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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 January 21, 2020

          What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

          What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

          Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

          Can I Be Creative?

          The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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          How Creativity Works

          Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

          What Really Is Creativity?

          Creativity Needs an Intention

          Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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          Creativity Is a Skill

          At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

          Start Connecting the Dots

          Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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          Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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