax effect, modern sliders, and hover animation. The Bridge Minimalist theme can be used on mobile devices and is retina ready so the detailed designs from the theme are seen more closely.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?

We loved this theme because it was easy to customize for our customers needs. We don’t think it needs any improvements.

What We Liked Most

While using a theme is one of the easiest ways to create a website, adding custom coding is sometimes required to personalize the site to the client’s specific needs. The Bridge Minimalist theme was one of easiest themes to add custom coding in for the animation of the Leadership and Meet the Team sections. Overall, the WordPress theme really well designed and easy to work with — easy 5 stars.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for associations. To learn more, click here.

Have you ever been put on hold to have a doctor’s office, rental company or a venue check their calendar availability? Companies can cut their time on the phone and save customers time by showcasing available calendar booking times online. We found a great booking availability calendar and request system called Booking calendar, to can help businesses and customers coordinate with each others calendars.

Booking Calendar allows businesses to set the times and dates for the bookings months in advance. Customers have the capability to enter in their information to request or cancel bookings from the time slots available. An automatic email is sent to the customers thanking them for booking request and asking to reschedule if a customer cancels. Businesses are also emailed at the time of requests and cancellations.

Booking Calendar tries to customize features needed for bigger and smaller companies. When requesting a time slot customers are able to enter in their payment information through PayPal, Authorize.Net, iPay88 and Sage Pay. If a customer cancels after a certain period, the customer can be charged a fee through their payment account for medium business accounts. For large business accounts, coupons can be added on. Booking Calendar also has multiuser accounts to keep track of the roles of the users and changes they have made to the calendar. Although there are different features for different business sizes, this plugin can help rental companies and venues are able to view what customers need and when customers need it. With a few clicks, the company can respond using this plugin.

4 star review

Review: Auction Nudge

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Company: Joseph Hawes

Problem We Faced

We wanted a to showcase a client’s Ebay products to their websites and have buyers be redirected to Ebay in order to buy.

The Solution

We have found a great plugin called Action Nudge which integrates directly with Ebay. This plugin is great because it shows you how great your customer service has been by allowing you to display your seller profile and product feedback. The plugin automatically updates the number of bids, price and the time left in the auction.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?

It is great that this plugin is customizable when it comes to showcasing the products but we thought that there needed to be visual updates to make it more visually appealing for users in areas such as Ebay Ads and the user profile star.

What We Liked Most
One of the benefits of linking the official auction website such as Ebay is security. Since many of these online transactions require you to put in your credit card information or link your bank account, the seller and buyer would be protected by Ebay’s site protection. From clothes to cars, this plugin can help you start selling.

For the construction industry, showcasing previous project work and specialty services provided can give the company credibility when drawing in prospective clients and employees through their website. The WordPress Estate Theme, is a great platform to allow construction companies to show off the completed (and in-process) projects. It even makes it easy for the companies to add new projects to the site without any web programming knowledge.

What was once a gap between cities, now is a bridge that connects communities and make commutes easier for citizens. Why not show that off on a website? With the Estate Theme, construction companies are able to showcase their work on the website and add a portfolio section. Estate Theme lets companies add various sections like About the Company, Current and Previous Projects, Future Careers, and Services offered. This theme is also responsive so the site will look great on mobile devices.

From the portfolio to social media links to testimonials of previous clients and current employees, it has the possibility in letting a construction company grow and build their online presence.

5 star review

Review: Anti-Spam

Price:

1 website – $8/year

10 websites – $46/ year

Unlimited websites with 3,000 daily checks – $30/ month

Platform: WordPress

Company: Clean Talk 

Problem We Faced
We wanted to protect our clients from getting spam comments offering unwanted products and website links.

The Solution
We installed Anti-Spam by Clean Talk, an online spam filter and website protection for blog post comments, logins and WooCommerce forums. Anti-spam works with many form plugins (including Contact Form 7 and Gravity Forms) to prevent unwanted contact. The plugin goes through several steps in eliminating spam. It does not use CAPTCHAs to prevent spam which is great so audiences would not discouraged from posting as much.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?
It is a relatively great plugin that does not need any known improvements.

What We Liked Most
This plugin is relatively cheaper than some of its competitors. It is only $8 a year for one website versus the $5 to $10 a month subscription services for one website. Not only does it protect your website, it shows you the statistics of its protection which can been seen on a computer or a smartphone app.

5 star review

Review: The Instagram Feed

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Company: Smash Balloon

Problem We Faced
We had a client who wanted to display their Instagram feed on their website. They wanted to automatically update the feed on their website since they are constantly traveling and attending different events.

The Solution
We found The Instagram Feed which uses the client’s public account to update their website feed. Not only was this customizable plugin was easy to install, it also allowed future website visitors the option to follow our client and load more content which helped give our client the boost in Instagram followers. The plugin is responsive so it looks great on mobile devices.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?
No improvements come to mind — this plugin is great and would definitely recommend it.

What We Liked Most
We enjoyed it because we were able to customize the size of the photos so they did not overpower the other content on the website. You could have one Instagram or more Instagram accounts connected and the website would look great!

There comes a point when a website has a large enough audience that it requires extra maintenance. A great way to start generating money to offset the cost of maintenance is by using the Adsanity Plugin. With the Adsanity Plugin, website admins are able to introduce advertising opportunities by selling space on their website to create recurring revenue. This plugin creates an opportunity for bloggers and trade associations to attract certain businesses to advertise with them since these websites focus on a specific target audience.

With the Adsanity Plugin, ads can live forever or can have an expiration date on your website. Ads can be managed by groups or individually and be placed anywhere on your page. This plugin is an easy setup and manageable since it creates its own widget — no need to look through all of the posts on your dashboard to find out where your ad is.

If companies want to see statistics of the viewers, Adsanity has it covered. Sponsors can see clicks per ad and number of viewers through an exported report. Use your large audience to your advantage and start letting your website pay for itself in the long run.

Online communities contain members who have similar interests and niches. One type of community that can benefit from using online membership management tools is trade associations. Trade associations want their members to find out about upcoming events and have access documents with a breeze. Ultimate Member is a free WordPress membership management plugin that can help bring your community together!

When utilizing this plugin, admins of the website are able to control the profile page after members log in. Ultimate Member provides protection of important documents by allowing members register online, it also gives admins the option to approve or reject the registration. Not only are members welcomed with an automatic email after registration, admins can schedule mass emails easily for other purposes.

Need to look-up someone quickly? No problem, Ultimate Member has membership directories containing a search bar. These customizable profiles can include a picture, personal contact information, resumes, current employer information and skills. Profiles can also display comments and activity on community forums. This plugin also allows members to access the online community on their smart phone or tablet. Trade associations can immensely benefit from Ultimate Member because not only does this keep track of information and members, this plugin is only in its first stage in giving communities the tools they need to grow and plan for their future.

Your firm’s website will often be the first place potential clients and employees see your company. It is your chance to make a positive and lasting first impression. Your site needs to accurately represent the quality of your firm, and it needs to look good on any device. One modern and versatile theme we have used to showcase engineering firms is the Divi WordPress theme. Click here to view an example of an engineering website that we recently built using the Divi theme.

For engineering firms, the Divi theme specializes in showing off portfolios. All the work being put into projects can be shown off and allows viewers to filter by categories.  There is an option to link social media and videos, write a blog and create a customer testimonial section. All of those elements can end up developing trust and credibility for your firm.

Divi gives the option of using different types of navigation on your engineering firm’s website. Horizontal navigation with a boxed layout or  vertical navigation with a full length layout, you pick!  By the time your site is complete, it will be fully customized to your needs, and will be a valuable marketing tool for your firm.

4 star review

Review: AVH Extended Categories Widgets 

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Company: Peter van der Does

Problem We Faced

The client wanted some advanced functionality for their blog post categories. They needed to be able to group categories to allow users to easily navigate the site and access information quickly.

The Solution

We installed the simple but yet refined AVH Extended Categories Widgets. The category plugin allows you to redirect consumers to relevant web content with a click of a button. Categorized content can be displayed by number of posts written, name and by post ID as a drop-down or list.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?

It would be great if the documentation included screenshots to assist users with setup.

What We Liked Most

This plugin can be used for blogs or e-commerce websites since the widgets are customizable.

#1- Giant, gorgeous background images.

This is one of the easiest way to make your website stand out. Using large, impactful images catches the users attention immediately.  And it’s easy to hold their attention with strategically placed content on top of or directly below the image. Your site automatically feels powerful and professional.

#2- Card Design

What is card design, you ask? Pinterest, basically.  Card design uses modular columns to arrange a lot of imagery and data into a succinct system. Users find themselves lost in an endless and entertaining scroll. Expect to see more of this style in the next year on sites other than Pinterest.

#3- Less Clicking, More Scrolling

The one page parallax was a dominant web feature in 2014. Prepare to see the one page characteristic stick around, with or without the parallax. With more and more users browsing on mobile devices, scrolling through sections of content without leaving the page is a big draw.

Feel like these techie trends are out of your reach? Thank again. Divi is a WordPress theme that can be transformed into any business’ dream site. It also contains tons of different options for building the perfect site, which can include any or all of the above trends.

Check out a demo of Divi.

The need to show organized current data on websites can be an essential for many business websites. However, we understand how much tedious work it takes to organize spreadsheets and manually enter information a second time for online use. We have found a great solution that allows you to update your website directly from your Excel spreadsheets.  No more manually updating in two places, only one.

wpDataTables gives you all the tools to make sure your online spreadsheet looks great on your website. You can self install the plugin onto your WordPress website with the video tutorials and instructions. The front-end user experience slick and interactive. Website users can group, sort and filter data so they can easily find the information they need. This is particularly essential with large data sets such as catalogs or historical financial data. This plugin is responsive so it will look a great on any device which will allow your viewers to look up information on the database quickly. Want to add visuals? wpDataTables has you covered. Use what you have inserted and give your clients a chart.

A simple back-end and intuitive front-end make this plugin a go-to resource to display data on any WordPress site.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for accountants. To learn more, click here.

5 star review

Review: Subscribe 2

Price: Free ($15 for the  Subscribe 2 Pro Widget)

Platform: WordPress

Problem We Faced
Our client needed a simple solution to allow users to subscribe to their WordPress blog posts.

The Solution

After researching several options, we’re glad we landed on Subscribe2. It provides a clean, simple solution to capturing user email addresses, and automatically sending out new posts to those users. It also can create a community of active users who are able to recommend, like and comment on your posts. The setup required no custom coding, and our client was up and running in no time.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?
Can’t think of anything. So far, it has been working great for us.

What We Liked Most

We liked that it gave viewers the option to sign up using theirFfacebook account as an alternative. It not only saves time for the viewer when signing up, it also can virally encourage their friends to sign up.

3 star review

Review: Facebook Feed

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Company: Ankit Argawal and Priyanshu Mittal

Problem We Faced

We had a client who wanted to boost their social media presence by adding a Facebook feed onto their website that would display their posts and social media activity.

The Solution

Facebook Feed was a clean, simple solution to solve our client’s request. The plugin did a great job of posting the Facebook feed and also shows FB events our client is planning.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?

This plugin is in its infancy, and has only basic functionality for now. The only reason why we gave this Facebook plugin a three stars review is because we think it can be improved more. We thought that that adding the comment and like button for logged on users would be great. It is a great plugin to have and the developers have taken a lot of time to map out future plans for next update. We will revisit our review and rating as future updates come out.

What We Liked Most

This Facebook plugin is not hard to use. It is very straight forward code wise and did not take much effort to install. We look forward to seeing what the developers will come up with next.

You want a website that’s convenient and time-saving for both you and your customers — one of the best tools for this is an online scheduler. It’s a valuable resource for spas, salons, real estate agents, gyms, and any other business that takes appointments. We just found a great WP online appointment scheduling plugin that’s free and does just that.

Appointy allows your clients to book appointments online, 24×7 and manages all your appointments and calendars. What sets it apart is that unlike most scheduling apps, it doesn’t redirect your client to an external site — users can view availability and schedule appointments right from your homepage. The plugin features a calendar system that shows clients available slots for an entire month and syncs with your Google Calendar or iCal. And it tracks your staff to prevent double bookings as well as allowing you to customize the services and slots offered.

This is a great tool for anyone who wants to make their clients’ lives easier, as well as their own. Plus, Appointy features live support staff and is mobile-friendly for clients and administrators. We think a lot of our clients could benefit, and its worth checking out for any business looking to improve their web presence.

5 star review

Review: Bridge Restaurant Theme

Price: $59

Platform: WordPress

Company: QODE

Problem We Faced
When redesigning the website for our parent company,  Keybridge Communications, we wanted to have a modern, eye-catching website that would showcase our products & services without the need for heavy custom programming.

The Solution
The Bridge Restaurant theme was a perfect fit. Even though the theme was branded as a food service theme, we were able to make a few minor tweaks so it would fit the needs of our public relations firm. The theme provides the sleek design along with a full screen home page slider along with an several amazing portfolio options.

How Could This Theme Be Improved?

We thought the ability to set the transition time for individual images on the home page slider be could be a great add-on. Sometimes website visitors are unable to read quickly.

What We Liked Most

This theme works perfectly and is required minimum custom programming. It has a responsive design which looks great whether you are browsing on your computer or mobile phone.

4 star review

Review: ProgressionPlayer

Price: $19

Platform: WordPress

Company: ProgressionStudios

Problem We Faced
Our client wanted to add an audio player feature onto their WordPress website. They needed to let users listen their audio interviews as playlists.

The Solution
We found ProgressionPlayer. It was very easy to set up and allowed our client the option to add videos and create playlists using MP3 and MP4 file formats.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?
We thought it would be great to have a download feature from the player. This plugin has potential to be the go-to source for podcasters and bloggers. It would also would be beneficial if there was a feature to purchase tracks from external websites such as Amazon and iTunes.

What We Liked Most
We liked that the plugin provided customizable skins to match the theme of the website.

A professional and interactive website can help your restaurant attract customers and positive attention. But as an owner, chef, or manager, you want to spend time doing what you do best – crafting the perfect dining experience for your guests – not writing code or perfecting your website. We just came across a great WP theme designed for restaurants that can help grow your web presence with a sophisticated site.

The Flavour allows you to showcase menus and daily specials, special events, and positive reviews with just a few steps. It’s great because it comes with premade layouts, but also allows you to customize fonts and colors to match your aesthetic. The theme is mobile-ready, which is perfect for potential guests browsing on smartphones. Plus, you can take reservations directly on the site – making it even easier for customers to choose you for their next meal.

The Flavour is fairly simple – a streamlined look and a few well-crafted plugins. But it features every option a restaurant wants on a site. It’s definitely worth checking out for any restaurant manager or owner looking to design a new site or improve an existing one.

When buying or selling a home, people want access to their realtor and relevant information 24/7. So it’s critical that real estate agencies develop a strong web presence, with a site that shows off properties and demonstrates your expertise. We found an WP themes designed especially for real estate that can help you build real estate websites quickly and easily.

wpCasa allows you to craft a professional, functional and completely unique site almost instantly. It’s one of the most customizable themes we’ve found – there are tons of options for color and displays, drag and drop widgets, and edit screens that allow you to tailor each piece to your exact specifications. You can embed images and videos of properties, Google Maps, an automatic language translator, a mortgage calculator – even currency to accept payments online. It was designed by realtors, for realtors – so they’ve addressed all the needs specific to the industry.

We think this theme would be great for real estate agents, but also could be adapted to rental managers, or even vacation property owners. There’s 24 /7 support and constant improvements to the theme, and it’s been called the best real estate theme available. Definitely check this out if you’re building or upgrading your real estate website.

After spending time building, customizing, and perfecting your business’s WordPress site, the last thing you want is to lose your content and settings due to a glitch or system failure. We just found a great inexpensive WP plugin that automatically backs up your entire site to make restoring and archiving easy.

Dubbed the WordPress Time Machine, Snapshot allows you to backup specific pages or your entire site with the click of a button. It’s great because it doesn’t involve clunky server changes or expensive external hardware. Instead, it saves directly to your office server and features the option to save to Dropbox and other online storage services for extra security. You can choose individual pages to back up on the easy toggle menu, or select all files. Plus, the option to schedule automatic weekly, daily, even hourly backups means you never have to worry about remembering to save.

Snapshot is an easy way to make sure your website stays online and continues to work for you – engaging with clients, increasing web presence, attracting new customers. We’d suggest it for personal or business site to save you the headache of rebuilding a site and keep your content safe and secure.

I’d like to share a tool that has made my life much easier over the past few weeks. LucidChart is a web application you can use to build flowcharts, diagrams, wireframes, org charts, and much more.

I’ve spent countless hours diagramming databases and creating flowcharts using Microsoft Visio. Although Visio is a good program, it’s simply not as intuitive as LucidChart. Plus, it’s a lot more expensive. I recently decided to test out LucidChart on several projects, and was delighted with the results. It’s easy to learn. In fact, even if you have no experience with this type of software, you can create presentation-worthy charts and diagrams with LucidChart in almost no time at all.

A particularly nice feature of LucidChart is that the documents you create can be converted to PDF files with the touch of a button. And they can also be shared easily on web and social media sites. LucidChart is free for basic use, which allows up to 60 items per diagram. The pro version costs about $10/month.

Happy charting!

5 star review

Review: Gravity Forms

Price: $39 (Personal) – $199 (Developer)

Platform: WordPress

Company: RocketGenius

Problem We Faced

A client needed a way to integrate with PayPal Payments Pro without creating a full shopping cart.

The Solution
We added on Gravity Forms to their site. One of the several features is the ability to build PayPal forms with simple integration. Companies are able to manage payments entries, create order forms and incorporate pricing specific fields, all with a drag and drop form builder. Customers and the company are notified when payments are made. Companies can also create forms so customers may reach out with questions or comments. The plugin also includes pre-built third-party integrations such as MailChimp, User Registration and Polls.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?
It would be great if this plugin would integrate with SalesForce since many of our clients use both products together for sales  marketing.

What We Liked Most
Although, there are other plugins offered which allow PayPal to take payments, this plugin has many third-party features that can be integrated with the PayPal option. In the long run, this plug in pays for itself.

5 star review

Review: iThemes Security Pro (Formerly Better WP Security)

Price: $80 Personal (two licenses), $150 Developer (unlimited)

Platform: WordPress

Company:  iThemes

Problem We Faced

We had a client who was worried about a potential security threat to their site. We wanted to be able to lock the site down from a security standpoint.

The Solution
iThemes Security Pro was installed to quickly protect the website and to ensure the safety of the private information of the client.  From the very beginning, Security Pro scans your site and notifies you of the items that would make your website vulnerable to potential threats. The plugin also schedules backs up for your website and creates personal login areas.

Since many of the websites are prone to becoming targets for hackers, Security Pro generates strong, lengthy passwords and has a double authentication feature through codes that are sent to your phone. The security features from this plugin not only locks out hackers after several attempts but notifies you about the failed login attempts and file changes immediately. While you are away on vacation, the plugin also gives you the option to lock the site for a certain amount of time.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?
No improvement needed. We think this plugin provides strong protection- We cannot wait for the upcoming Geo-IP Banning feature.

What We Liked Most
It was really helpful for clients who do not have to update their website frequently to have the option to lock the site for periods of time. We also like that it will tell you the common features that makes your site vulnerable after installation.

Whether you have a lifestyle, accounting, or legal blog, you always want to make sure you can connect with your audience. Featuring a comments section allows you connect directly with your audience and show your viewers how much you care about their thoughts and experiences. But alongside comments you’ll find spam posts, which are distracting, annoying, and take time to sift through. Wouldn’t you rather save time and the hassle of going through spam comment posts so you can focus writing new content on your website?

The Akismet WordPress plugin is an anti-spam service that filters your comment section and automatically hides posts. It operates by scanning millions of pieces of data from every corner of the internet to keep up with the latest techniques and prevent spammers from using them on your site. It works around the clock and can track in real time how many spam posts it keeps off your site. For businesses, plans start at $5 a month – all you have to do is register and activate the plugin, and Akismet starts filtering and monitoring your comment section immediately.

This is one of the most widely-used and highly-rated WP plugins out there – and it’s clear why. To date, they’ve kept almost 200 billion pieces of spam off of sites, so they’re experts, and their methods are constantly evolving. Definitely a worthwhile plugin for any business that wants to feature comments on their site without inviting spam.

Name: Eric Daams

Position: Director of Code

Company: Studio 164a

Website: http://164a.com

Twitter: @Studio 164a

What services/products to you offer? 
We create WordPress themes and plugins to help entrepreneurs and creative professionals pursue their passion online.

What web problem do you solve? 
The problem we’re solving depends on the product. Our plugins are all built around specific needs that people running a website may encounter. For example, we have a shipping plugin for WooCommerce that is designed to help people selling products with WooCommerce to set up their shipping prices.

We also like to create purpose-driven WordPress themes that are designed around a specific goal that people want to accomplish with their website. Our latest theme, crafted-pro, was created for artists and designers who want to sell products through their own site. Our most popular theme is Franklin, which was created for entrepreneurs of all stripes who want to raise money — whether it’s for a good cause or a product they’re creating.

How did you get started in this business?
I started out as a freelance web developer in 2009. I’m a self-taught developer and at that early point in my freelancing career I did a broad range of work. Everything from server migrations to PSD to HTML jobs. WordPress was a core focus.

Wes and I have been friends since we were teenagers (we were also housemates at one point). While I’d started freelancing, he had a job as a graphic designer, and the business he worked for would regularly send web development work my way. As a result, we were working together on website projects fairly regularly. We also developed a few products together.

I’d been trying to convince Wes to start a company with me for quite a while. In December 2013, I finally convinced him to quit his job and pursue Studio 164a with me. It’s been a fun (and at time, scary) ride

Do you have any advice for people looking to build websites?
Two things:
1. Start simple. Once you start thinking about the website you want to build, you’ll have a never-ending stream of ideas. You can’t do them all straight away. Worse, the rush of ideas can quickly turn overwhelming and stop you from doing anything. So figure out what the simplest variant of your website looks like and build that first.

2.Don’t be afraid to learn a little code. If you want to get into the business of running a website, it’s a good idea to gain a little knowledge of HTML and CSS. You don’t need to become an expert coder, but even a little bit of knowledge can go further than you’d think. And there are tons of free resources out there to help you get started. For HTML & CSS, I like Shay Howe’s lessons: http://learn.shayhowe.com/

What’s your craziest web-related story?
Hmm, that’s a tough one.

The first website I started was kind of crazy. It was about the local football (aka soccer) team in Melbourne, Australia. It didn’t have a ton of competition and ended up ranking in the top two when you searched for that team, but I never could figure out how to make any money off it. I did get a free pair of indoor soccer shoes though (in exchange for a review); I still wear those sometimes

Looking to start an online newspaper, or move your print publication onto your website? We found a WordPress theme called Newspaper that makes it easy.

Aesthetics can make or break your website’s success – it doesn’t matter how great your articles are if their presentation isn’t visually engaging. That’s why Newspaper’s so great. It features five distinct styles (called stacks) that transform your site instantly, and the option to customize every aspect, with over 60 combinations of font, color and layout. Clean lines, crisp photo backgrounds, a balance of text, images, and white space – it looks undeniably cool.

Newspaper also handles three critical aspects of any news site – photos, videos, and ads. You can drag and drop photos into a gallery, directly embed video and audio content, and the theme supports Google Ads and AdSense –  an easy way to get revenue by tailoring ads to your viewers.

This is one of the best themes we’ve found, both because it does a lot, and does it all well. For $58 you get access to 24-hour support, but its five-star rating means you probably won’t need it. It’s a way to make your site professional and relevant in just a few clicks.

5 star review

Review: WP Maintenance Mode

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Company: designmodo

Problem We Faced
We were creating a brand new site, and didn’t want it be available to the public until it was complete and approved by the client.

The Solution
We installed WP Maintenance Mode to password protect the site and create a “coming soon” page. The plugin was very easy to install and set-up. We had it up and running in a matter of minutes. All visitors see the “Coming Soon” page, but logged in WordPress back-end users are able to see the It includes several handy options such as a countdown to launch timer and the ability to collect email addresses so you can notify potential visitors when you do go live. In addition, the plugin also works great if you just need to take a site offline temporary for maintenance or upgrades.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?
I don’t see any obvious improvements — I love the plugin — great work!

What We Liked Most
It was really helpful to be able to test a new site on the live domain without having to worry about visitors seeing an unfinished site.

When planning an event, it’s critical to keep track of every detail to make sure the invitations, registration, ticketing and day-of run smoothly. But it can be hard to integrate complicated systems into your website without hours of coding. We just found a great plug in that can collect attendee data, compile guest lists, and collect payments – it’s perfect for event planners or any firm that relies on hosting events.

Event Espresso allows you to host and manage events directly through your WordPress site. It handles every step of the process, from inviting guests to selling tickets to checking guests in on the day of the event. It allows you to create a custom registration page that collects, organizes, and stores whatever data you need from attendees. You can set up multiple ticketing options, with different dates, times and seating options. When its time to start selling tickets, attendees can pay directly on your WP site, and the plugin handles collecting money and administering taxes. Finally, it sends customized confirmation and reminder emails and includes an option to link directly to guests’ calendars. Besides the lines and lines of code you don’t have to write, Event Espresso actually eliminates a lot of the busywork of event planning.

Event Espresso also gives you the option of add-ons, such as maps, seating charts, and integration with mailchimp and other services. The plugin starts at $99.99, with packages for individuals, corporations and developers and discounts available for non-profits. Plus, it includes live support for troubleshooting and regular upgrades.

There’s a million details that go into planning event, but plug-ins like Event Espresso can handle a lot of them, letting you focus on the big picture.

An informative and professional website is a great way for law firms to differentiate themselves from competition. But it can be hard to know what to include that’s relevant and useful to your clients. We just found a free WordPress plugin, designed specifically for attorneys, that seamlessly integrates useful information directly to your site.

Lawyer Plugin compiles resources including laws, decisions from legislative bodies, government resources, and documents from private libraries – all tailored to your practice areas. The resources are constantly updated, organized, and verified by humans – so your clients can access the most relevant information, without combing through duplicates.

In addition, Lawyer Plugin makes it easy for potential clients to find you. It includes a peer-to-peer lawyer directory, so your firm is listed in a central database. Plus, since you’re featuring high-quality documents and links to reputable sources, your site is more likely to rank higher in search engines – increasing traffic and hopefully, clients.

It’s easy to install – just select up to three practice areas and activate the plugin, and in a few minutes your site is up-to-date and organized. It helps your clients who are looking for accurate information, and can attract new clients on your firm’s professional looking website. And its free – a quick and easy way to make your firm’s site stand out.

 

If you’re planning on creating a new WordPress website — or are unhappy with your existing hosting provider — you’ll need to choose where to host your site.  It’s daunting to sift through the hundreds of different hosting options to figure out which best suits your needs. Here’s a quick primer to make this choice a bit easier for you.

For the majority of small- and medium-sized businesses, third-party “shared hosting” is a reliable cost-efficient hosting solution ($5 – $15/month). With shared hosting, your site is sharing a server with several other websites. This is what allows hosting companies to keep costs low. The tradeoff is that if another site on the same shared server sees a sudden increase in traffic, then the server could get bottle-necked and temporarily slow your site down. Shared hosting plans typically do not include site backups and back-end WordPress upgrades, so we recommend having your own backup and upgrade strategy in place if you plan to use shared hosting. Examples of shared hosting companies include ICDSoftHostGator and BlueHost.

Since WordPress is by far the most popular back-end platform for websites, there are several hosting companies that specialize in it.  They usually provide “managed WordPress hosting” — so they’ll handle your backups and upgrades as new versions are released. Managed hosting plans tend to be more expensive ($20 – 200/month), but can be beneficial if you want to take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to your site. The tradeoff of managed hosting is that the providers will sometimes disallow certain WordPress plugins for any number of reasons. For example, the provider might claim that a plugin uses too many resources on the hosting server. Examples of managed WordPress hosting companies include WPEngine and SiteGround.

If you anticipate more than 25,000 visitors per month, you may want to look into “dedicated hosting.”  This is significantly more expensive than the other options (between several hundred and several thousand dollars per month). We suggest consulting an IT professional regarding your specific website needs before purchasing a dedicated hosting service.

5 star review

Review: Google XML Sitemaps

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Company: Arne Brachold

Problem We Faced
We needed a lightweight plugin that would consistently and accurately generate sitemaps that we could submit to Google for indexing.

The Solution
Google XML Sitemaps was the obvious and correct choice. With over 15 Million downloads, it is one of the most popular plugins on WordPress. With a few clicks, it lets us create a Google-ready sitemap for any site.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?
I honestly can’t think of any improvements. Love this plugin!

What We Liked Most
Beauty in simplicity. I can install the plugin and have my sitemap ready to submit to Google in less than 1 minute

Brokerage firms and financial planners can spice up their websites by displaying real-time stock market data on their pages. The add-on of stock data can help investors look out for current and future investments in the market instantaneously.  The prospect of coding that kind of constantly refreshed information can seem daunting but luckily we found a solution to add on to your website. We wanted to share two plugins – one free and one paid – that make it easy to embed accurate and relevant stock data directly into your WordPress website.

Show Stock Quotes

Show Stock Quotes is a free plugin that lets you display quotes for up to 20 stocks — updated in real time — on your WordPress site. Each quote shows the stock’s price and percent change, with a link directly to the company’s site. The widget pulls the data from Google Finance and it’s updated constantly.  There’s also an optional RSS feed.

If you want to display more than 20 stocks, you can just create a workaround by embedding the widget multiple times.

WP Stock Ticker

If you want your site to show even more market and stock information, WP Stock Ticker offers a ton of options for $25. It features access to unlimited stock codes and currency pairs, which you can display in a customizable scrolling ticker.

The ticker is easy to set up. Simply enter the stock symbols in the plugin’s settings and choose how it displays. When users click on a specific part of the ticker, it pulls up graphs and charts on that stock’s history. The plugin pulls its data from Yahoo! Finance but then caches it in WordPress so it’s not retrieved from Yahoo every time the page loads.

WP Stock Ticker offers unique customizable options that are easy to navigate. And it’s an easy way to put a professional polish on any WordPress site.

So give us a call or send us a note — we’d love to show you how you can utilize stock quotes on your own website.

5 star review

Review: Law Business

Price: $48

Platform: WordPress

Company: CMS Masters

Problem We Faced
A client needed a law firm website to be built on a tight timeline. We needed a theme that would look and work great right out of the box — with no customization.

The Solution
The Law Business WordPress theme was the right choice for the product. This robust theme was easy to set up an learn, and looked great. We were able to use some of the demo pages as templates, and update the look and feel to match the client’s branding with very little custom coding.

How Could This Theme Be Improved?
We noticed that the floating navigation menu was a little jumpy when the user tried to scroll down. We had to do a little coding on our end to fix this.

What We Liked Most
Easy to use and looks great out of the box — 5 stars!

As a think tank or research institute, your website needs to convey complex information in a straightforward way. Charts and graphs help a reader analyze and understand what you’re saying and create visual interest. They’re a great addition to any site, but they can also be clunky and require complex coding. We’ve recently found a tool that can help you create, manage and embed charts and graphs directly into your WordPress site.

WordPress Visualizer is a plugin that allows you to build and customize nine types of charts: line, area, bar, column, pie, geo, gauge, candlestick and scatter. It provides really straightforward default settings that allow you to just plug in your data and go. Or, for a more personalized format, you can custom configure options to manipulate precisely how the chart presents information. There are tons of colors and styles to choose from and your charts will embed seamlessly into your site – you just create the chart with the Google Charts app and copy and paste the code into your site.

This plugin uses Google Visualization API – the most widely used visual-making technology – making in compatible with any web browser and the iOS and Android platforms. Anyone with internet access, whether on a computer, iPad or smartphone, will be able to see and understand your graphics.

We think this technology would be great for think tanks that want to focus efforts on collecting and analyzing data, not on coding to make sure the chart shows up.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for environmental organizations. To learn more, click here.

3 star review

Review: ChimpExpress

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Company: Freaked Out

Problem We Faced
We wanted to post a MailChimp quarterly newsletter onto our wordpress site without having to manually enter the content in MailChimp and WordPress. We tried using the MailChimp export to HTML function, but a lot of the formatting did not work correctly when we tried to bring the code into our WordPress website.

The Solution
ChimpExpress saved the day. We had this nifty little plugin up and running in 5 minutes. We were able to quickly connect to our MailChimp account, with a few more clicks, we had imported a copy of the of a newsletter on our website.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?
The developer is currently not active on their support forums or the WordPress plugin page. We understand that it is difficult to continually support a free plugin, one option would be to offer a low cost paid plugin that includes some support and additional features.

What We Liked Most
Very easy to use. We were able to set it up, and train our client on it in less that 20 minutes.

We’ve recently built several websites for accounting firms. And in doing so, we’ve discovered an excellent product called ClientWhys, which can be integrated into any website and is specially designed for accounting firms. So we wanted to share our experience after having set up this product for several clients in the financial industry. As an accounting firm, it’s no longer enough to crunch numbers and push papers – your clients and potential new customers want fresh, relevant, and up-to-the minute information at their fingertips. Providing this kind of content online makes your website a valuable resource – helping to maintain current clients while attracting new ones. Luckily, there are tools that can keep you competitive and make you the go-to expert in your field.

ClientWhys is one of several programs on the market that allow you to embed ghost-written, constantly updated information into your website. It does all the work of curating, writing, and integrating the information your clients – and potential clients – need, ranging from articles on new trends in the field to how-to’s for growing businesses. Recent articles have included retirement planning, tax tips, calculators and tools, and briefs of healthcare and education issues. Your clients want to learn more about these areas in a way that’s quick and easy to understand. When you can provide that kind of information, you reaffirm their confidence in your business.

All of the content is targeted to the accounting field – ideal for tax, accounting, estate, retirement, insurance, mortgage, wealth management, and financial professionals. The writers are industry experts and the articles are clear and concise. ClientWhys is always producing new content, and your site will be updated automatically every week. So there’s always something new on your site. And the best part is it’s completely hassle-free.

We’ve set upClientWhys for many of our accounting clients because it takes work off their plate and helps set them apart from the competition. All you have to do is sign up, and you’ll get fresh and up-to-date information seamlessly integrated into your site. Tools like this can help you build a great website without a ton of work on your part. We highly recommend this product to any accounting firm seeking to upgrade its current website.

Keybridge Web specializes in websites for accountants. To learn more, click here.

5 star review

Review: SmartBox Responsive WordPress Bootstrap Theme

Price: $48

Platform: WordPress

Company: Oxygenna

Problem We Faced
Our client was launching a new website as part of a 125-year anniversary celebration. They wanted to show an timeline of the company’s formation and history — and they wanted to be able to easily edit the timeline and add more events moving forward.

The Solution
We built their site using the SmartBox WordPress Theme. This robust theme comes with a beautiful built-in timeline as well as loads of other useful features like a filterable portfolio, beautiful retina home page and easy to use testimonials.

How Could This Theme Be Improved?
It would be great if it was easier to show multiple images for a each portfolio item. We used the portfolio to showcase projects, and ended up having to customize the single portfolio page a bit to get it to meet our needs.

What We Liked Most
We loved the look and feel of the filterable portfolio.

4 star review

Review: Responsive Select Menu

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Company: Seven Spark

Problem We Faced
We were using a WordPress theme that didn’t handle top level navigation menus well when viewed on mobile devices in responsive mode. We really liked the theme, but the fact that the navigation wasn’t displaying nicely on cell phone browsers was very problematic.

The Solution
We implemented Responsive Select Menu. This great little plugin was super easy to set up, and allows us to add a select menu (drop-down box) to the responsive site. It was a huge time-saver because we didn’t have to custom-code a solution.

How Could This Plugin Be Improved?
It would be great if this plugin automatically picked up CSS formatting from the rest of the site.

What We Liked Most
This nifty plugin works perfectly out of the box, and has a very intuitive back-end control panel.

5 star review

TablePress

Price: Free

Platform: WordPress

Company: Tobias Bäthge

A recent project required us to display a lot of data for each of the 50 states in table format. The data needed to be visually appealing and easy to update by the back-end administrator. TablePress was the obvious choice for this task. TablePress allowed us to create all the tables with zero HTML coding. It also allowed us to upload a lot of our existing data from Excel directly into a web table. It was an incredible time saver. I would recommend to anyone wanting to display any type of data in tables on a WordPress site. Easily 5-stars!

5 star review

Upward: Experimental Portfolio & Blog

Price: $48

Platform: WordPress

Company: StrictThemes

Our client had a specific request for a website with asymmetrical lines. They wanted to make sure the site didn’t look “boxy”. I was delighted when we found the Upwards WordPress Theme. It truly has a unique design aesthetic from many of the other WP themes available, and the client loves the use of angles throughout the site. Great design, great theme!

5 star review

Ninja Popups

Price: $18

Platform: WordPress

Company: ARScode

We were recently asked to help a client convert more email subscribers from their website by using an automated opt in pop-up window. Ninja pop-ups provided a great solution at a reasonable price. With a little custom coding, we were able to get it to link directly to Mailchimp, and it provides the end-user with a clean, smooth experience. One note to users, if you want to have an elegant “exit” form, you need to choose the option “When mouse leaves the browser viewport” under exit settings. Overall, great plugin for the money. We gave it 4 stars!

5 star review

STYLISH – Metro

Price: $45

Platform: WordPress

Company: Holobest

Our client wanted a school website that was playful with bright colors while still conveying professionalism. The STYLISH – Metro WordPress theme proved to be a perfect fit. The responsive theme comes with many bells & whistles including unlimited layouts and tons of shortcodes.  There support appears to be top-notch, however we haven’t needed to use it yet thanks to the clean code and great documentation.  Great theme, will definitely use again!

5 star review

Backup Buddy

Price: $80 – $300

Platform: WordPress

Company: iThemes

As professional website developers, it is imperative to have reliable and scheduled remote backups for our clients’ websites (and our own). We have found the BackupBuddy WordPress plugin to be the most effective and reliable tool for the job. Backups can easily be scheduled, created, and restored in a matter of minutes.

In addition, BackupBuddy can be used to migrate WordPress sites to different servers — we use this feature that we use all the time! In addition, BackupBuddy is made and supported by iThemes, one of the most trusted, respected companies in the WordPress community. Overall amazing plugin — we install it on every site. Easily 5 stars!

5 star review

Team Showcase Plugin

Price: $14

Platform: WordPress

Company: Carlos Moreira

A recent project required us to create a slick “Our Team” page that displayed images (employee headshots) that were filterable by location. The Team Showcase WordPress plugin fit our needs perfectly. The plugin is very flexible and can be used to create a static or dynamic team page. In addition, the developer was responsive and helpful when we submitted a support request. Great plugin, definitely plan on using for future projects!

Avada –  Responsive Multi-Purpose Theme

Price: $55

Platform: WordPress

Company: ThemeFusion

We just completed a site that required a bit of customization, so we needed to find a theme with fast, reliable support. The Avada theme and the ThemeForest team proved to be the perfect fit.  In addition to amazing support, the theme has all the bells & whistles you could imagine. There is a reason it’s the #1 selling theme on ThemeForest. We highly recommend, and will continue to use this theme.

Duplicate Post WordPress Plugin

Price: FREE

Platform: WordPress

Company: Lopo

On every site we build, we find the need to replicate pages, posts, and other content. That is why Duplicate Post is one of the first plugins we install. This plugin allows to clone a post or page, or edit it as a new draft. It works great for template pages such as projects, portfolio items, or individual bio pages. Highly recommend — easy 5 stars!

4-star-review

 

 

BigWig Theme

Price: $45

Platform: WordPress

Company: Pixelentity

We needed a theme that had a portfolio that allowed us to display full-screen images to showcase our websites. BigWig’s portfolio does exactly that. This website — Keybridgeweb.com — was built on the BigWig theme on a matter of days. It required minimum custom coding. Easy to use. We love the big beautiful portfolio options. When migrating this theme, we had a few minor hiccups with links not updating in the page builder correctly, but it was smooth sailing once that was fixed. We highly recommend this theme!

5 star review

PhotoMosaic for WordPress

Price: $15

Platform: WordPress

Company: Makfak

We needed to find a way to include a slick tile mosaic on the home page of an existing website development client. The client wants to be able to easily change out images and links on their own in the future. The PhotoMosaic plugin worked perfectly for us. One of our favorite features is the ability easily change the number of rows and columns in the without having to re-size images. Definitely 5 stars.

5 star review

Interactive World Maps Plugin

Price: $19

Platform: WordPress

Company: Carlos Moreira

Some recent projects have required us to show multiple clickable office locations on a map. The clients are continually adding and deleting locations so we need to provide them with a map that could be easily updated by a back-end user with no coding required. The Interactive World Maps Plugin filled this need perfectly. It has the power to allow us to create the map to the exact design specs while still having a user-friendly settings page in the WordPress back-end. This plugin has a variety of different styles of maps, and I look forward to using it for many sites in the future. We highly recommend this plugin.

5 star review

Wise Guys WordPress Theme

Price: $50

Platform: WordPress

Company: FRESHFACE

Wise Guys is “a highly premium responsive theme designed for users who pay attention to details and usability.” We gave this this theme 5-stars. We had the opportunity to use this theme on a website development project last year — cbodn.org. The star of this theme is the template builder (page builder), which was both intuitive and flexible. It makes it easy for the back-end admin users to update the site and create their own templates without any custom coding. We highly recommend this theme!