When I work on a WordPress website for a client, I install any WordPress plugins that I think are necessary for them to use. And after working on a lot of WordPress projects, I’ve basically developed a “package” of plugins that I have experience with and will regularly recommend that my clients use.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled my definitive list of what plugins you should use with WordPress. All of the plugins that are listed below I have personally used and have experience with. Some of them are already listed in a previous post I wrote about essential plugins for your WordPress website or blog, but the list below is a much more comprehensive list covering more categories.
Note that all the plugin links below are to that plugin’s page in the WordPress plugin directory. By going there, you can not only download each plugin, but you can also find out more information about installing or troubleshooting it.
Administration (a.k.a., Client Pleasers)
- WP Custom Login Form Image – Lets you customize the WordPress login form by using your logo instead of the WordPress logo.
- WP Lite – Simplifies the editing interface by letting you hide “unnecessary” items from the WordPress administration menu (even the Dashboard), along with post meta controls on the Write page. Useful if WordPress is being used by those people who aren’t the most technically savvy.
- Author Image – Adds author images to your website simply by adding a PHP tag in your theme files. Users can configure their image in their profile.
- Popular Posts – Displays a list of your blog’s most-viewed posts; the output can be customized in many ways.
- Similar Posts – Displays a list of posts that are similar or related to the current post. The list can be customized in many ways to fit your own blog.
- Top Level Categories – Remove the prefix before the URL to your category page – URL.com/work/ instead of URL.com/category/work/, for example.
- WP-Cumulus – Display your blog’s tags, categories or both using a Flash movie that rotates them in 3D.
- Events Manager – Manage event information and event listings on your website through an easy-to-use administrative interface.
- Akismet – Checks your comments to see if they look like spam or not; you can review the spam it catches in a separate section from your regular comments.
- Better Comments Manager – Allows you, as the blog administrator, to respond to comments from within the admin panel rather than by going to the website.
- Comment Redirect – Redirect commenters who just made their first comment to a page of your choice.
- Live Comment Preview – The simplest way to get live comment previews on your site, so that commenters can see how their comment will look once it’s displayed on the website.
- Recent Comments – Displays a list of the most recent comments on your website that can be customized in many ways.
- Subscribe to Comments – Lets commenters sign up to receive an e-mail notification when another comment is made to the post they commented on.
- Thank Me Later – Automatically sends an e-mail to your commenters; it’s a great way to say “thanks” to your visitors, and prompt them to further engage with your blog.
- Broken Link Checker – Checks your posts for broken links and missing images and notifies you on the dashboard if any are found.
- Embed Iframe – Lets you embed an iframe into a WordPress post or page. Useful for embedding such content as Google maps, Google calendars, YouTube videos, etc.
- Featured Content Gallery – Used to create a customizable rotating image gallery anywhere within your WordPress site, which can be managed through an easy-to-use interface.
- Improved Include Page – Allows you to include the contents of a static page into a template with several options, such as displaying the page/post title, the full content vs. the excerpt, etc.
- My Page Order – Set the order of pages through a drag and drop interface, rather than using the default method of setting page order.
- Search Everything – Adds search functionality to your website without modifying any template pages.
- WP-Print – Adds a print stylesheet to your website that lets your users print just the content of your post or page.
- Advanced Excerpt – Customize the excerpt length by character or word count, and determine what HTML characters will be displayed in the excerpt.
- Thumbnail for Excerpts – Easily add thumbnails wherever excerpts are shown.
- Gravity Forms – Add multiple forms to your website, which you can insert in sidebars, pages, posts, etc. You can also customize the look, the form fields, and other administrative data.
- Lightbox – Creates a sharp, modern-looking overlay for images when you have thumbnails of an image and want to allow your visitors to view an enlarged copy.
- NextGEN Gallery – Lets you create photo galleries and albums to insert on any post or page through an easy-to-use interface.
- WP-UnitPNGFix – Fixes the PNG transparency problem in Internet Explorer 6.0.
- Breadcrumb Trail – Add breadcrumbs anywhere you want in your theme.
- Multi-Level Navigation – Lets you create and style a horizontal drop-down navigation through an easy-to-use interface.
- WP-Pagenavi – Adds a more advanced page navigation system to your blog archives for when you start to accumulate a lot of posts over time.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- All-in-One SEO Pack – Lets you optimize your title and META tags with content and keywords of your choosing, while also helping you avoid the duplicate content found on WordPress websites.
- Google XML Sitemaps – Automatically creates XML sitemaps of your website, which you can then submit to the search engines to help them crawl your website easier.
- Login Lockdown – Adds some extra security to WordPress by restricting the rate at which failed logins can be re-attempted from a given IP range.
- WP Security Scan – Scans your WordPress installation for security vulnerabilities and suggests corrective actions.
- Database Backup – Back up your WordPress database in case something catastrophic happens to it.
- Shockingly Big IE6 Warning – Shows a warning message to anyone viewing your website in IE 6.0 about why it’s bad to keep using that browser, along with links for them to upgrade to more modern browsers.
- WP Super Cache – Helps you speed up your WordPress website or blog significantly by reducing the workload on your server when someone visits it.
- Sociable – Automatically add links to your favorite social bookmarking sites on your posts, pages, etc.
- Twitter for WordPress – Display your latest Tweets.
How many of these plugins do you use on your WordPress website or blog, or have heard about? If you already have a WordPress website or blog, or design them for clients, what plugins do you use that I haven’t listed here? Share your thoughts with everyone by leaving a comment below!
About Hirsch Fishman
Hirsch has been working professionally with websites since 2001, working exclusively in, and focusing on, the Jewish community. Hirsch offers a wide range of website knowledge to his synagogue web design clients from his years of experience working in the Jewish community. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.