Picking the right plugins for your new WordPress website is not as easy as it might seem at first. The sheer number of plugins available is quite mind-boggling. Combine this with thousands of voices all over the web telling you which plugins you should use and it can quickly become overwhelming, especially if you’re new to WordPress. It’s almost as hard as finding a well-designed reliable WordPress theme for your project.
In this article, I want to go down to the basics and give you a very short list of plugins that 99% of websites, regardless of the type of project, will benefit from. These plugins are nothing sexy or fancy, but they take care of the most important aspects of any site.
Plugins are somewhat like sugar. In the right doses sweet and uplifting, but more than that easily addictive and unhealthy. In this case fortunately not for your health, but for the health of your site or better said for your site’s performance.
The rule of thumb with plugins is to always use only the ones that your WordPress website really needs. Your thought process should be: “I want to add this functionality to my site let’s find a plugin that does that”. If your site is a simple blog you can end up using less than 10 plugins. On the other hand, if you have a complex website you can end up with over 30 plugins, in which case it’d be beneficial to use quality WordPress hosting to insure good website performance even with lots of plugins.
The must have WordPress plugins in this article cover these crucial aspects of a WordPress website:
- Contact Form
- Cookie Notice (GDPR)
There are a number of plugins you could find for each of these categories. I selected the ones that I tried myself and found to be a good fit for the job while being easy to use even for the very beginner.
Security is a big thing on the web. You invest a lot of time and resources in your website and I guess you wouldn’t want to lose it on a whim. While it’s not possible to secure a website 100% there are steps, often quite easy ones, that you can take to substantially improve its security.
WordFence Security is one of the available plugin solutions for that task. It is easy to use and set up and the free version offers enough protection to get you peace of mind. Down the line, if you decide to switch to the premium version of WordFence it will only cost you $99/Year, which is quite a compatible pricing for this kind of plugin.
Alternative to consider: Defender Security
Having a backup of your whole site is another way of securing your site in case things go south for any reason. Hosting providers often offer backups as a part of their package or as a paid add-on. These are good, but often limited and having a second backup option is always a good thing.
UpdraftPlus is one of the most popular “backup and restore” plugins. It comes with plenty of features and enables you to save the backups to your own server, Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, and more. For even more control you can opt-in for the premium version starting at $70/Year.
Alternative to consider: BackupBuddy
Nobody likes spam comments, but if you’re running a WordPress site with commenting enabled it is just a matter of time till the spam comments start appearing. Yes, you could disable comments, but depending on the nature of your website it can be inconvenient and even detrimental to the relationship you have with your audience.
Antispam Bee is an easy-to-use solution for this problem. It blocks spam comments and trackbacks effectively, without captchas and without sending personal information to third-party services. It is free and 100% GDPR compliant.
Alternative to consider: Akismet
The loading of your website depends on many factors that need to be taken into account during the whole process of website creation. It all starts with hosting, choosing a well-coded theme and plugins, and optimizing the file sizes of your images and videos. When your site is all set and ready to go live you can give one last push to your site’s performance by using a caching plugin.
WP Fastest Cache is a popular caching plugin and for a good reason. It brings good results for most sites while being extremely easy to set up. There is a single settings page with just a list of checkboxes that activate various tasks the plugin offers. There is a premium version of the plugin for a one-time price of $49.
Alternative to consider: Cache Enabler
If you want your site’s visitors to be able to contact you then you’ll need a nice contact form to make it convenient for them to do so. It doesn’t have to be anything fleshy, but clean, simple, and reliable.
WP Forms is a drag-and-drop contact form that’s at the same time easy to use and powerful. Besides contact forms with the WP Forms plugin, you can also build subscription forms, payment forms, and more. In its free version, it offers enough to satisfy all the basic needs. If you’ll ever need advanced features the premium version will cost you $49/Year.
Alternative to consider: Ninja Forms
I don’t know about you but, as an internet user, I find cookie consent popups annoying. However, they are required by law in the EU and some other countries around the world. So, if your website is going to serve people in these countries then you’ll need to set it up and make your site compliant.
CookieYes plugin makes this quite easy to do and the free version has enough customization options to make it visually fit with the rest of your website. In the plugin, you need to add your Google Analytics code and any other script you’d normally add to your header, so it loads only after a visitor gives consent. With a premium version, this can be done automatically and there are many additional features that would cost you $100/Year.
Alternative to consider: Complianz
Regardless of the type of website you own these are truly the must have WordPress plugins for improving your website’s security, performance, and compliance, which is what any site owner should strive for. I hope this list of tried and tested plugins will save you some time so you can spend it on creating awesome content for your website. If you came across this article before you found the right theme for your project, make sure to check our WordPress theme portfolio. Have a great day!