Its usability, affordable pricing, and excellent features have made it one of the world’s most popular website builders – around 28% of all websites are hosted by WordPress!
If you’re using WordPress, you already know the incredible power of the mighty plugin. Plugins allow you to customise your site, and with nearly 30,000 plugins currently available you can adjust your website exactly how you want to.
Plugins aren’t difficult to use, but they do require a bit of maintenance. This includes culling plugins you are no longer actually using.
Too many plugins can make your website crash and affect its performance, security, and speed. Also, when you have plugins left unsupervised, you’re at risk when one of them is abandoned by their developers or hijacked by hackers, making your website even more vulnerable to malicious attacks.
Your first task in creating a brilliant, effective, and secure website is to assess your plugin situation, keeping in mind the adage ‘quality not quantity’.
So, what makes a quality plugin? Here are a few of our faves.
About 47% of people expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, and 40% will abandon a page that takes more than three seconds to load. So caching plugins are an absolute necessity for a fast-loading website and significantly better user experience – especially for mobile users.
Our suggestion is WP Fastest Cache, which has both a free and premium plan. This plugin works by creating static HTML files from any dynamic WordPress blog.
Security plugins are a no-brainer. Despite WordPress having pretty sturdy firewalls, every user – especially businesses – should have a security plugin. This is even more important if your website gathers user data such as contact or payment details. A good plugin will block sensitive information from potential attackers without impacting usability for other users. You can choose between all-in-one solutions or plugins just to protect against specific issues.
Akismet, for starters, is a plugin everybody should have installed on their site to combat spammy comments.
For backing up
Possibly as important as security is ensuring your website is backed up. It just takes one unlucky event – a malfunction, a malware attack, or hacker action – and you could lose all your hard work. It doesn’t happen very often, but if you are that unlucky non-backer-upperer, it really sucks.
We recommend UpdraftPlus, which comes free with WordPress premium plans and has several premium versions available. This plugin can back up to a range of different cloud platforms, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, or can simply send the back-up to your email.
Here’s a nifty video from Updraft on how to back up your site:
For search engine optimisation
Even if you have SEO specialists optimising your searchability, it’s always good to have an SEO plugin. It’s a big ol’ online world out there, and you definitely want your business to stand out at the top of Google search results.
In our opinion, the hostess-with-the-mostest is Yoast. Yoast SEO – again, available in free or premium – is easy to use, and tells you how to better your SEO as you go. It’s super-effective for blog-based sites, allowing you to make “bulk edits” to your site and manage SEO roles if you’d like your staff to also use it.
For image optimisation
Content is key, and words paint a thousand pictures (do we have that right?), but if you want to chuck a cherry atop your optimisation pudding, we recommend looking at your images.
Images – particularly big ones, or lots of them – can do terrible things to user experience.
Like any big gnarly files, loading takes time and can really slow down your website. So you might want to think about compressing some images.
When you’re decreasing an image’s size (or compressing) you want to retain its visual integrity – this ain’t Nintendo 64, after all (although wouldn’t be great if it was?).
We recommend TinyPNG for the job. It isn’t really a plugin per se, but it’s a very effective way to minimise your picture files without maximising pixilation. It’s free, easy to use, and there’s even a cute little panda on the dashboard smiling at you while you wait.
For social sharing
Social media is quickly becoming the most effective marketing option, especially for small businesses. If you’ve nailed your content, you need to have an easy way for people to share it. You need little buttons on the content – one click and it’s shared to the user’s preferred social platform.
Social Snap (free, the full version starts at $39) is our favourite button-making-plugin.
One excellent way to generate leads for your business is to include forms for users to fill out for enquiries, bookings, or e-commerce.
So, there you have it: the bare necessities of plugins. Tried and tested by us personally, these bare necessities (these simple bare necessities) will hopefully help you forget your WordPress worries.
On a final, more serious note (yes, we do serious): remember to check that a plugin has been updated recently (in the last 2-3 years) before installing it. This will help you avoid any nasty vulnerabilities.
Also, read user comments to find out if the plugin has unfixed errors that could put your site in jeopardy. This is especially important if you don’t have prior experience in coding or site development.
Alternatively, feel free to call us. You can also fill out our online contact form – it’s super-easy and spam-free.