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2.8 Supports Plugins You’ll Need

It’s important to think ahead about the plugins you’ll need to use. In some cases, if a theme doesn’t support a plugin, you’ll be out of luck and will have to choose a theme all over again. Let’s cover the plugins to consider compatibility for in this lesson.

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2.8 Supports Plugins You’ll Need

Hey, welcome back to WordPress themes, things to check before you buy. In this lesson, we're going to talk a bit about plugins. And the things that you might need to consider when you are choosing a theme that is either required for compatibility with certain plugins. Or is just going to give you the best results with certain plugins. We've got a full broad categories of plugins that I think that you should consider. Whether you're going to need them as part of your site or not. And then we're going to check out some examples of themes that are made with these types of plugins in mind. You can see what type of inclusions you get in a theme that's designed to work with particular kinds of plugins. And then, that way, you can decide how important these things are for your project. And before we get into looking at those demos, I just want to show you something on theme forests that can help you with this process. If you jump into theme forest and then you click on WordPress up here. If you scroll down on the left side, you can see that there is a little bunch of check boxes here. And this is a list of specific plugins that you can use with WordPress. And if you tick one of the boxes here, so let's say we want something that's going to work with Bbpress. Then it's going to filter out all of these results so that you only get themes that are designed specifically with compatibility for that plugin in mind. So once you know what kind of plugins you're going to need, and how important theme compatibility is for you. Then that can be a helpful part of the theme selection process. All right, now let's check out some examples of the types of themes that we're talking about. So the first of these categories then that is a good idea to consider up front is e-commerce. Are you going to be selling anything on your site? And if so, then what kind of complexity are you going to need in the management of selling those products? So for example, if all you need to do is maybe sell one eBook, then you're not going to have to worry too much. Because it's not going to be too difficult to set up, say, a single link to buy a single product later on down the track. But if you're going to have a few products, then you're going to need to organize them. Especially if you're going to have physical products where you need to manage postage calculations, and tax inclusions. And all those types of things, then you should definitely consider eCommerce at the start of the project. To make sure that the site that you end up with is capable of handling all of these different factors. Now there are a bunch of different eCommerce plugins. You've got WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, WP eCommerce, Jigoshop, there's a whole bunch of different plugins. So the first thing you would want to do is take a look at those plugins. And see which one matches the kind of products you're going to be selling the best. Because in some cases, they do have fairly distinct types of functionality included. We're going to have a quick look at some themes for two of the most popular plugins. We're going to check out one for WooCommerce, which is a good sort of catch all eCommerce plugin. If you're going to be doing physical products, in particular, then you might want to look at something like this. So that you can have add-ons to help you work with postage and things like that. We're also going to be looking at a theme for Easy Digital Downloads, which is more focused on digital products. It does have the capacity to work with physical products. But if you're going to be selling things like eBooks instead of physical products, then you might like to look in that direction instead. So first up we have this theme here, and this is designed specifically to work with Easy Digital Downloads. So as we scroll down, you can see that we've got product displays. And this is all coded so that it knows how to dig into the information that's being posted via the Easy Digital Downloads plugin. It knows how to look up the name of a product, the price of a product. And all of the different product specific information pertinent to each one of those items. So as you scroll through, you can see this is a theme that's optimized for this type of eCommerce. So if you just get an every day theme, you're probably still going to be able to work with it. But it's going to be a lot harder, and your presentation isn't going to be quite at the level that it will be if you choose a theme like this. And here is an example of a theme that's designed to support WooCommerce. And I believe this theme also supports some other eCommerce plugins as well. And right from the start, you can see that this is all oriented towards behaving like an eCommerce site. We've got products showing in the front page, we can see the product image. We can see the pricing, we can see the name of the product, we've got some best sellers. Everything here is all oriented towards being a store. So if you think that there's a chance that you're going to need this type of layout as part of your site. Even if you don't have a front page store like this site, even if you're going to need a shop, for example, instead. Then you definitely want to consider choosing a theme that's compatible from the outset. Instead of trying to reverse engineer your theme later on. All right, next up, are you going to need to do or want to do any type of community building on your website? There are a couple of well known themes for WordPress that are designed to help you with community building. So you have bbPress, which gives you the ability to create your own forums. These forums can also be really useful if you need to do product support on your website, as well. You can allow customers to come along and post questions on your forums. And then not only can you help them out, but sometimes your other customers can help each other out, as well. Then you also have BuddyPress, which is kind of like something that lets you set up your own social media platform. Not exactly a social media platform, but it's something that allows people to create profiles for themselves. And interact with other members, and all of that type of thing. So if you want to do either of these two things, then you definitely want to choose a plugin that's compatible with this. So here's an example, this is an example of a theme that's compatible with BuddyPress. And this is a demo of how an individual user's profile page might look. So you've got the person's profile image, you've got a whole bunch of information about that person. And their sort of Twitter style posts on here as well. And this is something, again, you really want a compatible theme for if you want to do something like this. And the same theme is also bbPress compatible, which is allowing them to create a forum like this. So, not only would you want compatibility. You would also want to have a look and see what the design style is for bbPress or BuddyPress in that theme. So that you like the way the forums look, or you like the way that the community area looks. So, here's another example of how a forum can be styled to look in a theme. So we've got this one here, and then this is the same forum engine, but it's just styled differently. So it looks fairly different to the one that we just saw here. So you want to make sure, a, that it's compatible, and, b, that you like the design style. And then our third category of plugin that you should broadly consider in advance is. If you're going to be needing to do anything around event management. So maybe your site is going to be for a business that offers classes. Or it has shows that you need to sell tickets for, or you have some type of schedule that you want to show people. So then, you can look for a thing that's compatible with a plugin like event calendar, for example. So let's take a look at what kind of thing you might use this for. This theme is designed for a yoga studio, so this would work equally well for just a generic gym. And if we scroll down here, you can see that we've got this really nice table of all of the classes that are available on an ongoing basis. So if you have this type of a project, where you need to show people your ongoing schedule, then this could be really, really useful for you. It might not just be a weekly schedule that you want to show people. Perhaps you have specific events that come and go, and you want to be able to give people access to tickets. So this would be an example of what you might do in that scenario, so in this example, this theme is designed for a band. And we have a list of the shows that this band is going to be performing. And then over here on the right, you have access to the tickets and the information for that event. So using a plugin for this type of thing is going to be a lot easier than trying to just manually format all of this information. And then the fourth category of plugin that we're going to take a quick look at is just the possibility that you might want to have some special forms on your site. So contact forms or inquiry forms, anything that's going to have a few fields that you want people to be able to fill out. And you want some control over what those fields are going to be. Again, there's a couple of well known plugins that can help you with forms in WordPress, one is Gravity Forms. It has a very good reputation as being one of the best plugins that you can use to create your own forms, however you need them to be. And another popular one is Contact Form 7, and that's just oriented towards contact forms. And it's very good in that singularity that it focuses on, so let's have a look at an example. Of the kind of theme that you might like to get if forms are going to be important to you. So this theme is giving us a demonstration of some of the ways that it's styling Contact Form 7 forms. So it's up to each individual theme to decide how forms are going to be presented on a website. And if you know you’re going to need forms, but the demonstration of the theme doesn’t show you how forms will appear. Then that’s kind of a missing piece in your image of how the theme is actually going to look on your site. So here we can see that we’ve got this nice clean styling for Contact Form 7 forms. We have a couple of different options for how it can appear. So we have this option here as well, and this one with this little jiggly stuff. So this shows you, when you have a theme developer that puts some time and effort into compatibility. So just to backtrack for a second, Contract Form 7 can work on any website, you don't need a specifically compatible site. But if you have a theme developer that's aware of Contact Form 7. And they have gone to the extra trouble to create styles specifically for it. Then you get extra options for how you're going to have your website looking. That gives you a broad overview of those four categories of plugins that you should consider before you choose your theme. There are other plugin types as well, but those are the main ones that I think it's a good idea to prepare for in advance. So we've got eCommerce, community building, event management, and forms. Next up, we're going to take a look at performance. How do you make sure that the theme you're considering buying is going to have good loading speed and overall performance? And not only how do you check, but also how do you know what kind of load speed you should actually be aiming for? How slow is too slow? And how fast is fast enough? We're going to go over those questions, and we're going to go through some answers in the next lesson. I'll see you there.

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