If you are interested in jumping in on the growing market for “web sites in a box”, which allow the user/operator to change their site simply by changing the look and feel with a theme, WordPress is a good place to start. While WordPress is traditionally used as a web blog it does have the ability to be used as an entire web site as well, using pages.
We will look at 5 plug-ins I believe to be essential for setting up your own blog hosting company. This is not an exhaustive listing of all available plug-ins, but will give you a start.
WP e-commerce will allow you the ability to have prospective customers purchase your service on line. Additionally, you can allow your customers to take advantage of this plug-in and use it to build themselves an on line store of their own. WP e-commerce integrates with several trusted payment processors including Google Checkout & PayPal. There are so many options available in this plug-in, which allow for a high level of customization.
Contact Form 7
Not only will this highly flexible form generator allow for you to create a contact form for your web site, but it will allow your customers to create their own forms as well. In addition to collecting basic information from a customer, it also allows for the inclusion of uploading files. You and the customer will be able to take advantage of some advanced features as well such as AJAX submitting, CAPTCHA and Akismet Spam filtering.
Email Spam Protection
Email Spam Protection will assist you and your customers by converting traditional email addresses into the format of “email at address dot com” in post and pages. This will help in fighting Spam bots from stealing email addresses from yours and your clients sites and using them to send Spam.
While perhaps not necessarily useful to your customers at first glance, from a security standpoint this plug-in is very necessary. User Locker allows you to set the number of login attempts by the user prior to locking them out. This will assist in cutting down on the brute force and dictionary attacks to your web site. Be aware that the customer or visitor will either have to request a new password or contact the administrator for assistance.
Sidebar login will allow for a widget to be available to your customers. Widgets are items used within WordPress templates to allow for the placement of items through the Widgets page (under Appearance). Sidebar login allows for the placement of a sidebar login, allowing customers and visitors to login to their account right from the web site.
There are many more plug-ins you might be interested in using from within your web site over in the plug-in section of the WordPress site. Don’t forget to add in some usable themes for your customers.