It seems like in some form I do a post like this every year. As WordPress updates and changes standards some plugins rise to greatness, and others fall. This year, here is my list for the 10 WordPress plugins you should have installed on your website.
Before we start
In general, if you’re running a website with more than 10 plugins your WordPress theme is not doing it’s job. You need to hire a web developer to program some of that functionality into your theme, or switch themes.
We should not be using plugins to insert Google Analytics code, add Pin It! buttons, generate social sharing buttons, enable Google Fonts (which is now included by default in WP), or to create YouTube embeds.
The top 10 plugins your website needs
If you have installed your WordPress site using a ‘One-Click’ install, your install was created incorrectly. One-Click installs leave your website vulnerable in a plethora of ways–mainly so your host can convince you to pay for hosting backup services, security services, and malware removal services.
iThemes Security fixes a majority of those issues and it allows you to rename your login pages, to receive regular website (and database) backups via email, and to hide your website code from the admin side. These are features most plugins require you to pay for and iThemes Security is free.
Since 2016, there will never be a plugin roundup that won’t include JetPack. The plugin has come along so much. In fact, its functionality has improved so much that many of its features are being rolled into WordPress.
JetPack is great for on-the-fly website stats, social sharing buttons, mosaic style galleries, and youtube embeds. All the things that most people download individual plugins for, JetPack handles.
JetPack will even let you post via your email so you never have to login to post again.
Like JetPack, YoastSEO is one of those plugins that will be on every plugin list for-ev-er. YoastSEO is the only SEO plugin that tests your posts and pages using the latest Google SEO metrics, correctly embeds and handles social meta tags, and does not weigh down your site.
The lightweight-ness of the plugin alone makes it much better than All-in-One SEO pack or anything related. And using YoastSEO specifically will enable you to do many of the tasks in my SEO Workbook for Freelancers and Bloggers without having to sift through all your old posts.
More and more my clients are wanting to set up their own websites to sell their products. It’s always a good idea to sell products from your own website instead of another service (like my fave Etsy).
If you have the time to setup your own shop, I would recommend using WordPress’s plugin WooCommerce. It’s built by WordPress so it’s always going to be up-to-date with the latest WP standards. And, it integrates seamlessly with a large number of newsletter and automation services like Mailchimp, Convertkit, and Zapier.
Contact Form 7
The last plugin that will be on every plugin list for all eternity is Contact Form 7. Of all the contact form plugins, CF7 is the widest supported plugin for theme developers (like myself) and newsletter plugins like WP ConvertKit and MailChimp for WP.
Contact Form 7 is lightweight, doesn’t pre-customize your form design (meaning your theme CSS still works correctly), and even can be extended to use captCHA.
Right Click Disable Original
I get asked quite a bit about right click plugins. The best one I’ve used over the years has be Right Click Disable Original. It stops right click usage, but more importantly it doesn’t weight down your site code.
WP Gallery Custom Links
WordPress does not yet have the functionality to add links to a gallery natively. So, should you use a gallery for a portfolio, or to display slideshow images in a beautiful fashion, it’s nice to have the ability to add links.
WP Gallery Custom Links will add the option to add links to each post within a gallery. This is wonderful if you’re trying to create a slideshow for your homepage, or a blog post. Now you can design slides using Canva, create a native gallery, and add a links to each slide.
Every year I try to include a clutch plugin that will easily change the game for my freelancers and paid bloggers. This year’s clutch plugin is Drift.
First, you need to signup for a free drift account to get your code.
After you handle that, you can add the Drift plugin to enable in-site messaging. This is perfect for freelancers, and business owners, as it allows clients and potential customers to ask the pressing questions that are keeping them from purchasing.
Drift has truly changed the way I do business and it’s given me immediately insight into what is, and isn’t, clear on my website.
If you’ve been a part of my #designSaturday newsletter for any amount of time over 2 weeks, you know that I’m big on using templates to streamline your creation process.
The Duplicate Post plugin allows you to duplicate pages, products, and posts on your blog. I use the plugin to duplicate my blog template.
Using a blog template keeps you from “blank screen syndrome.” Instead of starting with a blank screen, you’re given a template for your post that you simply fill in as you are able.
Once you get the hang of blogging and creating regularly, it’s helpful to have an editorial calendar. Editorial Calendar will allow you to add blog posts to a monthly calendar. It will automatically create the draft post (and title it if you like).
I use this plugin to go through each month and brainstorm post ideas. If I decide to switch up my schedule I can simply drag the post to another date.