How to Add a Search Bar to WordPress Menu (Step by Step)

Do you want to add a search bar to your WordPress navigation menu?

By default, WordPress lets you add a search section on your website sidebar, footer, and other widget-ready areas. However, many users prefer to have the WordPress search box in the navigation menu because it is easily noticeable on the top.

In this article, we will show you how to easily add a search bar to your WordPress menu without having any coding knowledge.

Adding a Search Bar to WordPress Menu

Why You Should Add a Search Bar in Menu?

A site search makes it easy for your users to find what they’re looking for without leaving your website. It helps improve user experience on your website and boosts engagement.

This is why most usability experts recommend adding a search option in the navigation menu, so users can easily find it.

However, the default WordPress search widget is limited to only widget-ready areas.

Luckily, there are many different WordPress search plugins which let you add the search bar to different locations on your site including menus.

For this tutorial, we have chosen the Ivory Search free plugin. It allows you to create new custom search forms and enhance the default WordPress search.

With that said, let’s take a look at how to add a search bar to your WordPress menu.

Adding a Search Bar to WordPress Menu

First thing you need to do is to install and activate the Ivory Search plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit Ivory Search » Search Forms page to create a new search form.

Ivory Search Include Options

The plugin automatically adds the default search form, so you can quickly review its settings and add it to your WordPress menu.

Search settings allow you to select which content on your website should be included in the site search.

The ‘Includes’ section lets you choose which post types, posts, pages, category, custom fields, etc. should be included in the search query. You need to review the options and click the Save Form button.

Next, there is the ‘Excludes’ section, which lets you define the content that you don’t want to show in search results. Once done, click the Save Form button again to store your settings.

Ivory Search Exclude Options

The ‘AJAX’ section lets you enable AJAX functionality for your search form.

Ivory WordPress Search Bar AJAX Settings

The ‘Options’ section lets you define how many results to show per search page along with other advanced settings.

Define Search Results Per Page in Ivory Search Plugin

Now your custom WordPress search form is ready. Once again, don’t forget to save your settings.

After that, the next step is to add the search form to your navigation menu. Simply go to Ivory Search » Settings page to configure the search bar to your WordPress menu.

On this page, you will see the ‘Select Menu’ tab. From here, you can simply toggle the menu where you would like to add the search bar.

Select WordPress Menu to Show Search Bar

This list of menus (Primary Menu and Footer Menu) belongs to your WordPress template. If you change the template of your site, then the list will be automatically updated with the available menus from your template.

After that, you can choose the search style from the Form Style accordion below.

The plugin allows you to display the search form in five different styles: Default, dropdown, sliding, full width, and popup.

Ivory Search Form Styles

If you like, you can further customize the options by going to the ‘Settings’ section below ‘Menu Search’.

From there, you can add your search form to the header, footer, manage mobile display for search, and more. These settings will also help in controlling the search results for your users.

Ivory Search More Settings

Once you are satisfied, make sure to save your settings. After that, you can head over to your website to see the search bar in the WordPress navigation menu.

Search Bar in WordPress Menu Preview

We hope this article helped you learn how to add a search bar to a WordPress menu. You may also want to see our list of most useful tips to speed up WordPress and boost performance.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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WPBeginner

How We Made WordPress Faster than Static Site Generators (Case Study – Speeding up WPBeginner)

On the 10th anniversary of WPBeginner, I shared that WPBeginner hosting infrastructure got a huge upgrade thanks to our web hosting partner, HostGator.

Shortly after, I started getting emails from readers asking me to share the details on how we made WPBeginner load blazing fast.

Yes, WPBeginner load faster than most static site generators and in some cases faster than Google AMP sites too.

In this article, I will give you behind the scenes look at how we made WordPress faster than static site generators and headless CMS platforms.

Speeding up WPBeginner - Behind the Scenes

Note: This article is a bit more technical than what we typically publish on WPBeginner. For non-techy users, I recommend following our ultimate guide on how to speed up WordPress.

Background

Lately WordPress has been getting a lot of bad rep from “modern” developers where they say WordPress is slow.

The statement is usually followed up with, you should switch to a JAMstack static site generator like GatsbyJS. Others in the enterprise world will say that you should switch to a headless CMS like Contentful.

Several of my very successful entrepreneur friends started asking me whether this was true.

Some even started the process of migrating to a headless CMS because they read case studies of how others unlocked huge speed improvements by switching from WordPress to static site generators.

This was very frustrating for me because I knew they were wasting tens of thousands of dollars in migration costs. Not to mention, the endless customization costs that will rack up in the future.

So I took it as a challenge to prove that a large WordPress content sites like WPBeginner can load just as fast if not faster than most modern static site generators.

You can call me old school, but at the end of the day, a static site is just a page loading from cache.

Results

Before I jump to the exact WordPress hosting infrastructure, server configurations, and plugins, I think its helpful to share the results.

Here’s how fast WPBeginner home page loads on Pingdom from their Washington, DC server:

WPBeginner Homepage Pingdom

Depending on the time of day and location you check from, this result will vary anywhere from 400ms – 700ms range which is pretty fast for a homepage.

Here’s a test that I ran for a single post page since it has bigger images and more content:

WPBeginner Single Posts Page Speed Test from Pingdom

We also got a perfect score of “100” in Google page speed test for desktop. Although we do have some room for improvement on mobile score.

WPBeginner Google Page Speed Test

The results above are for cached pages which is what our readers and search engine bots get when they view our website. The perceived load time of WPBeginner is near instant (more on this later).

For the sake of comparison, here’s a speed test result for Gatsby’s homepage. This is a popular static site generator that a lot of developers are raving about:

Gatsby Homepage Pingdom

Here’s the speed test result of Netlify’s homepage, a popular static site host, that a lot of developers recommend. Notice that they have half the amount of requests, and their page size is 30% of WPBeginner, yet it still loads slower than our homepage.

Netlify Homepage Pingdom

The homepage speed of Contentful, the headless CMS which is “how enterprises deliver better digital experiences” is just not optimized at all. This was the slowest website we tested.

Contentful Homepage Pingdom

I am sharing these stats not to discredit the other frameworks, but rather to give perspective that not all new things are as shiny as they may seem.

WordPress with a proper hosting infrastructure and optimizations can be just as fast as any static site generator. Furthermore, no other platform will even come close to the level of flexibility that WordPress offers to business owners through its large ecosystem of plugins and themes.

WPBeginner Hosting Infrastructure

When it comes to website speed, nothing plays a more important role than your web hosting infrastructure.

As many of you already know, I have been a HostGator customer since 2007. I started the WPBeginner blog in 2009 on a small HostGator shared hosting account.

As our website grew, we upgraded to their VPS hosting and then dedicated servers.

Over the last decade, I have gotten a chance to work closely with many of their team members, and they have become an extended part of the WPBeginner family.

So when I took on the challenge to make WPBeginner faster than static site generators, I turned to them for help.

I shared my vision with their leadership team, and they offered to help me build one of a kind enterprise hosting setup for WPBeginner.

They put the best engineers from both Bluehost and HostGator team to work closely with me to make WPBeginner blazing fast.

Here’s an overview of what the WPBeginner hosting setup looks like:

WPBeginner Hosting Infrastructure

As you can see, this is a multi-server setup spread across two geographical regions (Texas and Utah). There are a total of 9 servers not including the load balancer cloud. Each server is a Xeon-D CPU with 8 cores (16 threads) with 32GB RAM and 2 x 1TB SSD (RAID setup).

We are using Google’s Cloud Load Balancing platform, so we can have seamless autoscaling and load balancing, worldwide.

Once the hardware was setup with proper data syncing in place, the Bluehost and HostGator team worked together to optimize the server configurations for WordPress. My hope is that some of these optimizations will soon make it into future WordPress hosting plans :)

Server Configuration Summary

Summarizing the server configurations of this complex setup in just a few paragraph is very tough, but I will try my best.

We are using Apache for our web server software because the team is more familiar with it. I won’t go into the NGINX vs Apache debate.

We are using PHP 7.2 along with PHP-FPM pools, so we can handle high loads of processes and requests. If your hosting company is not using PHP 7+, then you’re missing out on serious speed optimization.

We’re using Opcode caching with an advanced cache warmer to ensure that no real user should experience an uncached pageview.

We’re also using Object cache with memcache, so we can improve the response time for uncached page hits and other API response times in the WordPress admin area for logged-in users (our writers). Here’s a network load tab of our “All Posts” screen in the WordPress admin:

WPBeginner Post Edit Screen

To put in perspective, our admin area experience is now 2X faster than what we had previously.

For our database server, we switched from MySQL to MariaDB which is a clone of MySQL but faster and better. We also switched from HyperDB to LudicrousDB because it helps us improve our database replication, failover, and load balancing.

There’s also a lot of other configurations that helps us with performance and scalability such as HTTP/2 and HSTS for faster connection + encryption, ability to spin up additional servers in new regions in case of datacenter outage, etc.

I feel like I’m not doing justice to the amazing setup that the team has built, but please know that my core strength is marketing. Yes, I am a blogger who writes about WordPress, but a lot of the technical optimizations here are way above my pay-grade.

They were done by super smart engineers in Endurance team including David Collins (chief architect of Endurance / CTO of HostGator), Mike Hansen (core WordPress developer), and others whom I’ll thank in the credits section below.

CDN, WAF, and DNS

Aside from web hosting, the other areas that play a significant role in your website speed is your DNS provider, your content delivery network (aka CDN), and your web application firewall (WAF).

While I have it listed as three separate things, a lot of companies are now offering these solutions in a bundled plan such as Sucuri, Cloudflare, MaxCDN (StackPath), etc.

Since I want to have maximum control and spread the risk, I am using three separate companies to handle each part efficiently.

WPBeginner DNS is powered by DNS Made Easy (same company as Constellix). They are consistently ranked as the fastest DNS providers in the world. The advantage of DNS Made Easy is that I can do global traffic direction when a specific data center on my CDN or WAF isn’t working properly to ensure maximum uptime.

Our CDN is powered by MaxCDN (StackPath). They basically allow us to serve our static assets (images, CSS files, and JavaScripts) from their large network of servers across the world.

We’re using Sucuri as our web application firewall. Aside from blocking attacks, they also act as another layer of CDN, and their overall performance is just amazing. I believe they have the best WordPress firewall solution in the market.

When working on website speed optimizations, shaving off every millisecond matters. That’s why using these solution providers combined with our new web hosting infrastructure makes a huge difference.

To illustrate, here’s the waterfall breakdown of WPBeginner.com vs GatsbyJS.org vs CloudFlare.com:

Waterfall Breakdown of Requests on WPBeginner

Notice that WPBeginner’s DNS time, SSL time, Connect time, and Wait time are all top notch when compared to these other popular websites. Each of these improvements compound to deliver the best results.

Instant.page, Optimized Images, and Other Best Practices

One of the things you might have noticed is the near instant load time when you browse WPBeginner posts and pages.

Aside from all the things I mentioned above, we’re also cheating latency by using a script called instant.page which uses just-in-time preloading.

Basically before a user clicks on a link, they have to hover their mouse over that link. When a user has hovered for 65ms (very short period of time), one out of two will actually click on the link.

Instant.page script starts preloading that page at this moment, so when the user actually clicks the link a lot of the heavy lifting is already done. This makes the human brain perceives website load time as nearly instant.

To enable Instant.page on your site, you can simply install and activate the Instant Page WordPress plugin.

Instant Page Script

This script is pretty neat. I highly recommend checking out their website and clicking on the “test your clicking speed” button to see how it cheats the brain.

Update: I have disabled instant.page for now, and I’m going to be testing FlyingPages plugin in the near future. Gijo Varghese shared his new plugin with me in the WPBeginner Engage Facebook group, and it seems to combine the best of instant.page and quicklink script.

Optimizing Images for Web

While there are new image formats being developed such as webp, we’re not using them yet. Instead we ask all of our writers to optimize each image using the TinyPNG tool.

You can also automate the image compression using plugins like Optimole or EWWW Image Optimizer.

However, I personally prefer to have the team do this manually, so we’re not uploading large files on the server.

Currently, we’re not doing any lazy loading for images, but I do plan to add it in the near future now that Google has lazy loading support built-in to Chrome 76.

There’s also a ticket in WordPress core to add this feature on all sites (really hoping that this happens soon), so I don’t have to write a custom plugin.

Limiting HTTP Queries + Best Practices

Reduce cross-domain HTTP requests

Depending on the WordPress plugins you use, some will add additional CSS and JavaScript files on each page load. These additional HTTP requests can get out of control if you have a lot of plugins on your website.

For more details, see how WordPress plugins can affect your site load time.

Now before you jump to the wrong conclusion that too many WordPress plugins are bad, I want to let you know that there are 62 active plugins running on the WPBeginner website.

What you need to do is combine CSS and JavaScript files where possible to reduce HTTP requests. Some WordPress caching plugins like WP Rocket can do this automatically with their minification feature.

You can also follow the instructions in this article to do it manually which is what our team at WPBeginner has done.

Aside from HTTP requests that plugins and themes add, you also want to be mindful of other third-party scripts that you add on your website because each script will impact your website speed.

For example, if you are running a lot of advertising scripts or retargeting scripts, then they will slow down your site. You may want to use a tool like Google Tag Manager to conditionally load scripts only when they’re needed.

If you’re an ad-supported website like TechCrunch or TheNextWeb, then there’s very little you can do about this since removing ads isn’t an option.

Luckily, WPBeginner doesn’t rely on third-party ad scripts to make money. Want to see how WPBeginner makes money? See my blog post on WPBeginner income.

Lessons Learned (so far) + My Final Thoughts

This is a brand new hosting infrastructure, and I’m sure there are tons of lessons I will be learning overtime.

So far I love the speed improvements because it has helped us boost our SEO rankings, and our admin area is much faster.

With the new multi-server setup, we introduced a new deployment workflow to bring WPBeginner up to par with the rest of Awesome Motive product sites.

What this means is that we now have proper version controlling built-in, and there are measures put in place to stop me from being reckless (i.e adding plugins without proper testing, updating plugins from the dashboard without testing, etc).

These changes also set the path for me to finally step out of development and hand over the reigns of WPBeginner site to our dev team.

I have been resisting this for years, but I think the time is coming, and I just need to accept it.

The new setup does not have cPanel or WHM, so this makes me practically useless anyways since I’m not very fluent with command line anymore.

So far we have learnt two big lessons:

First, updating WordPress isn’t as straight forward due to server sync / replication. When we upgraded my personal blog (SyedBalkhi.com) to WordPress 5.2, the update files didn’t sync properly on one of the web nodes, and debugging took much longer than anticipated. We’re working on building a better build / testing process for this.

Second, we need to have better communication across teams because we had a minor crisis with load balancer misconfigurations which resulted in some downtime. To make it worst, I was on a transatlantic flight on Turkish Airlines, and the WiFi wasn’t working.

Luckily everything got sorted thanks to the quick response time by the hosting team, but this helped us create several new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to better handle the incident in the future.

Overall I’m very happy with the setup, and I know that some of the caching configurations / optimizations that were made for WPBeginner will become a standard part of HostGator Cloud and Bluehost WordPress hosting plans.

I think this should go without saying that if you’re just starting a website, blog, or an online store, then you DO NOT need this sophisticated enterprise setup.

I always recommend that you start small with HostGator shared or Bluehost shared plans like I did, and then upgrade your hosting infrastructure as your business grows.

You can apply a lot of the optimizations that I shared above on your current WordPress hosting plans.

For example, Bluehost standard plan already comes with a built-in caching plugin that you can use, and they offer PHP 7 by default as well.

You can combine that with a CDN + WAF like Sucuri to significantly speed up your website.

Now if you are a mid-market / enterprise company who wants a similar hosting setup, then please reach out to me via our contact form. I can help point you in the right direction.

Special Thanks + Credits

Thank you HostGator and Bluehost

While in the article above, I have given tons of shout out to HostGator and Bluehost brands, I want to take a moment to recognize and appreciate the individual people that worked behind the scenes to make it happen.

First, I want to say thank you to the Endurance leadership team Suhaib, Mitch, John Orlando, Mike Lillie, and Brady Nord for agreeing to help me with the challenge.

I also want to thank Mike Hansen, David Collins, Rick Radinger, Chris Miles, David Ryan, Jesse Cook, David Foster, Micah Wood, William Earnhardt, Robin Mendieta, Rod Johnson, Alfred Najem, and others in the data center team for actually doing the hard work and making it happen.

I want to give a special shout out to Steven Job (founder of DNSMadeEasy) for quickly answering my questions and helping me better understand some settings. Also want to give a shout out to Tony Perez and Daniel Cid at Sucuri for always having my back.

Last but not least, I want to give special recognition to Chris Christoff. He’s the co-founder of MonsterInsights, and he was kind enough to help me with a lot of the testing and deployment.

I really hope that you found this behind the scenes case study about WPBeginner hosting infrastructure to be helpful. You may also want to see our ultimate guide on how to speed up WordPress which is way more beginner friendly.

Bonus: Here are the best WordPress plugins and tools that I recommend for all WordPress sites.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post How We Made WordPress Faster than Static Site Generators (Case Study – Speeding up WPBeginner) appeared first on WPBeginner.

WPBeginner

12 Best WordPress Donation and Fundraising Plugins (2019)

Are you looking for the best WordPress donation plugins?

Collecting online donations is a very effective way to raise funds for a non-profits, charities, relief funds, and special causes.

In this article, we will share the best WordPress donation and fundraising plugins that will help you easily collect one time donations as well as recurring donations using PayPal, Stripe, WooCommerce, other credit card processors, and even cryptocurrency.

Best WordPress donation plugins

How to Choose the Best WordPress Donation Plugin

There are dozens of WordPress donation plugins available in the market. The problem is that not all of them are easy to use, and a lot of them lack customization options.

Accepting donation payments on your WordPress website is an extremely important task.

You need a donation plugin that is reliable, works on mobile as well as desktop computers, supports your preferred payment gateway, sends receipts to donors, allow donors to make recurring donations, and is customizable enough to look good on your website.

On top of all that, you want a WordPress donation plugin that charges the least amount of fees. Ideally it should either be free or fixed yearly payment vs something that charges a percentage fee on all your donations.

We used the above criteria to compare the best WordPress donation plugins for non-profits and charities.

Here’s our editorial pick for the top WordPress donation and fundraising plugins.

1. GiveWP

GiveWP

GiveWP is one of the best WordPress plugins for non-profits to accept donations and raise funds for your cause.

What makes GiveWP standout and earn the top-ranked spot in our best WordPress donation plugin list is their complete set of features along with their non-profit friendly pricing model.

GiveWP makes it easy to create a custom donation form inside WordPress to easily setup one-time donations as well as recurring donation options.

You can integrate with a wide variety of payment gateways to accept credits card donation payments including Stripe, Authorize.net, PayPal, 2Checkout, Braintree, Mollie, Paytm, PayFast, Square, AmeriCloud, Paymill, and many more.

GiveWP also allows you to fine-tune just about every aspect of your donation process with features like customizable donation tributes like “in honor of”, multi-level donations, campaign level donation goals / incentives, currency switcher options, tax deductible donation receipts, and more.

It comes with a complete donor management area with full-featured reporting, so you can easily manage all your donations (both online and offline donations).

GiveWP integrates with all major email marketing services, so you can easily communicate with your donors about seasonal gift giving campaigns.

If you run an online store with WooCommerce, then GiveWP allows you to add a donation upsell on the checkout screen, and they have seamless Google Analytics integration with enhanced eCommerce tracking.

GiveWP’s offers a free WordPress donation plugin, but you will have to upgrade to their yearly paid plans to unlock all the powerful addons and features. Basic paid plan starts at $ 240 / year, but you will need the Plus plan ($ 360 / yr) to get all their add-ons.

2. WPForms

WPForms

WPForms is the most beginner friendly drag & drop form builder for WordPress. It comes with a built-in form template to create an online donation form on your website.

A lot of smaller charities and non-profits don’t need a full-featured giveaway platform. Instead they just want a simple and easy to customize donation form that can accept one-time and recurring donations.

WPForms offer you just that. It integrates with both PayPal and Stripe, so you can securely collect donations via credit card right on your website.

Since WPForms is a more comprehensive form builder, it can also serve multiple purposes for a charity website such as contact form, survey forms, polls, email newsletter signup form, volunteer signup form, etc.

WPForms seamlessly integrates with all major email marketing services and CRM platforms like Constant Contact, SendinBlue, AWeber, MailChimp, and hundred others.

WPForms free plugin is used by over 2 million websites, but you will need their payment addons to accept online donations. They offer a special discounted license for non-profits at only $ 99 / year which is 75% off their regular price.

This gives you all of their Pro features that lets you build donation forms as well as other types of forms that we mentioned above. You can see the full list of over 150+ form template demos here.

Note: WPForms is a sister company of WPBeginner. The plugin was co-created by WPBeginner’s founder, Syed Balkhi.

3. Easy PayPal Donation

PayPal Donation for WordPress

Easy PayPal Donation is a free WordPress donation plugin that lets you add a PayPal donate button on your website.

Your website visitors can click on the button and send donations using their PayPal account or credit card.

This is a very simple donation plugin that comes with 7 button templates, and you also have the option to upload a custom button style to match your design.

The goal of this plugin is to make it easy to connect your PayPal account with WordPress and receive the donations. This plugin also allows visitors to choose recurring monthly donation options.

We have this plugin listed as #3 not because it’s the most feature-rich, but because sometimes you may not need all the features that plugins GiveWP and WPForms offer.

If you don’t want to customize your donation form and want a straight-forward solution that’s completely free for accepting one-time donations, then this plugin can do the job for you.

For setting up recurring donations, you will need their Pro version which costs $ 59.95 / year at which point you’re better off going with WPForms because you get a lot more value.

4. WP Crowdfunding

WP Crowdfunding by Themeum

WP Crowdfunding is a powerful WordPress fundraising plugin that helps you create a fundraising backer site like GoFundMe or KickStarter.

You can use the crowdfunding campaign style only for your charities or even offer an aggregate fundraising platform for other charities in your network.

It integrates with Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, and all WooCommerce gateways if you choose to process your payments with WooCommerce. WP Crowdfunding Native wallet system allows you to track pledges for each campaign and distribute funds accordingly to individual stakeholders.

If you’re looking to create an aggregate crowdfunding site like GoFundMe, then you also have the option to charge a commission fee for helping other charities collect donations.

The base plugin is free, but you will need to upgrade to the paid plan to unlock full features which starts at $ 149 / year.

5. Charitable

Charitable

Charitable is an easy WordPress donation plugin that allows you to create unlimited fundraising campaigns and set goals for your cause.

You can select a fixed donation amount, add a custom amount, or both. You can embed the donation form on your pages, posts, sidebars, and modal popups.

While the base plugin is free, you do have to upgrade to their Plus plan ($ 99 / year) to unlock their payment gateways like Stripe, Authorize.net, etc as well as newsletter sign up forms.

If you want recurring donations, crowdfunding, peer to peer fundraising, donor fee relief, and other powerful features, then you will need their Pro plan which costs $ 249 / year.

6. Seamless Donations

Seamless Donations

Seamless Donations is a free donations plugin for WordPress. It gives you complete control to collect and manage donations within the WordPress dashboard.

Seamless Donation works with PayPal, so users can make donations using their PayPal account or credit cards.

You can accept one-time donations or recurring donation payments. You can also allow users to select which campaign they want their funds allocated.

Unlike other plugins, Seamless donation sells few addons on an a-la carte basis such as Thank You Enhanced which lets you setup custom thank you pages and Giving Level Manager which lets you attribute custom donation levels.

7. Donorbox

Donorbox

Donorbox is a powerful donation form plugin that works on both WordPress as well as standalone websites.

It allows you to setup one time donations as well as monthly, annual, and weekly recurring donations. You have the option to do company gift matching and accept company donations.

Donorbox allows you to accept payments from credit cards as well as popular payment platforms like Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal Express with One-Touch, and ACH bank payments for US and Europe based donors.

It also comes with many other powerful features like Goal Meter, Donation popup forms, multi-currency support, donor wall, donor profile, complete donor management, end of year tax receipts, and so much more.

The reason why we have Donorbox listed towards the bottom in our list is because their pricing is not friendly to non-profits.

While they let you collect free donations for up to $ 1,000 per month, you will have to pay a 1.5% platform fee for all other amounts. This platform processing fee is in addition to the payment processing fees that are added by Stripe, PayPal, and other banks.

They do have the option to have your donors cover the fees, but we believe its better to use a platform like GiveWP where more of the donation money goes towards the actual cause.

Donorbox also charges separate monthly fees for various email marketing and CRM integrations.

To be fair, out of other SaaS donation platforms like Crowdrise, Donately, etc, Donorbox is by far the most affordable.

The reason why you may want to use the Donorbox platform is because they take away the technical management headache away from you.

You don’t have to worry about the security of your payment infrastructure because it’s all handled by their team.

8. Formidable Forms

Formidable Forms

Formidable Forms is the most advanced WordPress forms plugin. It allows you to easily create complex forms with drag and drop builder.

It has tons of form templates including a pre-built template to collect online donations. You can view the donation stats in graphical charts within the WordPress dashboard.

The plugin allows you to export the form data outside WordPress. It also gives you the option to import your donation entries from third-party services. Formidable Forms is fully compatible with the WPML translation plugin to translate the form in any language.

9. Donation Thermometer

Donation Thermometer

Donation Thermometer is a classic WordPress donation plugin. It uses a thermometer style parameter to display the collected funds and your target amount.

It is ideal for sharing your fundraising campaign with your website visitors and motivate them to help out. It is also perfect for organizers to see how close or far away they are from their fundraising target

The thermometer is fully customizable for colors, text, currency, meter size, and more. You can use a shortcode to display the donation thermometer in your posts and pages. All settings are easy and manageable within WordPress.

It’s important to note that this plugin DOES NOT help you accept any donations. You can use it alongside any of the other WordPress donation plugins in this article.

10. PayPal Donations

PayPal Donations

PayPal Donations is another free WordPress PayPal donation plugin to raise funds for charities and non-profits. You can use their sidebar widget or the shortcode to add the PayPal donation button on your website.

Like other PayPal plugins, it lets you connect WordPress to your PayPal account and accept donations from visitors. Other settings include multiple currencies, localization, multiple button sizes, and more.

11. YITH Donations for WooCommerce

YITH Donations for WooCommerce

YITH Donations for WooCommerce allows you to add an option to collect donation in your online stores.

You can run seasonable campaigns to support your causes. Each time a user adds a product to cart, they will be prompted with an option to make a small donation.

This concept is utilized by many in the retail world, and YITH Donations for WooCommerce allows you to add this to your eCommerce website.

YITH has a free version of the plugin that’s quite limited. To get all the features like donation form on cart page, customize amounts, donation receipts, etc, you will need the premium version of the plugin which costs $ 59.99 for a single site.

Note: GiveWP also offers this feature along with a lot more which we believe is a better value.

12. Cryptocurrency Donation Box

Cryptocurrency Donation Box – Bitcoin & Crypto Donations

If you’re looking to accept donations in cryptocurrency, then look no further. This free WordPress donation plugin allows you to accept donations in top 20 major cryptocurrencies.

You can accept payments in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Cardano and more.

We hope this article helped you find the best WordPress donation and fundraising plugins for charities and non-profits. You may also want to check out our expert pick of the best WordPress page builders and must have WordPress plugins for all sites..

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post 12 Best WordPress Donation and Fundraising Plugins (2019) appeared first on WPBeginner.

WPBeginner

How to Get WordPress.com Features on Self-Hosted WordPress Blogs

If you recently switched from WordPress.com to your own self-hosted WordPress.org website, then you may not see all the widgets, stats, and other WordPress.com features in the new user interface.

But don’t worry, there’s an easy way to get those features back. Actually, you can have even more powerful features with your self-hosted WordPress blog.

In this article, we will show you how to get WordPress.com features on self-hosted WordPress blogs.

Getting WordPress.com features for your WordPress.org blogs

Adding WordPress.com Features to Your Self-Hosted WordPress Blog

When choosing a blogging platform, many users start with WordPress.com before they make the switch to the self-hosted WordPress.org platform. Often this happens due to name confusion because despite the similar name, they are two different platforms. To learn more see our comparison of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.

The problem is that after using WordPress.com, you can get used to certain features and the way they look. Naturally, after switching you would want to have the same features in self-hosted WordPress.

While WordPress.org doesn’t offer built-in features like WordPress.com, it gives you the full flexibility to add any feature that you want on your website using WordPress plugins. In fact, this flexibility is one of the major reasons why people convert their WordPress.com blogs to WordPress.org.

The company behind WordPress.com offers a plugin that brings WordPress.com features on any WordPress.org website. This plugin is called JetPack.

Jetpack WordPress Plugin

Jetpack offers many of the same features used by WordPress.com to WordPress.org users.

Unlike standard WordPress plugins, Jetpack is a plugin suite which combines several useful features into a single plugin.

Jetpack Features on Self-hosted WordPress Blog

Here are the main Jetpack (WordPress.com) features:

  • WordPress Security: Downtime monitoring, brute force attack protection, backups, etc.
  • Performance: Speed up image and static file load times, lazy loading for images, etc.
  • Writing and content: Options to create galleries, testimonials, portfolios, Infinite scroll, etc.
  • Social sharing: Auto social sharing posts, share buttons, and like buttons.
  • Website traffic: Related posts, website stats, etc.

Jetpack is available as a free plugin with certain features being premium upgrades. You can simply install the plugin like any other plugin on your self-hosted WordPress site to access the same basic features that you had on WordPress.com.

However, one of the reasons why people is to get away from the limited features on WordPress.com and access the more powerful features offered on self-hosted WordPress.org.

In that case, here’s how you can unlock more powerful features with WordPress.org.

1. Unlock Powerful Analytics with MonsterInsights

Website stats is one of the most loved WordPress.com features. Jetpack provides this feature with the built-in site stats module.

However, it’s nowhere near as powerful as Google Analytics, the de-facto market leader for analytics. If you want to integrate Google Analytics with Jetpack, then you need to subscribe to their professional plan that costs $ 299 / year.

But luckily, you can use the most powerful website stats tool Google Analytics on your self-hosted blog with MonsterInsights Lite plugin which is 100% free.

MonsterInsights Best Google Analytics WordPress Plugin

MonsterInsights also offers a Pro version which is the best Google Analytics WordPress plugin in the market. It lets you easily connect your site with Google Analytics and helps to track advanced metrics with ease.

Get MonsterInsights now!

2. Create Smart WordPress Forms with WPForms

You can create contact forms and polls in WordPress.com with Jetpack’s feedback form feature. But it lacks the advanced options to customize the forms or add smart marketing features.

WPForms plugin solves that problem for self-hosted WordPress blogs by allowing you to create any type of form with just a few clicks. The free version, WPForms Lite, comes with all the essentials, and the Pro version is packed with more powerful features.

WPForms

Using WPForms, you can create contact forms, surveys, user registration forms, order forms, etc. quickly and easily.

Get WPForms now!

3. Get More Robust WordPress Security with Sucuri

Jetpack free version offers basic WordPress security features like brute force attack protection. If you upgrade to their premium plans, then you will get malware scanning option as well.

However you can get more robust security features for your self-hosted website with plugins like Sucuri.

Sucuri

Sucuri’s free WordPress plugin has advanced security options like remote malware scanning, blacklist monitoring, file integrity monitoring, security activity auditing, and more.

Get Sucuri now!

4. Get Advanced SEO Features with Yoast SEO plugin

Jetpack offers basic SEO features like XML sitemaps and site verification for WordPress.com websites. You need to buy at least the Jetpack Premium plan to access all of its SEO features.

You can get all those features and more in your self-hosted WordPress blog with free Yoast SEO plugin.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO offers features like site verification, XML sitemaps, SEO preview, Facebook and Twitter preview images, title, meta descriptions, and more.

If you buy the paid version of the plugin, you can get more powerful SEO capabilities.

Get Yoast SEO now!

5. Create Automatic Backups with UpdraftPlus

You can create daily automatic backups for your WordPress site with Jetpack; however, it’s only available for the paid users.

But thankfully UpdraftPlus plugin lets you set up automatic backups for your website free.

UpdraftPlus best WordPress backup plugin

It also allows you to store your WordPress backups in remote locations such as Google Drive, and Dropbox.

Get UpdraftPlus now!

6. Enable Spam Filtering Free with Akismet

Jetpack paid plan users can enjoy spam filtering feature on their website. It is enabled by Akismet plugin integration.

But you can get this feature for free in your self-hosted WordPress website by installing the Akismet plugin.

Akismet

Akismet automatically checks all your WordPress comments and filters out the ones which look like spam. It helps to reduce spam comments significantly on your site and allows you peace of mind.

Get Akistmet now!

7. Add Stylish Social Share Buttons with Shared Counts

Social sharing buttons are also a default WordPress.com feature. You can enable social share buttons on your posts, pages, media, etc. however, it has limited styling options.

You can use Shared Counts plugin on your self-hosted WordPress website to get the social sharing buttons.

Shared Counts

Shared Counts offers many display styles, social share count, and total share count feature.

Another great advantage of using Shared Counts is that it doesn’t slow your website speed.

Get Shared Counts now!

8. Auto Post to Your Social Networks with WP to Buffer

You can enable auto-sharing your posts on your social media networks in WordPress.com using Jetpack’s Publicize feature.

You can add the same functionality to your self-hosted WordPress blog by using WP to Buffer plugin.

WP to Buffer

Buffer is a popular social media management tool you can use to schedule posts on social media.

With WP to Buffer free plugin, you can connect your WordPress.org website with your Buffer account and set up automatic posting on your social media profiles.

Get WP to Buffer now!

9. Show Related Content with Yet Another Related Posts

WordPress.com has a built-in option to show related content after posts.

You can add this feature on your WordPress.org website using the free plugin Yet Another Related Posts.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

The plugin allows you to display posts, pages, and custom post types as related content after posts. You can choose thumbnail or list view of related content.

Get Yet Another Related Posts now!

10. Improve Comment Interaction with De:comments

You can enable Like option for your WordPress.com comments. This feature is useful to improve user-interaction in your comment area.

De:comments plugin lets you add more elements of user interaction to your WordPress.org comment area.

De:comments

The plugin allows users to rate comments, share comments on social media, earn badges, and more.

Get De:comments now!

11. Grow Your Email List and Send Emails with Constant Contact

Jetpack offers basic email marketing features for WordPress.com websites. You can add a simple subscription form on your site, and send emails when you publish a new post.

You can use more powerful email marketing features on your self-hosted WordPress blog with Constant Contact.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is one of the best email marketing service provider on the market. It allows you to easily collect email addresses, convert visitors into subscribers, and bring them back to your website.

For detailed instructions, see our article on how to create an email newsletter in WordPress.

Get Constant Contact now!

12. Get CDN Services with Cloudflare

WordPress.com has built-in CDN for images and static files.

You can get a similar feature on your self-hosted blog with Cloudflare.

Cloudflare

Cloudflare is one of the best CDN services available in the market.

Using this service helps to improve your website speed and performance. Also, it protects your site against brute force attacks.

Get Cloudflare now!

13. Enable Infinite Scrolling with WordPress Infinite Scroll

One of the popular WordPress.com features is infinite scrolling. Many websites use this feature to improve user engagement.

You can add the same feature to your WordPress.org website using the free WordPress Infinite Scroll plugin.

Load More - Infinite scroll for WordPress

It is an excellent tool for lazy loading posts, pages, comments, and more.

Get WordPress Infinite Scroll now!

14. Create Stunning Galleries with Envira Gallery

In WordPress.com, you can create responsive galleries with Jetpack. It is also a built-in WordPress.com feature. However, it has limited customization options.

You can add more stunning image galleries on your self-hosted WordPress blog with Envira Gallery plugin.

Envira Gallery

Get Envira Gallery plugin now!

We hope this article helped you to learn how to get WordPress.com features on self-hosted WordPress blogs. You may also want to see our guide on the must have WordPress plugins for business websites.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post How to Get WordPress.com Features on Self-Hosted WordPress Blogs appeared first on WPBeginner.

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How to Choose the Best Web Design Software in 2019 (Compared)

Are you looking for the best web design software to make beautiful websites? Most experienced web designers have their own preferred software for different design tasks.

However, if you’re just starting out, then it can take some time to find that perfect combination.

In this article, we will show you the best web design software for different use-cases, so you can make the right decision for your need.

Choosing the best web design software

Why You Need The Best Web Design Software?

Due to common misconceptions about web design, many beginners feel that it would take them years to make decent and professional website designs.

While it’s true that you get better overtime, the right web design software can help you easily create beautiful designs with minimal skills.

That’s because some web design software automate the entire process which allows even absolute beginners to create beautiful websites.

Let’s take a look at some of the best web design software that will help you design like an expert web designer.

Different Types of Web Design Software

There isn’t a single web design tool that would do all the tasks related to web development and design. As a designer, you will need to choose a combination of different software to make your own toolkit.

We have divided our selection into different categories, so you can evaluate the best available options for each task.

Let’s start with the basics first.,

Best Web Design Software for Building Websites

Many beginners ask us if they need to learn coding to make a real website.

While knowing how to code gives you an extra advantage in creating websites, many website builders like WordPress has made it easy for anyone to create custom websites without learning how to code.

This is the reason why WordPress now powers over 34% of all websites on the internet.

1. Beaver Builder

Beaver Builder

Beaver Builder is a user friendly page builder for WordPress. It allows you to simply drag and drop design elements to create your own custom design without writing any code.

To get started with Beaver Builder, you’ll need a WordPress website.

We recommend using Bluehost. They are an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider and one of the biggest hosting companies in the world.

The best part is that they are offering WPBeginner users discount on hosting and a free domain name. Basically, you’ll be able to get started for $ 2.75 per month.

→ Click Here to Start with Bluehost ←

For details, see our guide on how to make a website with step by step instructions.

Once you are up and running, you need to install and activate the Beaver Builder plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

After that, you can edit WordPress posts or pages using the Beaver Builder.

Using Beaver Builder to design pages in WordPress

Simply point and click on any item to edit it or load from dozens of ready-made templates to use as a starting point. For instructions, see our guide on how to create custom layouts using Beaver Builder

Beaver Builder also comes with a Theme Customizer which allows you to create custom WordPress themes using the same drag and drop interface. Unlike editing pages, you can create a complete theme with your own design.

For more information, see our tutorial on how to create custom WordPress themes without writing any code.

2. Divi

Divi Demo

Divi is another excellent option if you want to design a WordPress website. It is one of the best WordPress page builders and comes with dozens of ready-to-use templates to choose from.

After you have setup your WordPress site, simply install and activate Divi on your website and start editing. It works with almost any WordPress theme, and you can also use the Divi theme which comes with enhanced features for the builder.

It is a drag and drop tool which means you can simply point and click on any item and change its appearance. You can add images, videos, sliders, contact forms, widgets, and more.

Most importantly your design changes are fully responsive and would automatically adjust for mobile devices.

3. Constant Contact Website Builder

Constant Contact Website Builder

If you are looking for a fully-hosted website builder, then Constant Contact Website Builder is a good WordPress alternative for beginners. This smart website builder comes with beautiful website designs that you can edit using a simple user interface.

Simply start by answering a few questions, and the website builder will pick up design, images, and demo content for your site. You can then just point and click to replace it with your own images, text, videos, and more.

4. Gator by HostGator

Gator Website Builder by HostGator

Gator is another website builder that allows you to design complete websites without any coding. Gator is made by HostGator, one of the best web hosting companies in the world.

It is a fully hosted platform, which means you don’t need to worry about updates, security, or backup. It not only includes the builder and website hosting, but you also get a free domain name for your website.

The builder software itself features an intuitive drag and drop interface with more than 200+ professional web design templates. Each template is fully customizable using a simple point and click tool.

You can edit any item on a page or drag and drop commonly used items like images, videos, photo gallery, text, columns, maps, and contact forms.

Gator also comes with a built-in stock photo library, so you can find and add beautiful photos on your website.

Best Web Design Software for Ecommerce

The eCommerce industry is expected to reach $ 4.9 trillion by the year 2021. There is an enormous demand for eCommerce web design in the market.

Following are our top picks for the best web design software for eCommerce that will allow you to break into this market without any coding skills.

5. WooCommerce

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the best eCommerce platform in the world. It runs on top of WordPress, which means you’ll need a WordPress website to design an eCommerce website using WooCommerce.

You can sign up with Bluehost to get started. They are offering WPBeginner users discount on hosting + free domain name. Basically, you can start with $ 2.75 per month.

For detailed instructions, see our complete guide on how to start an online store.

6. BigCommerce

BigCommerce eCommerce Platform

BigCommerce is a popular eCommerce platform. It is available as a fully-hosted solution and the best part is that it can be easily integrated into a WordPress website.

Creating an online store with BigCommerce is quite simple. It comes with beautiful storefront designs and fully customizable themes for your online store. It automatically handles product images, crops them, and displays them in beautiful gallery layouts.

Wondering how it stacks up against WooCommerce? See our article on BigCommerce vs WooCommerce for side by side comparison of the two platforms.

7. Shopify

Shopify

If you are looking for a fully hosted eCommerce solution, then Shopify can be a good fit for you. It comes with professionally designed templates to create almost any kind of online store.

All eCommerce design tools are highly intuitive and allow you to just drag and drop items to create beautiful pages. You can easily upload custom logos, images, videos, and more.

Shopify takes care of hosting, software, and backups, so you can just focus on creating a beautiful online store.

For more details, see our detailed comparison of Shopify vs WooCommerce.

Best Web Design Software for Graphic Designers

A big part of web design consists of graphics to create custom logos, background images, featured images, and more. For all these, you will need graphic design tools.

These tools require some basic know-how of how to use them. Luckily, there are tons of online resources to quickly get you up to speed.

8. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is the industry leader in photo editing and graphic design software. It is available for Mac and Windows operating systems.

It is one of the oldest and the easiest to use graphic design software on the market. Due to its massive popularity, there are plenty of online resources to learn Photoshop for free.

Adobe Photoshop is a bit more expensive than some other software. It is available on a subscription basis and each plan comes with different apps and addons.

9. Sketch

Sketch

Sketch is a powerful vector design tool which allows you to create scalable high-quality designs. Sketch makes it super easy to create icons, illustrations, prototypes and mockups for apps, websites, and print.

It comes with an intuitive design that’s easy to learn for beginners. It also comes with tons of learning resources to help you quickly familiarize yourself with the software.

10. Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer is an incredibly easy to use and powerful graphic design tool. Suitable for beginners and advanced users alike, Affinity Designer is packed with all the tools you would want in a graphic design tool without any of the complicated stuff.

It also allows you to easily switch between raster and vector modes. This makes it easy to design illustrations with a powerful combination of tools.

Affinity Designer is available for simple pricing of $ 49.99 one-time payment.

Basically Affinity is a perfect combination of both Adobe photoshop and illustrator.

11. Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is Adobe’s vector graphic design tool. Popular among graphic design professionals, Illustrator lets you create logos, icons, drawings, typography, and illustrations for print, web, video, and mobile.

It is easy to use but comes with a slight learning curve to take full advantage of the software. However, Adobe offers plenty of resources to help you get started. You’d also be able to find free tutorials online.

Adobe Illustrator is available on monthly subscription plans, which makes it a bit more expensive than other software.

12. Gimp

Gimp

If you are looking for a free web design software, then Gimp is an excellent free option. This open source design software is a good alternative to Adobe Photoshop and allows you to easily edit images and create graphics for your websites.

Gimp is available for MacOS, Windows, and Linux. It may not look as polished as some other paid software, but it is a full-featured and powerful design software with much to offer.

Best Web Design Software for Marketers

Web design doest not just end with the launch of a website. Marketers regularly need to design graphics, social media images, icons, infographics, banners, and more.

There are plenty of tools that allow you to design professional-grade marketing material with very little effort and skills. Here is our pick of the best web design software for marketers.

13. Canva

Canva

Canva is a graphic design tool for marketers and bloggers. It is a web-based tool and doesn’t require installation of any additional software.

It comes with many ready-made design templates for different types of graphics. You can pick a template and then use Canva’s drag and drop tool to edit those images for your own website.

4. Balsamiq

Balsamiq

Balsamiq is a powerful design tool to create mockups, wireframes, and websites. It comes with an easy to use interface that helps you learn UI design as a beginner. Advanced users would find it immensely helpful in quickly building mockups for products pages, marketing material, and more.

15. Moqups

Moqups

Moqups is another wireframe and mockup design tool. It allows easy sharing and team collaboration without downloading any files.

The intuitive user interface makes it easy to use for beginners and powerful enough for advanced users. It comes with a built-in library of thousands of icon sets, fonts, and style library.

16. Piktochart

Piktochart

Piktochart is an easy design tool to create presentations, infographics, flyers, and posters. It comes with dozens of templates to use as a starting point.

You can use it in your browser, so there is no need to install any software. Simply drag and drop to add icons, elements, photos, shapes, lines, and arrows. Rearrange items and add your own text to create professional designs for your marketing campaigns.

Best Web Design Software for HTML Sites

Need to quickly design static HTML sites? These web design software will help you easily design HTML sites without writing any HTML at all.

17. Adobe Dreamweaver

Dreamweaver

Adobe Dreamweaver is one of the most beginner friendly web design software. It allows you to easily create mobile-friendly static HTML websites, stand-alone landing pages, or quick HTML docs.

It is easy for beginners to simply drag and drop to create web pages. Advanced users would find it equally useful with smart coding, autocomplete, compilers, git support, and more.

18. Google Web Designer

Google Web Designer

Google Web Designer is another intuitive and easy to use tool to create HTML-5 based designs, motion graphics, and animations. It can also be used to design banner ads, video ads, and other marketing materials.

You can start from scratch or choose from dozens of templates available in different layouts. Google Web Designer is available as a free download for Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems.

We hope this article helped you find the best web design software for your design toolkit. You may also want to see our list of the best CRM software and the best business phone services for small businesses.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post How to Choose the Best Web Design Software in 2019 (Compared) appeared first on WPBeginner.

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