What is a WordPress Plugin?
WordPress plugins extend the features and functionality of your website. Add an Events calendar, a custom web portal or an e-commerce shop. With a database of over 30,000 plugins, you can do just about anything that you can imagine.
Not all plugins are created equal!
Many WordPress plugins are free or can be purchased for a nominal fee. Premium plugins cost more, but are still very reasonable. At first you may be tempted to start installing plugins with wild abandon, especially since there are so many free ones available. The question then becomes, do I need all of these, are they supported and do they all play nice with each other.
Are Premium WordPress Plugins Worth It?
Short answer, YES! Premium WordPress plugins provide a great value for what you get. These plugins are usually kept up to date and verified to work with the latest version of WordPress. They also offer reliable support options and communities.
Free WordPress Plugins – choose carefully.
While there are a lot of excellent free WordPress plugins out there, you need to be careful. Consider the following before you dive in:
- Do you really need that feature? Or is it just “cool”.
- When was the last time the plugin was updated?
- Is it compatible with the current version of WordPress?
- How is the plugin supported, what are your options?
- Are support issues being taken care of timely?
- How popular is it – check the number of downloads.
- Who is the author and what is their reputation?
- Are there know conflicts – check reviews.
- Will the plugin be around for the long run?
- What is it’s track record?
- Is it banned by your hosting provider?
It is no fun spending time searching for a plugin, committing to it, learning it and then finding out that the support is terrible, it conflicts with some of your other plugins and it ultimately ends up going away or abandoned. Now you’re stuck finding another solution, which is generally a premium plugin you know that will work. The moral of the story is, you’re generally better off with a premium WordPress plugin over a free one unless you’ve done your homework. Many premium plugins provide a free version to try and a paid version that offers more features and support.
With all the cool plugins available it’s very tempting to go crazy. The problem is they have to be managed, they can conflict with one another and some can really slow your website down. The better question is, are my plugins solid, well coded and can I trust them. Do I really need this functionality or do I just think it’s “cool” or handy.
How many WordPress plugins should I have?
WordPress Plugins are great, it’s seems that there is a plugin for just about anything you might ever need. That being said, you need to be careful, things can get out o hand in a hurry. Often, less is more, but at the end of the day it’s not always how many plugins you have, but the quality. Several top WordPress plugins may be okay, while even a single bad one can be a problem.
Top WordPress Plugins
Gravity Forms is the single best forms plugin for WordPress, hands down. On everyone’s top WordPress Plugins list, it’s easy to use and has a wealth of advanced features. Lots of add-ons provide even more functionally and integration with services like MailChimp, PayPal, Freshbooks and more. Set up contact forms, e-commerce, polls, surveys, quizzes, you name it.
Soliloquy is a mobile responsive slider that is easy to use, has solid code and great support. Did I mention easy to use. Of all the sliders I have worked with, Soliloquy is the most intuitive and flexible. You can customize your slider with a variety of add-ons, making this an even more valuable tool for your website.
WordPress SEO by Yoast
WordPress SEO by Yoast is a great example of a top WordPress plugin that is free and has premium options. Great support and a large community of users make this plugin a must have to get your SEO optimization off to a good start. It walks you through the various options giving you visual feedback. You really can’t mess up with this one. Their additional premium plugins work with the core free plugin. They give you more features, premium support and can optimize you videos, news and local SEO.
Google Analytics by Yoast
Google Analytics is the de-facto standard for tracking and evaluating your sites visitors, where they came from and what they do once they get to your website. This information and much, much more is vital to making your website successful. The Google Analytics by Yoast WordPress plugin allows you to easily add Google Analytics to your website. Using this powerful tool makes it easy to start tracking your website from basic to advanced.
Other WordPress Plugins to check out.
Here a just a few of the plugins I have found usefull
If you love the Genesis Framework like I do. Then you’ll want to check out these top WordPress plugins developed specifically for Genesis. Created by some of the leading developers in the Genesis community, these plugins are solid and trusted. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Genesis Title Toggle – Allows you to remove the title from your page. This can be very helpful when you want to label your page within WordPress but don’t want it to show on your page.
- Genesis Simple Sidebars – Easily add unique sidebars to any of your WordPress pages or posts.
- Genesis Simple Hooks – Allows you to tap into the Genesis hook system without any programing knowledge. This plugin is also a good way to start getting familiar with hooks, the heart of the Genesis framework.
- StudioPress Plugins for Genesis
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache improves your websites performance, which is key to your users experience and to help get you ranked in the search engines (yes Google loves a fast website too). This is a very popular, powerful plugin, but has a learning curve if you want to get the best performance possible.
WP-Optimize allows you to keep an optimized, lean database for your WordPress website. Great for removing old page / post versions, unwanted blog comments and much more. It is very popular and can save you a ton of time.
Askimet is a hosted service that helps keep your WordPress site free of comment spam. Believe me when you start getting thousands of blog spam comments you’ll be glad you have this installed. Akismit is free for non-commercial use, pad subscriptions start at $5.00 per month.
Catch IDs displays a page or post ID in the WordPress dashboard. If you do any development at all, beginner or advanced, your going to need to know this, a lot. This plugin comes in real handy and saves a lot of time.
A few final WordPress Plugin tips
- WordPress Plugins need to be kept up to date. Out of date plugins attract hackers and are more vulnerable to conflicts.
- WordPress Plugins can crash your site; make sure you’re always backed up BEFORE installing.
- Remove inactive plugins that your not using.
Whether free or premium, these Top WordPress Plugins add powerful features and functionality to your site. When adding a new plugin to your site do your homework. A little time spent upfront before selecting that “wow” plugin can save you a ton of time and headache in the long run.
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