WordPress is one of the most popular open source blogging and content management platform existing. Software that is powering tens of thousands of different kinds of web platforms, from blogs, business websites, online stores, to web apps and a lot more. At the moment of writing this post, WordPress has already taken more than 33% of the web. WordPress is being used by the US government’s website whitehouse.gov, Facebook Newsroom and a lot more.
Installing and setting up a WordPress site is easy and takes only a few minutes, but what makes WordPress more powerful is the use of Plugins. Like the saying goes “With everything in WordPress; there is a plugin for it“.
Plugins are extensions that you install on your WordPress site to add functionalities. Let’s say you want to build a membership website, an online store, a sports website or any other type of web platform you can think of, you can make it happen with a combination of WordPress Plugins.
In this post, I have picked out some plugins I think you need to add to your WordPress plugin checklist.
Must Have WordPress Plugins
As WordPress’s original purpose was blogging, let’s look at some useful blogging tools.
The default WordPress post editor gives you a few text formatting options when composing a blog post or creating page content. This plugin gives you more formatting options, like font size, font face, indentation, inserting table and other formatting options that are not available with the default post editor.
As a blogger, this plugin is among my favorite plugins and it’s compatible with Gutenberg the new block editor in WordPress. But if you still decide to use the old classic editor you can install Classic Editor plugin.
Post Views Counter allows you to display (on the front-end) of your blog/site how many times a post, page or custom post type has been viewed.
Do you wish to have a nicely Recent Post widget on your blog’s sidebar with a picture thumbnail and excerpt? Installing this plugin will extend your Recent post widget with not just the post title of recent posts. The thumbnails will be built from the featured image of a post or of the first image in the post content. If there is neither a featured image nor a content image then you can define a default thumbnail.
Adds a cool responsive author box with social icons under your blog posts as you’ll see beneath this post.
If you’re running a WordPress blog that contains multiple users; whether their role as administrator, editor, contributor, you may need to have logs of all activities on your blog, so that you can keep track of what each user is doing.
WordPress Popular Posts is a highly customizable widget that displays your most popular posts.
To avoid accidentally publishing a post or page while you are editing, this lightweight plugin could help you by prompting you with a confirmation dialogue box before you publish. This is really helpful, as in some cases you may want to click Save Draft and accidentally click on Publish.
Security is paramount on every web platform, even the basics can help prevent some minor attacks and keeps you on-alert of suspicious activities. Now let’s look at some security plugins.
This plugin comes pre-installed with WordPress, it helps block suspicious Spam comments. You’ll need to activate it using your WordPress.com account.
Loginizer is a WordPress plugin which helps you fight against brute-force attacks by blocking login attempts of an IP address after it reaches maximum retries. You can blacklist or whitelist IPs for login using Loginizer. You can use various other features like Two Factor Auth, reCAPTCHA, PasswordLess Login, etc. to improve the security of your website.
Protection against hacker attacks and bots. Malware scanner & integrity checker. User activity log. Antispam reCAPTCHA. Limit login attempts and so on. It has a pro version with more security features.
The Sucuri WordPress Security plugin is a security toolset for security integrity monitoring, malware detection, and security hardening.
THE MOST POPULAR WORDPRESS FIREWALL & SECURITY SCANNER
Wordfence includes an endpoint firewall and malware scanner that was built from the ground up to protect WordPress. Rounded out by a suite of additional features, Wordfence is the most comprehensive WordPress security solution available.
Backing up your site is a must, something you should not be careless about. This plugin provides complete backups; manual or scheduled backup to Dropbox, S3, Google Drive, Rackspace, FTP, SFTP, email + others). Backing up to other external sources may require you to upgrade to the pro version.
Performance is important on every site, page speed, fast loading of images and videos could help your site improve in performance. Now let’s look at two popular caching engines.
A very fast caching engine for WordPress that produces static HTML files to help make your WordPress site load faster.
Search Engine (SEO) & Performance Optimization (WPO) via caching. Integrated caching: CDN, Minify, Page, Object, Fragment, Database support.
Almost every site owner wants to be found on search engines like Google or Bing. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is a bit technical and tricky, so here is a plugin that can help you easily optimize your site for search engines.
Every blogger or website owner wants their posts or pages to be easily found on search engines, that’s why SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an important thing to consider when creating a blog or website. Yoast SEO plugin is one of the most popular WordPress SEO plugins existing, with over 5 million active installs. Yoast SEO does everything in its power to please both visitors and search engine spiders.
Knowing how your site is being accessed or viewed is essential to almost every website owner.
MonsterInsights allow you to connect your WordPress website or blog with Google Analytics, so you can see how visitors find and use your website, so you can keep them coming back. To use this plugin you must create a Google Analytics account first.
The Jetpack plugin is very powerful. This plugin gives you some features of WordPress.com, like site statistics, protecting your site from malicious attacks, spam comments, website downtime monitoring, performance (especially image optimization) and many other features. There are other features that need you to pay before using them, but the basic and free features should do in most cases.
Note: You must have a WordPress.com account first before using this plugin.
WordPress was made to make designing web platforms easier with writing less or no code at all. There are tons of drag & drop page builders that can help build your site the way you want it. Here are a few of them.
The most advanced frontend drag & drop page builder. Create high-end, pixel perfect websites at record speeds. Any theme, any page, any design.
Build responsive page layouts using the widgets you know and love using this simple drag and drop page builder.
WordPress Page Builder plugin with intuitive drag and drop interface. Build any page fast and easy. Unlimited layouts for your website
Below are some other plugins I’ll also recommend you add to your WordPress plugin checklist.
The purpose of this plugin is to add the ability to output a list of link categories and a complete list of links with notes and descriptions.
One of the most popular contact form plugin in the WordPress repo, with over a million downloads. Simple but flexible.
You can use the Google Translate plugin to translate your posts and pages into more than 100 languages. All you need is to download and install this plugin and place it as a widget or on a menu.
A plugin that can help you customize your WordPress dashboard panels and branding, hide menus plus lots more.
WordPress migration and backups are much easier with Duplicator! Clone, backup, move and transfer an entire site from one location to another. The best plugin to move your self-hosted local website from your computer to the web with ease.
Plugins are great, and they help you build endless functionalities in no time. One thing you have to note is, before installing any WordPress plugin you will need to check for few things, ratings, when last the plugin was updated by the developer(s), reviews from those who tested the plugin and whether it’s compatible with your current WordPress installation.
Installing a plugin that hasn’t been updated or discontinued could crash or make your site vulnerable. There are lots of plugins in the WordPress repository, and sometimes choosing the best plugins could be challenging. Try testing some plugins offline first before installing it on a live site and regularly update your plugins for security patches and bug fixes.
I hope this post was helpful. Thanks for reading and I will be glad if you could join our list of happy subscribers. See you in the next post.
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Ousman Faal [Digital Vigilante] is a Tech Entrepreneur & Digital Skills Trainer who teaches both in the classroom and online. He has experience in various technologies and likes sharing it with others. Ousman has published 144 articles on this blog. He is the CEO of Faalen Technologies and Skills.gm.