by Kristal Reagan | Featured Contributor
What’s a plugin? A Plugin is a small bit of code that adds a cool function to your website. It’s similar to installing a new app on your smart phone. With all the cool
features available for your WordPress website it’s hard not to be a plugin junkie! How do we know what’s fluff and what’s core? By my definition, fluff is something that looks really cool on your site but isn’t something your website or business truly needs. Is it just “pretty” or does it make things easier for you or your ideal client? Does it serve a function that your business model needs?
Core plugins, again by my definition, are plugins that every website should have no matter the business model. Most of these are actions that run in the background that only you know about and only you ever see. Every web builder and blogger have different opinions on what the “core” plugins are so this isn’t a one size fits all but it’s a good place to start.
Here’s what I install on mine and all my client’s websites:
“Kristal’s 10 Core WordPress Plugin Must Haves”
- Akismet– comes installed; you’ll need to activate it and get an API key (it’s worth the investment…do it!) prevents spam comments (free)
- Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress- This plugin adds a widget to the WordPress dashboard with site statistics. By: Deconf.com This will add a snippet of the analytics on the WordPress dashboard giving you enough information so that you won’t need to sign into your Analytics account every day to see how your site is performing. (free)
- Google XML Sitemaps – This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog. By: Arne Brachhold (free)
- All in One SEO Pack– Optimizes your WordPress blog for Search Engines (Search Engine Optimization). By Michael Torbert. Gives you the ability to optimize your site so that it’s easier to find using a search engine and it’s going to rank higher You’ll have the option for general site optimization, as well as individual page and posts optimization. (free)
- Contact Form 7 – Perfect for your Contact Us page and other ‘form’ options. By: Takayuki Miyoshi (free)
- WP Smush.it –Reduce image file sized and improves performance using the Smush.it API within WordPress (think no more resizing your images, this will optimize them for you). By: WPMUDEV (free)
- Backup Buddy– The best way to back up (and move) a WordPress Site By: iThemes (paid)
Ultimate TinyMCE–(formatting toolbar) will add over 30 new buttons to the default visual tinymce editor, giving you the power to visually create your pages and post. No need for mucking about in HTML and CSS. By: Josh Lobe (free)This is no longer compatible with WordPress 3.9+ It has been replaced with WP Edit by Josh Lobe (free) which is ONLY compatible with 3.9+
- WordFence Security– Wordfence Security is a free enterprise class security and performance plugin that includes a very fast caching engine, firewall, anti-virus scanning, cellphone sign-in (two factor authentication), malicious URL scanning and live traffic including crawlers. Wordfence is the only WordPress security and performance plugin that can verify and repair your core, theme and plugin files, even if you don’t have backups. (free)
- Page/Post Specific Social Share Buttons– This plugin allows you to display most used social media share buttons on specific posts and/or pages. By: Ryan Howard, Abbobaker P. (free)
With these core plugins you will have an SEO boost, backup protection, security, increased site speed, image optimization, spam control, and better formatting for your post and pages. All these plugins are for your website so that it runs smoothly. These are the “big 10” I add to EVERY WordPress website. (free)
In addition to the “Top Ten” I have listed a few of my favorite plugins that give non-techies some flexibility with custom options no matter what theme they are using:
- Display Widgets– Gives you the ability to turn off/on sidebar widgets on certain pages and/or posts. By: Strategy (free)
- WP Display Header – You’ll be able to have a different header on every page…if you want. By: Konstantin Obenland (free)
- Page Builder-Build responsive page layouts using the widgets you know and love using this simple drag and drop page builder. By: Site Origin (free)
I’ve tested a handful of shopping carts and every time I come back to this one! Simple dashboard, easy set-up, and uses short code to embed in post and pages.
My favorite Shopping Cart Plugin:
- WP estore– Simple Shopping Cart Plugin to sell digital (ebook, mp3, photos) and non-digital products from your WordPress blog through PayPal. By: Ruhul Amin (paid)
My favorite membership plugin:
Optimize Press– I use Optimize Press as a plugin and not my theme with the option for membership and to build squeeze/landing pages, optin pages, etc. By: OptimizePress (paid)
Can you have too many plugins? The key is not how many plugins you have but the quality of the plugin. To know if you have a quality plugin when searching for plugins from within your dashboard or at WordPress.org check how many times the plugin downloads, when it was last updated, how many stars it has and read the reviews. If you find a site that has a plugin you “need” here is a great site that will tell you the theme and the top plugins installed: http://www.wpthemedetector.com It won’t give you a list of every single plugin installed.
Kristal Reagan, Tech Expert-Owner SimplifyWebsites, Raleigh, NC
Hey y’all! My name is Kristal and I’m a 100% born-and-raised North Carolinian, currently living in Raleigh. I’m a home-based business owner, wife of 10 years, and stay-at-home Momma to four wonderful children (ages 9, 6, 3 and 8 months.)
Let me make a confession. I’m a tech-geek and a gadget-girl! I LOVE technology and I LOVE teaching others about it. I especially love helping those who are self-proclaimed “technically inept.” It’s my joy to SIMPLIFY technology for them and show them how to use it to make their lives easier.
If you’re like many business women, you’ve spent countless hours and dollars on your website, but you still don’t love it. Or you love the look and it’s “pretty,” but it’s not fully functioning, meaning it’s not collecting new leads, it’s not deepening the relationship with your leads, and/or it’s not converting your leads to $ales.
And maybe you’ve wasted tons of time trying to figure out technology on your own. Or worse, there are times when the thought of technology seems so overwhelming that it stops you in your tracks and it keeps you from moving your business forward.
I’m here to help turn all that around for you! I promise to speak your language, and not use “big techie words”. I love to create step-by-step, how-to videos that teach YOU how to streamline your business and I’m really looking forward to that and being a resource for you!