What Are WordPress Plugins?
Plugins are one of the most valuable tools you will use when creating, building, editing, and protecting your website. WordPress plugins are software apps and extensions that allow you to tailor your site to your specifications.
What Are WordPress Plugins Used For?
Plugins are incredibly versatile, and they are meant to expand the functionality and tighten the security of your WordPress website. They also serve a remarkable amount of other functions, everything from SEO, marketing, image condensing, and everything in between!
Some plugins can come pre-installed from WordPress.org or your hosting provider, others you can download and install. There are numerous free plugins, and several have a paid premium version. All of which can be installed with ease onto your WordPress site.
While some of these are not only useful but integral to the functionality of your website, others are not. Their only function may be to take up too much room. For example, “Hello Dolly,” which is one of the plugins WordPress auto-installs.
However, there are multiple plugins out there for hundreds of purposes. How do you know which plugins to download and install? That’s why we wrote this post – to help you figure out the best plugins for your site’s unique needs.
Our Recommended Security Plugins
The health and safety of your site is of the utmost importance. Luckily, these free and paid plugins are here to keep your website safe and out of sight from hackers and brute force attacks.
Sucuri – Free with Paid Premium Option
Sucuri is a paid security plugin. Sucuri is a comprehensive security plugin which checks for:
- Security Activity Auditing
- File Integrity Monitoring
- Remote Malware Scanning
- Blacklist Monitoring
- Effective Security Hardening
- Post-Hack Security Actions
- Security Notifications
- Website Firewall (premium)
I get an email every time a change is made on my website!
The plugin not only stops all ranges of attacks, but it also takes steps to block threats at the server level, often before they even reach your site.
Akismet Anti Spam-Free
Akismet is a valuable anti-spam plugin. It not only gets rid of spam comments efficiently and effectively, but it also extends spam protection to contact forms and across your website. It remains a highly recommended anti-spam plugin by the online web design community.
Loginizer – Free With Paid Premium Option
Loginizer helps you fight against brute force attacks by blocking login for the IP after it reaches maximum retries allowed. You will want to use this one in conjunction with other security plugins, since it may not give you adequate coverage in other areas of security.
Security Ninja – Free With Paid Premium Option
Security Ninja is a security plugin that mainly serves to detect any vulnerabilities that may be present on your website and warn you about them. Among other features, it protects against brute force attacks, malware, country blocking, and hacker blocking. Security Ninja is safe, simple to use, and, most of all, secure. I’ve used the premium version for several years, and it keeps getting better!
(BBQ) Block Bad Queries and Blackhole for Bad Bots – Free with Premium Options
This one’s a twofer, and both plugins are written by Jeff Starr. The blackhole plugin traps bots with the robot.txt file. If they disobey the rule and follow the link, they fall into the black hole. Very satisfying. I get an email telling me it’s working. (BBQ) is a simple, super-fast plugin that protects your site against malicious URL requests. BBQ checks all incoming traffic and quietly blocks bad requests. Jeff Starr writes very clean code, making the plugins lightweight on your site.
Our Recommended Functionality Plugins
Considering functionality while creating your website and installing plugins should be at the top of your list. A website builder that is confusing and hard to use makes it harder to develop and market content and drives customers away. Fortunately, these free and paid plugins are here to do the functionality “heavy-lifting” for you!
WP Forms – Free with Paid Premium Option
WP Forms is the most beginner-friendly way to add contact forms to your website. Without a plugin for these, it will be challenging to streamline the contact forms across your site, and you may miss out on responses and questions from potential clients/customers. WP Forms is one of the best ways to make sure your contact forms are functional!
CSS Hero – Paid
CSS Hero is a paid WordPress plugin that lets you design and customize your own WordPress theme. CSS Hero is a forward-thinking CSS Editing WordPress Plugin that allows for deep theme personalization with ease, with full editing history and live preview features. Trust us – CSS Hero pays for itself. I have recently been using this a lot, and it’s an incredible tool.
TinyMCE Advanced – Free
TinyMCE Advanced is a WordPress plugin built by Andrew Ozz that will let you remove, add, and arrange the buttons that are shown on the Visual Editor toolbar. This plugin increases site manageability, user-friendliness, and overall site functionality. Its classic block function is the reason we recommend it – this makes constructing and creating web pages infinitely easier.
Divi Den Pro – Paid
Divi from Elegant Themes is an excellent site builder and is easy to install and use. See our previous blog on Divi’s greatness here. However, installing Divi Den Pro only makes Divi better! It has countless new themes and blocks to use for your site to stand out from your competition. There is no limit to creativity with Divi Den Pro. It also serves to streamline your website and all of its modules, thus increasing your functionality.
Gravity Forms – Paid
Gravity Forms is our top recommendation for form plugins for your website. Forms are essential – your customers will need them to contact you and leave comments on your content, after all! So why not choose a form plugin that is the most secure, reliable, and user-friendliest plugin? Don’t just take our word for it – Gravity Forms has been named the best forms plugin by Winning WordPress!
Smush – Free With Paid Premium Option
Smush provides high-quality lossless image compression. As noted on WordPress.org, “Smush has been benchmarked and tested number one for speed and quality and is the award-winning, back-to-back proven crowd favorite image optimization plugin for WordPress.” Even a beginning web designer knows how crucial tight control of image size is in regards to website speed, Smush can help with this.
Our Recommended SEO and Marketing Plugins
Every web designer from beginner to expert knows the importance of SEO. Without it, your website may never reach your potential customers! Everyone knows SEO can be time-consuming and confusing – that’s why these plugins are here to make your life easier.
RankMath SEO – Free
RankMath is our top pick here at TKD Design for a reason! RankMath is a very user-friendly plugin with precise requirements for ranking well on SERP’s. It gives each page an SEO score out of 100 (the closer to 100 your page is, the more likely your page is to rank well on SERPs). It is reliable and easy to use – and best of all, it’s free!
Monster Insights – Free
Monster Insights is one of the leading plugins for Google Analytics information.
Monster Insights provides a more streamlined platform that allows you to easily add, customize, and manage the Google Analytics website tracking services on your WordPress site.
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP – Free
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP is worth getting to know! It’s easy to implement and keeps you productive by integrating your analytics into your WP Dashboard. The plugin itself is also easy to use and customize to fit a specific purpose. It can also serve as a warning for potential security issues, as it warns you when your site’s traffic patterns are unusual.
WP Rocket – Paid
WP Rocket is one of our top pick SEO plugins. It serves to speed up your WordPress website (which equals a higher SEO score for you!), more organic traffic, conversions, and money! It serves as a caching plugin, meaning it generates static HTML pages of your website and saves it to the server. Every time a potential customer tries to access your site, a caching plugin will serve up the saved faster HTML page.
You may have heard of the importance of caching on your site. If the server has to fetch each page every time a user goes to your site. Autoptimze will get you started by minifying and caching scripts and styles and deferring them to the footer. You can also lazy-load images with this plugin. The best thing about Autoptimize is the easy setup, which is not always the case in a caching plugin. This can be combined with another caching plugin, like WP Super Cache.
Hummingbird – Free with Paid Premium Version
Hummingbird is one of the lesser-known plugins on our list, but it’s definitely one of the best. Hummingbird uses file compression and minification to keep your website running at top speed! Hummingbird improves website speed, significantly boosting your SEO score. Website speed is hard to stay on top of for many reasons, but Hummingbird is here to help!
A final note, TKD Design strongly recommends downloading and installing some auxiliary programs that will make your life much easier! Adobe Photoshop is recommended to everyone – it makes it possible to add original content in the form of images to make the images on your site unique.
Grammarly is another recommended program. Grammarly is especially useful for posts, as it analyzes your grammar and writing tone (among other things!) to make your writing really pop to your readers. Both Adobe Photoshop and Grammarly are immense time savers and pay for themselves!
When your site is ready to go – streamlined, protected, and advertised – you are ready to get out there!
As always, when you are ready to build your website using plugins, contact TKD Design. We are here to support you and your small business, every step of the way!