There’s no doubt about it, WordPress is an incredible CMS (content management system) that’s used by many web publishers, bloggers, businesses, and other content creators. WordPress has made creating and maintaining websites easy with templates and plugins alike.
You may have wondered though, “I use an excellent template and my website looks amazing! But why do I still have such a high bounce rate?” Have you ever stopped and thought if the template you use, or have designed, is easy to navigate? Or if the plugins you’ve installed actually optimize your website or perhaps slow it down in page speed or functionality?
Users are looking for an easy-to-navigate experience and you’re looking for conversions, whether that’s growing subscribers, customers, or gaining exposure. Obviously, you need to have a website that can maintain quick and easy access to pages on desktop and mobile for the user’s experience. But what if your website isn’t up to par even though you’ve got a great template or you’ve installed plugins that you think will benefit the end user’s experience?
Well, even if you have a great template, that doesn’t mean that the website provides an excellent user experience (UX). In fact, many WordPress websites utilize plugins for UX. There have been over 1.25 billion plugin downloads made on WordPress for a variety of websites.
If you don’t use plugins, you should know that just having a template doesn’t mean that the website is easy to access or use for your visitors. And if you do use plugins, are you using the right ones to aid for the best experience for your visitors? We’ve collected a list of the 5 best WordPress plugins we’ve come across for improving your UX! Have a look.
1. W3 Total Cache
Let’s start with something that means a lot for keeping your website clean of needless content and optimizing page speed: W3 Total Cache. This plugin is used by well-known companies like AT&T and Mashable.com because of its incredibly high-focused features on caching, page and content rendering for desktop and mobile websites, AMP (accelerated mobile pages), and SEO (search engine optimization).
Why Should I Care About Page Speed?
Because, visitors only last for a certain amount of time on a given web page before they leave or “bounce”, this period typically lasts under 1 minute. On top of this, if a mobile web page takes over 3 seconds in loading time, 53% of visitors will bounce. It should be the main priority for you to test and optimize your page speed time. If you’re looking to keep visitors on your page for longer periods of time and decrease bounces, it’s best to optimize your page speed.
A great way to test your page speed is by using one or multiple tools such as Pingdom or Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Once you’ve established the fact that your pages take WAY too much time to load (again, be looking to optimize for under 3 seconds), using the page performance features provided by W3 Total Cache, you’re promised a “10x improvement in overall site performance”.
Also, another way that Google reviews your website and ranks it in the SERPs (search engine results pages) is by the loading speed it takes for your website’s pages, so this is also a plus for your SEO efforts.
The primary feature of this plugin is caching content. Caching refers to storing content such as images, pages, code, etc. This content will be compressed and the files (or folders) stored for future requests to make accessing this content easier and faster. Again, we’re talking about speed here. Speed is a key feature for any website, the faster your page and content loads, the better the UX because it’s what visitors want.
2. WP Smush
Believe it or not, even if you think you’ve optimized your content images on your website, they still might be taking up too much space. This means that your pages might not be loading fast enough because your images aren’t fully optimized! WP Smush is used by thousands of websites for compressing, optimizing, and resizing images.
This plugin will scan all of your previous and new media uploads and “smush” them into optimized sizes by removing unnecessary data and scaling the images to your predetermined sizes. Smush will compress the images and resize them simultaneously after you’ve input your ideal width and height measurements. This will allow visitors to access your web pages faster and view your media uploads without difficulty. It also works with a variety of other WP plugins so you don’t have to worry about incompatibility.
3. Everest Forms
A major feature that should be on every website is a way of contact. Choosing either providing an email address or a contact form on your website could be a difficult decision, except that a contact form is a better solution for organization and looking professional. Direct email addresses work great as well but contact forms help in a variety of other ways. They reduce spam, improve security, and act as a gateway to interact with your visitors and answering their questions in a timely manner.
Everest Forms is a great plugin for creating unlimited forms of different variances but they’re most known for creating contact forms.
Their features and interface are super easy to use for the WordPress novice and especially experts. They already have templates available for you to make a quick and simple contact form to start getting those questions and feedback rolling in. Not only will visitors be able to connect and engage with you but you’ll also be able to redirect them to another landing page on your website once they finish completing their message.
Everest Forms is simply an easy way of creating forms, keeping track of your leads who’ve contacted you, and even helps with extra features such as language translation! This is a great, free plugin that can easily improve your UX.
Where Should I Place a Contact Form?
For some extra brain food, there has been much speculation from UX experts as to where a contact form should be specifically placed for lead growth and customer questions. According to experts, using this type of form on either a “Contact” page, landing page, or as a featured box, doesn’t entirely matter, although it’s agreed upon that above the fold is one of the best placements on a page due to the initial eye-catch of the form. Though, this depends on your strategy for what you are wanting to get out of the form (leads, conversions, conversation, reviews, etc.).
Mobile continues to grow and if you don’t have a mobile website yet, you should consider making one. A comparison report showed that the total US website visits averaged 63% via mobile devices in 2017, which is a 6% increase from 2016. In the days we now live in, mobile has taken over and you shouldn’t even think twice about being mobile optimized.
WPtouch is one of the plugins you should be utilizing for optimizing your website for mobile. The plugin will create a simple, yet great mobile website that will be accepted by the Google Mobile-Friendly test to ensure your pages are ready for mobile.
WPtouch comes with a variety of WordPress mobile themes that you can customize without interfering with your website’s code or desktop version. It’s a safe and easy way to create a mobile-friendly version of your website for your mobile audience.
If you’re ever interested, you can also convert your website into a native mobile app. Google highly recommends this particular plugin for mobile optimization and rightfully so with all of the features you can toggle and customize to your likings such as colors, fonts, and overall template design without needing to know code! Upgrade to the paid version for even more features.
5. Broken Link Checker
Large websites/blogs tend to acquire broken links over time since there’s a lot of pages and links to keep up with. These 404 pages are a nuisance to your visitors because they’re exactly what they sound like: broken! Broken pages don’t do a user any good since they clicked that link for a reason and wanted that result. These pages could be on your own website or whatever other websites you’ve linked to in a post which a visitor is clicking on for more information.
Broken Link Checker is a great solution for finding these broken links, missing images, or redirect links (301 page error). After scanning every page, post, blogroll, comments section, and custom fields (if so desired), the plugin will provide you with a report on your dashboard or via email with regular updates (optional and customizable) on all links found on your website.
You can review all links scanned or just specific links such as 404 error pages in order to filter your links and fix the broken ones. Broken Link Checker will continue to monitor all links found on your website in any location and will present you with suggestions for each broken link. Fixing these links can be easily done through the dashboard without having to individually visit each article or page.
These are our five best WordPress plugin suggestions for improving your user experience. They don’t take that long to add, process, and get you started on improving your UX and are very easy to use.
Play around with them a little bit once installed and see how you can optimize your website the best. Make sure that whichever plugins you decide to add are compatible with each other. Happy optimizing!
This is a guest post by Joseph Jones, Digital Marketing Manager at Websauce Studio in Sacramento, CA. He graduated with a B.S. degree in Internet Marketing to then join Websauce in 2018. He has been writing for his personal blog and Websauce composing articles on various SEO and digital marketing subjects.