10 Essential WordPress Plugins (and How to Configure Them)
A. Introduction to WordPress Plugins
WordPress Plugins are like candy. Once you taste one, you want more. I like to use WordPress Plugins to make my clients WordPress sites more functional, more capable, and more connected. Plugins, of course, habe their downsides, they can slow down your website, they can be incompatible with future versions of WordPress and they can be just plain buggy. Despite these downfalls, I believe that plugins will make your life easier. The trick of course is to just eat…I mean install…only those that you understand and can manage.
- installing plugins is fun and easy
- it’s easy to go overboard with plugins
- install only the plugins you trust, understand, and can configure
B. Finding Plugins: Searching the WordPress Plugin Repository
The WordPress repository holds over 15,000 plugins. That’s a lot to sort through! Luckily, if you know the plugin that you want you can usually find it by searching for it’s name, or using a keyword/keyphrase.
- search the repo from within the WordPress Admin
- search the repo at WordPress.org
- search the repo using Google e.g. “akismet site:WordPress.org“
C. Choosing Plugins: Understanding the Plugin “Repo”
Plugins vary in quality. That’s pretty clear to anyone whose tried to find and use a good plugin. But overall, the plugin repo has been cleaned up over the years. There are rules and regulations about spammy links in plugins and all plugins in the repo are required to be GPL licensed.
- quality signals: downloads, rankings, updated, bug reports
- if all else fails…check the support forums, check google for issues
D. Installing Plugins
You can install a WordPress Plugins directly within your WordPress admin site. You can also download them from WordPress.org and then install them from your computer by uploading into your admin, or by copying the plugin files directly into your site directly with FTP. Each of the methods is more complex, but for developers these methods are sometimes easier because they can bulk upload and install many plugins at once.
- you can install a plug-in within the WordPress Admin
- you can install a plug-in with FTP
E. Updating Plugins
Generally, the WordPress Admin will alert you when a plugin has been updated. It can do this for plugins that live in the repo, but if you have a third-party plugin. You may not get a notice that it needs to be updated unless the authors have written that functionality into the plugin.
For instance, BackupBuddy and GravityForms are third-party plugins that will notify you of updates and you can update and upgrade to the latest version if you still have a valid license for these.
F. 10 Essential Plugins
With so many plugins to cover, let’s place them into 4 categories to make it easier to think about. Some plugins add new functionality to your site (like Social Media connections), let’s call these Functionality plugins. Some plugins do things in the background, like make your site run faster, these are Utility plugins. Some plugins make your home page fancy with a nice slider or widget, let’s call these Theme Enhancement plugins. Other plugins help you to use the WordPress Admin a little easier, you guessed it Administration plugins.
Remote Images Grabber
W3 Total Cache
WP Maintenance Mode
Related Posts Thumbnails
Visual Recent Posts
SlideShare for WordPress by Yoast
Comprehensive Google Map Plugin
Widget Logic Visual
Broken Link Checker
WP System Health
Black Studio TinyMCE Widget
P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)
Rockstar Plugin Authors
Joost de Valk