We love plug-ins, who doesn’t‽ As a predominantly WordPress shop we know what we like, what works, and what doesn’t.
Check out Sean’s top 10 list of plug-in must haves to keep your website (and sanity) at its best!
Just like how your computer needs anti-virus software, so does your website. In the case of a website this is Wordfence. Wordfence aids in our never ending defense against hackers, exploits and various additional vulnerabilities that are inevitable within even the best made system. This plugin is one we consider to be a essential on any site, big or small, and is one of the core plugins in our typical WordPress package.
W3 Total Cache
Even with the best content, the modern reader will lose interest in your site if it is too slow. The faster you can serve your content to your visitors, the longer they will stay, and the more they will consume. Slow sites may also lead to poor experiences, making visitors less likely to share your content and link back to your site.
Caching methods are one of the best ways to speed up sites. At the heart of our caching assembly is W3 Total Cache, providing many caching features itself, as well as aiding in the control of other tools we use, such as Varnish, PageSpeed and even browser caching.
Though images may make up a small portion of any page, they make a significant impact on the experience for a user, both in readability and engagement. However, this is also true of the impact they have on the size and load time of a page. Unoptimized images can lead to a poor experience on your site, causing slow loading times and pushing text around as the images load in.
Imsanity makes solving the problem of optimizing images easy. Out of the box this plugin will already be ready to do it’s job, shrinking images down and optimizing the way they are stored, leading to a significant difference in most cases. This is easily one of the best ways to speed up your site, as you simply have to install it and forget about it. Note that installing it after the fact means you will have to run the image scanner in the settings to optimize photos uploaded before installing Imsanity.
If you want your site to float above the ocean of other sites that has flooded the internet, you’ll need to pay close attention to SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which can be a daunting task in and of itself. This is why we use tools such as Yoast SEO to help us optimize our sites, allowing us to stay well organized and informed of any content that needs our attention.
Information is becoming exceptionally important, whether that be from the visitors to your site or from your own users. As our system administrators will tell you, the latter can be invaluable whenever something has gone awry. Activity log aids admin’s with debugging any issues that arise, and getting the site corrected faster.
Google Analytics by MonsterInsights
It is always important to be aware of the behaviors of visitors to your site. From page views to conversion points, your content should be optimized to get visitors where you want them to be fast and without a need for pause. There are many ways to do this and at the core of our information gathering and reporting is Google Analytics, which can be installed and maintained on any WordPress site easily thanks to Google Analytics by MonsterInsights.
For a long time, WordPress has come bundled with a copy of TinyMCE to offer users an easier way to create content. This is the editor we use daily whenever you make changes to a post or a page, however we find the basic features of this to be somewhat lacking for the amount of work we do with it.
This is why we have recently begun using TinyMCE Advanced, a plugin by a third party, to expand the features of this editor that we use so frequently to enhance our content and workflow, adding coloring, font styles, font sizes and other features you may be accustomed to using on a word processor.
Really Simple SSL
Today’s users are more aware of the importance of ensuring their connection to the sites they visit is secure, thanks to the push for HTTPS from Google and other browsers and third parties. Beyond this there are also some benefits to including an SSL with your site and enforcing HTTPS on connections to your site, such as SEO ranking boosts and increased security for your site. To aid us in this effort we have looked to Really Simple SSL, which as the name implies, makes this task much more achievable.
Whenever we need to move a site from one host to another, create a copy for the sake of safely developing new features, or just want to backup a site, Duplicator is the plugin we reach for. Duplicator offers an easy to use interface that allows us to quickly get in, create a bundled version of the site, and get back to work. Thanks to its ease of use and reliability, this plugin has become a mainstay for our dev team.
Pods – Custom Content Types and Fields
For anyone looking to create more advanced content on their site, Pods gives you the ability to create more complex pages and systems within WordPress. Pods manages to give you an extensive amount of customizability, without straying from the typical look and feel of WordPress, leading to an intuitive process for both creating and updating the data for anyone familiar with WordPress.
Given this is more advanced than your typical WordPress plugin, even with the large collection of documentation on their website, you will inevitably need some assistance using their product. This leads us to one of our favorite aspects of this plugin; the various means of support offered by the Pods team. Whether we contact them through their forums or through the Pods chat rooms, ultimately they or another experienced peer will be able to lead you in the right direction.