Here are the essential WordPress plugins I personally use on at least one of our WordPress sites (or client sites).
There are a lot of plugins available for WordPress; however, with each plugin comes some risk. Before installing any plugin, consider:
When was it last updated?
WordPress, your server, your theme, and other plugins will update and improve. A plugin that is not updated can lead to – plugin (code) conflicts and security issues.
How are support tickets managed?
What does support look like? Are you going to their site? Twitter? WordPress repository? How long do outstanding issues stay open? If you look at their support board and it’s full of questions with no answer – it’s a red flag.
Who is the author?
Does the company or person have multiple plugins or just one? While I would not disregard a plugin based on just this – it can signal what the support and maintenance might be down the line.
What is the author’s reputation? Does it look like this plugin is part of a business or its business plan? If it’s just a hobby, again, it might not have longevity.
If it’s a plugin to integrate with a 3rd party software – is it from the 3rd party or another author? For example, you want to add MailChimp integration – did MailChimp or another person make the plugin.
Again, I wouldn’t toss a plugin away for this, but it’s something to notice and weigh in your evaluation.
Is there another option?
Each plugin gives a 3rd party access to your site. You know have to be concerned with their updates, security, and their hackability. Before you add a plugin, ask yourself, can I write a simple piece of code to include instead? Can I embed a code snippet from MailChimp or Google Analytics, or do I need this plugin to achieve my goal?
Forms can really increase the user-experience. They don’t have to cut and paste to contact you, and they ensure you get the information you need to answer questions.
Forminator forms look modern, allows for a lot of functionality, including end-users uploading content, and are easy to implement.
The Events Calendar
Created by Modern Tribe, this is a great event manager. I utilize the plugin as both a free plugin and the pro version on different client sites.
The Events Calendar software is straightforward and is highly customizable. It embeds well and displays virtual events, so it’s clear where users need to go to login.
iThemes Security offers a comprehensive package for locking down your site. Bundled with Back-up Buddy in the pro-version, it’s well worth the investment.
Like the below WordFence, it’s a can’t miss security plugin that can make your site less vulnerable to hacking and malicious code. It’s very easy to set-up and start protecting your site.
Wordfence is a security plugin that will help block malicious injections, hack-attempts, and more. It offers a lot of protection in its free version and even more in the pro version.
A security plugin is a must, and this one is hard to beat.
Max Mega Menu
Max Mega Menu helps you take your menu to the next level. The mega menu builder enables you to create a custom menu with fonts, sizing and colors. In addition to the basic look, you will be able to add graphics, icons, full-width sub-menus and widgets to the menu.
This means your menu can truly be customized to be the responsive menu users need.
Back-Up Buddy from iThemes is a paid plugin. While I love free, this is well worth the price. Support is top-notch, the back-ups, restore and migration using this plugin have never failed. Easily back up the site to off-site storage through Dropbox, OneDrive, or even Google Drive.
Other Notable Plugins
There are so many other plugins depending on your goals. Here are a few others I really like: