Our favourite WordPress plugins…

A colleague asked me today “which plugins do you use by default when you start a new WordPress project?”

The answer to that evolved into a hopefully useful list for others who work with small business & solopreneur clients.

It of course depends on the client and what their goals are for their website & business, but generally on every site i install:

wp-db-backup – there are others that are more sophisticated, but i find this one does exactly what it needs to do: creates a backup of the database. If you have a lot of images & files within your site, Backup-Scheduler is a good one for that.

wordpress-seo – i have tried the other seo plugins… this one WORKS and the help it gives along the way will actually teach you best practices in SEO. i never leave home without it.

tinymce-advanced – this one makes the default wordpress editor more userfriendly. PARTICULARLY if you want to reduce client opportunity to mess with your fabulous styling. You can remove the text size, text colour, highlight etc buttons from the editor, and add ones that are missing – like blockquote and anchor… and rearrange them so they are more intuitively place. Also fixes that terminally annoying issue with wordpress removing your <p> tags … 

ultimate google analytics – now, this one hasn’t been updated in quite a while, so use at your own risk… HOWEVER… if you just want a simple way to get your google code onto pages, and filter your own (and other admins) usage from the stats… this WORKS. I prefer to use the google interface when i’m looking at stats, so this does the trick for me. If you want to be able to use the wordpress interface to look at your stats, google analytics for wordpress by the makers of wordpress-seo is great.

 ** UPDATE to google analytics… my BAAAAD… ok – am converting all our client sites to use google analytics for wordpress as it uses the more current & correct asynchronous code… and has a few more specific settings to allow for better statistics.

akismet – blocks that comment spam, period. just do it.

social sharing toolkit – i’ve tried a ton of different sharing plugins… i like this one the best because: a) it’s compact (not a zillion social sites to offer), b) you have a lot of control over the order, size & type of buttons, c) sharing, following & content-based buttons can all be different, d) it’s got a checkbox to put the javascript in the footer, so it’s not cluttering up and slowing down your page load.

rb-internal-links – what i love about this plugin is that when you’re doing internal linking, it will always link to the right page, even if you change the page slug or title or whatever… so no more picking thru a site to find those links to update! (tho i have recently found it gets a bit sluggish on large sites). Note, it also has not been updated in a while, so use at your own risk.

wp-google-fonts – ahhh the font freedom (well, within the 500+ available at google anyway) that we’ve wished for for so long. It’s not perfect, but it generally means you can use a cool font for a headline or site-title without having to resort to a graphic…

youtube-lyte or smart-youtube – both work really way, and are super simple to use… one just has more features.

global-content-blocks – this works really well for javascript or external form code, iframes or chunks of content/code that you may need to update often on more than one page.

ninja-page-categories-and-tags – this allows pages to be categorized, tagged & searched like posts. Also now adds excerpts to pages, and gives you options for customizing the “read more” text etc. Very handy. 

custom-contact-forms – i LOVE this plugin. It allows for very complex online forms, and collects the data so it can be exported in .csv – also emails results to whomever and the submitter. It takes time to create the forms, but with a little practice you can be a form wizard and impress the heck out of clients. 

widget-logic – if you want to control which widgets show up on which pages, this is the plugin. It’s a bit tricky to get the hang of the logic, but if you carefully follow the support pages, you’ll get there. I banged my head against it for quite some time, don’t give up… it will make you look like a magician once you crack the code. 

wp-testimonials is my preferred one – again, one that hasn’t been updated lately but just plain WORKS. I’ve tried a bunch of the others, and this one is just the simplest to work with. It does what it says it will do, it’s easy to custom style it. The only downside is that it doesn’t randomize the full page of testimonials… only displays them in the order they were entered. it DOES randomize the sidebar widget tho.

feedburner with feedburner-feedsmith for RSS is really the best way… if you HAVE to have traditional RSS

for more email-like RSS, eg if you want people to subscribe to your blog – and get automatic emails when you post something new… Subscribe2 works really well, but i’ve more recently been encouraging clients to use mailchimp and set up an RSS campaign, as it’s MUCH prettier 😀

wordfence security – i really like this one… it stands guard at all times and if there’s a breach it sends you an email. You can watch what’s happening on your site in realtime and totally geek out. It’s excellent both as a time saver and a time sucker, plus it keeps your site safe! 

and for membership sites where people will actually register, i use WangGuard, which checks users against a database to see if they’ve already been blocked for spamming (or splogging, as it’s called when they register on a wordpress blog then post crap)


So, there you have it… there are tons of other great plugins for all kinds of specific uses, but these are my go-to’s.


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