As WordPress is an open-source platform, developers around the world are continuously creating WordPress plugins to add functionality to a WordPress powered website. There are literally thousands and thousands of plugins out there to use. Many of which are not great, but there are a great deal of plugins out there which are fantastic to add essential functionality to your WP website.
I am going to address 4 plugins I add to all of the websites I create (among others of course). Lets cover some essentials one should consider when building a website to add light into why these plugins are so important.
Search engine optimisation
A website can look and function better than any other website out there, but if it is not optimised for search engines then it might as well not even exist. WordPress is already well optimised, but it does need an extra boost in the SEO department.
There are various SEO plugins out there, and many function well or similar to the next. But in my opinion, there is one clear winner in the SEO plugin department…
The plugin is free, has a host of options and is easy to use for the most beginner WordPress user. Often various plugins are needed for carrying out certain functions like indexing your website with search engines and integrating Facebook OpenGraph into your website (which is needed for Facebook to index your pages to share and like correctly). This is incorporated into one plugin
At Yoast, they are the SEO experts for a reason, they keep up-to-date with the latest SEO trends and that translates in their plugin offering. For a plugin to have over 4.5 million downloads, they must be doing something right.
If you want to download their plugin, head over to the WordPress plugin repository and get your copy.
Have you ever been asked to clear your browser cache by someone when a website is not loading correctly? Or changes have been made to a website but you cant see them? Put simply, a caching plugin is meant to help improve user experience by increasing server performance, reduce loading time and more.
Sometimes if we have too much going on in our head it is hard to think. Well this is the same for a website. There are thousands of working parts, and every now and then it is good to clear the clutter for a website to be able to function at its full potential again.
There are dozens of caching WordPress plugins, some modify certain files on your domain that can be tricky to sort out if you uninstall the plugin (lets not go into that now).
W3 Total Cache is one of the best caching plugins out at the moment. It is not just a plugin, it’s a complete framework. W3 Total Cache aims at making your job easy by not having to dive head first into a realm which requires quite particular skills. It is easy to use and provides great guidance as how to best use all the various caching options they offer. You will never have to worry about caching issues again with W3 Total Cache.
Contact forms & Subsriptions
Every website needs a contact form of some sorts. Depending on what you intend using your website for it is often the case one needs more functionality out of a contact form. For instance on my website I have quotation request form that has a variety of different types of fields. It is also required that somewhere on a website subscription signup forms are needed.
What does one need out of a contact form plugin? I have a few important factors I take into account regarding this question.
- A wide range of functionality and options
- Ease of use and intuitive design
- Eye catching and appealing contact forms
- Conditional fields
- Email subscription list integration
Now there are various contact form plugins which cover some of these points. But there are not many which cover all of them.
Gravity Forms is by far the most versatile contact form plugin on offer today. All my forms on my website are created using Gravity Forms and the versatility of the plugin is amazing. Mailing lists are of great importance, and no-one wants to receive a email for a new subscriber, and manually add it to your mailing list. Gravity Forms integrates seamlessly without any effort into your MailChimp subscribers list. If you are not sure what MailChimp is, do have a look, its a great platform. Gravity Forms does however come at a price, unlike various other plugins out there. It is a premium plugin, but rightfully so.
Social Media Sharing
As we know, it is a prerequisite these days that Social Media is integrated into ones website. It is a great way to increase traffic to a website, gain exposure and start conversations. There are so many plugins out there that are added to WordPress websites to share posts and pages, gain likes or followers, etc etc. It really gives me a headache when I look for the next best Social Media plugin. Whatever your preference, style or intention is, there is a Social Media plugin out there for you. But I am going to talk about one of my favorite ones.
If you are looking for a clean, sleek and “less frills” kind of plugin, Sociable is for you. I am using it on my website right now, have a look below my post to check it out.
There are two options of use; skyscraper or classic mode. Skyscraper adds a floating panel of social media sharing tools to the side of your website. Classic adds social sharing icons to your posts, and pages should you wish. You can decide through the options in the backend on different design and functionality, how big or small you want your icons and more. No coding is required and a WordPress beginner would find it easy and pleasing to use.
I hope you enjoyed the article and will go on to find plugins which you swear by like I do. If you did, please share and like the article. Let me know in the comments of other plugins you feel should make the list.