If you’re a WordPress developer, you may be baffled by the thousands of plugins that are available to choose from. Plugins can make your site go from mediocre to great- they offer tons of functionalities to make your site more efficient and visually appealing. There are endless choices though; you need only think of a functionality and there would be so many plugins available for it. That’s the great thing about WordPress- it just has so much flexibility and every functionality a website developer could possibly want.
A lot of the most popular plugins are free, but we will also talk about some paid ones. Once developers start using the free versions, most of them eventually upgrade to the paid ones too because the benefits are just too good!
Also, no matter what niche your website belongs to, there are some plugins that every site needs. And those are the ones we will talk about! You’ll find that all successful developers definitely have these in their list of extensions.
Let’s dive into them and get to know what makes them so great!
Elementor [FREE Version]
Elementor is a visual page builder or a live page builder. Instead of working in the basic WordPress editor and then having to preview the design separately, you can design everything visually, by dragging and dropping pre-defined blocks or widgets onto your webpages and changing sizes, shapes, positions, colors, and fonts as you please. You don’t have to mess with the nitty-gritties of coding. Everything is done by dragging, dropping, and clicking!
It has lots of widgets, a template library, the ability to edit in mobile mode, and an option to view your editing history too. It works with most WordPress themes, especially the popular ones.
The free version of Elementor is great, so you may be wondering why you still need to upgrade to PRO. Well, because it has even more amazing features that you will need if you are a professional. Firstly, the Theme Builder has no restrictions! You can design any part of your webpage down to every fine detail, including the headers and footers. It also works with every WordPress theme ever!
Secondly, it has a Contact Form widget. So you can now visually design everything in your contact form too. Along with a forms widget, this version has many more amazing blocks that the free version lacks. For example, you can add slides, animated headlines, block quotes and call-to-action widgets.
More features include WooCommerce widgets, building popups, adding scrolling effects, a media carousel, a Posts widget, and custom fonts!
Add-ons are third-party extensions designed to work on top of Elementor and add even more functionality to it. So if you want something even more unique, these include tons of more widgets and templates to add to the existing ones.
Some popular add-ons include Stratum, The Plus Add-ons, Master Add-ons, Dynamic Content for Elementor, Essential Add-ons, Ultimate Add-ons, Envato, PowerPack, and Crocoblock.
We all know how important SEO is if you want to make your site rank higher. RankMath is an SEO plugin that allows you to optimize your content according to SEO best practices. Although you may have heard of Yoast as a popular SEO tool too, what makes RankMath better is that it is completely FREE! For Yoast, you need to pay to access all the features but RankMath offers all those premium options for free.
With RankMath, you can get SEO suggestions right next to your post, add automated image SEO (not having to type image ALT and TITLE attributes yourself!) and view post snippets as they will appear in search engines and on social media.
The coolest distinctive feature perhaps is that RankMath is integrated with Google Trends and Google Webmaster Central that shows how you rank for keywords and allows you to analyze search trends for different keywords! Keyword Research is now a part of this great all-in-one tool!
RankMath even identifies crawl errors or 404 errors on your website and can also generate XML sitemaps for your site automatically. Without RankMath, you may have to do all this with separate plugins, but RankMath combines all this in one plugin. Again, all for FREE!
Custom Post Type UI [FREE]
The default post types that WordPress comes with are: posts, pages, attachments, revision, and navigation menus. But WordPress has now evolved from a blogging platform to a whole Content Management System (CMS). So now you can create custom post types or content types for your site with custom fields. All you need is to install the CPTUI (Custom Post Type UI) plugin!
Examples of custom posts can be reviews, products, forms, portfolios, and testimonials. Depending on what your website’s purpose is, you can design any content type.
Security is becoming an important feature in websites with the increase in cybercrime, hacking, and different forms of malware. WordFence Security makes your site secure against many attacks. It has both free and premium versions.
It creates a firewall to block malicious traffic, gives your site protection against hackers, scans for malware and viruses, sends warning emails, creates an IP blacklist, and tells you about security fixes for your site.
Basically, it guards against all well-known malicious patterns and attacks. 30,000 sites get hacked every day! You wouldn’t want yours to be one of them so you better secure your site! Whatever else you do, don’t ignore this plugin!
Updraft Plus [FREE]
This plugin is also a must-have because it’s a life-saver! You would never want to lose all the hard work you put into your website. Sometimes a security attack may cause you to lose your data, or you may face some other compatibility issue with your plugins after an update, OR you may want to migrate your site. Whatever the issue, you need a backup.
You can allow Updraft to back up your site automatically after fixed periods of time or you can do it manually. Moreover, you can save your data to the cloud or on your local storage device.
With backups, you can easily restore your site if you ever lose anything due to a fault. Also, if you wish to migrate your website to a new URL, you must export a backup of your content first. So this comes in handy for that too.
WP Rocket [PRO]
No one likes a slow loading website! By the time your website loads, a user may give up and move on to another site and you definitely do not want to lose your audience like that. Loading times greatly affect the user experience and your site’s overall performance.
WP Rocket is a caching plugin that creates cached copies of every webpage, thus reducing loading times by 63%- which is a lot! Even though you have to pay for it, it is so worth it. Otherwise your conversion rates and page viewing times will drop like a rock!
WP Mail SMTP [FREE]
By default, WordPress uses PHP to send emails, but you may encounter problems with that. So here’s a great plugin for sending emails smoothly! SMTP is the industry standard for sending emails and making sure they reach the user’s inbox by ensuring proper authentication. Otherwise your emails might end up getting blocked or thrown into spam!
The great thing is that it also allows you to integrate WordPress with your Gmail or MailGun to send email.
Insert Headers and Footers [FREE]
If you want to edit your theme header and footers, it might be a headache if you manually have to edit the theme files and add code to them. Plus, it can make you run into a bunch of issues too.
So to make header and footer editing fast and easy, we present to you the Insert Headers and Footers plugin! It’s super easy, quick, seamless, and you don’t have to worry about issues like losing your edits in case of an update.
Do you want your website to be multilingual? After all, it would greatly increase your audience by allowing people to view your content in their native languages. By default, you can only build your WordPress site in a single language. Don’t worry though. WPML can do the job for you.
Without having to install WordPress multiple times for different languages, you can make your site multilingual with this plugin and give your users an option to switch to a language of their choice!
This is the number one, open-source e-commerce plugin for online shopping. It is completely free, so hooray!
With WooCommerce you can create a great-looking store on your website and customize it for your company with different themes and options. It is so flexible and you can use it to sell just about anything. It allows you to create an inventory, add product data like prices and quantities, and dynamically update them. Booking, payment options, shipment- managing all of this becomes a breeze! There are so many pre-existing templates for you to use as well. Plus, the list of functionalities becomes endless if you install WooCommerce add-ons.