10 Must-Have WordPress Plugins

WordPress is a hugely powerful website building platform, but the sheer number and diversity of available plugins can be daunting. This is especially true when many of these plugins are buggy and poorly executed, potentially causing conflicts or slowing websites down rather than improving and accelerating them.
Below, we consider ten of the most powerful and well-coded WordPress plugins, outlining the remarkable functionality they can bring to any WP website:

  1. WordPress SEO by Yoast. A staple on any ‘WordPress essentials’ list, this widely acclaimed plugin now dominates the SEO field and is a market leader at maximising organic search traffic. Its endlessly evolving list of features allows WP novices to instantly improve the search engine performance and ranking results of their site.
  2. Animate It! This boldly-named CSS animator is a hugely flexible tool that can handle everything from sliding or fading content to bouncing buttons and customized click-throughs. Animations can be programmed to your preferred style, length, mouseover effects and duration preferences, maximizing their potential to catch the eye.
  3. Envira Gallery. Not only is Envira Gallery a leading plugin for creating mobile-friendly image galleries, it can also watermark every photo. This prevents images from being reproduced elsewhere, which can be particularly frustrating if the photos were purchased from an image library or commissioned specifically for that site.
  4. WP Rocket. Blasting aside the overly technical approach of other caching plugins, WP Rocket is an easily managed bolt-on that can significantly improve loading times of WordPress websites. This is particularly crucial now that search engine ranking results are partly determined by download times; consumers are also proven to abandon slow sites.
  5. Email Users. Sites with user registration forms or email harvesting usually require ways to exploit this information, so Email Users provides various communication tools. Individual users can receive personalized messages, user groups can be sent mass mailings, and everyone can be notified about important info like T&C changes.
  6. Floating Social. Social media accounts are critically important for any modern business, and Floating Social offers one-click sharing among the social media accounts of visitors. All the major social media platforms are covered, and buttons float as a page scrolls; they can even be customized to suit bespoke site designs.
  7. WooCommerce. The undisputed champion of ecommerce platforms, WooCommerce delivers a wealth of payment, shipping and basket options. Used by over 30 per cent of online stores, it can handle everything from instant downloads and automated bookings through to affiliate goods, membership subscriptions and even discounts.
  8. Ultimate Branding. Replacing WordPress logos with company-specific graphics, and offering endless customization over everything from admin bars to footers, Ultimate Branding is a white label design plugin with few competitors. It has the added advantage of being easy to use, even for those with no prior knowledge of coding.
  9. Seriously Simple Podcasting. Doing exactly what it says on the tin, this plugin is surprisingly in-depth considering the efficiency with which it’s been coded. Available services include hosting audio or video files in the cloud, and generating RSS feeds via iTunes. For added flexibility, media files can be stored on any server.
  10. Akismet. Despite many pretenders to the crown, no plugin has managed to combat spam and junk comments as effectively as Akismet. Its constantly evolving approach to identifying junk posts includes keeping a detailed history of which comments were flagged or cleared, for future reference by site administrators and moderators.

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