Expanding the functionality of your WordPress site with plugins
Plugins can quickly expand the functionality of your WordPress real estate business website. These WordPress plugins can enhance the user experience, expedite property search, integrate social media and much more.
Now that you have installed your WordPress website, it will help to understand what a plugin is. WordPress is the platform you will use, but much like a theme, plugins are another building block. While your theme expands the design of your site, plugins expand the functionality. Some of this functionality may be built into your premium theme, while plugins may offer this where it doesn’t already exist.
There are specific functions that should be included in any site, but there are several plugins that offer each of these functions. You need to make an informed decision on these.
How do you determine the best plugin for your site? You should create a chart for each of the plugin categories that can help you make an informed decision. As you navigate the different plugins available in each category, you will be able to identify the features that are important to you and your readers. While you may want certain features, are they important to your readers, or important to you? The answer to this question should always be your readers.
Key plugin functions for any site are:
- SPAM preventer
- Contact form
- Page navigation
- Editorial Calendar
How do you decide which plugin?
The WordPress plugin repository provides an opportunity for a lot of information that can help you make your decision. But you need to understand how to use this information.
- Does the plugin offer the functionality you need?
- Is the plugin compatible with the current version of WP?
- How many times has it been downloaded?
- Is the developer supporting the plugin?
- What are the forum comments?
- Does it conflict with other plugins you are using?
Another consideration would be if the plugin is a free version of premium plugin. Typically this is indicative of a developer that is supporting the plugin, at least the premium plugin. You can test the free version and upgrade to the premium when you are ready.
Once you have selected a plugin, you can click on the Download button in the Plugin section from your WordPress Dashboard. Since this installation can affect your website, WordPress asks you to confirm this decision. After you have confirmed the installation, you will still need to activate the plugin.
Some plugins include additional settings and configuration in order to use them. If so, the plugin will note that with a Settings option. You should review the plugin documentation before moving forward to ensure that you are installing the plugin correctly.
Other plugins require additional resources in order to function properly, which may incur an additional cost. This information is usually in the plugin documentation, but if you did not review that before installing, you may not be aware until you try to activate the settings and complete the installation.[infobox type=”tip” clickable=”no”]If you decide not to use the plugin because of this, you should always deactivate a plugin before you delete it. [/infobox]
If you receive a warning message when you research a plugin, then you need to research what the problem might be.
- When was the plugin last updated?
- Is it compatible with recent version of WordPress?
- What does the Plugin Homepage say?
- Is the developer supporting the plugin?
Plugins for Real Estate Business Functionality
The following pages detail some plugins that can be used to add real estate business functionality into your website. Keep in mind that plugins can conflict with themes and other plugins, and therefore “break” your site. You should always backup your site before installing a new plugin, and install one plugin at a time so you can identify which plugin is probably causing the problem.
Note that the following real estate relevant plugins listed are available in the repository at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/.
FireStorm Real Estate Plugin
Real Estate Agency for WordPress
Real Estate Website Builder
- ClickSold IDX
- Displet RETS/IDX Plugin
- dsIDXpress IDX Plugin
- IDX Broker Platinum WordPress Plugin
- Showcase IDX
- WordPress IDX Plugin
- Advanced Real Estate Mortgage Calculator
- Calculator Pros Calculators
- CT Mortgage Calculator
- Comprehensive Google Maps
- Google Maps GPX Viewer