The “Best” WordPress Plugins (In My Opinion)
If you’ve got your own “Best Plugins”, be sure to shout them out in the comment section below! This is going to be an ongoing list, and I’ll be updating this piece of content periodically. Most likely every time I either discover a badass new plugin, or remember a plugin that might not be included in this post. I’ve got it separated by category, and if the future, I’ll probably add those cool anchor links to make everything easier for you. But enough of this intro paragraph, let’s get to the plugins, shall we?
Website Design / Cosmetics
You want your website to look stunning. There are plugins that can make this easier. Whether it’s making it easier to customize CSS, plugins that help with coding, galleries, sliders, tabbed/secondary content or other forms of design. Here are the plugins I use to make my website easier to design or to enhance the look and feel of the website.
Black Studio TinyMCE Widget – Adds a widget that supports WYSIWYG as well as the normal text. Very useful if you want to make your own HMTL widget areas, but want to use the visual editor.
Tabby Responsive Tabs – Tabby is awesome! Short-code driven and makes it insanely easy to create tabbed / secondary content
Tabby Responsive Tabs Customiser – You can do everything this plugin does *IF* you’re a CSS guru. I personally hate CSS. This makes it insanely easy to to customize the Tabby tabs, without having to code the CSS.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is important for all webmasters. Although there isn’t a “magical plugin” that can instantly help you rank, there are plugins that do provide tools and services that make SEO way easier. This includes managing 301s, meta, cleaner permalinks, ect. Here are all the SEO-related plugins that I use.
Yoast – If you’re a WordPress developer, you’ve already heard of Yoast. It is by far the most popular SEO plugins available. There are tons of Yoast features. I personally only use the free version. I also don’t use all the Yoast features. I primarily use Yoast for the meta data, stripping the category permalinks (depends on the website), auto sitemap generation and verifying websites within Webmaster Tools. The verification isn’t that big of a deal, as it can be done manually, but since the fields make it nice and easy, might as well do it through Yoast.
Redirection – I use this plugins for the 301s I want to track. I use Simple 301 Redirects for redirects I don’t mind tracking. In my opinion, Redirection is a lot more streamlined and easier to use than Pretty Links, another commonly used plugin. That is the only reason I go with Redirection over Pretty Links.
Simple 301 Redirects – As mentioned above, I only use Simple 301 Redirects for the redirects I don’t care about tracking. If I’m looking to track the clicks, I go for Redirection. Why I don’t just use Redirection for all of them? Because Simple 301 Redirects is faster / more streamlined / less clicking. By putting all the “url change” redirects into this plugin, I also make Redirection (and the stats I really care about) less cluttered.
WP No Base Permalink – Don’t ask me why Yoast doesn’t allow you to strip the tag base in the permalinks (they support category stripping). Honestly, I’m scratching my head over it. There’s plenty of projects where I use the tag functionality, but would prefer to remove the /tag/ from the permalinks. This doesn’t seem like something that should require a plugin, but it’s the easiest way I’ve found to do it, and this is the plugin I use.
If you’re looking to add a contact form to your website, there are several choices to consider. Here are the contact form plugins that I’d personally suggest:
JetPack – More and more, I try to stay away from this plugin. I’ve had it break on multiple sites. I also don’t use all the features in the plugin, only hand-picked ones (like the contact form). Still, JetPack is definitely one of the easiest, and it’s definitely worth mentioning.
Not only does the stock WordPress comment system suck, but WordPress comment systems are also filled with spammers. Anyone who’s let that one “Hello World!” sit live for a while knows exactly what I’m talking about. Spam, spam and more spam. Therefore, a 3rd party comment system is pretty much madatory. There’s tons of options available as well.
Disqus – As far as comment systems go, I swear by Disqus. It’s free, easy to use, well-known and used (so trusted) and people can comment both logged-in as well as anonymous. Disqus also does a great job at moderating / flagging comments, and it’s easy to manage all the comment systems from all the different sites from a single dashboard. Disqus also drives traffic and builds backlinks. What more can you ask for? Disqus is a marketing channel by itself!
WordPress Settings / Configuration
These are plugins that will help you configure WordPress. These plugins might add new functionality to your WordPress site, change the way WordPress does things or make certain WordPress functions easier to do. Some of these plugins might get a little more “Techy” than some of the other ones mentioned in this post.
Child Themify – Child themes aren’t that difficult to setup, but this makes the process a lot easier. Simply select the theme you want to create, and the files to transfer over to the child theme. No playing around in FTP or file manager, and it’s nice not having to remember / lookup that process every time. I always delete afterwards, just because it’s served it’s purpose and I try to run as little plugins on a site as possible.