Plugins are little apps that extend the functionality of WordPress. A clean installation of WordPress does not include many extras which maximize flexibility and minimize code bloat. Plugins offer custom functions and features so that each user can tailor their site to their specific needs. Since WordPress is an open source program, there are lots of people who develop Plugins and offer them to the WordPress community, most of them for free. Be judicious when using Plugins, especially those that make calls back to another program like Twitter Feeds, because they will slow your site down.
Here are the Ten Essential WordPress Plugins that my team includes with each WordPress website we build. For instructions and information on downloading, installing, upgrading, troubleshooting, and managing your WordPress Plugins, see Managing Plugins. You will want to activate each plugin that you import and then most of them have some easy configuration to take care of before they work. Once you activate a plugin you may need to also configure it somewhere on the dashboard.
- Wp Spam Shield – Essential as a spam catcher.
- Gravity Forms– This is a premium contact form plugin that I love!!! We use it for most simple forms. It allows you to flexibly design the form and add it to the site. You can manage multiple contact forms as well. In addition, it offers add ons that allow it to work with Freshbooks and MailChimp.
- Google Anayltics for WordPress– This plugin helps you to get Google Analytics to track the stats on your site. This plugin will give you the code to use in the plugin and eliminates the need to edit your template code.
- Yoast SEO Plugin – Among other things, This plugin actually shows you what your post or page will look like in a search result. This will motivate you to actually fill out the title, description and main keyword so you have a better chance of your post being found and clicked on. It automatically creates current xml sitemaps so you do not need a separate plugin for that.
- Social Media Widget – Adds a widget that you can post your photo and some text about you or your site along with a huge selection of social media follow buttons that will show up when you add your url into the various accounts.
- Limit Login Attempts – By default WordPress allows unlimited login attempts either through the login page or by sending special cookies. This allows passwords (or hashes) to be brute-force cracked with relative ease. Limit Login Attempts blocks an Internet address from making further attempts after a specified limit on retries is reached, making a brute-force attack difficult or impossible.
- Floating Social Bar– We use Floating Social Bar to maximize sharing of our posts on social media without slowing down our site.
- BackWPup – This is a free WordPress Backup Plugin. You have to backup your site regularly and especially before doing updates of versions and plugins. You can store your backups to Amazon S3 or Google Drive so you don’t bloat your hosting server.
- Simple 301 Redirects – If you ever change page names or need one page redirected to another, this plugin allows you to add the redirect from your WordPress back-end. Don’t get 404 errors from dead pages, redirect them to a similar page.
- Collapsing Categories – I am a blogger so I like to make it easy for people to find my older posts. Collapsing categories allows people to click a category in my sidebar and see the posts in each.