I’ve been using wordpress for a number of years now and it’s safe to say I have a small of love for it. Aside from a few issues it’s a super useful platform that gives you a large amount of control over your site and has a boat load of plugins that support it. I have used many…….many plugins for different reasons and to different degrees of satisfaction. The below list is something I wanted to put together for any curious soul and categorised in the functional use. There is only one plugin that I think everyone should have kids with…you’ll find that further down the page. So below is the current list of plugins that I use on this site and the reasons why I use them. Some are premium but most are free.
ADMIN SECTION WORDPRESS PLUGINS
Admin Collapse Subpages
If you have multiple pages and posts that sit underneath a parent category and you don’t want to use the default filtering system inside of wordpress, then this plugin gives those categories a collapsible + and – sign. It has made shifting through pages/posts a lot easier as there is substantially less pagination to deal with.
If you need to duplicate a post or a page, this does exactly that. Handy for posts and pages that have similar setups and saves you time recreating those setups.
If you own wordpress, then you more than likely will have an evanto account. This plugin links directly into your account and allows you to install purchases directly on your site as opposed to download and then uploading them. A simple time saving plugin.
If you run multiple sites outside of multi-site setup, you will know the pain of keeping everything updated. This plugin allows you to create a multi-site like setup that will check for out of date plugins, themes and wordpress versions. It’s a bit hit and miss with reliability but it has made updating the sites I run a much easier and less depressing task. It just requires some stability work to be done and it will be a download and use recommendation from me for people in the same boat.
Simple Local Avatars
Having to create a gravatar account for each user to simply have an avatar for that user is just pointless. If you have a small portfolio based site like mine and you dont want yet another account to password protect in your browser then this plugin will be of use to you. Apparently it has some SEO benefits, but I suspect it only benefits larger more established sites who became established because of their content, not their gravatar account. This plugin allows you to assign an avatar to a user profile in the user tab in admin. It is simple and it works.
A straight forward plugin. This lods all mail activity that goes on in your wordpress website. It is useful as it allows you to see if emails are sending to your webmail client, which can help hugely with mail based problem solving.
Post Type Switcher
If you are switching to, or operating with custom post types and want to switch content to a new CPT, then this tool makes that process easy. It can found in the publish bloc on all post/pages.
Another tool for managing CPT switches. If you are using taxonomy tags with your posts then these will also need to be transferred to the CPT. This little plugin helps with that process. It can be found under tools and has a very basic interface that makes using it easy.
In order to make the above tool easier to use you will need to know the post taxonomy ID. This isnt displayed in an easy to use way in wordpress (you have to hover over the tag and read it from the url reveal in the bottom left of the browser) which makes life much harder when trying to transfer a large number of tags. This plugin adds the the tag ID to page interface which makes the process of switch tags to a new CPT much easier.
CONTENT CREATION WORDPRESS PLUGINS
Elementor, essentially, is a bloc based page builder. I used to to use WP Bakery (which I used as an editor page based visual builder) but I made the switch when I changed theme from Jupiter 6 to Jupiter X. I have installed elementor multiple times and then uninstalled it. I didnt really understand the workflow relative to WP Bakery, so i figured I would force myself to learn how to use it with the theme switch. What made the process easier for me was using the flatsome ecom theme visual editor which is almost like for like in functionality. I found it easy to transfer knowledge across to Elementor with greater ease.
So, is it any good? Yes. Once I moved past the teething problems, learnt where everything is and how to use it with the theme (still a bit of a work in progress) I have found that it is a step up compared to WP Bakery. It still suffers the built in padding and margin quirks all page builders seem to have and advanced functionality is locked behind a monthly paywall. But on the whole it is a solid tool that will add to the type and look of pages you can create.
JetPlugins for Elementor by Crocoblock
Prior to using Jupiter X I had never heard of crocbloc or their JET toolset. And to be honest, if I had not been trying to achieve a specific look for the main section of these content posts I probably would never have looked in to using them. I am not an advanced user. Things like Custom Post Types and Advanced Custom Fields were for the next level user. Im still not fully up to spec on a lot of those features, but using JET Engines features has help considerably in solving many of layout and functionality problems I have had with using wordpress as a CMS. I would even go as far to say that learning how to use JET Engine, along with elementor, has actually increased me enjoyment in building webpages and presenting content to be viewed.
Now, you dont need these to plugins to get your own site up and running. I would describe these as a next level tool set that will add to your websites functionality.
All of Crocoblocs tools are paid for, but you will find them bundled with Jupiter X at a fraction of the cost which will give you a solid introduction to their tools and their use.
Guttenberg, the new block based editor/page builder from wordpress was supposed to give a ‘visual composer’ like experience. The reality for me is that it fails miserably as the layout of tools and options are confusing and hidden. It’s a good idea, but with extremely poor implementation. My first issue with it is it takes over new post/page creation which does get in the way of my own particular established workflow for pages. The classic editor plugin gives you the ability to select the classic editor from the point of both page/post creation and editing.
Iframes are generally old methods of presenting content on pages. The method is now largely obsolete. I use it for very select reasons as creating an iframe in-code on a page/post can be a chore. This plugin creates a short code and does the work for you should you need an iframe.
This plugin appears to have been abandoned by the developer. Use at your own discretion.
This plugin adds functionality to wordpresses classic text editor by adding additional controls to what you see in the navigation section. It’s a staple of many wordpress sites.
Timetable Responsive Schedule For WordPress
I use this particular gem of a plugin on a client’s site. It’s a responsive timetable plugin that lets you create a singular shortcode based timetable that degrades nicely from PC format to a usable phone size format without the you having to create two seperate instances of the same code. I use it specifically for class times but its has considerably more features including bookings and payments. It’s the best timetable plugin I could find but it is extremely clunky under the hood with creation of events and the timetable itself split into multiple sections in admin. If the devs swing past this page and read this the plugin needs workflow consolidation. It also lacks in depth visual customisation features that would allow someone like me to truly customise the appearance to the clients overall brand. Despite these gripes it does the job and does it well.
SEO WORDPRESS PLUGINS
Rank Math SEO
Note: I am not an SEO expert. Its a magic art of all things web and do need to dedicate more time to it. That being said I have been using this plugin on a pro level for a while now and based on its features I have managed to improve rank position for several sites and reduce bounce rates. The features I appreciate the most include: sitemap and redirection features which mean I don’t need separate plugins for either. The sitemap itself also does not list wordpress core pages from what I can tell, which means the next plugin in this list is not negatively affected by it; It works relatively well with page builders and the default classic editor, allows you to establish a keyword(s) for a page, correct/edit/add content based on its checklist of recommendations; You can also tailor which image is to be displayed on social media sitesl and it provides default editable schema format for multiple types of post specifically aimed at search engines.
Download it, try it, let me know how you get on with it.
SECURITY WORDPRESS PLUGINS
WPS Hide Login
Security. The default wordpress login page is known by anyone who has ever installed wordpress: sitename.xxx/wp-login.php. Leaving this in place creates backdoor access for those wonderful arseholes, hackers.
There are three things you should always do when creating a new wordpress site:
1) change the default database table name to anything other than ‘wp’.
2) set a nickname to your main admin account that isnt the username (WordPress has a tendency to display usernames).
3) Change the url of your login page (the function of this plugin).
There are several odd decisions wordpress core devs make, and not allowing you to easily define the url name of your login page during setup is one of them.
This plugin mixed with a login limit/ban plugin will beef up the security of your site. There are other ways in, but good security plugins will start to patch those holes that should be patched by the devs.
Website Optimisation WordPress Plugins
This is specific to anyone using the Siteground hosting platform. It’s an epically wonderful plugin that boosts your site performance by tapping into siteground server features. If you are on Siteground this gets auto-installed with each wordpress installation.
Ive tried many other plugins to optimise wordpress sites in the past and the core crux of site speed comes down to the localisation and quality of your server host above all other things. Optimisation plugins cannot improve a rubbish server.
Stop Generating Unnecessary Thumbnails
Thumbnails. Holy f*****g christ.
I didn’t know about wordpress’s obsession with thumbnails until I downloaded the media library from my old wedding site. WordPress will allow every plugin on your site to create any and all sizes of thumbnails the plugin authors think they need in order for their plugin to operate…….just….just why? Admin sections need one reference thumbnail in-order to operate correctly. This single aspect of wordpress will fill your site server allocation up faster than anything else. In some instances I had 60 replications of a single image on a site that had thousands of images. Once I had sorted everything out I worked out, wordpress and the authors of all the plugins i use (except this one, this person is a god to me) had turned 2 gigs worth of images into around 26gb.
26 gigs. Let that sink in.
This entire aspect of wordpress will ruin your server performance and severely limit your site if it’s based, like mine is, on large numbers of images. This one single plugin is the most important one for me when using wordpress. It does exactly what it says, it stops wordpress and the plugins you use from filling your server with unnecessary images. Every time I upload an image it creates a single 160×160 thumbnail for use in the admin section. I have not noticed any performance issues since using this plugins, and the plugins themselves all work fine. So, dear plugin authors your plugin does not ned 20 different sized thumbnails in order to operate correctly. It just needs one.
So stop what you are doing, download it, use it, praise it, make a shrine for it……marry it.
MEDIA LIBRARY MANAGEMENT
WP Real Media Library
WordPress out of the box is absolutely useless at organising images. By default your images will be put into a month/year folder order that you can see via some ftp software. Logically this gives ‘a’ structure to image storage that prevents replicated url’s but it provdes no url structure for seo or any type of structure to logically manage all of your image files. This plugin (along with the next one on the list) gives you the ability to organise your media uploads into a file category similar to how you would do on your computer. If you produce a large number of images that follow a sequential numbering system, then there is an option to organise those images by that number system which makes adding them to posts or page en masse much easier. This plugin is essential for media heavy sites like portfolio based sites and ecom stores.
As an FYI, this is a paid for plugin but it is worth the money.
WordPress Real Physical Media: Physical Media Folders & SEO Rewrites
Plugin Types I don't Currently Use
Revision & Database Optimisation Plugins
Revisions occur whenever you save a page or a post and they get logged in the database. The more pages and posts you have, the more revisions there will be and the more your database becomes bloated and slow. Ive just started using WP Sweep to clean revisions from the site and clean up the database in general. But, if you do use one of the many database optimisation plugins make sure you back your website up first because some of them have been reported to break peoples sites.
I am also trailing a code edit in the wp-config file
“define (‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 3);”
I will assess if this is effective in the future.
As with all plugins, install them one at a time and test them. WordPress is notorious for plugin conflicts causing sites to break. Installing one at a time allows you to see if the new plugin causes are any adverse effects to your site.
Do you have any wordpress plugins that you use that you couldn’t live without? Post them below in the comments section and let us all know why you use them and what makes them so god damn awesome.