In an earlier article, I recommended the best way for WordPress beginners to add simple customization in order to tweak the look of their WordPress theme.
In this article, I’ll tell you about 10 useful plugins for users of the Genesis Framework.
As you know Genesis is the framework I use for building WordPress sites. Today’s article is directed specifically to Genesis users who want to add additional features or customize the layout of their theme without diving into any code. In order to use these plugins, you must be using a Genesis theme.
You’ll note in the title of this article that I used the word useful rather than essential. I said this because these features are strictly optional. While they provide useful features, not everyone may have a need for them. Only install a plugin when you need its particular function. Avoid bloating your site with unnecessary plugins — they can detract from your site’s performance. With that introduction, here is my list of the 10 most useful Genesis plugins:
Genesis Simple Edits
This little plugin almost falls into the category of essential. It allows you to customize the display of post entry meta information, such as author, date published, comment count and the post category as well as any tags. It also allows you to edit the site footer which typically contains your copyright, name of your site, and any other information you wish to include.
Genesis Simple Hooks
Genesis Simple Hooks is a powerful plugin that give your the opportunity to alter the look and structure of your website. Think of hooks as a place to “hang” content on your site.
Every website has a basic structure — header, navigation, content, sidebar and footer. Hooks allow you to place a custom content, such as ads, in a particular location on a page. You can also change the structure of your site with hooks. For example, you could move your navigation from below the header to above the header or your secondary navigation to above the footer.
This plugin lists 51 custom hook “boxes” for you to insert code snippets to make those content or structural changes.
One note, the ‘simple’ in Genesis Simple Hooks is relative. Typically adding custom widget areas requires diving into the code of your theme functions.php file, something beyond the skill level of most beginners. Simple Hooks helps you to avoid that by providing the boxes for you to paste your code snippet. The challenge can be in finding just the right code snippet to insert. The best place to start is with Studiopress, maker of the Genesis framework. They have numerous code snippets available to help with your customization. Next, Google ‘genesis code snippets’ to find hundreds of others.
Genesis Visual Hook Guide
This plugin really goes hand-in-glove with Genesis Simple Hooks. It gives you a visual, on-screen cue for the location of each “hook” on any page of your site.
Genesis Simple Menus
This plugin gives you the ability to create custom secondary menu options by page, post, category, tag or custom taxonomy.
Genesis Simple Sidebars
Simple Sidebars is a great plugin that allows create and assign unique custom sidebars to any page on your site. If you have affiliate links, other advertising or just want to target custom content to a specific page this is the best stress-free solution. Create as many unique sidebars as you like, and assign them through a drop-down menu on the desired page.
Genesis Tabs gives you the ability to add up to eight category tabs above featured posts. This is particularly useful for news sites or sites that cover a number of diverse subjects. Consider it an additional navigational “aid” for your readers to help them find the specific content they’re interested in.
Genesis Layout Extras
This powerful plugin gives you near-complete power over the layout of your site. The typical Genesis theme usually provides from 3 to 6 layout options. Genesis Layout Extras bumps your options up to nine. Gain improved control over layouts for your homepage, posts page, standard page, various archive pages, your 404 page, search results and more. The flexibility of this plugin is the reason it’s one the most downloaded and used plugins for Genesis.
Simple Social Icons
This Genesis plugin provides a quick and easy way to add social icons directing users to your various social media sites.
Genesis Simple Share
Simple Share is another quick and easy solution to install so readers can share your awesome content with others. The icons have a professional look, support the major social media services and can be customized. It isn’t as robust as some the “freemium” plugins and apps, but you can quickly add a free social sharing feature until you're ready to upgrade.
Genesis eNews Extended
This single purpose plugin a sign-up tool for building subscriber email lists. It works with all the major email subscriber services including MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, and more.
Genesis Title Toggle
Finally, Title Toggle gives you easy access control over the display of page titles both globally across your site or by individual page. The global setting is found in the Genesis >> Theme Settings menu. You can also manage individual pages setting in their respective page template.