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4 Useful WordPress Plugins Which Will Improve Your Efficiency

4 Useful WordPress Plugins Which Will Improve Your Efficiency

From a WordPress developer’s point of view, a solid plugin directory is valued as pure gold. You can have a full database with a ton of plugins and still use just, let’s say, 30 of them. It might seem odd to you, but a great plugin database does not need to consist out of a great volume of plugins. Having a solid number of multipurpose or single-target responsive plugins can generally bring ease and speed up your work. Keep in mind that it is important to categorize your plugin database for various usages in order to avoid getting lost.

WordPress is one of the most popular CMSs (Content Management Systems) in the world. Its growing community of users now counts over 35 million users, developers and designers, compared to just a few people, back when it was initially released in June 2003. WordPress was, in its initial form, just a simple typography tool consisted of a few lines of short-code, developed to help bloggers in their work. Now, after ten years of hard work by its active community, WordPress has evolved into a beautiful, open-source content management system.

Conventional PHP programming can be hard work if started from scratch. For every function you intend to implement on the specific website you are working on, you will need to type lines and lines of code and please, don’t get me started on the design. It is extremely tedious and boring when you have to program the whole gallery for a website with lines upon lines of code. This is where WordPress wins the race. It allows you to download and install plugins in a matter of minutes and completely customize it to suite your needs in less than an hour. Its extremely user-friendly interface allows you to set up the whole website without any exceptional knowledge in CSS and HTML programming.

I have prepared a deeper review of several great WordPress plugins and you might just find a valuable jewel for your plugin collection so, stick around.

uSquare – A Beautiful Responsive Grid for Your WordPress Website

    This beautiful plugin represents a grid layout for your WordPress website. In its initial release, uSquare was released for jQuery but later on, exactly because of the influence of the community, it was soon launched in a WordPress version. It made a powerful boom on the market because of its multiple features and its possibility to adapt to any form of WordPress website.

    uSquare represents a grid layout consisted of “squares” which are there to present your desired content in a more interesting way. I have chosen this plugin because of its multipurpose function and its possibility to adapt to all sorts of WordPress websites. For example, you can use it on your:

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    • “Team Page” – to present your team,
    • “Products and Services” page – to present your work.

    Each square consists of two boxes. One is reserved for an image file while the other is focused on the title and the description. The whole grid layout resembles a chess board and it is easy to focus and arrange. You can add up an infinite number of squares (depending on your computer, server and website optimization power); however, there can be a problem when you are opening a grid consisting of 90 squares in Internet Explorer 8.

    Although this plugin looks quite simple, it has a powerful back-end behind it. The authors have included option panels for various devices from laptop and desktop computers to small devices with retina displays such as tablets and smartphones with the Android and the iOS platform. This enables the whole grid to be responsive and easily adapt to all types and dimensions of displays. Given the fact that it is clean-coded, it also makes everything SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly.

    uSquare has great typography features built-in. Aside from the 600 Google fonts from which you can choose, you can also add color customization using an endless color palette. These customizations can be applied to the title, description, content body and info label. The rest depends on your creativity.

    You can implement social share buttons for various social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, as well as more buttons which can be connected to the official website or an email contact. Another great thing is that you can add additional icons to the bottom of an expanded square, which can be connected to any link you wish. This is very useful if you are trying to connect your team member to his or her posts on the website. It helps you build up a personal portfolio and it allows your visitors to quick-jump through content of your website.

    For more information about the authors, you can check out their profile on CodeCanyon or visit their official website.

    MyMail – Email Newsletter Plugin for WordPress

      If you are building a corporate or news WordPress website, a newsletter should be your main focus. Think of it this way: burst-emailing is an important factor in various online marketing campaigns. In order to inform and attract potential customers/readers, you will need to engage this strategy without it exploding back to your face.

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      If you have ever entered a WordPress post, you should not have any problem at all in utilizing this plugin. The plugin has some great features:

      • It is easy to install and customize
      • It offers a fair amount of customization
      • It has a powerful backend that gives you full control over multiple campaigns

      In “General Options,” you can set up basic information about the newsletter such as name and address of the sender, reply address, sending delay and newsletter template (email form). When it comes to frontend settings, you are given an option to allow sharing of your newsletter on various social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. This is a very useful option, being that your newsletters can be seen by more users and you can attract more potential customers/readers. You are given an option to double check the subscription which can be toggled on or off. By enabling it, your subscribers would have to confirm their subscription via email.

      For every action your visitors engage in such as unsubscribe, confirm, sign up, etc. you can add a text template. With this beautiful plugin is that you can also:

      • Create a simple email template – this will be sent for subscription confirmation
      • Create email lists on your own
      • Improve your online marketing campaign – you can do this by spreading the circle of potential customers with great interest for your products and services by having more hits than misses.

      Email marketing plays a great role in an online marketing strategy and if properly executed, it will not only raise traffic of your website and maintain your online presence, but it will also reflect on your business.The greatest thing about this plugin is that you can schedule, modify and execute a newsletter campaign with ease and with great efficiency.

      More information about MyMail, as well as the author’s portfolio can be found on codecanyone.net. The author is offering great support and will answer all of your questions in short notice.

      Slider Pro – Premium WordPress Slider Plugin

        Sliders have become a trademark of every WordPress website. They are a great way of promoting your products, services and portfolios. They bring a great visual background and their interactivity beautifies the whole website design. Currently, there are a lot of slider plugins for the WordPress platform; however, there are not many among them with the same efficiency/visual ratio as Slider Pro.

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        Slider Pro is a completely responsive slider and it is mobile ready. It holds a lot of beautiful features and doesn’t pull much resource from the server; thus it doesn’t make a huge impact on your page load time. The authors minimalistic approach can be seen in its visual design; however, don’t be deceived by its look. Slider Pro has a powerful backend with a lot of customization options. The plugin offers:

        • 2D picture slides
        • video support for YouTube, Vimeo and HTML5 videos
        • 7 different skins
        • 15 different scroll bars

        The skins are highly customizable so you can redesign them to suit your needs.  You can embed any content into the slider, from pictures in different layers to videos to posts from your website. Slides can be browsed using the keyboard arrows–the simpler, the better.

        Now, a beautiful thing about this slider is that you can opt between 100 transition effects such as swipe, fade, slide, etc. There are over 150 customization options for this beautiful plugin, but instead of downloading stacks of documentation for setup and customization, the authors have implemented rich inline help, which will follow you through the whole installation process, making everything far, far easier.

        You can toggle the automatic slide on and off, depending on the content you wish to present to your visitors. Aside from this, you have complete control over the transition effect of each slide. The “Lazy Loading” feature enables you to control the number of pictures that will be loaded in order to lower the resources which every page pulls from the server, thus increasing its load speed.

        Slider Pro is developed in HTML5 and exactly because of its clean coding, it is extra SEO friendly. If you wish to move the slider at any time it is good to know that the whole animation can be exported and moved to another website in just a few simple short steps.

        This is what makes this plugin beautiful–it is minimalistic, clean, highly customizable, responsive, and it finds its use in any type of WordPress website. If you wish to see more projects by BQ Works, you can visit their official website.

        Frontend Builder – Content Assembler by Shindiri Studios

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          This plugin is entirely user-friendly and responsive, and it actually gives you the best solution to setup your website as quickly as possible. You can assign it to any theme built for WordPress versions 3.4 – 3.6 and it will keep its stability and efficiency. It is designed in a wonderful way, so you will be able to do all this very easily and without fear of messing up the code.

          But let me give a more thorough review of this plugin. The first great thing about this plugin is that you are able to access it via frontend and backend on your website as well. Beside the classic dashboard in WordPress, you can access the Frontend Builder while you are on the page, on a specific website simply by pressing the Tab button on the keyboard. This action will open a sidebar on the right side in which several elements can be found. These elements can then be added to the webpage. Among these elements you can find:

          • Heading
          • Image
          • Button
          • Video
          • Tabs
          • Accordion
          • Code
          • Sidebar

          A good thing about all of these elements is that each has a unique set of options for customization. You will have a large number of customization varieties because each of the elements has from five to twenty customization options. If you know how to utilize all of them properly, you will be able to create a unique design for the website you have and the website will be fully responsive and SEO friendly as well.

          You can simply drag-and-drop the elements to the page and you won’t have to worry about their position. You can put them anywhere you like, but it is advisable to follow some rules in design, and not just do it the way it seems nice. For each element you choose, you will have a sidebar with all customization options for the element in question. The options are, of course, different for each element.

          If you need any information about the plugin, it won’t be a problem for you to submit a question on their support forum. The following documentation, as well as its changelog, can be found here.

          This makes my top list of the most popular and most useful plugins found on the market today, based on their reviews, comments, sales and popularity, as well as my own personal review. As I already said, behind every good WordPress developer hides a wealthy and valuable plugin directory. Have you found any valuable jewels for your collection in this article?

          More by this author

          Ivan Dimitrijevic

          Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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          Last Updated on February 19, 2019

          How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months

          How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months

          The cycle of bad habits is what keeps us living small and stops us from reaching our true potential. Breaking a bad habit isn’t as hard as it seems; despite being a CEO of a company and raising two children, I still managed to break 3 bad habits I had within 2 months. Yes, that’s quitting one habit in less than 21 days.

          I took steps to eliminate them one at a time. Habits such as drinking Coke every day, slouching when sitting and not having a consistent exercise routine.

          So how did I break these habits? I used the Control Alternate Delete Method (Ctrl Alt Del).

          What is this method and why is it so effective? Read on to find out how to break bad habits with this unique method.

          How to break bad habits with the Control Alternate Delete Method

            We all notice on some level what our bad habits are. A lot of the time we choose to ignore the negative ways these impact us.

            For me, I was sitting most of the day in front of my computer at work in a slouching position. I drank Coke every single day in an attempt to stay awake. I put off any kind of exercise regime because I felt that it was better to just relax and have fun after a whole day of work. As a result, I was leading a really unhealthy lifestyle suffering from weight gain and back pain.

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            I needed to make a change.

            I started to read books about building habits such as The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan, and The Now Habit by Neil Fiore. After reading all these books, I’ve come up with my own method to quit bad habits — The Ctrl Alt Del Method.

            I started by focusing on just one bad habit, the first one being the sheer amount of Coke I was consuming each day.

            Every day I applied the Ctrl Alt Del Method and after two weeks, not only did I stop drinking Coke every day (I only drank one can in 2 weeks), but I started the better habit of drinking 8 glasses of water every day instead.

            After eliminating one bad habit, I moved on to the other two with this same method and a month later I was:

            • Hitting the gym twice a week.
            • Improving my sitting posture, not only at the office but also at home and everywhere else, improving my back pain.
            • Gaining core muscle which improved my back pain as well.
            • Losing fat around my waist which went from 36″ (considered obese level) to 32″ (normal level).

            If I can improve my life using this method, then so can you. Using this structure to eliminate your bad habits will increase your success and replace your bad habits with more positive ones.

            Control: Master your desire

              Identify your triggers

              Bad habits such as drinking alcohol, smoking and snacking too much trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain.[1] Although you might not like the end result, they give you a positive outcome in the moment. This is pure psychology.

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              It’s important to identify what is triggering you to continually act out your bad habit. This isn’t always an easy step because our habits have been built up over a long period of time.

              If you need help in identifying your triggers, here’s a list of common bad habits and their triggers: 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

              Self-reflect

              To help you work out your triggers, do a bit of self-reflection. Ask yourself questions such as:

              • What comfort are you getting from this habit?
              • Why do you need comfort?

              For example, I chose to drink coke because it tasted good and it made me feel good when I was stressed. I slouched only when I sat for too long working on my desk and started to feel tired. I skipped exercises because every day after work I felt I already did enough works and didn’t want to work out.

              If you choose to eat fast food every night, you’re probably telling yourself you’re too busy to cook. But ask yourself why? What are your priorities?

              Maybe you have a lack of self-worth that means you don’t have the self-love to want to look after your health. Perhaps it’s a sign you’re not making enough time for important routines like shopping and creating a healthy meal yourself. Maybe you’ve always had a belief that you’re a bad cook.

              Write a diary

              Write down your thoughts and feelings around this bad habit. Writing things down forces the brain to think harder.[2] This helps you to find the source to your stress or limiting negative beliefs.

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              Alternate: Find a replacement

                Find a positive alternative habit

                Once you think you’ve discovered your trigger, try to find a similar but healthy option. This is where I replaced Coke with lemon water; slouching with simply taking a walk and stretching my back every hour; and chilling at home after work with workout exercises that I actually found fun.

                You could decide to walk to the office instead of driving or getting off the bus earlier to walk. You could switch to a healthier breakfast cereal instead of grabbing a sugary snack when you head out of the door.

                By doing this, you aren’t getting rid of the act altogether like you would if you completely gave something up with nothing to fill that void. This helps your brain accept the improved habit more.

                Create a defence plan

                Everyone has moments of weakness and that want to revert back to the bad habit will rear its ugly head. This is where a plan can help counteract these moments.

                Think of things you can do when the temptations come. For example, if you want to check your phone less, ask your friend or partner to keep it for you or switch it off and read a book. If you’re a starter for an exercise routine, like me, get someone to do it with you to keep you accountable.

                Decide on something you will do once you feel triggered to go back to your old habit. Repeating these positive alternative habits consistently will help wire your brain to see them as your normal new habit over time.

                Delete: Remove temptations

                  Remove stuff that reminds you of the bad habit

                  Getting rid of anything that reminds you of your bad habit is essential. For example, I got rid of coke in my office and at home and replaced my usual office chair with an exercise ball. It makes it much easier to stop slipping back in a weak moment.

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                  Avoid all kinds of temptations

                  In the same vein, avoid places or people that you know will tempt you back into that bad habit. Don’t go to the supermarket on an empty stomach to avoid the temptation to buy trashy snacks, don’t drive past that fast food joint but find an alternative route instead, say no more often to the friend you know will get you drunk again this weekend.

                  It’s all about not putting yourself in the situation where you’re in danger of relapsing.

                  Conclusion

                  The Control Alternate Delete Method uses the right steps you need to overcome your need to indulge in your bad habits. Working with your core psychology, emotions and feelings behind your actions is what makes this method effective and easy to apply to all bad habits you have.

                  Bad habits are easy to form and making changes can seem difficult but remember that it’s all about consistency and repetition.

                  Start using the Control Alternate Delete Method today and you can stop a bad habit permanently.

                  What bad habit do you want to put a stop to once and for all? You must set aside time and pick one bad habit to focus on. Start using the steps to increase and maintain more positivity in your life moving forward.

                  More Resources About Changing Habits

                  Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

                  Reference

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