Essential WordPress Plugins

In Blog, Enhance, Plugins by Lucy DohertyLeave a Comment


Our main topic of conversation in this week's live Q&A session is WordPress plugins. Off the back of the chat, we have created a list of essential plugins for you, which we will add to over time to keep it fresh.

We reckon to avoid the bloat, you should limit the number of plugins on your site to no more than 30. It can really slow the site down if you are running too many enhancements and features through plugins. Plugins can clash and conflicting plugins cause issues on your site and you end up having to disable some of them anyway, so just bear that in mind when choosing your plugins.

Let us know if there are any other plugins that you think are worthy of entry on the list. So, in alphabetical order…

AccessPress Social Counter – FREE plugin
AccessPress Social Counter enables you to display the number of fans, subscribers and followers you have on your social media accounts. Great if you have the numbers to shout about, and a good way to encourage more people to join your tribe.

Affiliate Link Cloaking – Chinese developer, website not in English 
We’re not sure we should recommend this plugin wholeheartedly. It probably contravenes most affiliate rules and regulations, although we do think it is useful. We use it on WP Eagle to make affiliate links, which are often mega-long URL strings that contain lots of letters and number, look more legitimate.

Akismet Anti-Spam – Usually installed as default with WordPress
Akismet checks your comments and contact form submissions against its global database of spam to stop your site from publishing malicious content. You’ll need an API key to use it. It’s free for personal blogs with paid subscriptions available for businesses and commercial sites.

bbPress – Free plugin
Although we’re not using bbPress anymore, we do think it is a handy plugin for anyone running a forum on their site.

Bloom – Premium plugin
This is a premium plugin from the same developers as the Divi theme. Bloom gives you all the tools you need to turn your website’s visitors into loyal followers and customers, collecting email addresses and opt-ins. They have a flat fee of $89 per year (or a one-off payment of $249 for lifetime access) but for that you get access to all of their themes and plugins. We do really like Bloom. It looks great and is easy to use.

Cool Timeline Builder – Free with a Pro version ($25) if you need more features
Cool Timeline showcases your information, like your life story or your company history in a horizontal or vertical timeline format.

CSS3 Responsive Web Pricing Tables – Premium plugin form CodeCanyon
This plugin helps you build tables that are especially good for comparison tables. It has two table styles, is fully responsive and has loads of options and features for configuring rows, columns, colours etc.

Elementor Page Builder – Free plugin
We’re only just getting to know Elementor a little better ourselves but early impressions are that it blows any other WordPress page builder out of the water. Comparable to (but better that Cornerstone), Elementor is a live page editor where you can drag and drop elements and see the changes in real time. It’s really impressive and we’ll be doing more videos about it in the near future.

Gravity Forms – Premium plugin
This is still our favourite form builder plugin. It is $59 but we think it’s worth every cent. It’s really customisable and you can build some really quite complicated forms with it, as well as easy ones obvs! And it’s compatible with all the web and mail applications you can think of including PayPal, MailChimp and Stripe.

iubenda Cookie Solution  – Free for basic one site usage and $27 per year for the pro version
GDPR and data privacy is such a hot topic right now. No one really knows what the f*** is going on and we’re all a bit scared to use data, just in case we get sued! iubenda definitely makes something quite scary seem very easy.

Jetpack – Free plugin
We don’t know why everyone loves this so much. We’ve never really worked out what it actually is. But plenty do use it so for those who don’t know, it was created by the people behind and is supposed to bring many of the “most powerful” features available on to self-hosted WordPress sites. We just don’t buy it.

Maintenance – Free plugin with Pro version ($26) that offers more features
The Maintenance plugin allows you to “close” your website for maintenance, enables the “503 Service Temporarily Unavailable” error, and sets the temporary landing page, which can be edited in the plugin settings. It is fully responsive and fairly customisable with ability to add your logo, text, colour, background image etc.

Menu Icons – Free plugin
Does what it says on the tin… it allows you to add icons to your menu items. We’ve used it and we like the look you can achieve.

Monster Insights – Free plugin
This is now our Google Analytics plugin of choice. MonsterInsights makes it really easy to connect your WordPress site with your Google Analytics account so you know you can trust the data and make decisions based on those numbers. It also shows you your Google Analytics reports from your WordPress dashboard, so you don’t have to go back and forth.

OptInMonster – the cheaper alternative to Bloom
We do really like OptinMonster – you can create some really beautiful lead generation forms in all sorts of formats. If you are looking to grow your email list, this is definitely a plugin you should invest in. Prices start from $9 per month.

Redirection – Free plugin
We’ve used this plugin so much over the years. It allows you to manage your 301 redirects, keep track of 404 errors and ultimately reduce errors and help improve your site ranking. You can add as few or as many redirects as you want. It’s useful if you are redesigning your site and changing your site structure or have moved a piece of content and want to change the URL.

Simple Sitemap – Free plugin
You need to generate a sitemap for your website. We did a video on it recently, which you can see here. Simple Sitemap automatically generates an HTML sitemap of all your content, which helps improve your SEO ranking. There is the option to include only the content you want to include on your sitemap, and to you can choose how to format the output.

TablePress – an alternative to CSS3 Responsive Web Pricing Tables
We think this table plugin is good for sortable data tables. Using shortcodes you can embed the tables into posts, pages, or text widgets and you can add functionality like sorting, filtering and pagination.

Yoast SEO – Free with a premium version ($79)
This is possibly one of the most essential WordPress plugins on the list and should be one of the first things you install when you’re building a new WordPress site. Yoast SEO Is a solid set of tools that help you improve your SEO efforts and your search engine rankings.

So, there we have it; our list of essential WordPress plugins. It’s going to be an ever-evolving list and we’d love to hear from you with your entries.  Comment or email us at [email protected].

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