On the day when WordPress turns 13 years old, we run you through 13 must-have plug-ins to get the most out of your WordPress site. This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is it in any order of necessity – these are simply the plugins we at Run2 love the most.
We genuinely can’t live without this plugin. Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) turns your WordPress site into a more flexible Content Management System than how it is out-of-the-box by allowing you to create your own custom page and post fields – and subsequently access and display the field contents in your theme template files.
With over 30 million downloads, this plug-in boasts as being the most downloaded plugin for WordPress – and we can see why! The plugin massively extends the native SEO features of WordPress, allowing more granular control over your page and post meta tags, XML sitemaps, canonical URLs and page navigational links. What’s more? It’s completely free!
If you can’t (or don’t know how to) control your page redirects through something like an htaccess file, then this plugin is for you! Particularly useful if you’ve just migrated a site to WordPress and didn’t keep the old URL structure – this plugin allows you to redirect URL requests to another page on your site.
TinyPNG is an invaluable tool for any website, not just one powered by WordPress. It facilitates loss-less image compression – speeding up your website in the process. Their WordPress plugin (as opposed to their standalone service) will automatically optimise newly uploaded images and images already sitting in your WordPress media library. On average, it will compress images by around 50% without any visible loss in quality – saving your storage space and bandwidth.
If you’re not an HTML aficionado, styling your pages and posts in the default WordPress WYSIWYG can be a frustrating process. TinyMCE Advanced, however, will let you extend the regular WYSIWYG editor with additional buttons and tools to make your life easier.
You won’t have to do an awful lot with this one, since it comes prepackaged with all new WordPress installations. It’s built by the WordPress team and should be your primary weapon in combating those annoying spam comments on your blog posts. Not only that, but it’s integrated into other WordPress plugins like Contact Form 7 (mentioned below). Oh, and it’s free for non-commercial use!
Rather self explanatory this one. It does exactly what it says on the tin, but does it spectacularly well in comparison to the alternatives around. Contact Form 7, as you may have guessed, is a plugin for creating and managing website contact forms. You can create a form using a simple editor, grab a shortcode, and embed it into any page or post. The forms support AJAX submission, CAPTCHAs and, as mentioned above, Akismet spam filtering. There are also a host of plugins available for Contact Form 7 (yes, plugins for a plugin!) such as Flamingo for saving submitted forms to a database, and Honeypot.
If you don’t like ugly CAPTCHAs ruining the experience of your CF7 forms – give Honeypot a try! Honeypot helps reduce spam form submissions, not by a CAPTCHA, but by a (you guessed it) honeypot. What honeypot does, essentially, is add an invisible field to your forms. Most spam bots will simply automatically fill in every field in a form – so honeypot identifies spam by checking the contents of that invisible field.
Sucuri is a company that specialise in website security and malware. Their WordPress plugin provides unparalleled security features to keep your website safe from malicious users and bots. It’ll scan for malware, audit security activity, monitor file integrity and offer effective security hardening. Given WordPress’ popularity, websites powered by the platform are prime targets for exploits – so be sure to keep your site safe!
WordPress websites have a whole host of reasons for outages like server crashes, malware and old incompatible plugins. UpdraftPlus is a backup and restore plugin allowing you to take control of your website backups, restoration, cloning, and migration directly from your WordPress Dashboard. You can even schedule your backups at set times or regular intervals, ensuring you’re never left with only a 4 year old backup to restore, should your site go down. UpdraftPlus has the advantage of being trusted by over 750,000 websites and is the most downloaded WordPress backup plugin available. Whilst popularity is not always an indication of quality, UpdraftPlus boasts both.
Perfect for people who need simple, insightful data without the need for logging into Google Analytics every time. Check up on your Google Analytics stats and reports, straight from your WordPress dashboard with this GA WordPress plugin. It’ll also automatically add the Google Analytics tracking code to all of your pages, should you require it.
12. User Role Editor
A really useful plugin for managing dashboard access across individual users, going beyond the scope of the default WordPress user roles. You can also use it as a useful frontend tool to show or hide content and widgets for registered public users with different roles, as well as restricting admin access to a host of WordPress features.
Last but by no means least, is WooCommerce. Transform your WordPress site or blog into a fully fledged ecommerce store in a few clicks with the this plugin. WooCommerce has recently seen a huge surge in popularity, in no small part down to WordPress’ own widespread usage. It has the appeal of having a common interface with WordPress, so website owners need not fear having to re-educate themselves in using and navigating yet another piece of web software.
It has an extensive collection of plugins itself, with integrations for a variety of payment processors and shipping carriers. Whilst probably not quite up to par on an enterprise level – it’ll certainly gazump Magento in the speed, efficiency and ease of use categories, making it ideal for small businesses and sole traders alike. Another great selling point for WooCommerce, with the web going increasingly mobile, is the WooCommerce iOS app, allowing you to manage your store on-the-go.
If you’re seeking help and advice on what plug-ins you may require to improve your website, simply contact us today and we’ll be happy enough to help you out!