The Essential WordPress Plugins

I have a confession… I love WordPress. While it’s not a perfect platform, it gives our team the power to build beautiful, responsive and customized websites. Websites that allow our clients to keep their content current – themselves. Like any WordPress developer, I keep a must-have list of plugins that provide the functionality for every site I build with our team at Sauté. But first, a few things to note about plugins.

Plugins 101

A plugin is basically a bit of software that adds a specific feature to an existing software application – in our case, WordPress. One of the reasons that WP is so popular is the plugin architecture which allows users and developers to extend its abilities beyond the core installation. WordPress has 32,052 (and counting) plugins listed on their site – the sheer number is overwhelming. Where do you even start?

Note: Got a new website? Awesome! Your website is an ever-evolving, dynamic platform. You can’t just set it and forget it. In order to drive traffic, increase leads and build credibility you must be posting regularly. You also need to keep the services, offerings and important information on your website current.

A word to the wise: it is important to realize that using plugins increases the upkeep of your site, so you will have to keep on top of the updates. For example, there may be compatibility issues between plugins, or they may be updated out of sync with the regular updates to the core system. When selecting which ones to use, it is a good idea to vet the developer to check they are maintaining this software. You should check to see what support is offered, or whether there is a vibrant knowledge-base or “forum” where information and solutions can be found when problems arise.

The 10 Essential WordPress Plugins

I’m not big on gossip but this is one “secret” that I’m happy to share. I’ve rounded up our teams’ essential plugins – maybe not the flashiest or feature rich – but the bread and butter of every site.

10. BackWPup

Just like your computer, your website should be backed-up regularly. Your backup acts as an insurance plan that you can cash-in if your website gets hacked or breaks beyond repair.

The great thing about BackWPup is that you can save your complete installation (including the /wp-content/) to your preferred external backup service – such as Dropbox.

9. Custom Post Type UI

As any blogger knows, it’s a great idea to index your blog posts into categories so your readers can easily dive into a subject that grabs their interest. This plugin acts as an easy to use interface to create and manage custom post types.

8. Broken Link Checker

Aptly named, this plugin reviews your posts, comments and pages for links that are no longer working. It will notify you via email or on your dashboard. You also can choose to prevent search engines from following broken links.

7. Jetpack

Jetpack is a turbocharger for your website with tools like site stats, comments, related posts email subscriptions, forms, social networking and more.

6. Print Friendly & PDF Button

This plugin enables printer-friendly and PDF versions of your pages, skirting the hassle of creating a “print CSS” file. Just install and customize the settings to fit your needs. Some options include: removing images, omitting paragraphs, and margin settings.

5. Flamingo

This plugin acts as your basic CRM where you can track and manage your contact list and view your messages received through your contact form plugins.

4. Email Before Download

Email before Download displays a form to your users to submit information like your name and email address prior to receiving a download. This plugins works well with Contact Form 7, allowing you to create forms and manage your file downloads.

3. Akismet

Spam sucks, those unwanted comments and/or pingbacks from spambots or hackers just get on my nerves! Akismet scans your site’s comments to determine if they’re spam and lets you decide what makes the cut and what doesn’t.
This plugin is packaged with your basic WordPress install and is able to shield against most of the spam that gets thrown at your website.

2. Gravity Forms

It shouldn’t surprise you that this plugin is a powerful form builder. You can easily select fields, set your options and embed that form in your site using their built-in tools.
Gravity Forms has you covered with multi-page forms, allows you to set entry limits, provides advanced field options and many more features.

1. WordPress SEO by Yoast

This plugin helps you improve your website’s search engine presence and visibility. Think of it as a website SEO tutor that will grade your website for SEO best practices. It ensures that you choose a focus keyword when writing articles and makes you use it everywhere. It also has you covered with XML sitemaps, breadcrumbs, RSS editing and built-in title and description editors.

But wait… There’s more! Be sure to pin our awesome infographic for later.