You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t use too many WordPress plugins. In this post, we’ll talk briefly about what the problems with plugins is and I’ll recommend 6 must have plugins in my opinion and 3 other bonus plugins that I personally find very useful.
The problem with using plugins
Plugins are a great way to extend wordpress for functions that you would love to have on your website. There are tonnes of great plugins out there, but also many subpar plugins.
Generally speaking, you wouldn’t run into problems if the plugins is built by a reputable author, has great reviews and is updated frequently.
The concern with plugins is that they may..
Slow down your website
Some plugins with less than ideal code may require cause delays in the code due to repetitions. In some instances, plugins might constantly try to read the database and that dramatically slows down your website.
Open your website to security risks
A recent research by CheckMarx mentioned that more than ten of the fifty (over 20%) most popular WordPress plugins are vulnerable to common web attacks like SQL injection.
One major security incident happened in late 2011 when TimThumb, a popular WordPress plugin was discovered to have a security vulnerability. TimThumb was used extensively in many themes and many websites got hacked as a result. A google for Timthumb security issue will bring you to many articles for that incident.
The objective here is not to defame Timthumb. They’ve definitely done a great job and the security issue is fixed with the 2.0 release.
The objective here is to highlight that the more plugins you use, the higher the possibility that you are open to security risks.
Obselete plugins in future
Some plugins may not be popular and developers might not support them in future. When this happens, you can be sure that there will be code issues. Its best not to use plugins that are not constantly updated.
After knowing the risks involved, I would recommend you go through the checklist in the article on six revisions before using your plugin
Here are a list of free plugins I think are crucial and that I believe that are safe.
Plugin 1: W3 Total Cache / WP Super Cache
Its like frozen food, ready to be bought and quick to serve because it has already been prepared. (Otherwise for every new visitor, you’ll have to ask the butcher to chop off some new meat, and that definitely slows down the process).
Caching can speed up your the loading times of your website dramatically, and you may have already known this, but I’ll say it anyway, that speed is incredibly important to a website in this day and age.
Amazon could potential lose up to $1.6 Billion in revenue if its pages load one second slower. Even though Your cost savings may not necessarily compete with Amazon, the lesson still applies. People will leave if your website takes too long to load.
Plugin 2: Akismet
Akismet is a plugin for spam prevention. It works exceptionally well with WordPress and keeps most spam away from your website.
If you have troubles with spam, give Akismet a try.
Plugin 3: WP Smush It
WP Smush it helps with the speed issue explained in point 1 above.
Most people react visually to things, and images have became part and parcel of websites. The major problem with images is load times.
WP Smush it helps you compress all your images automatically while retaining at the same time retaining the quality of your images. Isn’t it nice to use this plugin instead of having to manually compress all your images?
Plugin 4: Google XML Sitemaps
Goggle Sitemaps for SEO. This removes the hassle of manually creating new sitemaps whenever content is updated and Google will be kept updated of your site whenever their crawlers come to your website.
In short, this keeps your website updated in the eyes of Google.
Plugin 5: Yoast SEO Plugin
The Yoast SEO Plugin is a great enhancement to WordPress for its SEO benefits. If you’re not using any SEO Plugin already, it is very much recommended for you to grab this plugin to help with your SEO Efforts.
For those using the Genesis theme, I believe the in built SEO are as good as the Yoast, so there really isn’t a need to get it, although you can if you want to.
Plugin 6: Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is a plugin that really simplifies how contact forms are being created. Its a great alternative to WuFoo or Gravity Forms when working with pure contact forms. Best of all, its free!
Bonus 1: Markdown Extra
If you’re familiar with Markdown and want to use Markdown for your posts, the markdown extra plugin converts markdown into HTML.
Writing in markdown format saves considerable time since you don’t have to bother with making sure each subtitle has the correct heading style.
This is a quick Markdown Example ## This means heading 2. ### This means heading 3. This is a normal paragraph + And this is a list + With two bullet points
Quite nifty wouldn’t you say?
Check out the Markdown syntax and give it a go when you have some free time on your hands. You’ll love it, and once you start using it, you’ll never be able to go back to how it was like before… Guaranteed.
Bonus 2: Disqus
Disqus is a comment system that I have used on my blog. I believe it gives a much better interaction compared to the standard WordPress comment system since images can be used within comments if required.
Anyone who comments and has a reply will also be notified, which helps to keep conversations going strong. I like how it looks great on any website, and there’s really no need to reinvent the comment section since Disqus does it so well.
Bonus 3: Advanced Custom Fields
If you’re looking to develop with WordPress, I highly recommend taking a peek at Advanced Custom Fields. Advanced custom fields allow you to easily add any easily to use custom fields to any WordPress post or pages. Its much better than the native custom fields provided by WordPress.
Note: Only developers will find this useful!
Do you have any other must have WordPress plugins that you use? I’d love to hear about them! Let me know in the comments.