WordPress is already a pretty interactive online publishing platform. Thanks to the ease with which visitors to your site can leave comments, using WordPress is an ideal choice for anyone wanting to build a community around their site and its content.
However, WordPress comments can have their downside. These include the time it can take for them to be published, and then responded to by the site author, with no guarantee that the original commenter will even be aware that you took the time to reply.
If you want to make your website more interactive then installing a live chat plugin can enable your visitors to communicate with you in real time. Depending on the focus of your site, this interaction could take many forms, such as support on a service or product you provide, advice on the topics covered by your blog, or getting valuable feedback on the user experience of your website.
While live chat on your site can becoming a time consuming feature, used sparingly it can be a useful tool for connecting with your audience and improving your website.
Live Chat Plugins for WordPress
There are a few chat plugins available for WordPress. Some add this functionality directly to your site, while others integrate your site with a hosted service which you must sign up to. Most of these hosted live chat services have free pricing plans that give you access to limited features, with more available if you decide to become a paying member. As most of the options below have free versions, trying out how useful a live chat service can be for your website is a relatively risk free endeavour, which could reap many rewards.
Chat by WPMU Dev
This free plugin has been created by the WPMU team so it’s a good option for those looking for a multisite-compatible chat plugin for WordPress. Single site and BuddyPress users can also make use of this plugin.
The chat window can be made available site-wide, or just on specific posts and pages, making it a great way to deal with specific enquiries related to an item on your site. The live nature of the chat functionality makes the Chat plugin ideal for answering pre-sales questions and queries from potential customers, as well as dealing with support, or engaging with prospective clients.
Deploying the chat window is easy with this plugin thanks to the new button that is added to the WordPress post editor. Just click and that page or post will now have the chat feature enabled, or just turn it on for the whole site. It is also possible to modify the colours of the chat window to match your theme.
For those that need more features and functionality, there is a premium version of this plugin available for $19 or as part of the 350+ item bundle from WPMU for $39 a month. The premium version includes a slew of additional features including social network integration, private chats between site visitors, breakout chat windows, and much more.
The free version however, is a popular and easy to use plugin that allows you to chat with the visitors to your site in an effective way.
WP Live Chat Support
This free chat plugin has been designed to allow you to offer live support to the visitors browsing your site. There are no subscriptions required and there is no branding on the chat windows to distract your visitors and leak users. If you want to make yourself available to your site visitors, or have someone on hand to field questions from potential customers then this is a suitable free option.
There is a premium version available which contains many useful features that makes it tempting to upgrade when compared to the free version. In fact, most of the settings for this plugin are off bounds to the free users and there is little that can be done to customise the chat windows on your site unless you upgrade.
WP Live Chat Support is very easy to setup and once installed there isn’t much left to do. Simply locate the Live Chat menu item to view the settings. If you want to get the most from this plugin you will need to upgrade to the pro version which will cost you $14.95 for use on 3 sites, or $29.95 for the developer license which covers use on unlimited sites. The developer version also includes the WP Pricing Table Pro plugin.
The pro version allows you to customise the text displayed in the chat window, your name, and the ability the upload an image or logo. With the pro version you can also enable delivery of any messages left while you are offline to your email address.
If you want a free chat plugin for WordPress that comes with no frills then this could be just what you are looking for. However if you need any additional features beyond the bare minimum then this might not be the best option for you.
Chatwee Live Chat
By installing the free Chatwee plugin for WordPress you can integrate the Chatwee service with your site. The benefit of doing so is that you can give the visitors to your site the ability to communicate via text chat with each other, right on your site.
Once the plugin is installed you have two options for enabling the live chat feature. It can either be turned on site-wide and made available by a chat tab that is always located in the bottom right corner of the site. Alternatively, the chat box can be inserted into a specific page or post, or even into part of the theme, so that it is only available when your visitors are viewing certain content on your site. This second options makes it ideal for allowing your visitors to chat about a particular post, where you can also choose to be online and communicate with them.
If you are looking for a way to increase user engagement with your site then installing this plugin and signing up to the Chatwee service could be a great solution. When it comes to signing up with Chatwee, there is a free option available as well as other more feature-rich premium plans to choose from too. The service is cloud based so you don’t have to worry about it slowing down your site either.
With the free version you get access to some good features such as file sharing, skin customisation, and analytics of the use of the service on your site.
Other Chat Plugin Options for WordPress
There are plenty of other live chat options for WordPress. Many of these plugins integrate with cloud based services and simply add the chat window to your site. In those cases you will need to sign up to a third party service as well as installing the plugin.
- Formilla Live Chat – also includes smartphone notifications and chat sessions with the free plan
- MyLiveChat – integrates your site with the free and premium live chat service, free plan includes unlimited concurrent chat sessions
- Live Chat – Casengo – add a chat widget to your site that integrates with the Casengo service, free price plan available
Adding live chat functionality to your WordPress site can be an effective way to increase sales and signups for your products and services. Being on hand to answer any last minute questions and provide that little nudge to facilitate the conversion and close the deal can be a great way to boost business.
These chat plugins also have less commercial uses such as making it easier for your audience to connect with you, as well as encouraging a community spirit by allowing visitors to interact with each other.
Whether you want to increase sales or improve visitor satisfaction then installing one of these chat plugins for WordPress could really help you out.