April 5, 2017

10 Useful Plugins You Should Have on Your Website

This article is written by Joachim, a Swedish developer. 

There’s an overabundance of plugins available to install for WordPress. Not all plugins are useful and worth having installed on your WordPress site.

Here’s a list of 10 Useful Plugins You Should Have on Your Website.

It does not matter what kind of WordPress site it is that you’re running, these plugins can be used no matter what.

1. WP Rocket

Installing a Cache plugin is very important if you want to have a swift website. WP Rocket is the ultimate Cache plugin, it provides you with a great number of features that many other Cache plugins sometimes do not offer at all, and in some cases just partially. With minimal configuration you can easily set up WP Rocket on your site. WP Rocket launches upon activation and you will most definitely notice better results immediately, with faster page loads and alike.

You want your website to be as fast as possible, not only because people don’t like to visit slow websites, but also because search engines such as Google rewards fast websites by automatically putting them higher up in the search results.

Faster Page Loads = Better SEO.

A Brief List of WP Rocket Features:

  • Quick Setup
  • Sitemap Preloading
  • Browser Caching
  • Database Optimization
  • CloudFlare Compatability
  • Multisite Compatability
  • Ecommerce Friendly
  • Multilingual Compatability
  • Developer Friendly

As a developer, if I were to pick 3 favorites from the list of features that this plugin offers (beyond the page and browser caching features of course), I would choose Google Fonts Optimization, Remove Query Strings from Static Resources & GZIP Compression. Those are all very useful features, and before I started using WP Rocket I actually had to add lots of custom code to my sites in order for them to get these kind of optimizations, which was quite a hassle and sometimes inefficient as well.

2. Slider Revolution

Slider Revolution by ThemePunch is, in my opinion, the best responsive slider on the market. It’s packed with features and it helps you display content in a beautiful way. Great looking, customizable and pre-built slider templates are available for you to install with the ease of a click.

A Brief List of Slide Revolution Features:

  • Responsive layouts
  • Add slider from template
  • Add layers (button, text, image, audio, video, shape etc)
  • Slider animations
  • Visibility & behavior options
  • SEO options
  • Support for Google Fonts
  • Import/Export/Replace
  • API functions
  • Custom CSS/Javascript

Note: Slider Revolution is a premium plugin that starts pricing starts at 25$.

3. Yoast SEO

SEO is something that everyone talks about. Search Engine Optimization helps your site appear in the search results on search engines such as Google. You want your site to rank high in the search results, and Yoast SEO is an excellent plugin to use for this purpose. Yoast SEO is in my opinion the best SEO plugin available on the market. It is also one of the most downloaded WordPress plugins of all time.

Here Are Some of the Best Free Version Features:

  • Focus keyword and content analysis
  • Post titles and meta descriptions
  • Robots meta configuration
  • Readability check
  • Canonical tags
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Permalink cleanup
  • XML sitemaps

These features are very useful for developers and copywriters. It makes improving meta titles and meta descriptions a breeze. The XML sitemaps feature is great because it allows you to be as granular as you want with the sitemap file you submit to Google. All in all, the free version of the plugin already comes packed with a lot of things you can use to boost your SEO efforts.

Yoast SEO Premium Features:

  • A redirect manager
  • Multiple focus keywords
  • Internal linking
  • Insights
  • Social previews
  • Premium support

The premium version of Yoast SEO starts at 69$. You get access to some very useful features along with a key element: premium support. Support makes a huge difference when it comes to this type of tool.

4. UpdraftPlus Backup/Restore

Backing up your site is always a good idea. You prevent your website from going under by always having a fresh and fully functional copy of it. That’s called a backup! UpdraftPlus is the one of the most trusted backup plugins to use for that. It’s currently installed on more than 1 million WordPress websites.

A small error can in a worst case scenario be the end of your website.

With UpdraftPlus you can backup your website, and if you come across any issues in the future with your website that you simply can’t solve on your own, you can simply restore your website with the ease of a click via the Backup you created earlier.

UpdraftPlus Free Version Features:

  • Backup WordPress files and database
  • Translated into over 16 languages
  • Restore from backup
  • Backup to remote storage
  • Dropbox, Google Drive, FTP, S3, Rackspace, Email
  • Basic email reporting
  • Scheduled backups
  • Browse backup contents in WordPress

The plugin comes with two versions: free and premium. I listed some of the features that I find very interesting in the free version. However, if you want to take things further or need more control over your backups, you should look at the premium version features below.

UpdraftPlus Premium Version Features:

  • Free 1Gb for UpdraftVault
  • WebDAV, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, SFTOP/SCP, encrypted FTP
  • Backup extra files and databases
  • Migrate/clone (i.e. copy) websites
  • Advanced reporting features
  • Automatic backup when updating WP/plugins/themes
  • Send backups to multiple remote destinations
  • Database encryption
  • Restore backups from other plugins
  • Fix backup time
  • Network/Multisite support
  • Lock settings access
  • Download individual files from backup in WordPress
  • Personal support 

The premium version of this plugin starts at 70$. Check out their FAQ to see if you need the premium version. I highlighted a few of the features that are important. Support remains one the main advantages of premium versions when it comes to picking WordPress plugins. If anything goes wrong, there’s a team that’s got your back! That’s a great thing to keep in mind.

5. IgniteUp

Putting your website in Maintenance Mode is a great thing to do when you’re applying changes to your website. You don’t want your visitors to see a nearly-finished or early version of your website. With IgniteUp you can set your site in Maintenance Mode, but also create a Coming Soon page that you can use if you’re for an example working on a website project that will take some time until it’s finished.

IgniteUp Features:

  • 100% Responsive
  • Unlimited Designs
  • Favorite Integrations
  • Pro features for Free
  • Support Team

This plugin is available for free for those that wish to use it!

6. WPBakery Visual Composer

A page builder is a great tool if you want to be able to build pages easily. WPBakery´s Visual Composer plugin is a fantastic page builder that supports and integrates with loads of other plugins and most of the WordPress themes on the market.

Having programming knowledge is no longer required to create beautiful WordPress pages.

With Visual Composer you can easily build any layout you want on your site, with the help of a Drag & Drop builder. This plugin comes bundled in some themes already. It offers an intuitive drag and drop interface that is very easy to use.  It’s very SEO-friendly and compatible with WooCommerce which means that it can be used for a wide-range of websites.

Visual Composer Features:

  • Easily Extendable
  • Frontend & Backend Editor
  • Object Oriented Code
  • Multilingual Ready
  • Template System and Library
  • Responsive Design
  • Custom Post Types Support
  • Advanced Grid Builder
  • Full Width and Height Rows
  • Parallax Background for Rows
  • Video Background
  • Image Filters
  • Element Presets
  • Column Height, Gasp and Position
  • Icon Sets and Social Icons

Visual Composer pricing starts at 34$ or you could purchase a WordPress theme that comes with this plugin. It should be noted that it comes with lifetime updates free of charge. That’s a huge plus! Once again, as with most premium plugins in this list, Visual Composer comes with great support.

7. Paid Memberships Pro

Paid Memberships Pro is the most complete membership solution for WordPress sites. The plugin can be used to add a new revenue source if you’re offering paid memberships on your site, among many other things. This plugin offers great user management which is why it made the list!

Paid Memberships Pro – the Free Version Features:

  • Different Membership Levels
  • Payment Gateways
  • Flexible Pricing and Trials
  • Content Access by Level
  • Member Reports
  • Custom Advertising
  • Email Notifications
  • Theme Compatibility

100% GPLPaid Memberships Pro Core Version Features:

  • Member Support Forums
  • Developer Chats

Paid Memberships Pro Plus Version Features:

  • Memberlite Theme
  • 45+ Add-On Downloads

Available for free and starting at 97$ for the paid version (Core version). For the premium version of the plugin, you can always check out their website as they offer two types of memberships: Core and Pro Plus.

8. WPForms

People need to be able to contact you, and oftentimes, a simple: ”Email: info@example.com” won’t cut it. What you want to have on your site instead is WPForms. It is helps you create efficient forms that are also inviting. This is the plugin that I would recommend as it offers a lot of functions. It’s a Drag & Drop builder so if you for an example want to have a dropdown menu, a file upload function or something else you simply drag it to the Form. It’s that simple. There’s even pre-built form templates that you can choose from, if you want to save even more time.

WPForms Features:

  • Drag & Drop Form Builder
  • Form Templates
  • Responsive Mobile Friendly
  • Smart Conditional Logic
  • Instant Notifications
  • Entry Management
  • Multi-Page Forms
  • File Uploads
  • User Registration
  • Spam Protection
  • Various Add-ons:
    • PayPal Add-on
    • Stripe Add-on
    • Constant Contact Integration
    • Aweber Add-on
    • Mailchimp Add-on
    • GetResponse Add-on
    • Campaign Monitor Add-on
    • Zapier Add-on
    • Post Submissions Add-on
    • Signature Add-on
    • Form Abandonment Add-on
  • Custom Captcha
  • Geolocation Data
  • Easy to Embed

WPForms Pricing starts at 39$/year. I know that there are some free alternatives available out there to create forms. However, if you want something that does exactly what you want, this is the plugin you need. It integrates with so many other services that I never have issues making the forms work with email services.

9. Simple Custom CSS and JS

Want to be able to easily add Custom CSS or JS to your website? Look no further – ”Simple Custom CSS and JS” lets you do exactly this.

Simple Custom CSS and JS Features:

  • Text editor with syntax highlighting
  • Print the code inline or included into an external file
  • Print the code in the header or the footer
  • Add CSS or JS to the frontend or the admin side
  • Add as much code as you want
  • Keep your changes after theme-change

This plugin is available for free.

10. WP Extra File Types

For those of you looking to add Extra File Types to the default list of file extensions supported by the Media Library upload procedure, WP Extra File Types is for you. It is a very useful plugin if you want to be able to upload font files (or more). It is available for free.

What are your must-have WordPress plugins?

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