When developing a platform everyone and anyone can use, you should focus on including the key features since they are something all your users need. The rest is handled through custom development or plugins. The reasons why WordPress is such a successful product and widespread platform are hidden in these facts:
- WordPress is easy to use and has been around long enough for people to get used to it.
- It is very well documented, both officially and unofficially.
- It has a great support community, both at WordPress.org, and on the web.
- WordPress has tons of great plugins that can make it do almost anything you can think of.
- And of course, thousands of free and paid themes, some of which are truly amazing.
Since we have been developing and designing for it ever since WordPress was just a little baby and few knew about it, and we’ve seen it grow and have grown with it, we’d like to share with you ten plugins every site needs to have a smooth start on this lovely platform:
- 1. Akismet
- The author of this service and plugin that usually comes with your WordPress installation is the team behind WordPress itself. Make sure you configure it correctly and it will save you a lot of time and energy fighting spam. It automatically filters everything that is posted in comment section of your site and eliminates bot generated posts. Trust us, it is a big deal. Don’t have an Akismet Key? You can get one if you have a blog registered at WordPress.com or from Akismet.com.
- More info: Akismet
- 2. Revision Control
- Saving revisions sounds like a good idea, and it is. Natively, WordPress saves your current version of the page after each major change, and that is good, since sometimes you want to come back. However, over time this behavior becomes a big issue and slows down your site significantly as sometimes over 20 — even 50 or more — versions of a single post are saved. This allows you to limit it to a couple, which will still do the job you want it to do, but save a lot of resources and allow you to have better performance. [NOTE: You can also modify your functions.php file to do something similar, but if you aren’t comfortable editing code, this plugin saves the day.
- More info: Revision control
- 3. Google XML Sitemap
- If you are writing something that you want people to find quickly and easily when Googling you need to feed your information to Google in the best possible way. Google uses standardized maps and this plugin generates the map you need. After setting it up, simply submit it to Google Webmaster Tools.
- More info: Google XML Sitemap
- 4. WordPress Backup to Dropbox
- When things go wrong, and they will sometimes, even if it is not your fault, the most important thing is to have your backup and complete and as recent as possible. Why not automate the process and let it use the best and easiest free platform for cloud file storage, accessible from your computer, phone, tablet, etc. You do need a Dropbox account, though, but it is free.
- More info: WordPress Backup to Dropbox
- 5. All in one SEO Pack
- Even though WordPress is pretty SEO friendly out of the box, some things can be improved, and if you are fighting in a really hard niche to get to the top every tip and trick counts.
- More info: All in one SEO Pack
- 6. WP-PageNavi
- Paging in standard WordPress is decent, but it is limited, as the pagination is based on “previous/next” model without actually listing the pages, and it doesn’t display a breadcrumb trail, telling you where you are and how many subpages there are. This plugin allows you to fix this flawlessly, and it can also look adorable if you install this add-on after installing the plugin itself.
- More info: Wp-PageNavi
- 7. Contact Form 7
- This is one of the best and most popular free form generators. It is very versatile and easy to use without any programming knowledge. Also, there are a lot of tutorials online for beginners. [NOTE: We also highly recommend Gravity Forms and Secure Form Mailer.]
- More info: Contact Form 7
- 8. WP Touch
- This is one of the most popular plugins to allow you to optimize your site for a small screen. Now, we do have responsive themes, but if your site doesn’t use that kind of theme, this is very good way of displaying the content to your mobile users.
- More info: WP Touch
- 9. Socialize
- Probably the best organized and executed plugin for sharing your content on social media. Many features, almost all known networks covered, and simple customization.
- More info: Socialize
- 10. WP Super Cache
- In the end, probably the best thing for enhancing performance and speeding up your site. Makes a lot of sense if you plan high traffic, and peaks. Very important if you are on shared hosting.
- More info: WP Super Cache
Update: Pixelita Designs can no longer recommend Contact Form 7 as it consistently seems to bog a site down with its scripts. Instead, we recommend the free or paid versions of WP Forms or the premium forms plugin Gravity Forms.
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