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10 Must Have WordPress Plugins – 2014 Edition

By James George

When building a WordPress site, your main objective is to use as few plugins as possible. However, not everyone who uses WordPress is a PHP maven. Fortunately, these must have WordPress plugins won’t bog down your site. Some of them will actually help your site to run faster and more efficiently. Every one of these plugins is used on all of my WordPress sites. They help me to manage tasks that would be difficult to otherwise, and they provide features that are necessary for any successful WordPress site.

At SitePoint, we’ve written about must have WordPress plugins before, however in this article I’ll cover my own ‘must have’ plugins – the 2014 edition.

Akismet

Akismet

One of the most annoying things that can happen while trying to run your WordPress site, is that you’ll experience a lot of spam comments. One way to fight these spam comments, is to use a WordPress plugin that’s been around for many years, called Akismet. Akismet has been the trusted face of comment spam prevention for as long as I can remember.

WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress SEO by Yoast

Whether or not you’re a Search Engine Optimization master, Yoast is the go to plugin for SEO for your WordPress site. You can control every aspect of your SEO endeavors using this plugin. This plugin is great for handling meta descriptions and other SEO tasks. This plugin is also great for on page SEO. You can also control things like your robots.txt file, and it will generate your site map for you. This makes it extremely easy to submit your site map to Google, Yahoo and Bing on a regular basis.

Yoast in Action

The thing I like the most about Yoast’s SEO plugin is the fact that it analyzes your article and makes suggestions based on what you’ve done. It’s handy to have this reminder, letting you know that you’ve forgotten something important, such as using your keyword in a heading, etc. Yoast’s plugin gives you an overall score, depending on how many points you’ve hit properly.

WP-DBManager

WP-DBManager

One of the things that you’ll encounter when running your WordPress site, is the creation of extra post revisions and drafts. One of the most important aspects of running a successful WordPress site is keeping your database healthy. Getting rid of this extra data will help to keep your database running quickly and efficiently. WP-DBManager allows you to do this with just one click of a button.

Disqus Comment System

Disqus

One of the most important aspects of your site’s success is the relationship that you develop with your readers. Making it easy for your readers to comment on your posts will spawn interactions and generate buzz for your site. Disqus is a plugin that makes it easy for users to login with their Google+, Facebook, Twitter or Disqus accounts and make comments. Users can also vote for other people’s comments, which promotes interactions between the visitors of your site.

WP Smush.it

WP Smush.it

One of the toughest parts about WordPress is keeping it running fast. Just like any other type of website on the web, it’s important to keep your images optimized. The smaller that you can make file sizes, the quicker your site will load. The problem with this is, if you are uploading a lot of images to your site, you may not have time to go in and optimize and compress each image. That’s where WP Smush.it comes in. With a click of a button, you can choose to compress all the images stored on your WordPress site. Sometimes, you can save up to 30% or 40% for each image. If you multiply that by 100 images, you just saved a lot of bandwidth.

VaultPress

VaultPress

Security is of the utmost importance when it comes to any WordPress site. There are tons of plugins out there that promise to keep your site safe and secure. In my opinion, the best security and backup plugin available is called VaultPress. This plugin will automatically backup your site at intervals that you specify. To battle the possibility of being hacked, VaultPress will perform a daily scan of your site. If it finds something, you can have your database repaired with one click. Not only is this plugin easy to use, but it provides peace of mind.

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache

There are steps that all WordPress users should take to optimize their sites. Using a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache can greatly improve performance for your WordPress site. It performs object and browser caching, which is important for making your site load for users.

Caching means that a user doesn’t have to re-download all assets every time someone visits your site. The initial load may take longer, but every subsequent page load will be much quicker.

W3 Total Cache also Minifies your CSS and Javascript files, which will help your site to load much faster.

Regenerate Thumbnails

Regenerate Thumbnails

This plugin may not be something that you have installed on every site, but it’s definitely one I keep in the back of my mind when certain situations arise. Where this plugin comes in handy is mainly when you are switching themes and none of your images or thumbnails look right. This can be frustrating, but the quickest way to fix this problem isn’t to redo all of your thumbnail images by hand. The solution is to use the regenerate thumbnails plugin. With a click of your mouse this plugin will go through all of your thumbnails and regenerate them instantly. You may have to sit there for a minute or two and let it run its course, but it will handle all of your thumbnail images on its own. This is one of the most useful plugins I keep on hand when needed.

Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7

You want your website visitors to be able to get in touch with you, so they can ask you questions and provide feedback if needed. Unfortunately, not every WordPress theme comes with a built in contact form. Contact Form 7 is one of the best contact form plugins for WordPress. You can customize each form field to meet your needs. You can also create some pretty advanced forms without knowing how to code them. Contact Form 7 allows you to place your contact form anywhere on your site using a short code.

Contact Form DB

Contact Form DB

You may not always want visitors to send you an email when filling out a contact form on your website. Sometimes, you need to collect this information so that you can compile it into a spreadsheet for later. There are many uses for collecting information via forms, and Contact Form DB will allow you to save form submissions on your WordPress database. Then, if you need to organize this information, you can export the data as a CSV file. This will allow you to open it in Microsoft Excel. This plugin not only works with Contact Form 7, but it also works with Fast Secure Contact Form, Gravity Forms, and Jetpack Contact Form plugins.

  • http://akudarahanakmalaysia.net/ Hafiz Adam

    I personally doesnt recommend DISQUS.
    Jetpack Comment is better; it has Facebook/Twitter login and neat look.
    If your site has hundreds of comments in every posts, DISQUS doesnt keep threaded comments in one place making it difficult to track new replies etc
    Plus, Jetpack has tons of other features you can get with just one installation.

  • http://www.tailormadesolutions.com.au Bradly Sharpe

    Thanks for another interesting article! Off to try Contact Form DB!

    Some must haves for me are:
    Authy Two Factor Authentication
    Mailchimp for WordPress
    SyntaxHighlighter Evolved
    Wordfence Security (reminds me when plugins/themes are out of date/different from the source)
    WordPress Backup to Dropbox (my site, unfortunately, doesn’t get that much new content, so a weekly backup to dropbox is enough to save me if my site goes down/rogue!

  • Tiago Roberto da Silva

    amazing!

  • http://emprendebits.com/ Carlos Oporto

    I think you could take one plugin down, The Smushit plugin, you can do a better compression of images in Photoshop with the save as web function. And also have one less plugin, it’s always better to have under 10 plugins for a basic blog in wordpress. In my site http://upmoney.club I use Photoshop compressed images and the pages loads quickly enough.

    • Keith Penderis

      That is great for the original, but I think the real value of smushit is when used with the images that wordpress itself generates, saving kb over all versions of the images.

  • http://nyasro.com/ Nyasro

    Nice. These are all worth to have on every WordPress site. I recommend them.

  • Barry

    I score 5 out of 10 :)
    Thanks for the Vaultpress suggestion. Btw SEO by Yoast and W3total cache don’t work well together do they?

    • http://www.creativebeacon.com/ James George

      Barry, I use the combo on a number of my sites, and there are no conflicts that I am aware of.

  • David Zamora

    And where is https://wordpress.org/plugins/tinyfier-wp/? it is the best tool to minify assets in wordpress avoiding every kind of collision between js files

    • http://scheiner.cc Albert Scheiner

      It seems that the user/dev created an account 8 months ago
      (https://profiles.wordpress.org/ideatic/), uploaded the beta version a
      couple of days after … and there doesn’t seem to be any activity every
      since.
      Do you know if this is still worked on?

  • http://www.shaz3e.com/ Shaz3e

    than you for collecting all together for us.

  • Carl Vaillancourt

    As a WP novice, this is pure gold to me, thx!

  • http://www.zacksdomain.com/ Zack Wallace

    I would add:
    Advanced Code Editor: Gives you syntax highlighting and line numbers and a bunch of stuff when using the code editor screen for templates.
    NextGEN Gallery: For the images yo!
    Google XML Sitemaps: the sitemap stuff
    WP-DB Backup: another backup tool

    • http://www.creativebeacon.com/ James George

      If you’re using Yoast’s SEO plugin, it creates a sitemap for you. Otherwise, I agree with your recommendations.

  • Andy Miller

    A security plugin should definitely be in the list of top tens. I have Sucuri Scanner and WordPress All-in-One Security (but Wordfence seems pretty good to). Even if you just do some fairly basic stuff like set up an autolockdown after say 10 failed logins in 5 minutes.

    My list of essentials would also include:
    – Better Internal Link Search
    – Redirection
    – MicroKid’s Related Posts
    and, Search Regex

  • Jo

    I would definitely add WordFence. It’s a great way to stay on top of site hacking attempts, and it also handles basic caching much more simply than W3 Total Cache. I would replace Contact Form 7 with Ninja Forms, which also saves all entries to the DB and can easily be extended and customised. Personally I don’t like Disqus comments at all, and much prefer the default WP system or the Jetpack option. VaultPress is good but gets expensive quickly – I find BackWPUP a good free alternative. SmushIt can be handy if you’re not saving your images with Photoshop, I guess, but I wouldn’t put it in my top 10. Otherwise, nice list.

  • Dave

    Disqus, really? It’s bad for SEO, bad for usability, and bad for site speed*. I guess it’s better than those Facebook comment plugins that force you to use a facebook a/c if you want to comment.

    *yes, it could in theory be good for site speed in some instances since your server doesn’t have to deal with pulling and outputting the comments. But generally the extra js / CSS and HTTP requests are bad for speed.

  • http://www.musings.it/ Federica

    For EU websites owners: EU cookie policy law says you have to show a banner on every page informing users about the cookies your website is using. We developed a useful WP plugin that does just that, stylish and with some other useful options. Check it out here: http://www.codingdivas.net/divascookies if you please!

  • Emily

    Wordfence

  • http://www.creativebeacon.com/ James George

    Agreed. This takes care of a lot of useless file sizes. otherwise, you’d have to go in, find them all, ftp them to your computer, batch compress them in Photoshop, and them re-upload them.

  • Blogician Neil

    Good information, although I can add some more plugins that are must have for any WordPress blog. For example,
    1) CE Nofollow to WP-Link- control nofollow tag inposts

    2) TinyMCE Advanced – beef up the WordPress editor
    3) Social media plugin like Simple share button adder

    There are many more essential plugins. You can find a list on my blog at http://blogician.com/12-wordpress-plugins-not-risk-missing/

    Your suggestion for WP Smish.it and Contact form to DB sounds good. Thanks.

    Regards
    Neil (Blogician.com)

  • http://upmoney.club/ Carlos Oporto

    Oh you are absolutely right about that!

  • http://www.ericlin.me Eric Lin

    Thanks for the post, I have added half of the plugins on your list to my blog host, very useful.

  • Valerie

    I disagree! Your average blogger doesn’t own Photoshop.

  • David Zamora

    It’s marked as Beta but is totally functional. As far as I know, the deployment is stack right now, but will be continued in the future

    • http://scheiner.cc Albert Scheiner

      Thanks. Will keep an eye on it …

  • http://www.notosolutions.com/ Ajay Kumar

    Amazing information about the plugins that should be used in a wordpress site. And interesting suggestions as well. I am quite curious to know more about the plugins that can allow me to add a customize career form in my site with a dashboard to see the applications.

    I tried Contact form7 sometimes ago, but did not feels comfort with their customizations and other properties. Well, I did not try the ninja forms yet.

    But overall, I am quite satisfied with the information you provided and definitely used it in future.

    Well, I am waiting for a suggestion and advice about the desire.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Ajay Kumar (notosolutions.com)

  • http://freelancer-coder.com/ ajaniashish

    Nice article James and completely agree with your list, as a WordPress developer I can say that in most of my projects plugins you mentioned are necessary to complete the site. They are the most common and required. Thanks for sharing you thoughts.

  • Mathi

    Thank you for sharing this :) Very useful!

  • http://crambler.com The Crambler

    Hey James!

    Great list. I use many of these, and I have a list of the top 10 plugins for WordPress as well — many of which you have listed on this post. I would have to agree with some of the comments I’ve read that Wordfence security should be added to the list (or something that addresses security). This is #1 on my list because security is vital to make sure a WordPress site doesn’t get hacked or exploited. Also, having some sort of social plugin for people to like/share various posts really helps get the posts out there so other people can see them. Other than that though, I would agree with all the rest! Thanks for taking the time to write this!

  • AdminMate

    I just launched AdminMate plugin a few days ago and I would like to invite everyone to try it and I hope you will have an enjoyable experience using it.

    You can download this plugin from https://wordpress.org/plugins/adminmate and also visit our website at http://wpadminmate.com/

    AdminMate is a free WordPress plugin that can help you manage and customize the backend of your WordPress website such as:

    – Styling/Coloring admin screens
    – add background-image and blend it with background-color
    – change color and transparency levels of each component’s background
    – change the favicons of admin and login screens
    – adjust font weight, font color in echo component

    – Customize columns in the table of your post type screens
    – Add new columns to display your data, or custom fields, including fields created by Advanced Custom Fields plugin.
    – Hide unwanted columns from post tables
    – Rename or hide column header labels
    – Add icons to column header
    – Add action bars (Edit, Quick Edit, Trash, View) to columns of your choice
    – Reorder columns
    – Resize columns in a table all together at once
    – Display column data as image, string, etc. (and if you want more choices for displaying column data, let us know and we will add that choice for you in our development)

    – Organize and customize admin menu, reordering, hiding, changing icon, renaming.

    – Make your login page look fabulous by:
    – Adding favicon
    – Adding background image and blend it with background color
    – Changing the WordPress logo to your business logo

    – Hide admin bar from your side pages and/or admin screens, or hide just some menus/sub-menus in admin bar

    Please let me know your vital comments, opinions, suggestions.
    I highly appreciate your time in reviewing our plug-in.

    All the best,
    info@wpadminmate.com

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