WordPress is undoubtedly a fantastic piece of open-source software.
It allows millions of users (including myself) to create professional websites for anything from blogging to breaking news. In fact, more than 27% of all websites across the world are created by using WordPress.
While the basic themes that come with WordPress are definitely enough to get a website up and running, I highly recommend installing the plugins listed below. (A plugin is a small piece of software that adds extra features and functionality.)
This plugin does exactly what is says on the tin: checks a website for any broken links. It can also be customised to check a website every day, week or month (for example), and then automatically send the results to a specified email address.
My Eco Tech Daily website has more than 37 articles, with each article featuring several links to external content. Imagine if I had to visit each article and check each link to make sure it was still working? This would take me hours! Fortunately, the Broken Link Checker plugin does this automatically for me every week. Bliss.
To understand how successfully a post or website is doing, it’s important to have accurate and up-to-date stats. Google Analytics is one of the best plugins for this purpose.
As well as showing the number of visitors to a website or page, Google Analytics also offers a detailed picture of the interaction with a website. For instance, traffic sources, device types and bounce rates are all accessible at the click of a button. What’s more, real-time stats are available, in addition to historic data.
This open-source plugin is an incredible jack-of-all-trades. It packs in features such as: website protection, image optimisation and automatic updating of plugins.
And this is just for starters.
Jetpack also offers contact form creation, basic visitor stats and even configurable widgets (yes, really!). My recommendation is to install Jetpack before any other plugins. In fact, I’m sure some websites ONLY use Jetpack.
I like simplicity. And this plugin is simplicity itself.
Some of the standard WordPress themes aren’t too great at offering professional-looking social media sharing buttons. This plugin addresses this issue in style (literally!). As well as being beautifully simple to use, it comes with 11 different button sets. Once a set has been chosen, it can be added automatically to existing and new pages and posts. What’s the benefit of this? Visitors to a website can share content quickly and easily. Ideal.
As WordPress is HTML-based, it can sometimes be tricky to ensure all text and images are formatted correctly.
I discovered this plugin only recently, but I wish I’d found it years ago! Basically, it allows you to set the exact spacing between parts such as subtitles, lists and images. I used to spend ages trying to make sure my formatting was perfect, but now, using this plugin, I can format a post in just a few minutes. It’s not only time that I’ve saved – I’ve also freed myself from a lot of frustration!
The standard WordPress visual editor is good, but lacks some key functions. TinyMCE Advanced is the way to go if you need to do things such as: take control of font sizes, insert tables, and find and replace text.
The plugin offers so many editing functions, that I won’t attempt to list them all here. However, I’m a big fan of TinyMCE Advanced. And I’m not alone. More than 1 million WordPress users have installed this plugin, and it currently has an impressive user rating of 4.6 out of 5.
Websites are at constant risk of data loss through electronic failure, hacking and user error (the latter being the most common of the three!). For this reason, websites should always be regularly backed-up, and UpdraftPlus is one of the best ways to do this for WordPress websites.
Instead of a manual process, once configured, UpdraftPlus automatically backs up pages and posts to specified locations such as: Amazon S3, Dropbox and Google Drive. If disaster strikes, UpdraftPlus can be used to easily restore a website. When it comes to websites and data, my motto is “better to be safe than sorry.”
All of the above plugins are available free of charge (for the basic versions). And from my experience, they have proven to be super-beneficial for both of my WordPress-backed websites.
For guidance with installing plugins onto a WordPress website, I suggest giving this helpful tutorial a read.
WordPress is a superb tool, but by adding the plugins above, it can be made even better.