There are a ton of WordPress plugins out there. I could probably spend all day browsing through the WordPress plugin repository finding new plugins that I never knew I needed. And then there are premium plugins. In other words, there’s a plugin for everything. And I mean everything.
Below I’ve listed 25 of my favorite plugins. These are plugins that I consistently use, whether it’s on my own site or on my clients’ sites. Please note that you do not need every single one of these. Think about your needs before you install any plugins.
I’ve recently began to use Advanced Custom Fields on some of my sites and it is really coming in handy. It allows you to create fields, which you can attach to posts, pages, or even custom post types. So for example, you can create a disclaimer field and attach it to your posts. Then when you write a post, you can add content to the disclaimer field. You’ll have to code the field into your theme in order for it to display,
Okay, so Akismet is probably the one plugin that is an absolute must have for everyone. It automatically scans all of your comments for spam. I believe it is automatically installed when you install WordPress, but if not, you’ll want to go ahead and download it. Note that you will need an API key in order for it to work, so just installing activating it isn’t enough.
We all know how important it is to backup your site, and while there are a bunch of free plugins out there that can do that, my favorite backup plugin is Backupbuddy. You can set automatic backups that send to remote locations and restoring your site is a breeze. Plus, it allows you to easily migrate your site from one server to another.
If you’re not comfortable with HTML, check out the Black Studio TinyMCE Widget plugin. This plugin adds a new wysiwyg widget to your site, meaning you can add elements to your sidebar much like you would when write a post. So rather than using HTML to style text within a text widget, you can use this widget instead.
If you want your content to be shared, making it easily sharable is key. The Click to Tweet plugin generates a link which your readers can easily tweet out. While you can always use the Click to Tweet website, adding the functionality to your WordPress dashboard helps streamline your blogging process.
If you’ve ever installed a new theme, you know how your site can quickly turn into a disaster area before you have the chance of putting your widgets back into their proper places or changing various theme settings. The Coming Soon Page and Maintenance Mode plugin allows you to hide that mess while you get things in order by putting a coming soon page in place that let’s readers know that your site is down for maintenance. Meanwhile, any logged in users have full access to the site. It’s a great solution for launching sites as well as maintenance.
What good is a comment if the person you’re responding to has no idea they have a response waiting? Sure you could email the person directly, but answering comments in your comment section is beneficial for everyone (plus, who has time for that?!). Comment Reply Notification automatically sends out an email notification whenever a comment is replied to, thus ensuring the conversation doesn’t just end.
The Compress JPEG & PNG Images plugin is one of my newer finds. It automatically optimizes every image you upload so that your site loads faster. You can also go back and optimize images you’ve already uploaded. In my usage, I’ve found that images are compressed by about 40%, which definitely adds up if you have a lot of them!
CoSchedule is a great tool for organizing not only your blog editorial calendar, but your social media editorial calendar as well. It runs $10 a month, but it is well worth the cost. We all know how important it is to have an editorial calendar. CoSchedule allows you to drag and drop posts, as well as creating post drafts. Then once you write your posts, you can schedule your social media as well. You no longer have to go elsewhere to schedule your Twitter and Facebook posts. Everything can quickly be done from within the WordPress dashboard.
10. Download Monitor
If you offer free downloads, don’t you want to know how often something is being downloaded? Download Monitor allows you to upload your files to your site and provides you with a custom link. The link keeps track of the amount of times a file has been downloaded so you can see what content is popular and which isn’t.
Related: How to Easily Track Your Downloads
How many times have you uploaded an image only to notice an error? Sure you could upload a new image, but will you remember to delete the erroneous one that’s taking up precious space on your server? Enable Media Replace makes it easy. All you have to do is find the image in your media library and click on the replace media button. You’ll then be able to upload a new image that will replace the old one. It even gives it the same name so there won’t be any broken images on your site!
12. FV Antispam
Akismet is great, but actual, non-spam comments are marked as spam too often. And who has time to go through hundreds of spam comments just to see if any legitimate ones were marked incorrectly? FV Antispam works with Akismet to make your life easier. All legitimate spam comments are automatically moved to the trash, leaving possible legitimate comments in the spam queue. So instead of hunting through hundreds of comments just to find the non-spammy ones, you’re left with just a few to look through (that probably aren’t even spam anyway)!
13. Gravity Forms
There are many contact form plugins out there, but my favorite by far is Gravity Forms. It’s a premium plugin that starts at $39, but it’s well worth the price. While it features an awesome drag and drop interface, that’s not why it’s so awesome. It comes with a ton of other features so you can do some really cool things beyond a standard contact form. If you opt for the developer license, you even get more functionality via add ons. Want to create an opt in form? The Mailchimp add on makes it easy.
If you’re used to some of WordPress.com’s special features (such as stats, galleries, etc) then you’ll love Jetpack. Jetpack supercharges your WordPress dashboard with a ton of features. I personally love it for the stats. They might not be as accurate as Google Analytics, but they provide a quick snap- shot that’s great for keeping tabs on things. The monitor feature is great too — they’ll notify you when your site is down so you can take the necessary action to get it back up again (or at least contact your host).
Pinterest is one of the leading traffic sources for blogs, so it’s important that you make your site as Pinterest friendly as possible. The jQuery Pin It Button for Images plugin places a pin it button on images upon hover. There are also options for a custom image, custom placement, in addition to other settings. I’ve used other pin it plugins in the past, and this one get’s my seal of approval!
Why is it that social sharing plugins always seem to be so complicated? Naked Social Share remedies that. It’s about as basic as they come. There are only 4 social networks included (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and StumbleUpon) and there is minimal styling. If you’re looking for something with more functionality and more styles, this isn’t the plugin for you. But if you just want something basic that you can easily style to match your website, then Naked Social Share is the perfect solution.
As a web designer, I’m constantly creating development sites for clients. As such, I don’t want these sites to be visible to the entire world. Enter Password Protected. It allows me to easily password protect a site so that only my client can view the site.
Have you installed a new theme and your featured images are all the wrong size? Regenerate Thumbnails allows you to regenerate your site’s thumbnails based on your theme’s specified featured image sizes. You can choose images individually or resize them in bulk.
Sometimes sidebar widget areas don’t need titles. Unfortunately, not giving them a title only makes things confusing. The Remove Widget Titles plugin allows you to give your widgets titles on the backend only, which keeps things nice and organized while not displaying the title on your site.
20. Simple Instagram
Simple Instagram lives up to its name. If you’re looking for a basic Instagram widget, this is it. However, while it is simple, it probably isn’t the best choice for technophobes. In order to use it, you will need to login to the Instagram developers site to get codes in order for the widget to work. But once that’s all setup, you can add the widget to your sidebar or for more customization, you can use a shortcode.
I’ve spent A LOT of time searching for the perfect WordPress slider. Luckily I came across Soliloquy and my search is over. Soliloquy does have a lite plugin which is free, but I definitely recommend paying the money for the premium version. You can create image sliders as well as create post sliders. There are even add ons for things like Instagram and Pinterest.
If you want to style a particular widget in your sidebar, Widget CSS Classes will come in handy. It adds a class field to each of your widgets, which you can then style in your stylesheet
Wordfence is a security plugin that allows you to secure your site. There are several levels of security settings that you can choose from, or you can customize them for your own custom level of security. Plus, each setting is clearly explained on the Wordfence documentation site, so you’re never left confused as to what setting does what. And once you’ve got everything setup, Wordfence continuously scans your website and notifies you of vulnerabilities so you can keep your site safe.
Related: How to Quickly Secure Your Website
When running a business or a blog, planning is key. Magazine editors use editorial calendars, so why shouldn’t you? Editorial Calendar allows you to drag and drop posts on a calendar, which make planning out your site’s content a breeze.
If you’re looking to optimize your site, WordPress SEO is the way to go. It allows you to choose a keyword for each of your posts, and then keeps you on track so you can make sure you’re using that keyword throughout your post. But beyond those features, it gives you the ability to create a Facebook thumbnail, XML sitemap, and more. It really has a ton of features, many of which I’m still discovering.
What are your go-to WordPress plugins?
This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing a license for any of these plugins through my link will yield a small commission for me. Rest assured that I absolutely love these plugins and wouldn’t be recommending them if I didn’t.