If you’re just getting started (or even if you’ve been using WordPress for a while!) the WordPress plugins directory can seem overwhelming. And then there are paid plugins, too! So we wanted to make that process easier for you. Here’s our list of WordPress plugins that are tested and proven:
WordPress Plugins for Speed
Site speed is incredibly important. First of all, if your site visitors have to wait for your home page to load, well, they’ll just go to another site! Secondly, site speed is one of the factors that Google uses in its SEO algorithm to calculate which sites show up first in searches. Speed is made up of a lot of different factors, but these plugins can help you get started. I would encourage you to use the helpful Google PageSpeed tool as your benchmark for speed success, and use these WordPress plugins to improve your load time.
W3 Total Cache: This is our go-to caching plugin. It increases the performance of your server and ultimately increases the speed of your site. You may need to play around with the settings to master this one, though — and make sure you test your site after each setting change! It’s extremely powerful, but can break your site if you’re not careful.
Use Google Libraries: Instead of serving your files directly from your WordPress directory, they’re served using Google’s powerful distribution network. This ultimately takes a load off of your server
GZip Ninja Speed Compression: Google wants your site to be gzipped. So why not do it? This compresses all of your files (only on Apache servers) and can speed up your site dramatically.
WP Lazy Load: This is especially useful if you have a very long home page that’s image or video-heavy. It doesn’t load each section of your site until just before the user reaches it. This can greatly improve speed.
Ewww Image Optimizer: This is absolutely critical for any website. It reduces the file size for the images throughout your site. Excellent for image-heavy websites!
General WordPress Plugins
These WordPress plugins don’t necessarily fall into a specific category, but we use the majority of them on every website that we design. I’d encourage you to click through them and see if any would be useful on your site!
Askimet: This comes with every WordPress install, but many people just delete it immediately without recognizing its power. It’s, hands down, the best spam-fighting plugin out there. It helps keep your site secure and prevents obnoxious spam on your posts that can actually hurt your SEO. For a business, it does cost $5 a month (free for personal sites), but it’s absolutely worth it!
Contact Form 7: A powerful, free contact form plugin that allows you to capture your site visitors’ information. It integrates with a lot of other plugins such as Email Before Download, and has a ton of great options.
StatPress: This plugin collects important information about site visitors, such as the pages they viewed, where they found your site, and their country of origin. It’s incredibly handy and valuable.
Limit Login Attempts: Important for security, many hosts add this plugin automatically with every WordPress install. This only allows users to attempt login a certain amount of times, preventing site hackers and ultimately saving the security of your website.
WP Maintenance Mode: Perfect for building your site or making changes, this plugin displays a splash page to visitors. You can customize the background/text and add widgets such as countdowns, contact forms, and social media links.
Slider Revolution: While it’s not super easy to use out-of-the-box, the Revolution Slider plugin has every slider option you can imagine. Great for presentations, hero blocks, social media feeds, and sliders, it comes with endless options. This premium plugin ($19) offers slide templates, 3D parallax effects, and seemingly endless transition options. A definite option for premium sites!
Social Media Widget: This plugin allows you to add any social media link you can imagine to any widget area on your site. You can choose from a variety of icon versions and this helps increase site engagement.
Simple Custom CSS: For custom CSS changes, this is much easier to use than editing the theme. It overrides plugin and theme defaults, but doesn’t disappear when you update your theme.
Image Widget: From CTAs to image displays, the image widget allows you to show your images in sidebars, footers, etc. Extremely useful plugin.
Jetpack: The Jetpack plugin pulls in functionality from the WordPress.com platform. It offers security, traffic insights, custom CSS, galleries, subscriptions and more. It is important, however, to only activate the settings that you’re using; otherwise it could slow down your site unnecessarily.
Visual Composer: The #1 Page Builder plugin, Visual Composer is perfect for easy layouts. Whether you’re a skilled designer or a novice, the unlimited design options save you time and effort. It’s completely responsive and allows you to create grids and full width layouts. While it is a premium plugin ($34), it’s well worth the money just in time saved.
WordPress Plugins for eCommerce
If you’re building an eCommerce site, the options and settings can be overwhelming. These WordPress plugins make it easy to install and set up your fully-functioning eCommerce site!
WooCommerce: A completely free eCommerce plugin, it works completely out-of-the-box. But it also has excellent upgrades and add-ons. It integrates basic shipping, tax, and display options as well.
WooCommerce TM Extra Product Options: This is an incredibly useful premium plugin ($19) that allows you to set up product options. Add check boxes for add-ons and make your products completely customizable.
Paypal for WooCommerce: This plugin allows you to integrate Paypal as your payment gateway. Great for nonprofits, or standard eCommerce sites, you can also use Paypal Pro to seamlessly accept credit cards from your site.
Woocommerce Table Rate Shipping: The ultimate shipping plugin, Table Rate Shipping allows you to create shipping rates based on location, price, weight, quantity or dimensions. Then, assign them to specific products, or all products at once.
WordPress Plugins for SEO
SEO is of incredible value to your website. It makes it easier for your customers to find you based on keywords that you target. These WordPress plugins help you achieve ranking easier and faster.
Yoast SEO: Yoast SEO is the ultimate SEO plugin for WordPress. Not only does it make it easy to set up your SEO (with social media integration, sitemaps, etc.) it also gives you tips and tricks for improving the SEO for every page and post, based on your keywords.
Google XML Sitemaps: If you don’t use a plugin like Yoast SEO, then I would definitely recommend using Google XML Sitemaps. This plugin creates sitemaps and submits them to search engines like Google and Yahoo.
Google Analytics by Yoast: Yoast makes it easy to integrate your site with Google Analytics. This allows you to track your website and adds more advanced data and information.
Niche WordPress Plugins
All of the WordPress plugins below have a specific purpose, so they might not apply to every site. However, if you fit into one of these categories, the plugins are extremely useful!
Huge-IT Maps: This plugin is excellent for anyone who wants to corporate a high-functioning map into your website. The base plugin is free, but for more features, the price varies from $15 to $50. You can add custom markers, draw lines to highlight certain areas, and more. Plus, the support is excellent and can make customizations upon request.
S2 Member Framework: An excellent membership plugin, the S2 Member Framework allows you to set up different areas of your site only accessible to certain users. You can also charge for your memberships. The free plugin is great for basic sites; upgrade to paid for more features.
Our Team Showcase: If you have a team of people working for or with you, this plugin is for you! Upload team members’ photos and create bios, clickable phone numbers, etc. Upgrade to the premium version for even more features!
Bookly: Want customers to be able to make and purchase appointments on your site? This premium plugin is a great option. At $46.00, it’s a bit pricy, but is much better than paying a monthly fee for upgrades to what you thought was a “free” plugin. Plus, the support is excellent!
Tablepress: If you’re looking for a good way to present information and tables on your site, Tablepress is perfect for you! You can create and embed your tables virtually anywhere, and present your information beautifully.
String Locator: For those of you customizing your WordPress site, it can be incredibly daunting trying to figure out where the code you’re trying to edit is located. String Locator allows you to search for a specific string of code and shows you exactly where to find it. Easy!
Velvet Blues Update URLs: If you’re transferring your site, or switching your domain, this is a must-have plugin. It will search through all of your links, URLs, images, etc. and easily replace your old URL with your new one. This can save you tons of time!
Broken Link Checker: Broken links can make your website ineffective and ultimately hurt your SEO. The Broken Link Checker searches for any incorrect links or redirects and tells you how to fix them. This is especially important after a site transfer or URL change!
We hope that you’ve found our Ultimate List of WordPress Plugins useful! Are there any that we missed? Let us know!