A WordPress plugin is software that can be added to a WordPress website. Plugins can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress.
In the WordPress community, a well known saying is: “there’s a plugin for that”. Plugins make it easy for users to add features to their website without knowing a single line of code. There are thousands available for free to download at the official WordPress plugin directory.
Choosing WordPress Plugins
Here are some tips for choosing plugins:
- Description: Read the description thoroughly, it will help you determine if it's the right software for your needs.
- Ratings and Reviews: Although not definitive, positive user ratings and reviews can be a good indicator of the quality and usefulness of a plugin.
- Active Installs: Like ratings and reviews, a high number of installs can be a positive indicator.
- WordPress Plugin Directory: Plugins listed in the WordPress Plugin Directory are a good place to start and is a way to avoid malware.
- Plugin Compatibility: For the most up-to-date plugin compatibility data, visit individual plugin pages on the WordPress Plugin Directory and look for the Compatibility widget (see an example on the Hello Dolly plugin page).
- Release Notes and Changelogs: Release Notes and Changelogs provide a useful history of a plugins development, feature additions, updates and bug fixes.
- Documentation and Support: Depending upon the plugin and its feature set, comprehensive and detailed documentation can be essential and an indicator of a quality plugin provider.
Free vs Premium WordPress Plugins
There are thousands of WordPress plugins available for free from the WordPress.org Plugin Directory. There are also Premium or commercial WordPress Plugins.
Why pay for a plugin? Here are two reasons:
- While there are thousands of plugins available for free from the plugin directory, paid plugins usually offer a full time support staff and developers that work on maintaining the security and compatibility of plugins with the latest version of WordPress as well as with other themes and plugins.
- Most of the time, plugins play nicely with the core of WordPress and with other plugins, but sometimes a plugin’s code can interfere with another plugin, causing compatibility issues. With paid plugins, there is typically have support staff that can help if anything goes wrong.
You might be asking what types of things plugins can do. Well, if you can imagine it, there’s probably a plugin for that. All you need to do is take a stroll through the WordPress plugin directory to see all of the possible ways plugins can extend or enhance your WordPress site.
WordPress Plugin Tips
- Always backup your site before installing a plugin.
- Test plugins in a development environment or Staging site before installing on a live website.
- As with all software, keep plugins up to date with the latest version available.
- Remove unused plugins as unneeded plugins can reduce website performance and can pose a security threat.
The following are a list of popular WordPress Plugins that we have found useful and reliable.
- Plugin Name: MonsterInsights
Learn More / Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/google-analytics-for-wordpress/
Description: Google Analytics is a statistical tool for understanding website traffic. Understanding your audience and catering to them is a great way to improve your user traffic. Therefore, it’s an obvious choice to use a Google analytics plugin for your WordPress website and MonsterInsights’ Google analytics tool is one of the best plugins out there for this purpose.
- Plugin Name: WP Super Cache
Learn More / Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-super-cache/
Description: This plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After a html file is generated your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.
- Plugin Name: Cache Enabler – WordPress Cache
Learn More / Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/cache-enabler/
Description: The Cache Enabler plugin creates static HTML files and stores them on the servers disk. The web server will deliver the static HTML file and avoids the resource intensive backend processes (core, plugins and database). This WordPress cache engine will improve the performance of your website.
- Plugin Name: Jilt
Learn More / Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/jilt-for-woocommerce/
Description: Jilt’s abandoned cart recovery solution helps your eCommerce store recover lost revenue due to cart abandonment. Jilt tracks when carts are abandoned on your store, then lets you send recovery emails to encourage the customers who abandoned these carts to complete the purchase.
- Plugin Name: WooCommerce
Learn More / Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/woocommerce/
Description: WooCommerce is a free E-Commerce plugin that allows you to sell anything, beautifully. Built to integrate seamlessly with WordPress, WooCommerce is the world’s favorite E-Commerce solution that gives both store owners and developers complete control.
- Plugin Name: FormCraft - Contact Form Builder for WordPress
Learn More / Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/formcraft-form-builder/
Description: FormCraft is a drag-and-drop form builder to create and embed forms, and track submissions. Our WYSIWYG form builder is fast, easy-to-use and offers extensive customization, allowing you to build simple contact forms or complicated application forms.
- Plugin Name: Contact Form 7
Author: Takayuki Miyoshi
Learn More / Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/contact-form-7/
Description: Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.
- Plugin Name: Gravity Forms
Author: RocketGenius, Inc.
Learn More / Download: https://www.gravityforms.com/
Description: Build and publish your WordPress forms in just minutes. No drudgery, just quick and easy form-building. Select your fields, configure your options and easily embed forms on your WordPress-powered site using the built-in tools.
- Plugin Name: wpforms
Learn More / Download: https://downloads.wordpress.org/plugin/wpforms-lite.1.5.1.zip
Description: WPForms allows you to create beautiful contact forms, subscription forms, payment forms, and other type of forms for your site in minutes, not hours!
- Plugin Name: Smush Image Compression and Optimization
Author: WPMU DEV
Learn More / Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/
Description: Resize, optimize, optimise and compress all of your images with the incredibly powerful and 100% free WordPress image smusher.
- Plugin Name: Yoast SEO
Author: Team Yoast
Learn More / Download:
Description: Yoast SEO is the number one SEO plugin for your WordPress website. It handles everything you need for a quality on-page optimization. Furthermore, you get an instant SEO score for each post or page you create. It supports other major WordPress plugins such as WooCommerce.
- Plugin Name: Limit Login Reloaded
Learn More / Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/limit-login-attempts-reloaded/
Description: Limit Login Attempts Reloaded blocks an Internet address from making further attempts after a specified limit on retries has been reached, making a brute-force attack difficult or impossible.
- Plugin Name: Classic Editor
Author: WordPress Contributors
Learn More / Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/classic-editor/
Description: Classic Editor is an official plugin maintained by the WordPress team that restores the previous (“classic”) WordPress editor and the “Edit Post” screen. It makes it possible to use plugins that extend that screen, add old-style meta boxes, or otherwise depend on the previous editor.
By default, this plugin hides all functionality available in the new Block Editor (“Gutenberg”).
The Gutenberg Editor in WordPress 5.0 breaks page editors in some themes. Try using this plugin if you experience problems after upgrading to WordPress 5.0