Most writers (and not only) usually reach a moment in their development when they feel that they would benefit from having a web site to promote their artistic achievements. There are a number of routes towards this goal, but probably one of the best known is that offered by WordPress which is a free and open-source content management system (CMS). (Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WordPress). There is plenty of information available on how to install the system, not least on the official WordPress Organisation web site, so here I will limit myself to a few useful tips on what you might be needing on your web site from a writer’s point of view.
When you create a WordPress web site you have the option to insall numerous ‘plugins’ to add functionality to your application. Plugins are tiny programs which work alongside one another within the framework of your web site. The developers who create these programs do their best to make them compatible with one another and spend a lot of time updating their work to keep pace with the latest developments at all levels.
There is no set rule about which plugins to install but here are just a few words of advice:
- Only install what you really need. Think carefully about what you want your site to do for you and for your potential visitors before adding new programs.
- Many plugins offer very similar functions. Go for those which have been updated recently and which are compatible with the latest version of WordPress.
- Check whether the plugin home site offers support. You may need it at some point.
- Check whether the plugin covers the languages you think you need.
- Check whether the plugin is free (most of them are) and if it offers a Pro version in case you would like to upgrade at some stage. This last point is less important since you will often find that the free version is adequate.
- Be prepared to make a small donation. These developers put an awful lot of work into building these little programs and keeping them up to date.
Here are just a few of the plugins which are appropriate for a site dedicated to writers, books and writing.
Occasionally you might need to uninstall and substitute with a more recent version or an improved alternative of your chosen plugin.
- Authors widget (the list of authors on the Home page)
- Book Review Library
- Collapsing Categories (the concertina category list on the Home page)
- Creative Commons Configurator (allows us to declare our licence at the foot of each post)
- Delete Me (allows each registered author to delete his account at any time)
- Easy Digital Downloads – FES Vendor Upload Directories (allows each of us to upload ebooks to a personal directory for making personal sales of our work and keeping track of the number of downloads)
- Email Users (gives us the option to send messages directly to individual users or groups from the web site)
- Events Manager (for creating an events’ calendar)
- Greg’s Comment Length Limiter (controls the word count on comments)
- Login With Ajax (allows for the recovery of lost password)
- MarcTV Quicktags (offers minimal editing options on comment box)
- Page Links To (offers the option to link directly to an external link eg. competitions, articles, online courses etc.)
- Post Access Controller (adds privacy options to pages)
- Print Friendly and PDF (this option can be dropped in as a little button on any page — I ususally add it to book lists or similar)
- Q and A Focus Plus FAQ
- Responsive Mobile-Friendly Tooltip (adds small amount of information to a floating tag above highlighted words)
- SearchRelevance (sorts search results into relevance levels)
- Simple Download Monitor (adds neat button feature if you want to offer simple downloads to your visitors eg.pdf files, images etc)
- UK Cookie Consent (by EU law every web site must advise their visitors that the site might be using cookies)
- Visual Form Builder (there are many similar plugins available — to create an online contact form and avoid adding a direct email link)
- Visual Subtitle (adds a subtitle box under the main title input box in the post editor)
- WP Biographia (allows authors to have a personal bio section each time they publish a piece of work)
- WP Masonry Layout (creates a ‘wall’ of post excerpts instead of just the usual list)
- WP Password Generator (to create more secure passwords and cut down on spammers — only useful if registered users avoid using simple dictionary words for their passwords!)
- WP User Avatar (allows registered users to upload a personal image for their avatar)
- WPWCL – WordPress Word Count and Limit (controls word limit on posts — useful for writers needing to stick to word counts)