Emily Murphy

I help make web presences

Aussie Reviews has gone live!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on a revamp of children’s author Sally Murphy's book reviews website, Aussie Reviews. Today, the new site went live!

Previously, Aussie Reviews consisted of many, many HTML files - with no database in sight. It desperately needed an overhaul to make it prettier, manageable, and easier to update.

On my part, this project required the setup of WordPress software onto existing server space and a complete visual redesign. I used the theme Suffusion, which enabled me to customise the site with CSS (without having to create a child theme), along with a few plugins to further customise the website. The revamp also required 2000 reviews to be moved over from the old HTML-based site, which was mostly taken care of by Sally.

Aussie Reviews is a great website that promotes Australian literature through a large amount of book reviews - check it out!

3 Really Useful WordPress Plugins

While working on an overhaul of Aussie Reviews, I’ve found that no one theme provides all the functionality I want. If you want to customise your WordPress-powered site, WordPress plugins are an invaluable way to add extra functionality.

To install a plugin, go to Plugins > Add New, search for the plugin you want, and click Install Now. Once a plugin is installed, you can make use of it by inserting one of the shortcodes it provides -these are often listed on WordPress’s listing for that plugin (try Googling the plugin’s name) or on a ‘Settings’ page.

So which plugins are absolutely essential? Below I list 3 WordPress plugins that I have found indispensable.

1. Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 is a plugin that allows you to put a contact form on your site. It’s really simple to use - once it’s installed, just paste the code [contact-form-7 id=”5482” title=”Contact form 1”] into any WordPress page to insert a contact form. Some themes come with the option of a contact form, but for themes that don’t (like Suffusion, the theme I’m using), Contact Form 7 is a great option.

2. List category posts

List category posts is a plugin that allows you to list posts of a certain category by inserting the shortcode [catlist id=0] (where 0 = the category number). There is room to edit parameters such as how many posts are shown (eg [catlist id=0 numberposts=3]). I found this plugin very useful when creating a ‘Browse Reviews’ page, as it allows me to display the latest three reviews for each category.

If you want to choose the exact articles displayed, instead of the category, SitePoint has a quick tutorial on how to develop a plugin that does this.

3. StatCounter plugin

Want to keep track of how many people visit your blog, etc? The Official StatCounter plugin allows you to track your stats, provided you also sign up for an account on the StatCounter website.

These three WordPress plugins have proved both useful and simple to use. WordPress plugins, along with a very flexible theme called Suffusion, have set me well on my way to customising my WordPress-powered site just the way I want it.