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      How to Pick the Right Plugins for Your WordPress Website (In 4 Steps)


      One of the advantages of WordPress is its customization potential. With an ever-growing number of plugins available, you have the opportunity to build the website of your dreams. However, having so many options to choose from can make it hard to pick your site’s best fit.

      Fortunately, there are ways to narrow down your decision. By prioritizing your specific needs and learning how to evaluate a tool’s quality, you can find solid plugins to optimize your site.

      In this article, we’ll introduce you to WordPress plugins. We’ll also take you through four easy steps to pick the perfect candidates for your page. Then we’ll wrap up by giving you some potential plugins to consider. Let’s get to it!

      An Introduction to WordPress Plugins

      A WordPress plugin is a third-party program that adds functionality to your site. While themes can adjust the look and feel of a page, plugins provide the actual features. They can thus have a sizable impact on the visitor’s experience.

      Given that plugins tend to be specialized, they enable you to curate a full-site experience with several different programs. For example, let’s say you want to set up a secure online store with ease. You might use the Jetpack plugin for security, WooCommerce for the store, and Elementor to build and customize the storefront.

      Plugins can also affect your back-end experience. For example, you may find that you prefer tools with a user-friendly focus. The sheer amount of software available means that you’re likely to find one that suits your needs.

      Nevertheless, you can have too much of a good thing. Using plugins in excess can slow your website down. As such, you’ll want to consider your choices carefully to help maximize performance while minimizing potential issues.

      A methodical approach can also help you find the highest-quality candidates, especially if you’re searching in a popular category and need to compare tools. Doing a small amount of research can make it easier for you to pick the right plugins on the first try.

      How to Pick the Right Plugins for Your WordPress Website (In 4 Steps)

      A little bit of structure can help expedite the selection process. Below are four easy steps that you can follow to pick the right plugins for your WordPress website.

      Step 1: Identify Your Plugin Requirements

      The first step is to decide what you need from a plugin. While this may seem obvious, assessing your exact needs can be surprisingly helpful. After you’ve created a list of features you’d like, you can also try prioritizing them. This can help you focus on finding a plugin that matches your primary requirements.

      Many plugins have multiple uses. These tools can be time-savers, especially if you have several related needs. However, you may want to consider mixing and matching plugins, as this flexible outlook can expand your options.

      It’s also important to understand that some plugins come at a cost. A premium plugin typically offers benefits such as extra features or priority support. Therefore, you may want to decide what functionality you’d be willing to pay for. If you’re on a tight budget, though, don’t stress. You’ll likely be able to find a free plugin (or a combination of similar plugins) that’ll help you achieve your goals even if you miss out on some of the premium features.

      If you’re unfamiliar with WordPress extensions as a whole, we recommend browsing a few popular WordPress plugins to get an idea of what’s available.

      The WordPress.org plugin directory displaying popular options.

      With so many options, it can be easy to get turned around. We recommend keeping your particular needs in mind throughout the process to help you focus on your key features and establish some structure for your search.

      Step 2: Search for a Plugin

      After you’ve laid out your must-have features, you can start the process of searching for a plugin. Many developers offer downloads from their official sites. However, if you’re looking for a more centralized marketplace, it’s hard to go wrong with the WordPress Plugin Directory.

      The WordPress Plugin Directory.

      The WordPress Plugin Directory is the official place to find WordPress-approved software. Staff members check each submission for quality and security, so you’re likely to find a wide variety of top-notch programs.

      As we mentioned earlier, some premium plugins require payment. However, you may also encounter tools that offer a free version alongside their premium options. Jetpack is an example of this “freemium” model.

      An excerpt of Jetpack’s plugin description.

      You might also come across free versions of premium plugins through unofficial channels. While these may seem appealing, we recommend avoiding them at all costs. They are often stolen versions that can put your site at risk for malware.

      To ensure that your search circumvents pirated material, you stick to reputable websites. You might also want to steer clear of any scenarios that seem “too good to be true,” as these are often illegitimate products designed to trick users.

      Once you’ve decided on a place to search for your plugin, you can start actively looking for a tool. Don’t be afraid to spend some time shopping around and exploring your options. After you’ve found a plugin that catches your eye, you can proceed to the next step.

      We Make WordPress Easier

      Our automatic updates and strong security defenses take server management off your hands so you can focus on what really matters: growing your website.

      Step 3: Review Information About the Plugin

      Next, you can focus on a single plugin. There are a variety of factors you’ll want to consider at this stage. In the WordPress Plugin Directory, most of the important information is accessible by scrolling down on the plugin’s page.

      The WooCommerce main page in the WordPress Plugin Directory.

      Using WooCommerce as an example, let’s start with ratings and reviews. You can find this section on the right-hand side.

      A portion of WooCommerce’s information page showing the “Ratings” section.

      WordPress ratings work on a star system, with one being the lowest and five being the highest. You can also access reviews by clicking on See all. These often include more specific information regarding the program. It’s important to peruse both positive and negative reviews for a balanced picture.

      Next up, consider a plugin’s active installations and update schedule. This section is located directly above the ratings.

      A close-up of WooCommerce’s installation statistics.

      Last updated displays the most recent update, a crucial part of site security for any program. A large number of Active installations can also indicate a high-quality plugin. You can even check to see if the plugin is compatible with your version of WordPress to avoid breaking your site.

      Let’s move on to the Support section, typically located under the ratings.

      The support section of the WooCommerce plugin.

      A high number of resolved issues is a positive sign, as it indicates that the developers are responsive. Reading through some support questions can also give you an idea of potential challenges you may face when using the software.

      Finally, there’s plenty of other information on this page that might be helpful. For instance, scrolling down to the section marked Screenshots can show you the User Interface (UI). You might also want to check the FAQ section to learn more about common issues.

      We recommend focusing on the factors that you find most important. Then you can use that personalized metric to easily compare different plugins. After you’ve narrowed your choice down to one tool, you can move on to the last step.

      Step 4: Download and Test the Plugin

      Finally, you can download the plugin and test it on your site. We encourage you to consult a plugin’s installation instructions before downloading it because they may contain important information to help you avoid software-specific issues.

      Once you’ve checked any instructions, you can navigate to your WordPress dashboard. Select Plugins > Add New from the right-hand menu. Next, enter the name of the plugin you want to install in the Search plugins box. Here’s the WooCommerce result as an example.

      The WooCommerce plugin as viewed from the dashboard.

      Click on the Install Now button to start the process. After it’s done, the button will change colors and read as Activate.

      The WooCommerce plugin button labeled “Activate.”

      You must activate the plugin to use it on your site. Click it as soon as you’re ready to move on. Similar to installation instructions, some tools may come with an introductory message or setup tips. You may want to read these over in case they contain useful information.

      After you’ve set up the plugin, you can start testing its performance. An important issue is how it impacts your site’s speed. To test this, we recommend using a tool such as GTmetrix.

      The GTmetrix test tool.

      Before you activate the plugin, we recommend testing your site’s baseline speed. You can write the results down and re-test once the plugin is up and running. If the plugin has a considerably negative effect on your speed, you may want to reconsider using it.

      There are other ways that you can test a plugin. For instance, you may want to send a basic question to support to see how responsive the developers are. Alternatively, you might use a staging site to determine usability and front-end functionality.

      WordPress Plugins to Consider for Your Site

      Armed with the above four steps, you’re ready to find the perfect plugin. However, perhaps you’re still unsure where to begin. If that’s the case, we’ve put together some recommendations for you to kickstart your search.

      If you’re setting up your first site, you may be seeking the essentials. It’s hard to go wrong with plugins that help you improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or site security. Even seasoned WordPress professionals make frequent use of such tools.

      Alternatively, maybe you’re a content creator. If you’re launching a podcast website, for example, you probably have different needs than the average blogger. In that scenario, it’s important to consider specialty plugins that are designed with your niche in mind.

      Finally, you might be curious about ways to improve your workflow. Plenty of developers have answered the call, providing plugins to help you work more efficiently and communicate without friction. This kind of technology can be especially helpful if you’re working with a team.

      There are countless quality plugins to explore. Applying our four-step method and prioritizing your needs can help you discover the ones that will fit your site the best. Our team has also put together several guides to help you find great add-ons for your WordPress site.

      Once you’ve found the right plugin, be sure to check out our WordPress plugin installation tutorial to learn how to set it up in your WordPress dashboard.

      Take Your WordPress Website to the Next Level

      Whether you need help selecting a caching plugin, adding a contact form, or installing a premium theme, we can help! Subscribe to our monthly newsletter so you never miss an article.

      The WordPress Plugin Directory Awaits

      WordPress’ flexibility is wonderful. However, too many options can overwhelm you and make deciding difficult. Fortunately, you can find a well-fitting plugin by approaching the search systematically and focusing on your site’s needs.

      In this article, we covered four steps to help you pick the right plugins for your WordPress website:

      1. Identify and prioritize what you need from a plugin.
      2. Search for your options in legitimate, quality marketplaces.
      3. Review the available information on each plugin’s page.
      4. Download the software and test it against your expectations.

      Even with the perfect plugins, putting together a website can be tough. Let us do the heavy lifting with our DreamPress managed WordPress hosting!



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      How to Transfer Your Domain Registration to DreamHost (4 Steps)


      So you’ve got a website. Or maybe you juggle multiple websites and domain names. Perhaps you’re unsatisfied with your current registrar, or you’ve found you’re managing too many different things in too many different places.

      If so, it might be time to consider transferring your domain registration. And you might want to consider transferring it to DreamHost.

      Wondering How to Move a Domain Name to a New Host?

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      Why You Should Consider Transferring Your Domain to DreamHost

      1. You Want to Manage Everything in One Place 

      A while back, we surveyed some of our customers, and they told us the No. 1 benefit of using DreamHost was that it gave them the ability to manage as much as possible in one place. 

      More specifically, 60% of customers we asked said the main benefit of using DreamHost was the ability to manage several websites and domains from a single location

      So if you are running several websites under several different registrars, moving them all to one place would make life a whole lot easier.

      2. You’re Being Charged Too Much for Renewals 

      Like any service, prices vary, and those costs can increase when it’s time to renew. If you feel you’re being charged too much for domain registration renewals, the obvious solution is to change registrars.

      3. Support is Lacking 

      As with price, the support offered by different service providers varies a lot. If you’re not getting the help you need from your current registrar, it may be worth moving to one that can fill the gap (like DreamHost). 

      4. You’d Like to Move a Domain from One DreamHost Account to Another

      If you run many websites, there’s always a chance you’re going to be taking over a domain owned by someone using DreamHost. Should this happen, we allow you to transfer domain ownership from one person to another quickly and with minimal effort. 

      In this situation, the easiest solution is just to continue using DreamHost (and potentially move your other domains over too).

      Need-to-Knows When Transferring a Domain

      Understanding what is and isn’t possible when transferring domains can save you tons of time further down the line and help ensure a smooth and pain-free domain transfer. 

      With that in mind, here are a few things you need to know before you start the process of transferring a domain registration.

      1. Only Certain TLDs Are Allowed

      At DreamHost, we support certain TLDs for transfer. However, it’s actually only a handful of TLDs that cannot be transferred. These are: .AM, .AT, .BZ, .FM, .JP, .NET.NZ, .ORG.NZ, .NGO, .ONG, .OOO, and .WS. 

      For more information, you can check out DreamHost’s TLD page for a current list of domain extensions with pricing.

      Additionally, there are also some New TLDs and ccTLDs which are considered premium domains — for example, .LIVE, .ME, and others. DreamHost cannot accept transferring premium domains due to the pricing structures that vary from one registrar to another. 

      If you’d like to use a premium domain for your website, you’ll need to register it directly with Enom or another registrar that sells premium domains. Then you can host the site on your DreamHost account like any other domain. 

      2. Beware of the ICANN 60-day Transfer Lock

      Did you know you can’t transfer your domain during the first 60 days of registration? You need to wait until day 61.

      It’s also worth remembering that you cannot transfer a domain if your last transfer took place within the previous 60 days.

      And remember, transferring a registration only moves your domain. If you’d like to transfer your web hosting service to DreamHost, we can help with that too.

      3. Downtime Can Happen If You Don’t Get Your Nameservers Sorted First

      It’s important to know that if you decide to change your nameservers to DreamHost after completing a transfer, you may experience some downtime. Changes to the nameservers cannot be made while the domain is pending transfer. 

      We recommend that you start the transfer at least a month in advance — this will make sure your domain registration does not expire during the transfer. 

      What Should You Do Before You Request a Domain Transfer?

      We recommend completing three super simple steps before you make your transfer request. This is because of ICANN’s Transfer Policy, which means that following a transfer, changes made to the registrant’s name, organization, or email address will be put on a 60-day lock

      1. Unlock the domain registration. This is done with your current registrar.
      2. Obtain the auth code, also known as the EPP. You can get this from your current registrar.
      3. Remove WHOIS privacy. This is done through your current registrar. This allows your new registrar to recognize the new owner.

      Now you’ve completed all the preparation, it’s time to transfer your domain to DreamHost. The whole process is pretty simple, but just to be sure, here’s what you need to do. 

      How to Transfer Your Domain to DreamHost in 4 Steps

      Four steps — it’s that easy! Let’s walk you through the process of transferring your domain to DreamHost.

      1. Request the Transfer-In With Dreamhost

      Start by logging in to your DreamHost account. You can do that here. If you don’t have an account yet, you can create one here

      From there, you are going to need to navigate to the Reg Transfer page. There you will find a button labeled Start Transfer to DreamHost — click that. 

      DreamHost’s list of info for what you need to know before starting a domain transfer.

      Have you done that? Cool. You should now see this:

      Requesting a domain transfer in the DreamHost panel. 

      In this section, all you need to do is add the domain(s) you would like to transfer to DreamHost and click Request Transfer

      2. Enter your Auth Code, WHOIS Info, and Nameservers

      Now you need to fill in details to show you are the owner of that domain(s). If you want your contact details to stay hidden, just tick the I want all my contact information private button.

      This is free, by the way. We don’t like unnecessary charges!

      Checkbox for making WHOIS contact info private

      You should now see a section asking you to enter all your WHOIS information. As you might suspect, you need to make sure all your details are valid and correct and that you have followed the ICANN policy we mentioned earlier.

      The WHOIS section looks like this:

      Empty WHOIS information fields to be filled out.

      See that little checkbox at the top? If you click that, it will use these details to automatically fill in the four contact fields on the domain registration’s internal ownership details. These are:

      • Admin
      • Billing
      • Registrant
      • Technical details

      The following section is the Auth Code field.

      Your current registrar should have provided you with either an Auth Code or EPP code. Make sure you fill in the fields with the code exactly as provided to you.

      Once that’s done, you should see the following:

      Filling out nameserver information with the “Use another host’s nameservers” option clicked.

      Choose either Use DreamHost’s nameservers (this automatically sets DreamHost’s nameservers for you) or Use another host’s nameservers (you should choose this if you’d like to enter outside name servers manually). 

      Make sure you have read the Registration’s Terms, and click Continue

      You now need to pay for the transfer. 

      3. Pay for Your Domain Transfer

      If you have a free domain registration with your current registrar, you won’t be charged by DreamHost. If you don’t have a free domain registration, you will need to pay for it here. 

      To complete this step, you first need to review your order. 

      Reviewing order total for example.com ‘Transfer + 1 year registration’

      If you need to pay for the transfer, you will know because the fee will appear in the Order Summary. 

      Click the Proceed to Payment Entry button. You then need to confirm the payment, so press the Submit Transfer Request button. 

      Notification showing ‘Transfer Initiated’ submitted and next steps. 

      On the next screen, you simply need to enter your payment details and click the confirmation button. You should now see that the transfer has been initiated.

      Notification showing ‘Transfer Initiated’ submitted and next steps.

      Navigate to the Reg Transfer page, and if all is well, you will be able to see confirmation that the transfer is pending. 

      Example of a pending transfer in the DreamHost panel. 

      When the transfer has completed, payment will be taken from your bank account. 

      Let’s move on to the last step. 

      4. Check That the Domain Status and EPP Code Are Verified, and Transfer Request Is Submitted to the Current Registrar

      Once the transfer is completed, the authorization code and EPP are verified with your current registrar. 

      The registrar then has five days to release the domain to DreamHost, and the transfer will complete within the seven days after. 

      You can confirm the status by running a quick WHOIS check. If the transfer fails, you can get more help by contacting our support team

      There you go — four simple steps as promised!

      That said, there are little things that can go wrong. Let’s discuss some of the most common domain transfer problems our team here at DreamHost comes across and how they can be fixed without needing to contact support. 

      Ready to Switch Your Domain Registrar?

      Search DreamHost’s 400+ TLDs to find the perfect URL for your website.

      3 Common Domain Transfer Issues

      While the steps involved in transferring a domain are simple, that doesn’t guarantee everything will run without a hitch. There are several factors involved, and if you have issues, it could be for one of the following reasons. 

      1. Some domains update their auth code internally. For example, the .org registry has many security measures and can often change EPP codes automatically. If you see this happening, you need to contact your current registrar. You’ll then need to reset the auth code and resubmit the domain transfer request. 
      2. Some domains are transfer locked. You can establish whether this is an issue by looking at the WHOIS information and checking for the following: Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited. If you see this, you’ll have to contact your current registrar to have it unlocked. Once that’s done, you then need to resubmit the domain transfer in DreamHost.
      3. Intermittent issues with the DNS. After a transfer, you may see this issue. This is usually down to domains having previously used DNSSEC. Find out how to fix it in this article. 

      Still running into issues? Check our Knowledge Base or contact support.

      Master Your Domain at DreamHost

      It’s not uncommon for website owners to start with one domain registrar and later move to another. Over time many of us realize we rushed the initial registration process, didn’t do due research, and wound up being charged too much for too little.

      If this includes you, moving your domain registration — to DreamHost or any other registrar — is much simpler than you might at first think.

      In short, you simply need to:

      1. Request the Transfer-In with DreamHost (or your chosen registrar)
      2. Enter the auth code, WHOIS, and nameservers 
      3. Pay for your transfer 
      4. Wait for your domain status and EPP code to be verified and for your transfer request to be submitted to your current 

      If you’d like to register a new domain, we can help with that too! DreamHost .COM domains cost $7.99 a year and come with free, private registration, while other domains start from less than $1/year. Find out more here.



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      How to Fix the Sidebar Below Content Error in WordPress (In 3 Steps)


      Perfecting your WordPress website’s layout can be a lot of work, but it’s also essential for User Experience (UX), engagement, and conversions. Therefore, it can be frustrating when a seemingly random error causes a disruption to your site’s display — such as your sidebar suddenly appearing below the content rather than to the side.

      While there are a few potential causes, it primarily comes down to issues with the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) or Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Fortunately, the issues are relatively easy to fix, so you can quickly get your site back in tip-top shape.

      In this article, we’ll walk through the common causes of this error, then show you how to resolve it in three simple steps. Let’s get started!

      Common Causes of the Sidebar Dropping Below the Content in WordPress

      Sidebars in WordPress are content areas meant to be displayed either to the left or right of the page’s main segment (or sometimes both). They often contain widgets, sign-up forms, links to related posts, or similar content that you’d want to include across your site.

      Due to various bugs or errors, your sidebars may sometimes appear at the bottom of the page, rather than to the left or right. Needless to say, this can easily ruin a well-designed website.

      The primary cause of this behavior is problems with either the HTML or CSS on your site. It is usually a result of direct changes you’ve made to your site’s code, such as a theme or plugin file.

      For example, perhaps there is an extra or undisclosed <div> tag on the page. The problem could even be attributed to incorrect width and floating settings in your CSS. Fortunately, fixing this error is easy enough.

      Skip the Stress

      Avoid troubleshooting when you sign up for DreamPress. Our friendly WordPress experts are available 24/7 to help solve website problems — big or small.

      How to Fix the WordPress Sidebar Below Content Error (In 3 Steps)

      Now that you know the potential causes of this perplexing error, it’s time to correct it. We recommend running through the following three steps in order, moving on to the next only if the previous one didn’t work. Before getting started, remember to make a backup of your site just in case.

      Step 1: Undo Your Most Recent Changes

      The first step is also the simplest. If your sidebar moved after making a change to your site — whether that’s installing a new plugin, adding custom code, or anything else — simply undo it. Reversing the action both gets your layout back to its original format and helps isolate the cause of the issue.

      So you can start by reversing the change and refreshing your site to see if the sidebar is back in its proper place. If so, you can then look for potential issues with whatever changes you were attempting to make. For example, if you installed a new plugin, check for alternatives. If you altered or added to your site’s code, look for any typos or syntax errors.

      Step 2: Fix Unclosed <div> Tags or Remove Extra <div> Tags

      Often, an unclosed or extra <div> tag in your site’s code is the cause of the WordPress sidebar error. These HTML tags define the boundaries of sections on your website. If they’re incorrectly placed, browsers won’t render the site properly (hence the wandering sidebar).

      Here’s an example of a correctly-formatted page:

      Correctly formatted <div> tags on a page.

      Below is the same page with an unclosed <div> tag:

      Incorrect <div> tags causing elements to appear in the wrong place.

      You can see that what should be the closing <div> tag is missing the forward slash. As a result, the browser doesn’t know that it’s meant to be closed, and the content that should be outside the element is now inside.

      To fix this, comb through any template files you’ve modified and look for missing or extra tags. Generally, these errors can be found in the “template parts” files of your WordPress theme. To get there, head to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Appearance > Theme Editor.

      The WordPress Theme Editor.

      Choose the correct theme from the drop-down menu at the top, and then locate the template parts section in the sidebar.

      Template parts in the WordPress Theme Editor.

      The templates that generate pages and posts are usually under the content section. Find the one you need from the list, check it, and make any corrections. Then you can click on Update File to save your changes.

      If you know which file you edited, you can jump straight there. Otherwise, you’ll need to check them all for inconsistencies.

      Step 3: Correct CSS Issues

      Another frequent cause of this error is found in your site’s CSS. The WordPress Customizer’s Additional CSS section enables you to add custom CSS to your site.

      The WordPress Customizer Additional CSS section.

      If you’ve used this feature or edited the CSS through other means, you may have formatted the code incorrectly. In the case of moving sidebars, the most common culprit is the “width” property.

      You should double-check that the sum of the widths of the Content and Sidebar elements doesn’t exceed the width of the Wrap element. If it does, the smaller element will be pushed down in order to fit.

      Tools to Make Troubleshooting Sidebar Issues Easier

      You can also troubleshoot the issue yourself without using code. There are several online tools online that can validate your code and check it for errors.

      You can use the W3C Markup Validation Service to check HTML code. The W3C CSS Validation Service is the CSS counterpart. Online Web Check is also an excellent tool that works for both HTML and CSS.

      These services are also fantastic if you just want a second set of eyes on your code, regardless of skill level. A quick double-check never hurt anyone!

      You could also take fixing WordPress errors off your to-do list with our DreamCare service. Our team of experts handle everything on the backend of your site to make sure it’s safe, secure, and always up.

      Additional WordPress Resources

      Say goodbye to broken links and error messages! We’ve put together several guides to help you troubleshoot every kind of WordPress problem:

      If you’re looking for more WordPress tips and hacks, check out our WordPress Tutorials, a collection of guides that’ll help you navigate the WordPress admin area like a pro.

      Take Your WordPress Site to the Next Level

      Whether you need help choosing the right WordPress plugin, creating a child theme, or writing your first blog post, we can help! Subscribe to our monthly digest so you never miss an article.

      Solving the Sidebar Error

      If you’ve spent time building a beautiful WordPress website, you likely don’t want anything to take away from it — least of all sudden errors. Fortunately, if the problem is that your sidebars are appearing below your content, the fix is relatively simple!

      To correct the sidebar appearing below content error, you can follow these three steps:

      1. Undo any changes you made to your site just prior to the error appearing.
      2. Check for and fix unclosed or extra <div> tags in your code.
      3. Verify that your site’s CSS is correct.

      If you’d rather spend your time working on your business instead of troubleshooting your website, consider switching to DreamPress. With our managed WordPress hosting plans, we take care of the problems for you, so you can stay focused on what really matters.



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