There are more than 56,000 plugins available to choose from the plugins directory of WordPress which includes free and premium plugins sold by third-party companies and developers. These plugins offer tons of features and functionality that your site doesn’t have.
Think of WordPress plugins like an apps for your website. With plugins, you can customize your site to better suit your needs and serve your visitors. Like WordPress itself, plugins are also written in the PHP programming language which means the code that runs on your site’s hosting server is in PHP.
Yes, the numbers of WordPress plugins are quite overwhelming since it’s an open-source platform. But you will only need a few of them for your site which is the reason why I listed down below some of the recommended plugins I have tried personally to hopefully help you to find the right plugins to build your website.
Before Installing Plugins
- Install a WordPress theme and theme framework first. A theme framework provides you a set of tools that you can easily use in your theme. Theme is the design that you see on your WordPress site. It is also called a skin or a template. You can find all the themes in their official site, WordPress Theme Directory
- Keep in mind to only use the plugins you need. The more plugins you have installed on your site, the slower it will be.
- Install plugins that are reputable which means you should check out the total number of downloads and reviews first before installing it. It is recommended to check if it has at least four stars and over 100,000 downloads.
- Remove inactive plugins which can be used by hackers to gain access to your site. Having too many plugins installed can lead to site security issues, crashes, poor performance, slow loading speeds, and more.
- Always update your plugin to the latest version to avoid the vulnerabilities that the previous version have. It would prevent the hackers to insert malicious code through the plugins.
Plugins to Install:
Listed below are some of the WordPress plugins you can install to easily build the essential parts of your website (Note: Recommended only the ones that I’ve tried):
- Page Builder
The easiest and most convenient way to build and customize your WordPress website is through the frontend drag and drop page builder plugins without having to write any code. Note to never use two page builders at the same time — it will cause plugin conflicts and poor site loading.
WPBakery is the number 1 page builder plugin in WordPress. You can easily add columns/elements, drag elements around to rearrange them and customize page layouts. It has a responsive design and mobile ready layouts.
2. Home page
The home page is the most important part of your website. It is the first page that your visitors will be able to see.
Slider Revolution plugin is responsive and includes customizable multiple slider layout options for your home page. You can choose your slider type: standard slider, hero scene or a carousel slider; and choose your slider layout: auto, full-width or full-screen. You can use custom fonts, add parallax backgrounds, add media layers and insert buttons.
3. Contact page
WPForms is the most beginner friendly contact form plugin in WordPress. Its free version comes with all the basic contact form features that includes basic form fields, captcha for spam protection, email notifications, and a thank-you page for form confirmation.
4. Live Chat
Tidio Live Chat is a live chat service plugin in WordPress which allows you to communicate with your customers easily with the help of chatbots. Its modern design can suit any website. You can keep track of who visits your website and contact any visitor that is currently visiting your site. You can use chat, email, and Messenger in a single panel.
5. Mailchimp Integration
Adding a signup form and allowing your visitors to subscribe to your newsletter should be easy with Mailchimp integration in your site.
Mailchimp for WordPress is the most effective sign-up method to your site. You can create good looking opt-in forms or integrate with any existing form on your site. When subscribers sign up through the signup form widget on your site,the data will be passed to your Mailchimp list like the email address, name, and any other field info that you want to collect.
MC4WP has a pop-up form feature also where you can customize your pop-up signup form to you site. To learn how to connect your site to Mailchimp, check out Integrations.
6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Yoast SEO is an all-in-one WordPress SEO solution which has features of on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps, title and meta descriptions, and more.
7. Site Analytics
Having a website analytics can help you get detailed insights on the number of visitors coming to your website, which sources are sending you traffic (e.g. search engines, social media, advertisements, or referral links).
MonsterInsights is the most complete Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. It has a dashboard that shows you actionable analytics reports that only shows you the site statistics that are important.
Whether we like it or not, there are unwelcome spammers that can go in our site and most of these are automated spam bots. Solving spam issue in WordPress can be easily done by using a plugin.
Akismet automatically checks all comments and contact form submissions and filter out the ones that are spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content.
Caching speeds up your website for visitors and improves overall user-experience which is a good boost in SEO. The page speed is one of the ranking factors for SEO. How does caching works? It saves dynamically generated HTML files in the cache and serve them next time a request is made instead of re-loading all of the PHP scripts from WordPress.
If you’re looking to build an online store, there are plenty of WordPress eCommerce plugins in the market.
WooCommerce is the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin that supports both digital and physical Goods. You can setup your online store easily with some of its features: (a) product, cart, and checkout pages, (b) payment options, (c) shipping options (d) complete inventory management.