In an effort to compete more effectively we have been looking for ways to lower our development costs. This includes finding WordPress plugins to accomplish tasks that were once hard coded into our themes. With the right set of plugins we can, not only pass savings on to our clients, but also enhance many features and deliver a better final products.
So for this article, our focus is on plugins that make custom theme development more cost effective.
I used this plugin on a site that has a membership area. The client wanted basic sidebar information in the front of the site with additional, expanded widgets hidden behind the membership section. Traditionally we would have created a second template for the theme with a completely different sidebar. By using Custom Sidebars we were able to specify which sidebar widgets belong on which pages.
This widget work ‘almost’ like the Custom Sidebars widget but gives the ability to completely remove a sidebar or widget area from selected pages. We are using this on a site that is currently under development. On the home page we have a couple of widget areas at the top of the main content section. One is pulling custom excerpts from the blog and the other displays a YouTube video. The client wants these two areas displayed on the home page only. Traditionally we would have created another template for the theme without the widget areas, instead, we created a single template with multiple widget areas that can eliminated as needed.
This widget is particularly useful for themes built with Artisteer.
Because sometimes, all you want to do is to simply slide images. No thumbs, no frame, no drop shadow and nothing being pulled from a post. This is possibly the simplest, and most useful image slider available for WordPress. Simply install the plugin, select the display size, select the transition effect and speed and upload your images. The slider can be inserted into a page or post using a short code or directly into a theme using a short PHP snippet. Useful for rotating header images and simple to replace the actual graphical header in any third party theme.
This is the plugin that we are using in the header of http://fernwoodnrg.ca/
Business Directory Plugin
This one is proving to be a bit of a pleasant surprise. We were looking for an inexpensive solution for a client looking to add a searchable business directory of their membership. It did take a little longer to set up but I was able to integrate it into the client’s site with a minimal amount of CSS tweaks.
This plugin displays a list of members, with thumbnail and selected information within a list that is sorted by category. The read more link leads to a page with a larger image and expanded information. There is even a small contact form on the expanded page.
Disadvantages: It does have a few display challenges that will require me to massage the CSS code a bit more and, unfortunately, members can only appear in a single category.