There are vast majority of WordPress plugins available to improve your website while greatly saving on development time. With so many plugins out there, how do you choose whats best for your website?
As a general rule, we suggest keeping the following in mind when considering WordPress plugins: Site Architecture, User Experience, Performance, Security and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
We also recommend that you keep the WordPress plugins to a minimum while trying not to exceed 15. It’s ideal to run a performance test on your website before and after you add/enable plugins to check for any performance impacts. This could also be a good deciding factor on which plugins you decide to keep and/or remove.
Here is a list of our top recommended plugins by category in order of importance. Please note some of the plugins listed below are optional as they will vary based on your website and preferences.
- Admin UserName Changer allows you to change the username from its default ‘admin’ in case you did not change it during the WordPress installation. Having a more secure username and protecting that new name will greatly help secure your site.
- Edit Author Slug will help hide your username from the source so no hacker can locate your username and then attempt to crack the password for that account. This plugin requires no configuration and will automatically change your username to appear as the nickname in the source.
- Lockdown WP Admin allows for you to change the ‘wp-admin’ to something different such as ‘secureadmin’ for example. The plugin allows you to customize it to whatever name you prefer and by doing this its helps secure your admin section. As you change this you also need to add an entry to your caching plugin to never cache that name/page to help secure it.
- All In One WP Security is an excellent plugin with a variety of options for user security and includes a firewall option, blacklist manager for blocking IPs and much more. Its an excellent plugin that does a great job of securing your WordPress website, scan for file changes and monitor hacking attempts, and also provides more security around the user login attempts then other plugins out there.
- Limit Login Attempts is another quick and simple option to add security for user logins on your WordPress website. This plugin is not necessary if you end up proceeding with the All in One Security plugin as that includes a lockout option for user attempts.
Performance & Caching…
- W3 Total Cache plugin is an excellent plugin for optimizing your WordPress website via caching. While there are a few plugins out there for caching, W3 Total Cache has been proved to be the easiest plugin to configure while providing a nice boost on your sites performance and loading time. The loading time for your website is one of the key factors for search engines and your websites ranking.
- Contact Form 7 is one of our favorite contact form plugins mostly for its simplicity and performance. Its very quick easy to configure while flexible providing many different options to suit your needs.
- WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast is a great plugin for adding enhanced SEO (Search Engine Optimization) capabilities into your WordPress site. Some themes have SEO built into the theme itself, if your theme does not, you can add custom fields to do this manually for the title and meta description, or add a plugin. For simplification purposes, we recommend the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast, which also includes some SEO stats for all your pages and posts.
- Hupso Share Buttons makes it easy for visitors to share your content with a click of a link. Its easy to configure and seems to have minimal impact on loading time. The quicker and easier you can make sharing for your visitors, the faster word can spread about your website. This plugin will do just that and is customizable as well.
- Mini Twitter Feed plugin embeds your recent tweets on your WordPress site either in a widget or page. We have also used Twitter for WordPress which worked great but has not been updated in a while.
- Facebook Like plugin allows for users to like your page or post and also provides a link directly to your Facebook page. Another great social plugin for your website if your active with Facebook.
- Google Analytics is a great plugin to help you integrate Google analytics for website stats and reporting. The stats alone will help provide you with a better understanding on your websites visibility and the more popular pages allowing for you to create even a better user experience. If your looking for a plugin with more features check out Google Analytics by Yoast.
- BM Custom Logon is a great plugin if you have comments enabled and want to enhance user experience by customizing your logon page to match your websites branding. While consistent branding is important we consider this as optional as it may only pertain if you have comments enabled and wish to engage with users on your posts.
- Quotes Collection is an excellent plugin for displaying random text on your site. You can use this for rotating a random tip or quote and it works excellent out of the box.
- Google AdSense Plugin is a great plugin to help you monetize your site with Google Adsense. You can also add the Google Adsense code directly to a widget, but if your looking for plugins to make the process easier Google Adsense plugin will do just that. Another plugin to help you manage Ads is called ‘Ad Manager’ and can be found on wordpress.org as well.
Hopefully this helps you get a good start on WordPress and plugins to help optimize your website!