One of the great advantages of using WordPress are the thousands of free and premium plugins available to customize the look and functionality of your website.
For those of you new to WordPress, a plugin is essentially software that can be uploaded to your website to add to the functionality of it. Most are free with premium upgrades available, and they can be easily added, moved, or removed within minutes.
We don’t claim the following list to be “the best” plugins, or the results of exhaustive research. But instead, over the years of building WordPress websites and experimenting with countless plugins, these are the ones that we return to over and over again. We do not have relationships with the makers of these plugins, and do benefit financially or otherwise by including them in our list. They are ordered alphabetically.
Our 10 Favorite WordPress Plugins
1. AA’s Digg Digg Alternative: This plugin creates a floating sidebar allowing visitors to easily share your content to their favorite social media sites. It can be seen hovering to the left of this blog post – feel free to try it out.
2. Facebook Members: This one of course is dependent on the business and their target audience. It is good for those businesses interested in Facebook Marketing. It displays images of some of the people that have “Liked” your page, and allows visitors to your website or blog to easily “Like” your Facebook Page. Again – visible on in the right-hand side of this blog post and ready for a test drive (you may have to scroll up to see it)!
3. Fancier Author Box: Displays a customizable author picture and bio on your posts (or pages). See the author box below this post.
4. MaxButtons: Allows you to create custom buttons (call-to-actions) for your website. Easily change color, text, link, size and shape of your buttons.
5. Ninja Forms: I tried several plugins for creating forms before finally finding Ninja Forms. It allows for detailed customization, multiple forms, and looks good. A short code is created and you can paste it on your page.
6. P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler): This plugin is a little different in that it tests your other plugins. Site loading speed has become a factor in SEO, and plugins can slow your loading speed down. This plugin allows you to test your plugins to see how long they are taking to load and what impact they are having on your overall load time. We recently found that the popular JetPack plugin was slowing down a client’s site too much and ended up removing it.
As you can see, on this test site, there are too many plugins, and it took far too long to load.
7. Simple Social Icons: This plugin allows your visitors to connect with you on your Social Media platforms. There are countless plugins that allow for this, but we like SSI because the color, size, and even the shape (square, oval, round) can be customized or branded for your site. The social share icons on in the header of this page are through the SSI plugin, as are the ones demonstrated below.
8. Triberr: Obviously only beneficial to members of Triberr, but if you’re not a member, you should seriously consider joining (free). If your not familiar with Triberr, it is a blog sharing platform. This plugin allows you to integrate your blog with triberr for easy sending and sharing of posts, comments and guest posts.
9. W3 Cache: Improves site speed and therefore user experience and possibly search rankings. Although it is not necessary (or approved) with our host WP Engine, we still occasionally work with WordPress sites hosted elsewhere. In those cases, adding W3 is automatic.
10. WordPress SEO by Yoast: This plugin is very popular with WordPress users and is the best SEO plugin available. It provides feedback and guidance on how to improve your on-page SEO for your web pages and blog posts.
Plugins can be a lot of fun, and looking for them may have you feeling a little like a kid in a candy store, however use caution as too many (or the wrong ones) can negatively affect your website’s performance (and SEO), and in some cases, open your website up to the possibility of attacks by hackers or viruses.
What Plugins are your favorites? Thanks for reading. As always, your comments and questions are welcome and appreciated.