Six essential WordPress plugins

Published on October 10th, 2015

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

I know, I know, if you perform a Google search (or, why not, a Duckduckgo search) you will come up with a long list of “essential plugins” posts, so why another one?

While it’s all fine and well with those posts, I noticed one little thing: they do not seem to really list essential WordPress plugins, they rather list useful or cool plugins, but nothing really essential that you would use each and every time in WordPress sites.

As a WordPress custom theme developer, there are a number of plugins I like to use over and over again, and without which I’d be slowed down by a good bit, so here is a list with my six essential WordPress plugins. Let me know if I’m missing something.

#1 Advanced Custom Fields

As a first entry in this list, I must choose the awesome Advanced Custom Fields. It’s free and (as the name implies) it allows you to use custom fields in powerful and expressive ways while giving you a good looking backend interface. A must have, try it and be amazed by its ease of use.
Even more amazing is the pro version, which allows you to create wonders like flexible and repeater fields with drag’n drop capabilities, effectively making it possible to set up a powerful CMS without that “bloated” feeling. Also, and it’s a great plus, the documentation is great.

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#2 SG Cachepress

If your hosting is Siteground you can use their SG Cachepress plugin. What does it do? Well, in a couple of clicks it enables complex technologies like memcache and varnish. Pretty darn cool, if you ask me. The plugin is super easy to use, and it comes at no additional cost. While we are at it, let me recommend the GoGeek package for unlimited hosted sites and SSD storage, it’s really pretty fast when coupled with SG Cachepress. As far as managed hosting goes, this is the best service around, and it also comes with top notch support.
If your host is not Siteground though, then the best choice is W3 Total Cache.

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#3 Ninja Forms

Forms made easy. What can I say more? Ninja forms is the perfect forms plugin, and it can save you LOTS of time. Completely customizable, I can’t recommend it enough, as they combine a drg’n drop builder with a super-useful “actions” tab to configure what happens when the form is submitted.

#4 WP Migrate DB

Oh this is so useful. In its free version, WP Migrate DB it allows you to export a database (similarly to what you would do in PHPMyAdmin) BUT it allows you to replace the site’s name so that the exported database is ready to be imported in your local machine. The Pro version allows you to keep databases and contents synced up. Neat!

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#5 Jetpack

Automattic’s Jetpack is a great plugin.
For some time I’ve been dismissing it (and probably part of the WordPress community did too) thinking it was too bloated. Well, it is true it’s full of features, but each feature is a discrete module which can or cannot be activated, making it as slim or as fat as you want it to be.
The reason I use it is that there are a few modules I think are awesome; I use Beautiful Math to add a math captcha to your login, Photon to effortlessly add CDN goodness to your images, Protect to add an additional security layer and Site stats to give you… well, site stats.

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#6 Custom Post Type UI

After thinking long and hard (well, not THAT long), I have added Custom Post Type UI as well. It allows you to create custom post types and custom taxonomies from an easy-to-use web interface, and when you are done (generally, at the end of the project) you can export the PHP code needed and stick it into your functions.php. It’s surely something you could do manually, but it’s also quite a time saver, especially if you are going to need to tinker for a while with CPTs and taxonomies before finding the perfect configuration for your client.

What do you think? Am I missing something?