Building a WordPress site is a progressive process. You should always be on the lookout for new features and improvements that can propel your brand to the top.
One particular feature that you don’t always find in WP-powered sites is an online calendar. Typically, they are used for online booking and event management, but you can also take advantage of calendar plugins for spreading announcements. Of course, they can also be added for their aesthetic value.
As always, you need to take extra care when integrating new plugins into your WordPress site. That said, here’s a list of the top five calendar plugins, their features, and why you should use them:
The Events Calendar is one of the most downloaded and highest rated calendar plugins on WordPress. It does exactly what it’s advertised to do, which is to help you create fast, functional, and visually-appealing calendars.
When it comes to plugins, the WordPress community appreciates two traits above anything else – flexibility and ease-of-use. TEC possesses both with its straightforward setup process and several key features. Upon installation, you can start populating your calendar right away by clicking ‘Events’ > ‘Add New’ from the main dashboard.
This will bring you to a familiar editor where you can fill in the details of your event. You can also set a publishing schedule and specify an event category.
You can scroll further down to add the finer details of your event, namely information on the event’s location, organizers, and date.
Once you publish your event, it will automatically be added to the interactive calendar, which you can embed on a page (for the Pro version) or use as a widget. Alternatively, you can find a link to your calendar in full view by going to ‘Plugins’ > ‘Installed Plugins’ > ‘The Events’ ‘Calendar’ > ‘Calendar’.
Mobile-Friendly – With TEC, your calendar is also optimized for mobile displays right out of the box.
Expandability – TEC supports a number of different add-ons that add tidbits of functionality to your calendar. For example, Community Events allow users to set up their own events, while Event Tickets Plus allow you to sell tickets.
Free Version – Despite its features, TEC offers a free version without any limitations whatsoever. This is perfect for bloggers who don’t plan to monetize through events.
In terms of functionality and versatility, The Events Calendar and Event Manager are pretty much on par. The main difference is that Event Manager has more elaborate event registration and booking functions without the need for add-ons.
Adding an event with Event Manager involves similar steps with The Events Calendar. Aside from the identical menu layout, their interfaces for the editor are also almost exactly alike.
To display a calendar on a page, you’ll need to use a shortcode similar to: [events_calendar full=”0” long_events=”1”]. For more information on Event Manager shortcodes and how to use them to configure your calendar, you can refer to this guide from their official website.
Free Recurring Events – Event Manager allows you to set recurring events without having to pay for the premium version.
Bookings Dashboard – Another advantage of Event Manager is the built-in bookings dashboard. This allows you to monitor and manage all event bookings in a single location.
Deep Customizability – Lastly, Event Manager has a ton of settings that let you configure how your calendar works and looks. Everything from image sizes to submission messages is entirely editable from the ‘Events’ > ‘Settings.’
The next plugin is a solid choice for Google Calendar users. With Simple Calendar, you can quickly pull data from your Google Calendar account and into your WordPress site. There’s no need to manually add events through the WordPress dashboard – thus, making your event management efforts more streamlined.
The only drawback with Simple Calendar’s design is the somewhat lengthy setup process. You need an API key for your Google Calendar, which can be obtained from Google Developers Console. You can refer to this guide for a visual, step-by-step guide.
Flexible Design – Despite being named “Simple” Calendar, the plugin has plenty of design and layout options you can use to match your website’s theme and personality.
FullCalendar – Simple Calendar lets you integrate a bunch of interesting add-ons. One of which is the color-coded FullCalendar, which allows users to switch between week, month, and day views.
4. Time.ly All-in-One Event Calendar
Site:time.ly/— Price: Free / $9 Per Month for Pro Version
Among all the calendar plugins included in this list, All-in-One Event Calendar by Time.ly has the most intuitive and user-friendly interface. This is thanks to how the settings are presented. Everything is split into three tabs: Viewing Events, Adding/Editing Events, and Advanced.
In the Viewing Events tab, you get to configure everything related to your calendar’s appearance. This includes the default calendar views, word-wrapping, content filtering, and so on. It’s also worth noting that you can simply plug in a calendar theme for free by going to ‘Events’ > ‘Calendar Themes.’
Furthermore, you can fine-tune the appearance of your calendar by going to ‘Events’ > ‘Calendar Theme Options.’ Some of the available settings include the calendar’s background color, base font size, button appearance, and so on.
Visual Fidelity – ly makes it easy for users to adjust the calendar’s appearance without writing a single line of code.
Widget Creator – In case you have an external site that doesn’t use WordPress, you can use the Widget Creator to generate a simple embed code. You can learn more by referring to their user guide here.
Add-Ons – ly also offers some useful add-ons such as Twitter integration, extended views, and CSV import.
From a user’s perspective, Booking Calendar offers one of the best booking experiences. It provides an interactive calendar along with all the necessary forms to complete the booking process.
To modify the forms, go to ‘Booking’ > ‘Settings’ and then click the Form tab. You can specify which fields are visible or required by simply ticking the right check boxes.
You can insert the booking form within the content area of any page or post via shortcodes. These can be generated by clicking the Insert Booking Calendar from the content editor.
Alternatively, you can use the booking calendar as a sidebar widget. Either way, the booking experience remains streamlined and hassle-free.
Easy to Set Up Email Notifications – To set up email notifications, head to Booking > Settings > and then click the Emails Here, you can edit the default notification emails for both the admin and visitor whenever a new booking request is made, approved, canceled, or deleted.
Comprehensive Bookings Manager – Booking Calendar is equipped with an in-depth bookings manager – dubbed “Calendar Overview.” This will give you a bird’s-eye view of your entire schedule, wherein you can also approve, delete, or add a booking request to Google Calendar.
Double Booking Control – Finally, Booking Calendar allows users to choose whether to prevent double booking or allow as many bookings as possible. This feature is available even to free versions.
The Events Calendar and Time.ly All-in-One Events Calendar are both perfect for WordPress users who wish to manage their bookings without learning complicated steps. In terms of design, Time.ly offers easier modifications for those with zero coding knowledge. Booking Manager is also a contender when it comes to ease of use. However, you need to allow online bookings if you want to make full use of this plugin.
Event Manager, on the other hand, is slightly more complex. But it makes up for it with its high scalability. Lastly, Simple Calendar is the clear choice for Google Calendar users who want to keep their event management efforts contained within the G-Suite.
Article by Christopher Jan Benitez
Christopher Jan Benitez is a professional freelance writer who provides small businesses with content that engages their audience and increases conversion. If you are looking for high-quality articles about anything related to digital marketing, then he's your guy! Feel free to say "hi" to him on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.