My website has always played a vital role in my business, and over the years it has developed into something I’m very proud of. The site is built on the WordPress platform, and I use a theme from Elegant Themes, called Extra. I also use a theme called Divi from Elegant Themes over on Shutter Muse. Both of these themes are built around ET’s Divi Builder framework which comes with the Divi and Extra themes, or can be added to any other theme using a plugin.
I’m definitely NOT a web designer, but the Divi Builder allows me to create pages that look like these ones:
Pretty cool, right? The Divi Builder is simply a drag and drop designer, and if you know what you want you can usually build it fairly quickly.
My sites have been featured by Elegant Themes a couple of times, and this week they asked if I’d sit down for a chat on their WordPress podcast to talk about my experience using the Divi theme, and most recently, switching this site from Divi to their new Extra theme.
You can find the podcast in their feed on iTunes if you search for “Divi”, or you can watch the full interview in the YouTube video at the top. The accompanying blog post for the interview is here.
Which WordPress Plugins Do I Use?
To get a WordPress portfolio website into a useful state, you need to add a theme (like Extra or Divi), and you need to add some plugins. There are many thousands of plugins out there, both free and premium ones, and today I’m going to share with you the most important ones that I use on all my sites. There’s a lot of bad plugins out there that will cause you no end of headaches, and in many cases it’s a better idea to pay a small amount of money for the best plugin, rather than tearing your hair out because you can’t get support for the free one you were trying. Trust me, I’ve been there. If you’re running a business, you don’t need to be wasting your time on that kind of thing. Here’s what I recommend using:
Of course, right? This is actually one of the very few free plugins that I DO recommend, even though I personally use the premium version. The premium version adds very little, and you only really need it if you want to do a lot of 301 redirects. The free one is great!
The best gallery plugin for WordPress, bar none. I couldn’t possibly list all the features, but here’s just a few:
- Create automatically updated Instagram galleries (see mine here)
- Sync galleries with Adobe Lightroom (yep! Really!)
- Create post type galleries
- Import from Dropbox
- Create password protected galleries
- Allow image downloads of original files
The list goes on and on… worth every $. Just get the lifetime Platinum license and be done with it. You won’t regret it.
This is actually made by the same people as Envira Gallery. If you want to build your email newsletter, there’s nothing more comprehensive than this plugin.
A free, super lightweight lightbox plugin that just works.
There’s lots of related post plugins, but this one allows me to manually create specific connections. It’s a unique feature I’ve not seen anywhere else.
This is a plugin for adding social media follow buttons, and sharing buttons. You can see it in action in various places on this page. The plugin comes as part of a membership to Elegant Themes, so if you plan on getting Divi or Extra, you’ll get this as well. Even if you don’t want the themes, the plugins are worth consideration on their own.
There’s always a lot of debate about the best caching plugin, W3 just seems to work for me. It’s free!
Gotta have contact forms on your site! WP Forms is relatively new on the block, but the drag and drop interface is really well done.
Elegant Themes Discounts
If you’re thinking about using the Divi or Extra theme, or perhaps getting the Divi Builder plugin or the Monarch social plugin, these links below will get you access to some better deals than are usually available.
- 20% discount on a yearly Elegant Themes membership
- 10% discount on lifetime Elegant Themes membership