In the WordPress repository, there are currently over 40k plugins; it’s impossible to be an expert on the functionality of all those plugins, so for today, I just want to talk about my favorite Genesis plugins, why they are my favorites (and why I use them on most of the sites I develop). There are quite a few plugins which are specific for use with WordPress sites built on the Genesis framework.
Here’s my top ten in no particular order:
This plugin isn’t restricted to use on site using the Genesis Framework, but it was developed by the StudioPress team, so it deserves a place on this list.
This plugin allows you to display icons that link visitors to your site to your various social media profiles.
It’s easy to customize from within the widget settings, and can be added to any widget area (such as a Header Right, sidebar, Footer, or any other widget location your theme may offer.)
Genesis eNews Extended
If you’re interested in building your site’s audience, a subscription service is a must! The Genesis eNews Extended plugin is a must have, and I use it on all of the sites I customize – this plugin adds a subscription widget to your site, styled to match your theme, rather than using the default styling of your third party subscription service.
This plugin has been tested to work with the most common subscription services currently available for WordPress sites, including:
- Constant Contact
- Mad Mimi
To set up, drag a Genesis eNews Extended widget into your desired widget location, and then complete the fields per your subscription service’s setup instructions.
Genesis Simple Share
The Genesis Simple Share plugin allows you to add a sharing bar before or after (or both if you want!) blog posts. By clicking on the icons, your posts can be shared by your visitors to their social media accounts. What can be easier than giving your visitors to the tools to share your content across the internet! You can even add your Twitter handle directly to the plugin, so any shares to Twitter will automatically include a shoutout to you!
By default, the widget will display the sharing icons in the default colors, but some of our themes have the widget customized to match the theme – keeping your site fully coordinated. Cool, right?
Genesis Simple Edits
Although I don’t use this one myself, I’m adding this one in the list because of the ease of use of this plugin, and why, if you are new at theme customization, you might want to consider it for your site.
This plugin allows you to customize the meta information on your site, and customize the output of the footer.
What does that mean? The “meta” is the line that typically displays immediately below a post title, or at the end of a post. The Entry Header is at the top of a post, and the Entry Footer is at the bottom of a post. You can update or remove this code manually by updating your theme’s files, but it’s easier to use the Genesis Simple Edits to do this for you.
The footer output are the site credits which display at the bottom of your theme:
By updating this information in the Genesis Simple Edits via your dashboard, you’re saving yourself time by not having to modify any code – the plugin does it all for you. Here’s a screenshot showing how easy this is to update:
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Genesis Simple Hooks
Along similar lines to the Genesis Simple Edits plugin, this is a great plugin to use if you need to adjust add additional functionality or code to your site, but you’re worried about crashing your site. The Genesis Simple Hooks plugin allows you to add the code to any of the “Hooks” in the Genesis Framework simply and effectively.
For example, if you want to add in a vendor’s advertising but you don’t already have a widget area, you can “hook” the ad in to display automatically at the top of a post, at the bottom of a post, or anywhere else on your site where there is an associate “hook”. This can all be done through the dashboard of your WordPress site, and no code knowledge is required. This is a powerful plugin for your Genesis powered WordPress site.
Genesis Visual Hook Guide
I just love this plugin, and if you’re going to use the Genesis Simple Hooks plugin, this is a must. The Genesis Framework gives you so much flexibility with their use of hooks, but what if you don’t know just the perfect place to add in your code? The Genesis Visual Hook Guide gives you an actual visual guide on your site (which only you can see!), so you know exactly where that code is going to display.
Find Genesis hooks (action and filter hooks) quick and easily by seeing their actual locations inside your theme.
If you’re like me, and are comfortable updating your site’s PHP files directly, this plugin still helps, because it will point you in the right direction for selecting the best hook location for your needs. Here’s a screenshot showing how it displays on a page of your site, pointing you in the right direction to place your code within the Genesis Simple Hooks (or directly into your theme’s files.
Genesis Simple Sidebars
Have you ever wanted the flexibility to change out the content in a sidebar based on the page you are using? The Genesis Simple Sidebars is a great option which allows you to add as many sidebar options as you like to replace an existing sidebar (such as your primary or secondary sidebar). For example, if you have an eCommerce shop, you might want to display a different sidebar than that which displays on your blog page.
Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, you can create a new sidebar from the Genesis menu in your dashboard, add your desired widgets to that sidebar.
Then, within a page or post, you’ll be presented with the option of selecting which sidebar you wish to use in the Primary or Secondary Sidebar location.
Featured Custom Post Type Widget for Genesis
This plugin isn’t in the WordPress repository, but I’m including it on this list because it’s a fresh plugin which gives the user the same functionality as the popular Genesis Featured Widget Amplified and Genesis Sandbox Featured Content Widget plugins, which haven’t been updated in a couple of years.
By default, Genesis gives users the option to add a Genesis Featured Post or Genesis Featured Page widget to a theme’s widget location. This plugin extends the functionality offered by those widgets by allowing you to showcase Portfolio Posts, or Products, or other custom post types.
Genesis Title Toggle
This plugin lets you easily remove the page title from specific pages. This is especially helpful if you are using a static front page, but don’t want that page title to display on your site. Once you have created your page, scroll down to the “Hide Title” checkbox.
Much like the Genesis Simple Sidebars plugin gives you the option to assign a different sidebar on a page or post basis, the Genesis Simple Menus plugin allows to you create new menus for your secondary Genesis navigation menu on a per post, page, category or tag basis. I like to use it for my shop pages to make it easy for my visitors to navigate around the shop pages on my site.
There is no setup required for this plugin – once you have activated it, you will be given a drop-down from within a page or post to select which menu to display as your secondary navigation.