WordPress has become the most popular content management system in history. Powering a quarter of the world’s websites, as well as a comparable proportion of the one million most visited sites, its user-friendly templates have been adopted and modified by clients in every country on the planet.
Much of WordPress’s simplicity is owed to its use of plugins. There are currently around 52,000 of these self-contained programs available for download. Each WordPress plugin handles one or more specialised tasks, over and above the functionality of standard WordPress templates. Whether you want to offer ecommerce, link to social media accounts or optimise your SEO ranking, WordPress plugins can take care of it. Plugins have also been created for playing Asteroids and displaying random Darth Vader quotes, though these are downloaded and installed less frequently.
Some of the add-ons currently available are quite compelling, and these are our nominations for the WordPress plugins every site ought to incorporate:
- Yoast SEO. Perhaps the greatest plugin ever created, for its simplification of search engine optimisation. Yoast scans web pages, with a traffic light system flagging up successes and areas for improvement. Even beginners will relish creating meta tags and snippets, while adding in keywords maximises a page’s ranking results position.
- WP Brain. Taking Yoast’s refinement principles one step further is WP Brain, which controls page visibility and custom filters. Invaluable for marketing campaigns, it’s also handy for showing (or hiding) content based on a user’s location. Examples of this might include language-specific content, or currency swaps on ecommerce pages.
- Mapify.it. In the beginning, there was Google Maps. And it was good. Mapify.it takes Google’s industry-leading tool to the next level, keeping the zoom-and-pan effects while adding various extra features. Highlights include tooltips for specific locations and pop-up galleries, with pinpoints triggering bespoke actions on mouseover.
- Monarch. Today’s plethora of social media platforms has made social sharing a bit challenging. Fortunately, Monarch is here to rule over all these portals. It enables over twenty different networks to be displayed on your site, with strategically-placed sharing buttons. It’s also compatible with images, unlike some rival social plugins.
- Slider Revolution. Visuals are an often overlooked component of stylish websites. Slider Revolution contains hundreds of ready-made slideshows and image carousels, while users can fully customise their own media galleries. Fully responsive on mobile devices, this is the easiest way to add flair and drama to your site’s appearance.
- Google XML Sitemaps. For the uninitiated, an XML sitemap is a crucial part of any website’s coding. It tells search engines which pages to view, and which ones are off-limits. It also explains how the site is laid out, all of which boosts SEO. This handy WordPress plugin automatically updates itself every time a content change is made.
- W3 Total Cache. Regular site visitors will be eternally grateful for the presence of W3 Total Cache in your plugin directory. In fact, even that’s not true. If W3 does its job, they won’t even notice its presence. Your site will display more quickly in their browser, though, thanks to cached content optimising loading times – great for boosting SEO and optimising user experience.
- Freshbooks. Unless you’re an accountant, you probably aren’t very good at the minutiae of financial management, whether you’re juggling household bills or paying invoices and chasing payments. This user-friendly cloud-based accounting tool delivers simple and effective financial management for everyone.
- Wordfence Premium. Every website is at risk of malicious activity, and WordPress-hosted sites are no different. The Premium plugin by security experts Wordfence undertakes tasks from traffic monitoring and firewall protection through to password strength advice and two-factor authentication login security.
- BackupBuddy. Even the strongest website protection can occasionally be undone. If your site is breached or corrupted, having a permanent record of customer data and webpage content maintains normal service without major interruption. BackupBuddy restores badly damaged sites with a few clicks, making this an invaluable add-on.
It’s worth noting that some of these plugins are free, while others require payment; there may also be freemium models where advanced features are unlocked with a credit or debit card. Whatever sort of website you’ve created, or plan to launch, these ten plugins will streamline and refine it – making your life easier along the way…