Twenty Seventeen is the default WordPress theme for this year. Whilst it is a great free WordPress theme, in this article we are going to recommend some plugins to help make the theme, and your site, even better.
Enhance Twenty Seventeen with a contact form and email optin form plugin. Use a page builder and slider plugin to help your WordPress website stand out from the crowd. Add security and backup plugins to keep your site safe and secure. And install Jetpack to deal with all the extra WordPress needs that may arise.
By the time you have finished reading, you’ll be ready to get started with Twenty Seventeen!
Why You Should Be Using Twenty Seventeen
Twenty Seventeen, recently released with WordPress 4.7, is a modern and stylish theme. Created for not just blogs, but also businesses, this is a first of its kind for a default WordPress theme.
Sleek and Contemporary Design
Twenty Seventeen makes an impact for many reasons. Its design is one of them. Sleek and contemporary, this theme will wow visitors. A full page header image, which can also display video, will catch the attention of your audience. And featured images can be immersed within your homepage, producing a professional look and feel.
Easy to Use
Twenty Seventeen has never been easier to use, or more accessible to the masses. The live customizer enables you to customize your site, on the front end, watching your alterations as you make them. No more to saving and switching between tabs.
If you don’t know the name of an element you’d like to alter, simply click on the relevant pencil icon, known as a Visible Editable Shortcut, to open the customizer at the right place. It is also possible to add CSS in the customizer, making this versatile theme ideal for beginners and web developers alike.
Excellent for Businesses
In the past, default WordPress themes have been designed with blogs in mind. Twenty Seventeen sees a shift in direction, with a focus resting on business. This theme sees a static home page, perfect to promote your business and display key content. Multiple sections on the front page, along with widgets, a social menu, logo, and lots more, see all immediate business needs catered for.
So now you’ve seen some of the impressive features of Twenty Seventeen offers. But, as with all free themes, and many premium ones, there are a few essential plugins you should consider installing to help enhance its design and functionality.
Jetpack is a free plugin from WordPress, that contains a variety of modules to help enhance your website. Jetpack is a popular plugin, helped by its ease of use and the sheer range and number of modules it provides. Let’s have a look at some of the modules you should activate on Twenty Seventeen…
With beautiful large images being part of Twenty Seventeen’s appeal, it is important that this media focus doesn’t slow your site down. The Jetpack module Photon caches content from your site to the WordPress.com servers. Images are then loaded from the fast WordPress.com content delivery network, which in turn increases the speed of your site. And a fast site can only improve the user experience.
Monitoring your analytics is an essential part of growing a WordPress business, that many of us neglect. The module Site Stats displays important data within your WordPress dashboard. Stats are displayed in a way that is easy to understand and work with.
See how many people have visited your site, which pages and posts are most popular, and lots more. Although Site Stats doesn’t contain the in-depth reporting that Google Analytics does, the quick access to data and ease of comprehension, make it an extremely useful tool.
Twenty Seventeen comes complete with a social menu bar, enabling viewers to quickly follow you, or share your content on social media. However, with social media being more important than ever, you will need more than just social share buttons to keep on top of the game.
Publicize enables your new articles to be automatically posted to your social media channels as you publish them. This helps not only keep your social media accounts active, but it also saves you much time and effort posting to numerous social media sites. The more social media you can automate the better!
As you can see, the functionality of Jetpack is impressive, and new modules are being constantly added. Premium security, backup and SEO modules, amongst others, are also offered. If you were to install only one plugin on Twenty Seventeen, with its extensive features catering for all areas of WordPress, Jetpack would be my choice.
Add a Contact Form with Ninja Forms
A contact form is an essential feature for any website, but especially a business site. Although Twenty Seventeen comes with a pre-set Contact Page, to add a contact form you will need to install a contact form plugin.
Ninja Forms is a free WordPress plugin that will enable you to add an effective and attractive contact form to your contact page. It’s advanced drag and drop form creator means forms are easy to create and you can customize forms to suit your site’s exact needs. Add-ons can also be purchased to extend the functionality of a form, including taking payments. A must have plugin, this form builder is a quick, yet powerful, enhancement to Twenty Seventeen.
Choose a Page Builder
Bearing in mind that the Twenty Seventeen theme will be used to create thousands of websites, using a page builder to help differentiate your website is a good idea.
Page Builder by SiteOrigin is a free WordPress plugin that will help you design responsive page layouts. Its intuitive drag and drop interface will enable you to produce attractive and eye-catching pages, helping your site stand out from its competitors.
If you are looking for a more advanced tool, Beaver Builder is a premium page builder that will enable you to create beautiful and professional pages. Use one of its 30 customizable templates, saving you time and ensuring a sophisticated appearance. Easy to use, Beaver Builder will help you to craft your website design to your exact specifications.
Display Your Images with Meta Slider
Twenty Seventeen, with its full page header image, will immediately appeal to designers and photographers that have portfolios to display. But if you want your pictures to make a strong impact on your audience then you should think about adding a slideshow feature.
Meta Slider is a free WordPress plugin that can display your images in a slider. Create a slideshow in a matter of minutes by simply dragging and dropping images you need. Choose from 4 different types of slideshow, add captions, and lots more. Add the Meta Slider Lightbox plugin to allow slides to open in a Lightbox format.
Use an Email Capture Tool
Generating leads should be a goal for all online businesses. Once you have collected an email, you can keep in contact with an individual. Use email to promote your products or services to your mailing list, and entice people back to your site with an eye on turning them into life long customers.
Another free WordPress plugin, Optin Forms allows you to create stunning forms to collect the emails of your readers. Choose from 5 customizable forms, alter them to suit your needs, then add to your posts or pages.
If you are looking to use pop-ups for email capture, then the premium plugin OptinMonster may be for you. Choose from multiple form types, from lightbox popups to slide-ins. Target forms at a particular audience, and track your analytics to see how successful your forms are at collecting email addresses. Although pricey, this plugin will ensure you see results.
Consider Security and Backups
Twenty Seventeen will have been subjected to stringent security reviews. However, it is still important that you take the security of your WordPress site seriously. Installing security and backup plugins is one of the most important jobs you can do and should be a top priority.
Wordfence WordPress Plugin
Wordfence is a powerful free WordPress security plugin that will help keep your site safe and secure. It uses a firewall to protect your site and keeps you updated of any security breaches. So you can rest assured your site is in capable hands.
For the larger sites and online businesses out there, it may well be worth upgrading to Wordfence Pro, which offers real-time threat detection and top class support.
UpDraftPlus Backup Plugin
Adding a backup plugin to your WordPress site should go hand in hand with installing a security plugin. No security plugin can guarantee your site is 100% safe, so by backing up you ensure that you have a copy of your site, whatever happens.
The plugin UpDraftPlus allows you to back up to the Cloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, and numerous other places. Importantly, data can be restored with just a click of a button. Therefore, if your site is lost, it can be restored quickly and easily. This could help save your sales and lost customers.
A Pro version of UpDraftPlus is also available, and again maybe a sensible purchase for the larger sites out there. Extras offered with this service include site cloning and migration, automatic pre-scheduled backups, and lots more.
The plugins you install with Twenty Seventeen will mainly depend on the type of site you run and what functionalities you need. However, if you are looking to enhance your website, then using the WordPress plugins mentioned in this article as a starting point will mean you can’t go too far wrong.
Is there a WordPress plugin that you can’t manage without that we haven’t mentioned? Please share your thoughts on other essential plugins for Twenty Seventeen in the comments below…