These are my go-to, preferred plugins that I regularly use to create or maintain WordPress websites. I’ve spent the better part of a decade collating this list. What plugins regular WordPress users are using is a conversation I am always trying to have with other WordPress users as I think it’s important to discuss. This list was inspired by a John Locke post entitled “What plugins do you use for WordPress websites?”
* = The paid version of this plugin is definitely worth loosening your purse strings over.
Please suggest a missing/better plugin in the comments below if you think it is worthy.
CATEGORIES: Extend Back-end – Backups & Migration – Database – E-Commerce – Events & Ticketing – Extend WordPress UI – Forms – Layout & Sidebars – Mailchimp – Popups – Social Media & Comments – Images & Optimisation – Performance & Security – Navigation – SEO – Widgets
Advanced Code Editor – Expands editor page providing line numbers, colour schemes, file/folder creation, and more.
Child Theme Configurator – Easily create a child theme for any parent theme. Includes a tonne of options.
Duplicate Post – Clone / duplicate posts and pages.
Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades – Enables theme and plugin updates via ZIP upload, and allows roll-back by saving the previous version to a ZIP within Media Library.
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP – Adds necessary Google Analytics code site-wide, and displays reports on the dashboard.
Backups & Migration
Widget Importer & Exporter – Saves widgets settings for export/import.
Duplicator – Duplicate, clone, backup, move or transfer an entire site from one location to another.
BackupBuddy – Complete backup plugin for WordPress files & database in their entirety. Download, or backup directly to Dropbox, Google Drive, or FTP direct to server.
WP-Optimize – Optimises your database by clearing revisions, removing transients, and more.
Better Search Replace – Searches and replaces the database for any given string.
Velvet Blues Update URLs – Searches and replaces the database for any given string.
WooCommerce – Shopping cart plugin with a seemingly endless amount of add-ons providing all the functionality a shop could ever need.
YITH WooCommerce Ajax Product Filter – Product filter for WooCommerce.
YITH WooCommerce Ajax Search – Ajax product search for WooCommerce.
YITH WooCommerce Best Sellers – Best sellers for WooCommerce.
YITH WooCommerce Brands Add-On – Brand(s) for WooCommerce.
YITH WooCommerce Bulk Product Editing – Bulk product editing en masse for WooCommerce.
YITH WooCommerce Catalog Mode – Disables the cart of WooCommerce effectively turning a shop into a catalog.
YITH WooCommerce Name Your Price – Customisable price field for WooCommerce. Useful for taking donations, custom priced gift vouchers, etc.
YITH WooCommerce Product Bundles – Product bundles for WooCommerce. Useful for selling particular items together as deals.
YITH WooCommerce Product Slider Carousel – Product slider for WooCommerce.
YITH WooCommerce Wishlist – Wishlist for WooCommerce. Creates a separate Wishlist page which can be shared to social media.
YITH WooCommerce Zoom Magnifier – Product image zoom for WooCommerce on the ‘single-product’ page.
Events & Ticketing
* The Events Calendar – Event functionality. Feature-rich, customisable, responsive, well-maintained, and many add-ons.
* Event Tickets – Ticketing (extends The Events Calendar, requires WooCommerce).
Facebook Events – Import events from Facebook (no free version).
Community Events – Allow public to submit events (no free version).
Extend WordPress UI
Collapse-O-Matic – Expanding sections via shortcode.
* Advanced Custom Fields – Create custom fields within posts, pages, or custom post types.
* Custom Post Type UI – Create custom post types quickly via an easy-to-use UI.
BuddyPress – Membership including registration & login pages, profiles, username & profile picture changes, messaging, forums, and more.
Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd – Customisable coming soon page. Previously known as ‘Ultimate Coming Soon Page’.
Theme My Login – Creates a /login/ page using your existing theme. Supports captcha & social media login integration.
White Label CMS – Customises the dashboard for logged in users.
Contact Form 7 – Customisable form plugin (simple).
Gravity Forms – Customisable form plugin (advanced).
Gravity Perks – Extends Gravity Forms with a tonne of extra fields and options.
Layout & Sidebars
* Beaver Builder – Page builder.
Elementor – Page builder. Free & open-source. Used to build this website!
JP Custom CSS – Jetpack’s Custom CSS module as a standalone plugin.
Simple Custom CSS – Adds Custom CSS option to any theme via the dashboard; Appearance > Custom CSS.
Simple Page Sidebars – Customisable sidebar allocation per post or page.
WooSidebars – Customisable sidebar allocation per post or page.
Easy Forms for MailChimp – Customisable MailChimp signup form integration.
MailChimp for WordPress – Mailchimp signup checkbox for registration, shopping cart, and other forms around your site.
MailChimp Forms by MailMunch – Customisable MailChimp signup form integration.
Easy FancyBox – Lightbox (modal window) for media site-wide; images, videos, etc. Can be used out-of-the-box, or customised.
Popup Maker – Responsive, customisable popup creation including templates, mailchimp integration, and more.
Social Media & Comments
JP Sharing – Jetpack’s social media sharing module as a standalone plugin.
Super Socializer – Social media login.
WordPress Social Login – Social media login.
Easy Twitter Feed Widget Plugin – Twitter feed integration.
Disable Comments – Disables all comments site-wide.
Disqus Comment System – Adds Disqus comments.
Facebook Comments – Adds Facebook comments.
Images & Optimisation
Foo Gallery – Responsive gallery plugin. I chose this over NextGEN Gallery after many years because of how it looks and performs on both desktop and mobile.
EWWW Image Optimizer – Image optimisation. Can search outside of Media Library, to include images within the uploads folders, plugins, themes, etc. Some options.
* Imagify – Image optimisation with many great options. Losslessly optimises JPG, PNG, GIF, WEBP, and some others. Imagify.io can operate in the cloud using their API. Excellent if your server isn’t quite up to handling to task, or you have thousands and thousands of images to optimise, and need it done fast, and reliably so.
Regenerate Thumbnails – Regenerates all image thumbnails site-wide. Useful after updating thumbnail dimensions within either Media or WooCommerce settings.
Performance & Security
* Wordfence Security – Security plugin including regular scanning, WordPress Application Firewall, repository checking for any changes to themes and plugins, and much more.
* W3 Total Cache – Cache plugin with a seemingly endless amount of features including Cache, Minify CSS & JS, CDN integration, and much more.
Google Captcha (reCAPTCHA) by BestWebSoft – Adds Google reCaptcha security.
CloudFlare – Official plugin for the excellent CloudFlare CDN.
Theme Check – Checks your theme against the WordPress standards for theme development (not a virus/malware scanner of any kind).
P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) – Monitors the performance of plugins, and provides statistics to help find how resource-heavy or request-laden they are, and why.
Really Simple SSL – SSL integration made easy. Just add your SSL key, and you’re done.
Nav Menu Roles – Allows navigation items to be displayed, or not, for specific user-types.
WP-PageNavi – Extends page navigation.
Breadcrumb NavXT – Add breadcrumb navigation.
JQuery Vertical Accordion Menu – Creates accordion menus from any custom menu via widget or shortcode. Handles multiple levels, cookies, number of links, and click or hover trigger.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
* Yoast SEO – WordPress SEO by Yoast provides excellent search engine optimisation options for small to large scale websites for business or personal alike. It’s not the be-all and end-all, but it provides decent SEO without you needing to be a guru. I recommend the paid version.
Advanced Recent Posts – Customisable ‘recent post widget’ for the sidebar.
Recent Posts Widget Extended – Customisable ‘recent post widget’ for the sidebar.
Recent Posts Widget With Thumbnails – Customisable ‘recent post widget’ for the sidebar.
Enhanced Text Widget – Allows PHP code execution within a widget. (Used with extreme caution for security reasons).
Q2W3 Fixed Widget – Allows you to give a widget fixed positioning while the user scrolls.