Many WordPress based websites have great themes, however I always come across some popular sites, where I think: “If they offer this or that feature, that could be perfect”
The good news is that WordPress plugins can make up for almost any missing functionality. Many WordPress theme creators even add plugins to their theme download to make it feature rich.
I will list here features that are simple to add on any 1, 2, or 3 column wordpress theme, and yet are essential for your site’s usability.
Visual and aesthetics always play a fist impression for any visitor to your site, however usability is key to keeping visitors for a longer time on your site, and could be the main reason for repeat visitors, and possibly higher conversion rates as well.
I listed what I think are basic usability features that are simple to add to any theme, yet can play a big role in repeat visitors to you site.
Here we go:
1- Offer a starting point: You should offer your visitors a starting point. Even though wordpress themes have now common usability features and many visitors get used to it, there has to be a starting point to your site, namely a home page.
Here, your visitor can find a way to start over, something like a “Reset” button, if he/she got lost in your site.
This is usually the first button on the left and you could easily add it to your WordPress theme.
2- Introduce yourself: Behind every site is a person who worked hard to make it happen. Here is the place to show who you are and what your goals and missions are. Here you can list why you have a website? Are you promoting a service or are you just sharing thoughts? Are you just writing for the sake of it?
3- Allow Email: Imagine you visit a site that has all the networking features like bookmarking, flickr, … However, it is missing the basic feature that is the grandfather of internet communication. E-mail. Many years ago, before blogging, networking, bookmarking, and even commercial websites, there was e-mail.
I think you should not miss adding an “email to” plugin to your wordpress theme.
4- Display a printable version of your post: This is one of the essential features of any blog. Here I am using a plugin by Lester Chan. It displays a printable version of any post on my site. HP also release a new plugin to print everything from your blog. I haven’t tried that yet.
5- Highlight Search: Search is and has always been a key function on any website, specially blog and article site. It should be visible and highlighted on any page. Thanks to wordpress, this is automatically provided, any wordpress theme should have it highlighted at the top of each screen. The wordpress theme creator of Blogging Pro, the theme I currently use, did a great job highlighting the search text area.
6 – Add pagination: When you start having many post in a given page, the previous and next navigation links that come with wordpress are simply not enough. You need to make it easier to your visitors showing them where they are.
Having the menu up on top and the sidebar are not enough.
Another needed plugin addition is the pagination plugin, that can show you where you are in respect to the total number of pages that the site is offering.
7- Show activity: This is one of my favorite plugins in any wordpress site, because it shows activity. It shows that you site is being updated constantly and gives the visitor what I call “activity overview”.
I am using a couple of plugins that came with the theme. These are simple plugins that show the latest posts and most commented posts. I took the original plugin “Recent Posts” by Nick Momrik and changed it to show all the posts for a given category.
This plugin is also easy to change to show the date, time, and author name. With some simple tweeks, you can use this plugin on the footer or the sidebar in any wordpress theme. I highly recommend you use it.
Need help with any of these features? Just let me know and I will be glad to help.
I offer affordable web hosting plans, and will install a wordpress site that is secure and includes all basic usability features and more.
Did I miss any other essential features? Let me know what you think.
To your success.