After many years of experimenting and getting lost in WordPress, I must say it’s had many ups and many downs and when a another down strikes, a plugin tends to save the day. Below I’ve consolidated a list of 10 plugins that I consider essential.
Note: I’ve highlighted the more dev related ones in blue.
1. ACF Pro
Not sure I would still be developing with WordPress without this Plugin. It allows you to create custom fields beyond the native fields WordPress provides. Examples includes having global fields that can be accessed anywhere in your WordPress theme, extra fields onto your post, custom post types and even pages. Essentially, anywhere the user/you can edit content on the WordPress back end, you can most likely add extra fields. Although there’s a free version, I recommend the Pro for more complex fields like repeaters and options.
2. Custom Post Type UI
Natively, WordPress supports two different post types: posts and pages. I believe that anything beyond the scope of these two should be included as an add on and shouldn’t be embedded into the WordPress core or your functions.php file. Many would disagree with this but ultimately you’re extending WordPress beyond it’s initial features, so isn’t that what plugins are for? More to this, this plugin makes it a breeze to create, edit and even delete custom post types. Also, this plugins allows you to create custom taxonomies, enable archive pages and even change the position of the custom post type in the dashboard, at the click of a button. Therefore, saving you a lot of time googling solutions for trivial things and valid functions arguments.
3. Yoast SEO
Probably the best plugin there is for SEO. Their easy to use interface allows you to create your meta tag values for all your post types. They even provide you with instant colour coded feedback on the values you pass, ensuring your website if fully optimised for your potential visitors.
4. Wordfence Security
Wordfence is a great plugin for protecting your site from hackers. Features include IP blocking, monitoring and email notifications to provide insights about activity on your site. For instance, someone trying to login through the wp-admin page.
5. All-in-One WP Migration
To think I’ve only been using this plugin for the past 3 months is absurd, it allows you to export and import your entire WordPress directory and database , free of charge. I find this useful to use when working with a new client with an existing site or to just simply back up your website for free. In terms of clients, I would take a fresh copy via exporting, import it to a local version for amends, testing etc… then the only extra thing I need to do is create a git repo for the theme. No database exporting and messing around with FTP clients.
Note: the import size is restricted to the one set up on your server. Follow this tutorial to configure the import limit to your desired size.
6. Classic Editor
A debatable one for sure as I’m pro Gutenberg however, for familiarity reasons and because some popular plugins simply break with Gutenberg or don’t look as appealing, switching back to the classic editor might feel more comfortable. Also, whenever you get the ‘ updating failed ‘ message, using this plugin seems to prevent that notification, just a useful tip I found on the interweb.
Smush automatically optimises all your images in your media library, Including the extra images you create via the add_image_size() function.
Note: I recommend optimising all your images manually via imagecompressor, before you upload to your media library. Smush is great for the newer people to WordPress and provides a great interface to interact with but their free tier optimisation isn’t as effective.
8. Contact Form 7
The one go to plugin I use for creating forms. Initially I used Gravity forms and although that’s just as good with many profound features, cf7’s html customisation makes it a winner in my eyes.
9. WP Mail SMTP
Another great plugin that allows you to configure all both your SMTP and IMAP settings, to ensure all your form submissions reach your mailbox. Works with contact form 7.
Considering adding a shop to your WordPress website? WooCommerce is the way. Although setting everything up including the payment gateways and options can take a little effort, WooCommerce is undeniably the easiest way to create an online store.