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Our top 10 favorite WordPress plugins

Morgan Smith's Layout avatar

Sifting through the WordPress Plugin Directory is a bit like standing in a candy store – they all look so exciting to try! And these days, there’s a plugin for just about everything: security enhancements, performance boosts, SEO optimization, and the list goes on and on.

Ultimately, the plugins you decide to install are completely up to you and your site’s needs. But to help you start sorting through the masses, we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 plugins. We’ve found all of these to be super simple to use, immensely useful when building sites, and just downright reliable.

So without further ado, here are our top 10 favorite WordPress plugins right now!

Advanced Custom Fields 

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“Advanced Custom Fields is the perfect solution for any WordPress website which needs more flexible data like other Content Management Systems.”

When you edit a post or page in WordPress, you’ll notice that out of the box, there aren’t a whole lot of options. For many sites, that’ll get the job done. If you’re building something a little more robust, however, you might want to add a little more functionality and a few more options. That’s where the Advanced Custom Fields plugin comes in. It gives you access to lots of different data types and even allows you to create your own.

Especially if you’re developing sites for clients, this plugin is a great solution for keeping things organized and making pages and posts easy to edit.

Better WordPress Minify

“Allows you to combine and minify your CSS and JS files to improve page load time.”

Looking for a little performance boost? When building sites, it’s important to try to serve the fewest amount of assets possible, compressed as much as you can, in order to make your site as fast as possible. Better WordPress Minify will help you by combining and minifying your CSS and JavaScript files. Plus, it’s got some great documentation and a fantastic list of best practices when it comes to minification.

It’s a super useful plugin if you’re looking to speed up your site and increase performance for your users.

Captcha by BestWebSoft

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“It protects your website from spammers by means of math logic, easily understandable by human beings.”

It’s pretty disappointing (and annoying) to think you’ve received an email from a new client only to find it’s some lame spam email. Captcha by BestWebSoft will help you eliminate that nonsense by adding a simple Captcha form to your site. It uses basic math logic (addition, subtraction, or multiplication) to stop spammers while remaining easily understood by your human visitors.

If you’re receiving a bunch of bogus spam emails or nonsense comments on your site, this plugin is a quick and efficient way to clean up the clutter.

Clef Two-Factor Authentication

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“Modern two-factor that people love to use: strong authentication without passwords or tokens; single sign on/off; magical user experience.”

For those of you concerned about security, you probably already know that two-factor authentication is a great process to have in place. Clef Two-Factor Authentication takes that one step further by removing passwords – everything is done by using the super nifty Clef wave. (Seriously, go try it out. It’s awesome!)

If you’re looking to boost security on your site (or just want to use a really awesome piece of technology), this plugin is definitely a must-install!

Jetpack by WordPress.com

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“Increase your traffic, view your stats, speed up your site, and protect yourself from hackers with Jetpack.”

If you’re familiar with WordPress, you’ve probably heard of Jetpack already, and for good reasons. All around, it’s just a good, solid plugin with some great, basic functionality. With lots of features, it comes packed with options to optimize each and every WordPress site. And sometimes, it’s just nice to have all of those features in one place, instead of navigating several plugins.

If you want to add lots of functionality to your site with just one all-inclusive plugin, Jetpack is definitely the way to go.

Ninja Forms

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“Ninja Forms is the easiest way to build any form you need for your WordPress website. Create the form you want, when you want with a simple drag and drop interface provided by the very powerful Ninja Forms framework.”

If you’re collecting information from your users (which you should be!) forms are one of the most important aspects of your site. With a simple drag and drop solution, Ninja Forms is super easy to use and offers lots of great customizations. Plus, it offers several advanced options with a library of add-ons.

Ninja Forms is sure to help you increase conversions while simplifying form creation.

P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)

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“See which plugins are slowing down your site. This plugin creates a performance report for your site.”

Sometimes plugins do nothing but wonders for your site. Other times, they can slow things down and become a real pain. Curious if any of your plugins are causing problems? P3 will create a performance report for your site and help you discover any pesky plugins that are slowing down performance.

Especially if you have lots of plugins installed, P3 is a great auditing tool to make sure none of them are causing more problems than they’re worth.

TinyPNG for WordPress

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“Speed up your website. Optimize your JPEG and PNG images automatically with TinyPNG.”

If your site includes lots of visual content, it’s critical that you optimize and compress images for the web. One problem with WordPress, however, is that even if you optimize the original image that you upload, when WordPress generates new image sizes from it, those won’t be compressed. TinyPNG for WordPress will take care of that for you, and even help you optimize images that you’ve already uploaded.

If you have a site with lots of images and things aren’t running quite as fast as you’d like, TinyPNG for WordPress is a fantastic solution.

WooCommerce

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“WooCommerce is a powerful, extendable eCommerce plugin that helps you sell anything. Beautifully.”

If you’re building an eCommerce site, WooCommerce is definitely the way to go. With lots of options and customizations, it’s incredibly easy to build the shop of your dreams while also managing all of the logistics, right from one plugin. And if you’re looking for more functionality than just the free plugin, there are a plethora of premium extensions to add on.

For anyone looking to build an eCommerce site, WooCommerce is the plugin for you!

Yoast SEO 

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“Improve your WordPress SEO: Write better content and have a fully optimized WordPress site using Yoast SEO plugin.”

Your site probably has some copy on it, and you probably want that copy to be fully optimized for the Google fairies, right? Yoast SEO is here to do just that – help you optimize every post and page for maximum exposure. While you’re editing content, this plugin will help you preview how it’ll display in search engine results and also make suggestions to increase rankings.

This is a super powerful plugin that’s perfect for anyone looking to increase their search ranking and focus on SEO.

Bonus: Hubspot

hubspot marketing wordpress plugin

“It is the all-in-one WordPress plugin for capturing leads, building an email list and tracking visitor behavior on your website.”

Launching your website is one thing, but how it converts can make or break the return on the time and money you’ve invested in creating a site! By integrating WordPress and Hubspot, you have the ability to capture leads and add forms to help grow your business and find new potential customers. It’s a digital marketer’s dream team!

That’s it for our top 10 WordPress plugins! Did your favorites make the list? Let us know what your go-to plugins are in the comments and why they’re awesome!

Comments ( 3 )

  1. Aidan Sweeney

    June 16, 2016

    Hi,

    I didn't know minify plugins could be used in addition to the caching that FlyWheel does as part of the hosting package. It's interesting that an additional boost is possible.

    But I'm surprised at the recommendation of 'Better WordPress Minify' as it hasn't been updated for 9 months at the moment. Isn't regular updating important in a plugin?

    I'll take a closer look at Clef. It looks interesting.

    Cheers,

    Aidan

  2. Ash

    December 8, 2016

    I'll certainly take a look at Clef. I wanted to double check with you on Aidan's question above: Can minify plugins be used in addition to the caching that FlyWheel does?

    Specifically, I need a way to:

    Compress and upload all future images for my website?
    Compress and upload images "already" uploaded on the website?
    A dependable plugin (that doesn't slow down the site) to help minify CSS?

    What works? Really appreciate the help.

    Ash

    • Morgan Smith

      December 8, 2016

      As far as images go, TinyPNG is a good solution. You can use the browser tool to upload and compress images before uploading to WordPress, and then you can use their plugin, Compress JPEG and PNG Images, to handle already-uploaded images.
      For minifying CSS, check out WP Rocket. It'll help you with minification and concatenation of JavaScript and CSS, and works great on Flywheel sites :)

      • Ash

        December 9, 2016

        Hey Morgan,

        Thank you so much for your inputs. So, I went ahead and compressed the existing images using TinyPNG's Wordpress plugin. I also realized that it helps if the images are scaled down to just the appropriate size and not use "giant" images anywhere. Plus, online tools like compressor.io.

        Another issue was "Leveraging browser caching". Apparently, the usual advice to tinker with .htaccess files doesn't apply to Flywheel hosted sites because Flywheel uses ngix.
        I was taking to the support team about this and they actually did some Varnish thing that accomplishes something similar to what putting a piece of code on .htaccess does.

        Ash

  3. Laurence

    January 15, 2018

    Hey! Just a heads up that this post needs a bit of a refresh ;) Clef is no longer available for install, and P3 is quite out of date these days. I also think Autooptimize might be a better option than auto minify.

    • Morgan Smith

      January 15, 2018

      Thanks Laurence, you're definitely right – this list is all the way from 2016! We'll have a 2018 edition coming soon :)

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