A plugin extends the features and functionality of a WordPress website without you knowing any code. There are over 55,000 plugins so there’s a plugin for anything you need. That’s a whole lot of plugins and you may be wondering which plugins are compatible with the latest WordPress version, play well with other plugins, are customizable and work the best. It is important to note that installing too many plugins will dramatically slow down or even crash your site. Research shows that websites that take longer than 3 seconds to load will lose over 40% of their visitors so it is crucial to install only what is absolutely necessary. We will try to select our top plugin for most common functionalities like forms, SEO, speed, social media, galleries, ecommerce and subscriptions, etc… Most of the plugins we have recommended have a free version with premium features available for a small fee.
Build Forms with WPForms
WPForms is a responsive drag and drop form builder where you can build your own forms or customize one of their premade form templates without knowing any code. You can quickly create contact forms, email subscription forms, order forms, payment forms, user registration forms, and multi-page forms in minutes! You can view all your leads in one place and they even have spam protection. Furthermore, you can capture lost leads with their form abandonment addon, collect payments with their Stripe addon, and match your forms to your website design with their CSS addon.
Optimize your Website with Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is the most powerful SEO plugin out there. It creates XML sitemaps to help Google better index your website, helps you write more SEO-friendly content with keyword density analysis and Flesch reading ease scores, allows you to write custom meta titles and descriptions, shows you social sharing previews and helps manage redirects.
Reduce Loading Time with W3 Total Cache
Encourage Social Sharing with Social Warfare
Get more social shares and website traffic by installing Social Warfare. You can choose from the top social sharing network buttons like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon. We have been loyally using on our blog and installing it on our clients’ blogs for years. You can choose whether the buttons are displayed above, below, floating, both or manually on your content. You can even show share counts to encourage more social sharing with social proof.
Create a Responsive Portfolio or Gallery with GridKit
GridKit is the ultimate mobile-friendly gallery, video and portfolio plugin. They offer multiple portfolio and gallery layouts with shortcodes, an easy media grid composer, pagination and category filtration, captions, zoomable pictures, customizable options and over 100 gallery image hover effects. Whether you are a designer, artist, photographer or just showcasing a product, you definitely need this plugin!
Sell Online with WooCommerce
WooCommerce is the most customizable and scalable eCommerce platform that allows you to sell everything from products, services, memberships, digital downloads, content and bookings suitable for small businesses to large conglomerates. You can extend the functionality of your online store with thousands of plugins and change the look of your store with WooThemes, themes create with WooCommerce sites in mind. You can easily create, edit, manage products, orders, inventory levels, tax calculations, shipping rates and transactional emails from your WordPress dashboard for minimal budget. You can also tailor the checkout process to suit your requirements with customizable carts, geolocation features and several payment options. If you are looking for a more launch it and forget it solution and don’t mind paying more for your online store, there’s also Shopify. Here’s an oldie but goodie post about why we recommend WooCommerce for ecommerce.
More Relevant Search Results with SearchWP
If you used WordPress for a while, you might have noticed that its search function does not provide the best results. It ignores a lot of content types like ecommerce product descriptions, PDFs, custom fields, shortcode output, taxonomy terms and worse of all it considers post content more important than page content. SearchWP provides more relevant results by searching everything that the default search ignores, allowing you to customize how results are ranked and keyword stemming by considering prefixes, suffixes or pluralization and tracking and tracking your visitors’ search statistics.
Sell Subscriptions with MemberPress
If you want to start a membership site, MemberPress helps you restrict who views and / or downloads your content based on subscriptions and process recurring credit card payments securely without the difficult setup. All you’ll need to do is install the plugin, enter your payment gateway details, setup some products and you’ll be up and running! It is super customizable and includes many great features like:
- timed release of content or content dripping
- clear and relevant reporting on what you are selling
- dynamic and beautiful pricing pages
- option to add a discussion forum with BBPress
- allowing members to manage, upgrade or cancel their subscriptions on your website
- the ability to generate coupons, control when they expire and customize coupon codes
Sell Courses with LearnDash
LearnDash allows you to sell online courses, add lessons, and provide grades based on quizzes and assignments. LearnDash’s key features include grading drip-feed content, lesson timers, flexible prerequisites, private or public student forums, credits for course completion, certificates and badges. You can control your learners and courses with profiles that track course activity, automatic emails to increase engagement, group management, reporting for enrollment, progress and quiz performance, assignment management and the ability to revoke access after a specified time period.
Customize your Theme with CSS Hero
CSS Hero allows you to visually customize any theme without knowing any code with their frontend editor. It allows you to control how your WordPress website will look across laptops and mobile devices using standard breakpoints or custom ones. Simply hover and click the element you want to edit and adjust it to what you want, live!
Schedule Appointments with BirchPress
BirchPress is an appointment booking and online scheduling plugin that enables service businesses such as photographers, contractors, trainers, spas and yoga studios to schedule online appointments. Merchants can embed a booking form in a page or post on their website, and customers can view service availability and conveniently book an appointment online. It is an user-friendly tool to manage appointments and employee schedules.
Backup, Share & Customize with JetPack
JetPack was created by the people behind WordPress.com and is basically your all-in-one plugin for WordPress design, marketing, and security. It allows you to customize pages, CSS, posts, image galleries, sidebars and widgets without knowing any code, easily share content on social media, create payment buttons and automatic backups and protect your site from malware and spam. It also provides plugin auto-updates, bulk site management, centralized posting and traffic analytics.
Secure your Site with Really Simple SSL
Because of the HTTPS everywhere browser extension, websites that do not have a SSL will show up as “not secure” and sensitive information more prone to being stolen even if you do not sell anything on your website. Users will also have the option to block non-HTTPS websites with just one click on Chrome, Firefox and Opera so implementing a SSL is a must. After you purchase a SSL, you can overwrite all your links with HTTPS by installing Really Simple SSL. Bluehost provides free SSL certificates for all assigned and parked domain names set up in your account.
We hope that we helped you learn about some of the best WordPress plugins out there with this article. Building a responsive WordPress website and deciding which plugins to implement can be daunting so please contact our San Francisco web design and development team to fast track your small business website project.