When it comes to websites, we trust WordPress – in fact, 99% of websites we build are on WordPress unless a client has a specific platform they would like to build on. We are not alone when it comes to building sites on WordPress, something like 27% or just over a quarter of the world’s websites are powered by either WordPress.com or WordPress.org (we’ve talked about the difference between the two here: https://futuretheory.co/wordpress-com-vs-org/).
A huge component of building with WordPress, along with the theme or template you choose to use, is the plugins you choose to enable. Not only should you pick plugins that have been coded to a high quality, you also want to make sure that you’re only running the plugins you need as too many plugins can lead to a slow site.
We’ve broken down the plugins we use below.
Autoptimize works behind the scenes to ensure elements like the code behind the site are optimised. It’s essential to ensuring that your site is smooth and loading quickly. Be careful of the settings you pick, however, as some minification settings, for example, can mess with your website’s functions.
2. Classic Editor
The ‘classic’ editor is what was built into WordPress before the ‘block’ editor came around in the 5.0 update. We still prefer the classic editor so we continue to use it.
3. Code Snippets
This plugin lets us muck around with aspects of our site that we could also access in another way, however, since we like to experiment with our site and make changes all the time, it helps to have the Code Snippets plugin which aggregates all our changes and experiments.
5. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP
We use Google Analytics Dashboard for WP on our clients’ sites since it shows them their Google Analytics reports on the WordPress dashboard. We run the plugin as well so that we can ensure our clients are having a good experience.
6. Gravity Forms
Website forms are an important element of ensuring a simple user experience. Why make someone click through to their email client when you could simply ask the questions right there on your site? Gravity Forms is our favourite solution to WordPress forms – it’s not free but it is worth it.
Imsanity resizes images automatically according to the dimensions that we enter. Yes, that is something we could do on Photoshop, however, we’re lazy sometimes and upload a photo directly out of the camera or from a stock photo site, when we do this, Imsanity resizes it for us so that we’re not wasting server space and increasing site load times (large images take longer to download and load after all).
Redirection helps us manage pages and posts as well as track 404 errors where there should be a page but there isn’t one. We’re always making changes to our site, and this plugin essentially helps us to ensure that we are showing clients what they expect to see each and every time.
Websites and tables don’t really go hand in hand. TablePress, however, makes everything more manageable. TablePress essentially creates what looks like a table to anyone visiting the site, but in the back end it is much more manageable. You can also add in formulas, sort the table, update it without touching code, etc.
10. Wordfence Security
Website security is extremely important, especially if you have a popular site that gets a lot of visitors (and by extension a lot of baddies). Wordfence is the plugin we trust to take care of this on most sites. It does an effective job while not increasing load times. We’ve found the free version to be great, though there is a paid solution as well.
WordPress sites rely heavily on databases to run. When these databases start getting fragmented and large, the website naturally starts to slow down. By using WP-Optimize we know that the website’s database is always being optimized, and we can also set it to remove things like draft posts or trashed comments so that no unnecessary space is being wasted.
12. Yoast SEO
We trust the free version of Yoast on almost all sites that we build. If your site can’t be found, why bother having a site at all? While Yoast SEO isn’t an SEO service, it provides recommendations that improve your rankings as well as settings to manage what shows up on search results and more.