Having written about how to choose a WordPress theme for your church website, I’d like to share with you the top 10 WordPRess widgets and plugins that will be most helpful in building your site.
Widgets and plugins allow you to customize your website without having to know any computer code. They are additions to your site that enhance the user experience or back-end usability. While most themes are widget compatible, it is important to double check this before you’ve chosen your theme. There are thousands of widgets and plugins, and there will be a selection offered to you when you install your theme. Here are few that I think should be at the top of your list:
1) Akismet – Unfortunately, church websites are not immune to spammers. This plugin is your first line of defense.
2) All-in-one SEO – We’ll delve into SEO in a future post, but for now, this All-in-One SEO plugin will automatically give your site a little more “Google juice.”
3) Random Bible Verse – There are several widgets that will automatically select and display bible verses. You can find one to fit your churches style and denomination.
4) Facebook Share Button – This is a button displayed at the bottom of your post or page that allows readers to share your site with all of their Facebook friends. This is indispensible in helping to spread your message to audiences you may not be currently connected with.
5) WordPress Mobile Edition – This plugin will display your site in a mobile friendly version to viewers visiting on their mobile phones. Think about adding this plugin if you are using your site for events or pod-casted sermons (in which case you would also want to add the PodPress plug-in), because it will allow readers to connect with the information you are offering on the go.
6) Google Calendar – This will allow you to display your church’s Google Calendar of events in the sidebar of your web page.
7) Email updates – This widget puts a button in the sidebar that will let readers enter their email addresses to receive emailed updates whenever there is a new article or post on your site.
8) Pictures – Pictures are essential to a successful website. They add personality and interest, and this plug-in will automatically rotate pictures from your church or ministry’s Flickr account and display them on the sidebar. Visitors can see volunteers at your last event and be encouraged to participate next time, or pictures of your church performance can be proudly displayed.
9) Meta – This is a simple, back-end usability widget. It allows you to easily access your dashboard right from your home page.
10) WordPress Stats – While you don’t want to get carried away with statistics, it is very helpful to know what your visitors are doing on your site. Are they mostly looking for the calendar? Are they watching last Sunday’s sermon on your podcast? Or are they reading your pastor’s blog post on the importance of volunteering this holiday season? Knowing the answer could give you direction for your next podcast, post, or event.