Exploring the Latest Release of WordPress

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WordPress gets updated several times a year, since its first release eleven years ago. The latest update, WordPress 3.9, includes a number of new features that really make WordPress stand out as one of the easiest website development platforms, for both experienced web developers and novices that have no familiarity with programming languages. These latest changes greatly improve the experience of creating posts and developing your website using WordPress. Be sure to look over the changes introduced in the latest release of WordPress.

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Reasons for the Update

As mentioned, WordPress gets updated several times a year. There are several reasons for updates to WordPress; though, the majority of these updates are related to security issues. Whenever a security flaw is detected or an aspect of WordPress has been exposed to hackers, updates are released to improve security. While these updates make up a large portion of the regular updates to WordPress, there are still plenty of cosmetic changes that are designed to improve the layout and user experience of using WordPress to create a website.

The latest WordPress release, WordPress 3.9, includes a number of new features to improve the editing capabilities of WordPress. This update has been in the works for a while now and includes easier methods for editing and placing images and an overall improved visual interface.

WordPress 3.9 Smith

This release, named Smith after a jazz organist named Jimmy Smith, includes improvements that every WordPress user will enjoy. First, the visual editor has been updated to make the creation of posts easier. You can now copy and paste directly from a Microsoft Word document without any problems. In the past, it was difficult for users to paste from Microsoft Word and maintain all of the styling. This improved visual editor also works smoother and is lighter, allowing for improved speed and direct mobile support.

In addition to improving the visual editor of WordPress, working with images has been made much easier. The ability to crop and rotate images has been improved, as well as the scaling of images directly in the WordPress visual editor. Another new feature is the ability to drag and drop images directly into the visual editor, instead of uploading them through the image manager.

Some of the other improvements include added audio and video support. With this new support, you can create audio and video playlists. Finally, adding and editing widgets has been streamlined. Now, when editing and rearranging widgets in the theme customizer section of your dashboard, you can preview your changes live, instead of saving the changes and hoping the result is as you expected. This cuts down on guess work and also includes an improved image tool for editing header images.

In the end, this new release of WordPress includes some of the biggest improvements to the dashboard in quite some time. Just remember, when updating WordPress and WordPress plugins, it is a good idea to back up your WordPress site first. This will protect you from losing all of your hard work, in the event of an error during updating.

 

How to Take Advantage of Mobile Devices with WordPress

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There are a variety of ways to make sure that you are getting the most out of WordPress on mobile devices, from adding posts to providing a good user experience. If you haven’t noticed, almost everyone seems to have a mobile device these days. More and more people use their phones and tablets to browse the internet, check emails, and get up to date on the latest news. As time goes by, expect more people to make the switch to mobile. There are many reasons for this trend, from businesses limiting employee’s usage of desktop computers to the convenience of browsing the web on the go. There are two sides to taking advantage of mobile devices when it comes to WordPress, ensuring that you have a great mobile WordPress site and making it easier to edit and create posts using your mobile devices.

Ensure Your WordPress Site Looks Great on Mobile

The first half of taking advantage of mobile devices with WordPress is ensuring that your website looks great on mobile. Start by taking a look at how your website looks on your own mobile device. At this point, your WordPress theme should use responsive design. This eliminates the need to worry about switching to a mobile website on a mobile device. To check if your WordPress theme uses responsive design, open your website in a desktop browser and adjust the width. You should be able to shrink your browser down in size and have your website respond to the changes in width. For those that do not have a responsive design, it is fairly simple to find a modern WordPress theme that does.

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Posting and Editing WordPress on Mobile Devices

In addition to providing a great user experience for those on mobile devices, you can also take advantage of the fact that you can now work with WordPress on your own mobile device, whether you have a tablet or a mobile phone. WordPress has released apps for all Apple mobile products, Android devices, and even Blackberry. That pretty much covers any popular mobile device that you may have.

To get started, visit WordPress.org and download the mobile app that corresponds to your device. Not only does this provide a great way for updating and creating posts and moderating comments, it also allows you to immediately see how your posts render on mobile devices.

All of the WordPress apps work for both WordPress.org and WordPress.com websites. Use the app to create and edit posts, upload photos directly from your phone or tablet, moderate comments, and check out the number of visitors you are getting.

Do Not Ignore the Mobile Market

No matter what type of WordPress website you have, you need to pay attention to mobile users. Surveys show that without a good mobile website, consumers are almost guaranteed to immediately visit your competition. Go ahead and download the WordPress app for your mobile device and begin focusing on the mobile experience of your WordPress site.

The Benefits of Choosing WordPress for Web Development

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Originally developed as blogging software, a growing number of web developers are turning to WordPress for the creation of websites and special web development projects. In fact, almost one out of five websites are built with WordPress. No longer just a blogging platform, WordPress is great for blogs, business websites, networks, communities, and any other online needs. With WordPress, there are really no limits to what you can do. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of choosing WordPress for web development.

An Open Source Project

WordPress is an open source program. This means that it is free to use and edit. There are quite a few add-ons, such as themes and plugins that can cost money; though, there are also many methods of making a quality WordPress site without spending any money, other than the cost of hosting your website. Being an open source program, there is no direct support for WordPress; however, the WordPress support documentation and forums are managed by one of the largest online communities. This provides users with plenty of help, no matter what issue they are having.

Customization without Coding

The primary benefit of choosing WordPress is that you do not actually need to know anything about web development and coding languages to create a detailed website. There are many different customization options, due mostly to the abundance of themes available. You can adjust colors, layouts, and themes, without knowing a single line of HTML, PHP, or CSS.

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Web Developer Friendly

Even though you do not need to know anything about coding with HTML or PHP, a WordPress installation is very easy to edit for those that are familiar with web development. Using WordPress can cut down the length of time needed to get a website up and running. Providing a detailed framework, WordPress is great for both web developers and novices alike.

Thousands of Plugins and Themes

As mentioned, there are many themes available for WordPress. There are free themes and premium themes. The premium themes will often include additional features not often found in free themes; though, with knowledge of PHP and HTML, you will have no problem making the most of a free theme. In addition to thousands of themes to choose from, providing customization and layout options, there are also thousands of plugins.

Plugins are small add-ons that provide more features for your website. Examples of plugins include social media integration, slideshows, and contact forms. While there are many plugins that add to the user experience of visitors to your website, there are also plugins designed to improve site performance and help with search engine optimization.

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Simple Installation Process

With more and more people using WordPress, web hosting companies have taken notice. It is now easier than ever to install WordPress, with many web hosting companies automating the process of installation. Even without an automated installation, WordPress is extremely simple to install and setup on any server.

Before you decide to pass on using WordPress for the development of your next website or blog, take a moment consider all of these benefits. Millions of satisfied WordPress customers cannot be wrong.

 

What to Look for in a Premium WordPress Theme

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WordPress continues to appeal to a large number of users due to the use of themes. WordPress themes allow users to easily change the look of their sites, without requiring a lot of coding. These themes can be divided into two main categories – free themes and premium themes. While free themes can offer quality design and a lot of features, there are many premium themes that are built to increase flexibility and customization options. Also, many of the free themes require a mention of the developer somewhere in the footer of each webpage, which many businesses find unprofessional when marketing their brand. Before you purchase a premium theme for your WordPress site, understand what you should look for in a premium WordPress theme.

Responsive Web Design

When browsing through different premium themes, the very first thing you should look for is that the WordPress theme uses responsive web design. The days of having a separate mobile site are gone. Your website should maintain a consistent look, no matter what device it is viewed on. From mobile phones to tablets to desktop computers, the design used in the premium theme should respond to the different screen sizes and present a good user experience.  Many of the responsive themes included in our packages offer the best options for responsive web design.

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Support and Updates

The premium WordPress theme that you find should also offer support and regular updates. As WordPress goes through regular updates, it is important that the theme you pay money for does not become outdated and lose functionality. Before installing a premium WordPress theme, check to see if it has been tested to work with the latest release of WordPress. In addition to regular updates, the developers behind the premium theme should offer solid support and provide documentation. Find out how to contact them in the event of a malfunction and ensure that they have detailed documentation explaining all of the features included in the theme.  We offer a strong support base for our customers, and work around the clock to resolve issues as well as provide guidance and support, so it pays to play with us.

A Variety of Layouts and Customization

Customization and layout is probably going to be the first thing that attracts you to a premium WordPress theme. When browsing these themes, the thumbnail image that you see will be what grabs your attention. As you inspect the theme, make sure that the WordPress theme allows you to choose a layout that suits your needs. Additionally, color schemes and the font options can become a deciding factor in determining whether or not a premium theme is right for your website. Even though you like the look of a premium, you should be able to create a website using the colors and fonts that you want.

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Preview the Demo and Test the Theme

Most premium WordPress themes should have a live demo that uses the theme. This will allow you to explore the theme and ensure there are no errors in overall design. Adjust your browser and watch to see how well the responsive design works. The live demo provides the closest example of what your website will look like using that premium theme.

Finally, test the theme out. There are various WordPress plugins, such as The Theme Test Drive plugin, that make it easy to test the theme out on your site without removing your old theme. Once you have gone over all of these factors, decide if the features of the premium WordPress theme justify the price.

The Top Five Ecommerce Plugins for WordPress Sites

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When you are planning on creating an ecommerce site, WordPress may not be the first platform that comes to mind; though, there have been many quality ecommerce plugins that have been available in the past couple of years. In fact, you can have great success with an ecommerce site using WordPress, if you use a quality ecommerce plugin to make the process easier. From free WordPress ecommerce plugins to premium plugins, there are many different options. As you plan your ecommerce WordPress site, check out the top ecommerce plugins for WordPress.

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WP Ecommerce

One of the first ecommerce plugins to create for WordPress, WP ecommerce continues to be the most downloaded ecommerce plugin. The basic plugin is available for free; however, there are many different add-ons that can be purchased to provide additional features and compatibility. Some of the free features provided by WP ecommerce include a shipping calculator, Google and PayPal payment integration, coupon codes, and an administrator dashboard for keeping track of everything. Additionally, WP ecommerce can be used on any theme and is very easy to setup and begin using.

Jigoshop

Jigoshop is another free ecommerce plugin for WordPress. With easy setup, Jigoshop is a popular choice among WordPress ecommerce sites. Group your products into categories, thanks to the search capabilities of Jigoshop. Great for selling items that come in different sizes, you can also allow visitors to search by sizes for your products. Jigoshop also provides stock management features and several add-ons, such as additional shipping methods and payment gateways. The Jigoshop dashboard provides detailed reports and sales graphs.

WooCommerce

The WooCommerce plugin for WordPress is also free and provides a lot of customization options. Some of the included payment options built in to WooCommerce include PayPal, Cash, or Check. Like the other plugins mentioned, you can upgrade WooCommerce with extensions to add additional support and features. The dashboard is easy to navigate and includes methods for managing your inventory, whether it is physical merchandise or downloadable content. One of the benefits of WooCommerce over some of the other free ecommerce plugins for WordPress is the ability to setup coupon campaigns and offer discounts.  This plugin comes loaded automatically into our Shopkeeper Theme, adding one more reason to get our package.

Cart66

The Cart66 ecommerce plugin for WordPress is available in both a free version and also a premium version. The free Cart66 plugin still includes the majority of ecommerce features that most users would require, such as inventory management, tax and shipping calculations, and reports that can be sent to your email.

YAK for WordPress

The YAK for WordPress plugin is free; though, it does not provide all of the features provided by the previously mentioned plugins. Basically, YAK is a shopping cart plugin, meaning it really only provides a simple solution for adding products and allowing checkout. Adding products is easy, using the post ID as the product code. For a simple solution for offering products without as many management features, the YAK plugin works well.

There are dozens of other ecommerce plugins for WordPress; however, the advantage to using any of these ecommerce plugins is that they are all free with most offering additional features at a cost. This allows you to tailor the WordPress plugin to suit your needs.

 

4 Common Misconceptions about WordPress

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A growing number of businesses are beginning to see the potential in WordPress. For years, WordPress was primarily used as a blogging platform; though, businesses, both small and large, are jumping on the WordPress bandwagon. Despite this increase in usage, there are still those that ignore WordPress, due to these common misconceptions.

Misconception 1: WordPress is Only Good for Blogging

This is probably the most common misconception that people have about WordPress – WordPress is only good for those that want to blog. A part of this stems from the fact that WordPress was initially marketed for that purpose. As this open source software began to grow and increase its functionality, it became a viable full-fledged Content Management System (CMS). WordPress can now handle any of your website needs. The only real limits to the potential of WordPress lie in the developers working on your site. Basically, there is nothing that WordPress cannot do that other web development platforms can.

Misconception 2: WordPress Does Not Offer Quality Support

Another reason that some businesses are skeptical about switching to WordPress is the fact that it is an open source project. This means that there is no definitive number to call when things go wrong. The fact that WordPress is open source does not mean that there is no support available. With thousands of developers and everyday users, there is an abundance of help that can found online. Whether you visit the WordPress.org forums or individual WordPress developers, there is no shortage of online help and indirect support.

Misconception 3: WordPress Does Not Provide a Good Environment for Ecommerce

For a long time, Drupal was the go to platform for the easy creation of ecommerce sites. Thanks to a variety of free plugins, WordPress is just as capable of providing the perfect platform for managing an ecommerce site. The truth is, many other ecommerce platforms are limited in scope, while WordPress brings its large amount of features and customization options to the ecommerce world. If you are planning an ecommerce site, be sure to look into the available ecommerce plugins for WordPress.

Misconception 4: WordPress is Not a Secure Platform

Security is always a concern, no matter what framework or website platform you use to create your site. If you were to look over the numbers, WordPress sites are more likely to be targeted by hackers than many other CMS platforms. The reason for this is the large amount of sites that use WordPress. The simple truth is that whatever software has the most users is going to attract more hackers. This does not make WordPress any less secure than other options. The bottom line is that when you use WordPress, you need to use common sense and follow all of the traditional security protocols.

Due to these common misconceptions, many businesses are hesitant to use WordPress for their online needs. The reason WordPress has become so popular is that more people are starting to use it, leading to an increased interest from individual developers willing to create themes, plugins, and additional features. No matter how you look at, there is nothing that WordPress cannot do.

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How to Keep Your WordPress Site Secure

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The internet is an amazing place, full of websites and connecting people from all over the world. With so many people spending a great deal of their time online, there is always the risk of hackers and malicious users attempting to gain access to a WordPress website. Whether you operate a business online or post to a personal blog, you can still become the victim of a targeted attack on your website. WordPress has become one of the most used methods for creating websites affordably and quickly. The more attention a blogging platform like WordPress gets, the more likely there are to be those that want to hack WordPress websites. If you use WordPress for creating your website, then make sure that you learn how to keep your WordPress site secure.

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Maintain Strong Passwords

Above all else, you should always create a secure unique password. This applies to both your administrator account and any other users that have administrator privileges. Many hackers utilize software that will automatically go through and try to enter every word in the dictionary until they come across a word that works. The same is true of number sequences, such as dates, including birth dates. The best passwords are randomly generated and carry no significance at all. If you choose to not use a random password generator then at least try to follow the standard safety protocol of using a combination of letters and numbers.

Keep Everything Updated

There are so many different reasons for keeping your WordPress installation updated and security is definitely one of them. In fact, the majority of WordPress updates are related to security fixes. After the WordPress team has encountered security vulnerabilities in the current release of WordPress, they start working on security fixes, which result in updates to WordPress. In addition to keeping your installation of WordPress updated, go through and ensure your theme and all of your plugins are up to date as well.

Do Not Use the Admin Username

In the past, WordPress would create an administrator account during setup called admin. Despite the fact that you can now create a new username during the setup process, many people still choose to name their primary user admin. This is the first username that hackers will use when trying to log into your WordPress installation. If you are already using the admin username, then create a new user with administrator privileges and delete the admin user.

Keep Your Installation Clean

As mentioned, you need to keep everything updated; though, you also need to keep your WordPress installation clean. This means removing plugins that you no longer use and deleting files that no longer serve any purpose. After installing a new theme, be sure to go through and delete themes that you are no longer using. Another option is to use a plugin like Wordfence, that acts as a safeguard against threats for your site.  This can save you plenty of time if you are having problems, and also provide a secure option through the use of a plugin.

Finally, remember that no site is completely secure against hackers; however, by following some of these common sense tips, you can increase the difficulty of others being able to access your site. The more safety tips that you follow, the safer you will be, as a hacker will more than likely try to find a WordPress site with less protection.

 

 

Improving Search Engine Optimization for a WordPress Site

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The term Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is thrown around a lot, with different people providing a variety of definitions. In reality, SEO in its simplest form refers to optimizing a website to get better search engine results. Using WordPress for the creation of your website or blog will give a good start on SEO for your site, as WordPress incorporates several methods of SEO that are automatically applied to your pages and posts; though, this may not be enough to give you the search engine results you are hoping for. To increase the amount of traffic from search engine queries, learn how to improve Search Engine Optimization for a WordPress site.

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Focus on Content

There is a popular saying that gets passed around – content is king. The reason behind this is that search engines, especially Google, focus on the content of your website before factoring in other details and determining search rankings. When you write a WordPress blog posting or an informative article, you should aim to provide relevant content. Once your content is created, you can start worrying about additional SEO for your WordPress site. This will also help you retain visitors, as people are more likely to want to come back to your site and share your posts, if they found your content useful.

SEO Plugins for WordPress

With your content written, you can begin implementing additional SEO for your WordPress website. One of the easier ways to do this is through the use of WordPress SEO plugins. There are hundreds of different WordPress plugins that provide some form of SEO, from automatic sitemap generators to keyword usage calculators. Be far, one of the most popular and widely used SEO plugins for WordPress is the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast. A free download, this plugin will automatically generate XML sitemaps and provides a method of analyzing your post to ensure you do not use a keyword too often or not enough.

URL Optimization

By default, WordPress is set to name the URL of all of your posts with a unique identifier. This results in an unreadable URL containing a series of numbers. Instead of automatically naming your posts using the default setting, you have several other options. Your first two options are to have your posts placed in a structure based on the date it was published, as in http://example.com/2014/04/10/post-name; though, the better option is to simply have the URL of your post named after the actual name of your post, as in http://example.com/post-name. Whichever method you prefer, any of these options are better for SEO on your WordPress site than going with the default setting. You can find these options under Settings – Permalinks.

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In addition to the use of SEO plugins, URL optimization, and providing relevant content, there are many more methods of ensuring good SEO for your WordPress site, including social media integration and making sure that you provide each of the major search engines with updated XML sitemaps each time you create a new post or page.

 

The Most Common WordPress Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Not Updating WordPress and WordPress Plugins

There are several reasons that updates are an important part of maintaining a WordPress site, including security and browser compatibility. This is true of both WordPress itself and the plugins that you install. The majority of the updates to WordPress are related to security fixes. After the WordPress team has discovered a security issue in the program, they try to release an update when possible. By keeping your WordPress site up to date, you are keeping it secure. Once WordPress releases an update, many of the most used plugins will release an update to ensure compatibility. Just remember, every time that you update your installation of WordPress, perform a backup, which brings us to the next common mistake.

Not Creating Backups

As with any major project, you should perform a regular backup to avoid losing all of your hard work. While WordPress provides methods for backing up your WordPress database, you may want to use a backup plugin to back up your entire website. As mentioned, you should always perform a backup before updating your release of WordPress; though, you should also backup your database before switching themes, moving to a new domain, or transferring your site to a new hosting plan.

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Creating Too Many Categories

WordPress has included several ways for users to label and categorize their posts. This has led many enthusiastic users to create several new categories for each new post that they create. Using too many categories does the opposite of what categories where designed for, by making it difficult for visitors to find related articles based on category. You know what your site is about, so stick to a handful of broad categories and use tags for further labeling.

Assuming WordPress Is Only For Blogging

The final common mistake to point out is that WordPress is not just for blogging. While WordPress came to life as a blogging platform, it now provides so much more. Businesses and universities are starting to notice that WordPress holds its own as a Content Management System and as a site builder for creating truly dynamic and professional websites. Major companies, such as Time, CNN, and UPS, have used WordPress for the development of some of their websites. For those looking for an affordable detailed solution to their site building needs, do not write WordPress off.

As you may have noticed, WordPress continues to grow and offer new features that businesses and bloggers can take advantage of. This includes an ever expanding amount of help through forums and discussion boards. When in doubt, regarding an aspect of WordPress, search the WordPress forums and you will probably find and answer to your dilemma.

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Finding the Best WordPress Plugins for Your Site

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WordPress is a popular blogging platform that is used by millions of users. A part of this popularity is due to the ability of WordPress users to choose plugins that add features to their website. There are thousands of different plugins to choose from, providing a large variety of benefits. While these plugins can be very useful, using too many plugins can cause your website to load slowly. This can be unappealing for visitors to your site, causing them to head on over to your competition. To provide a great user experience to your visitors, ensure that your WordPress site is not bloated with too many plugins. Discover how to find the best WordPress plugins for your site by testing them, or read on to learn more!

 

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Only use Plugins when Necessary

The more WordPress plugins you use, the longer it will take your page to load. Additionally, having too many plugins can cause your site to crash and lead to compatibility issues. Start by going through your existing plugins and determine which ones are absolutely necessary.

Caching Plugins

Caching plugins can dramatically change the load time of your site. Every time a user visits one of your WordPress pages, a dynamic PHP page is loaded. As the page is loading, various scripts, plugins, and widgets are loaded. A caching plugin will create a static HTML page of the final result. The majority of your visitors will then see the cached static HTML page, instead of waiting for the standard PHP page to load. In addition to caching pages, many caching plugins will also compress JavaScript, CSS, and other external scripts. Some of the more popular caching plugins include W3 Total Cache and WP-SuperCache.

Search Engine Optimization Plugins

While there is technically nothing wrong with the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) capabilities of WordPress, there are plugins that make the process of ensuring your content is optimized even more. You can find WordPress plugins that automatically generate XML sitemap files and submit them to search engines and WordPress plugins that allow you to keep track of how often your focus keyword is used. One of the most used WordPress SEO plugins is WordPress SEO by Yoast. This plugin provides the ability to both generate XML sitemaps and makes on page SEO a breeze.

Social Media Plugins

Linking your social media accounts to your WordPress sites allows your visitors to easily follow you on social media. There are many WordPress plugins that add social media options to your site, from sharing buttons to follow buttons. For example, Follow Me is a plugin that provides a widget that you can link all of your social media accounts to. This way, no matter what page a visitor is on, they can find your Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ account. Other plugins, such as Digg Digg, add a floating box containing share and like buttons for all major social media platforms.

The Bottom Line

Before you add any additional WordPress plugins to your site, take a moment to consider their worth. If the plugin does not provide a feature that you deem necessary to providing a good user experience, then you probably do not need it. In the end, you should always put user experience before the need to fill your site with dozens of features.

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