The plugins that power Array
A while back I wrote a post detailing some of the plugins and tools we use here at Array to run the site. The post generated a lot of interest and I still get questions about it to this day. So I thought it would be nice to do another one of those and talk about some of the new plugins we’ve found along the way.
Naturally, WordPress is still the engine that powers everything that happens here. We’re hosting Array and all of our theme demos on a high performance SSD Linux server at Linode. As John has very accurately stated, “Cheap web hosting is not a bargain.” We build performant, snappy products, so naturally we want our hosting to reflect that. Go cloud or go home!
Cheap web hosting is not a bargain.
— John Parris (@John_Parris) December 4, 2015
Easy Digital Downloads
If you’re looking to sell digital goods, there really isn’t a better solution than Easy Digital Downloads. We use EDD to handle all of the store functionality, serving downloads, PayPal and credit card payment gateways, licensing and serving theme updates straight to our users’ dashboards. Pippin Williamson and his team continue to bang away at this plugin, making it better with every release.
Here’s a quick rundown of the EDD extensions we use to power some of the best features of our site.
- Auto Register – Auto Register automatically creates a user account for your customer at checkout. This creates a more seamless checkout and reduces the time it takes customers to complete their purchase. Every second counts on the checkout page!
- Fraud Monitor – Fraud Monitor works behind the scenes to help you catch fraudulent purchases, which can be incredibly costly and time consuming. Based on the parameters you choose, Fraud Monitor will hold any payments it deems suspicious, allowing you to manually review the purchase before approving it. This is one of those plugins that pays for itself if it even works just once. This plugin has prevented hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in fraudulent purchases here on Array.
- Free Downloads – Free Downloads lets you serve free downloads to users without having to go through the checkout process. Instead, when you click the download button, a modal pops up that lets you collect a little information before sending them the free files. We’re using this to serve customers our Free Theme Pack.
- MailChimp – This extension lets you subscribe customers to specific email lists based on what they purchased at checkout.
- Recurring Payments – Recurring Payments enables you to charge a recurring payment for your product or service. Recurring subscription models are becoming more and more prevalent with digital products, and for good reason. This plugin allows us to charge yearly for ongoing support and theme updates.
- Software Licenses – Software Licenses gives you a complete license key generation, activation, and checking system. It allows you to provide license keys along with your digital products that can then be used to properly license and activate your goods or services.
- Enhanced eCommerce Tracking – This extension provides more information and a better view about your products and sales via Google Analytics. Using these in-depth stats, you can get a better idea of how your products are performing and make more informed decisions about how to improve your conversions.
Help Scout Desk
Help Scout Desk provides a bridge between Easy Digital Downloads and Help Scout, where we handle all of our support requests and inquiries. Help Scout Desk provides us with customer purchase data in the Help Scout sidebar, as well as links directly to the customer’s purchase on Array.
MailChimp for WordPress
We use another MailChimp extension called MailChimp for WordPress to grab emails in a few other spots besides the checkout. This is the best plugin I’ve seen for collecting emails if you’re using WordPress and MailChimp. It even sent our own Mailbag plugin into retirement because there’s really no reason you would need anything else.
Transients Manager is a developer’s tool that provides a UI to manage your site’s transients. You can view, search, edit, and delete transients at will. A toolbar option is also provided that allows you to suspend transient updates to help with testing and debugging.
User Switching is great for taking a look at what our users are seeing when they sign in to their Array dashboard. Using this plugin, you can quickly hop between user accounts and diagnose any issues they might be having in their account. This really speeds up the support process, cutting out any guesswork as to what the user might be experiencing in their account.
Support Quality Products
We love finding plugins that make our lives easier and hopefully some of these will do the same for you. It’s important to support quality products when you find them. Sure, there are a billion plugins out there and maybe some free ones that have similar features, but the plugins listed above are battle-tested and maintained by some of the most trustworthy people in WordPress, and each one is worth paying for.
If you have a plugin you love that we missed or think we might like, let us know in the comments below!