Indispensable WordPress Plugins
As a busy web designer, I do not typically have time to write about superfluous matters. Knowing that— use this list to make your WordPress installation hum. This article isn’t every WordPress plugin that you’ll ever need, but for what they do, they do well. I’m sure there will be disagreements as with every “list” type article, but these are nine of my personal favorites. These are really useful WordPress plugins. Enjoy! Note these WordPress plugins are not in any particular order.
1. JetPack | Download
Jetpack for WordPress by Automattic is one of the most useful plugins on this list because it’s actually a suite of plugins and there’s truly something for every one.
» Here’s a list of the components included with Jetpack.
Site Verification, Related Posts, Markdown, Jetpack Single Sign On, Monitor, VideoPress (Paid), Google+ Profile, Widget Visibility, Omnisearch, Likes, Tiled Galleries, Infinite Scroll, Photon, Post by Email, Publicize, Notifications, JSON API, Mobile Theme, Custom CSS, Carousel, Jetpack Comments, Contact Form, VaultPress (Paid), Extra Sidebar Widgets, Enhanced Distribution, Subscriptions, Sharing, Spelling and Grammar, WP.me Shortlinks, Beautiful Math, Shortcode Embeds, Gravatar Hovercards & WordPress.com Stats.
While it used to take a plethora of different plugins to encapsulate all this functionality— Now just download Jetpack, choose which components you want to active and that’s all there is too it besides a little configuration. The modules I always use are: Photon, Publisize, Stats, Spelling & Grammar and custom .CSS. Of special note, Photon allows you to use the WordPress.com CDN (content delivery network) to cache your images. All it takes is a single click, the rest is automatic, plus it’s compatible with other caching types of WordPress plugins as well.
2. Shortcodes Ultimate | Download
What can I say abour this plugin? It’s brilliant! You get 40+ professional looking shortcodes for your WordPress. Shortcodes like buttons, galleries, tabs, toggles, columns, lists, boxes, .css animations, pullquotes & more. It has a nice simple, intuitive interface, and it’s easy to use as well. Many of the elements on this website were created with Shortcodes Ultimate. As an added bonus, this plugin comes with really great documentation and examples of shortcode usage as well. The developer also has add-ons for a small price to extend the functionality. It’s important to remember that you can customize any of the shortcode elements created by Shortcodes Ultimate with custom .css!
3. Contact Form 7 | Download
Contact Form 7 just works. It’s stable, reliable, extensible with other plugins, including “Really Simple Captcha” Which isn’t perfect, but is suitable for most small websites running WordPress. Most good WordPress theme designers include style sheets for this plugin, or you can customize the elements yourself by adding custom classes, ids, etc— It’s really very popular for a reason! The validation routines are particularly stylish, much better than some other contact form WordPress plugins.
4. Woocommerce | Download
Woocommerce for WordPress make it simple for folks to sell stuff on their WordPress websites. I personally like this plugin for a variety of reasons. Simplicity, extensions, flexibility, ease of use, constant improvements. Woo Themes does have a habit of breaking stuff with new releases of this plugin, and it does cost money to have payment gateways from them, but all in all it’s a good eCommerce solution for WordPress. Most styling issues with Woocommerce can be fixed with a Google query, or by adding a little custom .css thanks to Jetpack! More and more professional theme developers are choosing to add styles for Woocommerce for a good reason.
5. Wordfence Security | Download Premium
Note to download the free version of Wordfence, just look it up in the repository, but for 39 per year, it’s a no-brainer. This is a really nice security and performance suite for WordPress. While the caching component doesn’t have ton of options, that doesn’t really matter, because on some websites, that’s exactly what you want. Wordfence’s security options are highly configurable however, and of note it has cell phone sign in, making this truly one of my indispensable WordPress plugins!
More About that…
The most effective way to enhance WordPress security. Stop Brute Force Attacks Permanently. Sign-in to your WordPress website using your Cellphone. Two Factor Authentication like this is used by governments and military world-wide and is now available from Wordfence to secure your WordPress website.
When I started using this plugin on all my sites, it was amazing how many time people are trying to log in as “Admin” Keeping my web design clients secure is part of my job, and this plugin for WordPress helps me accomplish many of these security related tasks.
6. WP-Optimize | Download
WP-Optimize for WordPress is a nice little database utility that allows users to clean up and optimize their databases without having the bothersome chore of using phpmyAdmin. Not much to say about this particular plugin except that you can clean up the trash with a click. As with all database plugins— Make sure you have a complete backup of all your WordPress databases before using. The plugin author also recommends this step. This one is probably the simplest of all the WordPress plugins on this list.
7. WordPress SEO | Download
WordPress SEO by Yoast is a great plugin for WordPress installations. While it’s not quite the tool set that some of it’s competitors such as SEO Ultimate or All in One SEO, I like it better. It’s something psychological about that little green glyph when you’re optimizing a page according to it’s standards, which truly are best practices. It’s not perfect by any means, and sometimes you have to just go with your gut, but Yoast isn’t going to steer you in the wrong direction either. You also won’t get lost in it’s configuration settings like you can with some other SEO WordPress plugins. It’s a really good choice.
8. Theme My Login | Download
We’re getting close to wrapping up list list of my MVP WordPress plugins, and number eight finds a true gem of functionality. Theme My Login for WordPress is a truly useful tool out of all the many WordPress plugins on this page, it’s usage, and usefulness can be overlooked. For those that are running many WordPress installations, and many types of websites with WordPress, then this plugin can be the answer to many of your obstacles such as— How can I brand my WordPress Login? Here’s the official description for this plugin.
This plugin themes the WordPress login, registration and forgot password pages according to your current theme. It creates a page to use in place of wp-login.php, using a page template from your theme. Also includes a widget for sidebar login.
That simply doesn’t explain it however. It also allws you to redirect users where you want them to go after login. That’s why it’s on my indispensable list.
9. Broken Link Checker | Download
You can download from the WordPress plugins repository. This is another very useful plugin that scans for broken links on your WordPress website, and alerts you. For whatever reason, sometimes links get broken! A post is unpublished, or is deleted. Who wants to manually check there pages every few weeks for broken links? Not me. There’s a ton of things you can do with links the plugin determines are broken. You can unlink, apply custom styles and more. It also is highly configurable as to when it checks, and how. I like especially that it will check links in any modified content immediately, if specified. This helps if you leave out something simple in one of your links due to an editing error. If this plugin could scan custom post types, it would be near-perfect, but as far as I know— It only works for posts and pages.
Please note, I am no longer recommending this plugin because it consumes too many server resources. You might still run it once or twice a week, then deactivate it. Still a useful plugin, just not left running!
I really enjoyed putting together this list of WordPress plugins that you
can’t shouldn’t do without.
I hope you do find it useful for your WordPress endeavors. Can you do me a favor? If you found this article useful— just share it!
If you feel I left out your favorite plugin— I invite you to leave a comment. Thanks!