Ten must have WordPress plugins to improve your website today

WordPress doesn’t stand still for too long. New plugins aim to improve your website constantly. However, what do you need to ensure the foundations of your WordPress website are robust and will survive the test of time? We have gathered together a collection of the best WordPress plugins which enable you to create your perfect website.

What is a plugin in WordPress?

They are used as the building blocks for your website, enabling you to add useful functionality, quickly. This is what makes WordPress an affordable CMS solution, among many other benefits. However, the most beneficial aspect of the WordPress plugin ecosystem is that they’re well supported with constant updates. As they are widely used, updates ensure security is tight and bugs are fixed quickly.

But which ones should every WordPress website build include? With many readily available and free, it’s easy to get carried away installing functionality you don’t need or that might affect other parts of your site. Below is our list of what your website needs and why. If you want further advice, or a hand installing and optimising them, please do get in touch.

Must Haves

  • iThemes – Websites can cost a lot of money and are a primary marketing tool for most. They are worth protecting. iThemes offers peace of mind when you aren’t watching, safeguarding what you and your developers worked so hard to create, from malicious hackers.

There are many security plugins out there, but there is a reason why it is so highly ranked and used among the WordPress community and Alberon alike. iThemes also recommends changes to your website to keep it secure, e.g. updates and more secure passwords.

  • Yoast – Your website is probably your primary marketing tool. There are many things you can do to optimise it, which we have detailed before in blogs, to make it more visible for potential clients. Yoast is a fantastic tool which can help even the most amateur WordPress user or digital marketer create a visible platform.

Yoast allows you to build on your websites SEO. It offers pointers on how and where you can improve copy, makes key functionality easy to use and ensures the technical ‘stuff’ in the background is configured to maximise SEO. This is what makes it such a powerful tool and it’s absolutely free. Therefore, it a must-have on all Alberon sites.

  • Contact form 7 OR similar – Often, the contact page is the focal point of your website. It is the goal to lead your visitors through your website, to the contact form. Simply, Contact form 7 does a reliable job, but what gets it onto our list is its user-friendly nature.

Your experience with WordPress doesn’t matter. Once you have created your contact form, you can enter it on your website wherever you’d like. You can forward messages straight to your email, or keep them in the database it creates for you in the backend of WordPress. It includes flexible auto response emails too, streamlining customer service.

  • Advanced Custom Fields – This allows you to customise your WordPress experience. It is not one for the amateurs as it might take some coding, however once built properly, it will make everyone’s life much easier. It helps you format and standardise your website, by simply adding pre-made blocks. This allows you to design each page how you would like, allowing your branding, image and voice to remain constant throughout the website.

With recent changes to WordPress’ standard editor and the uncertainty this has brought in the short-term, custom blocks are a good alternative. They can be created by your developers to suit your needs, offering your website a bespoke uniqueness and consistency throughout.

  • Akismet – Unfortunately, your website will receive spam. It is a difficult on-going battle all websites face. Emails, email sign-ups and comments can be annoying and waste time. Akismet stops spam and logs it for review in WordPress, making it a must if your website has comments. In the long run, it will save you time, energy and potentially off-putting messages on your website.

Another handy plugin to ensure spam is caught is Google Captcha. A familiar, simple solution that can help your website by identifying spam bots and blocking them from spamming.

  • Link redirection – Broken links are bad for business. They affect your SEO as well as mislead website visitors, potentially putting them off. Unfortunately, they are all too easy to break, with updated URLs, changing copy and links and deleted pages being the culprits. Therefore don’t miss a trick with this handy, no-brainer, plugin.

It tidies up those loose ends you may have missed as well as automatically creating redirects. With over 10 years and a million downloads of experience, it has saved a lot of organisations a headache and lost leads.

Site goal specific

  • WooCommerce – If you are building an eCommerce platform, there is no other challenger to WooCommerce. It is reliable, well supported and a very powerful tool. You are able to sell whatever you would normally sell, from physical products to digital downloads and tickets. Everything is recorded, including payment status, shipping details and stock keeping numbers.

Of course, there are several add-ons for specific functionality too, Most of them are free. Here are a handful to note:

From Woocommerce.com – FREE

1. Stripe – accept payments with Stripe (credit/debit cards)

From Woocommerce.com – Premium

2. Membership Bundle – create and manage memberships

3.GoCardless – online payments with direct debit (standing orders)

It is worth noting that WooCommerce can be difficult to set up. Ensuring it looks the way you want, with the functionality you need can be challenging. Making sure the data and products entered are accurate can be time-consuming and difficult to manage. It is worth hiring an experienced developer if you don’t have the skills yourself.

  • OptinMonster (Or other Email marketing integration tools) – There are many tools which enable you to integrate your email marketing platform with your website. It makes sign-ups very easy and autonomous. Most platforms have a designated plugin, therefore whichever provider you use, you can integrate it easily.

OptinMonster can help you no matter what you use. It allows you to design the of style opt-in form you’d like: pop-ups, slide-ins and floating bars, whichever suits the style of your website best. It’s built-in features help your website comply with GDPR. It is fully customisable, if you need a hand making the most out of it for your business, Alberon can help.

  • Thumbnail regenerator – This is a simple, but a handy tool to ensure all of the thumbnail images on your website are well kept. It is easy to update them with general theme or plugin updates as well as manual changes. By regenerating them, it will keep them looking tidy and the way you intended them to be.
  • Capability manager – If you would like to have specific user permissions in your website, look no further. Perhaps you only want specific departments of your business to be able to change certain pages. This can reduce mistakes and potential accidental code changes. It is important that only the development team, who know the code well, can edit and add to it.

This can also benefit management, as they can have tighter control and delegation over the website.

Other honourable mentions

  • W3 Total Cache – Caching is a useful tool for speeding up your site. It is beneficial for SEO as well as keeping website traffic happy. This plugin will reduce load times by using a website caching function automatically.
  • WP Live Chat – If you search hard enough, you can probably find most of the functionality your website requires through plugins. Just make sure it has a good star rating and check the ‘active installations’ to see if it’s popular. This is how I chose WP Live Chat Support for this list. Chat support is popular these days, it is effective for sales and customer service. This plugin offers this functionality immediately and is a popular plugin.
  • Updraft Plus – This plugin enables you to quickly and simply back-up your website onto your computer or a cloud-based server. This is good security for server and user errors. It also allows you to easily migrate your website with peace of mind that you can revert to the old version if you need to.
  • The Events calendar – Many of our clients are schools, which often hold events. Parents evening, sports day or open days, they come thick and fast. If you need a calendar on your website to clearly display events, this is the plugin for you. It is a simple and dynamic platform which is user-friendly. You can quickly upload all the events you want at short notice, or well in the future, then display them in a variety of ways.

Where can Alberon help you?

The Alberon team are experts in using WordPress, having helped many organisations around Oxfordshire develop efficient websites. Start by getting in touch with a member of the team to find out more.

We made a similar blog 7 years ago, you can see here how things have progressed and how far some plugins have come!

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