WordPress plugins are apps that allow you to add new features and functionality to your WordPress website. Exactly the same way as apps do for your smartphone. Often beginner users ask us what are WordPress plugins and how do they work? Plugins are an important part of the WordPress ecosystem, and they are essential for building great websites using WordPress.
Free vs Premium WordPress Plugins
There are tons, literally tons, of WordPress plugins available for free download from the WordPress.org Plugin Directory. There are also premium or paid WordPress plugins.
Why would you want to pay for a plugin? Well, there are several reasons:
- While there are thousands of plugins available for free from the plugin directory, paid plugins usually offer a full-time support staff and developers that work on maintaining the security and compatibility of plugins with the latest version of WordPress as well as with other themes and plugins.
- Most of the time, plugins play nicely with the core of WordPress and with other plugins, but sometimes a plugin’s code will get in the way of another plugin, causing compatibility issues. With a paid plugin, it’s just nice to know you have support staff that can help you out if anything goes wrong.
You might be asking what types of things plugins can do. Well, if you can imagine it, there’s probably a plugin for that. All you need to do is take a stroll through the WordPress plugin directory to see all of the possible ways plugins can extend or enhance your WordPress site.
The benefit of WordPress Plugins
One of the benefits of WordPress is that enterprising developers have written tens of thousands of WordPress plugins that you can add to your site. Plugins can make everything from small tweaks to massive changes to your site. For example, some plugins can even turn your WordPress site into a fully functioning eCommerce store, social network, or forum.
Or, they can also add smaller features like an Instagram feed. Some WordPress plugins don’t even have front-facing effects. For example, you can install plugins to improve your site’s performance or help it rank better in search engines like Google. Learn how Plugins Do Work.
In this beginners guide, you’ll learn more about WordPress plugins and how do they work? From the top of the list all the way down. For more contributions, questions and recommendations, please Contact Us.
The list of Essential WordPress Plugins every website must have
1. Classic Editor WordPress Plugins
Classic Editor is an official plugin maintained by the WordPress team that restores the previous (“classic”) WordPress editor and the “Edit Post” screen. It makes it possible to use plugins that extend that screen, add old-style meta boxes, or otherwise depend on the previous editor.
Classic Editor is an official WordPress plugin, and will be fully supported and maintained until at least 2022, or as long as is necessary.
At a glance, this plugin adds the following:
- Administrators can select the default editor for all users.
- Admins can allow users to change their default editor.
- When allowed, the users can choose which editor to use for each post.
- Each post opens in the last editor used regardless of who edited it last. This is important for maintaining a consistent experience when editing content.
In addition, the plugin includes several filters that let other plugins control the settings, and the editor choice per post and per post type. By default, this plugin hides all functionality available in the new Block Editor (“Gutenberg”).
2. Gutenberg Plugins
Gutenberg is more than an editor.
While the editor is the focus right now, the project will ultimately impact the entire publishing experience including customization (the next focus area). One thing that sets WordPress apart from other systems is that it allows you to create as rich a post layout as you can imagine — but only if you know HTML and CSS and build your own custom theme.
By thinking of the editor as a tool to let you write rich posts and create beautiful layouts, we can transform WordPress into something users love WordPress, as opposed something they pick it because it’s what everyone else uses.
Gutenberg looks at the editor as more than a content field, revisiting a layout that has been largely unchanged for almost a decade. This allows us to holistically design a modern editing experience and build a foundation for things to come.
Here’s why we’re looking at the whole editing screen, as opposed to just the content field:
- The block unifies multiple interfaces. If we add that on top of the existing interface, it would add complexity, as opposed to remove it.
- By revisiting the interface, we can modernize the writing, editing, and publishing experience, with usability and simplicity in mind, benefitting both new and casual users.
- When a singular block interface takes center stage, it demonstrates a clear path forward for developers to create premium blocks, superior to both shortcodes and widgets.
- Considering the whole interface lays a solid foundation for the next focus, full site customization.
3. AMP WordPress Plugins
The AMP Project is an open-source initiative aiming to make the web better for all. AMP enables web experiences that are consistently fast, beautiful and high-performing across distribution platforms. The Official AMP Plugin for WordPress supports fully integrated AMP publishing for WordPress sites, with robust capabilities and granular publisher controls.
Features and capabilities provided by the plugin include:
- Compatibility Tool: to assist the development of AMP experiences by enabling AMP debugging with detailed information about validation errors that may exist, the markup/scripts causing them, and the specific components on site (e.g theme, plugin, core) responsible for that page content.
- CSS Tree Shaking: to assist in dealing with cases where the defined CSS rules on a site exceed the CSS size limit allowed on single AMP pages.
- Core Theme Support: enabling full AMP validity for four default themes (i.e. Twenty Fifteen, Twenty Sixteen, Twenty Seventeen, Twenty Nineteen).
- Gutenberg Support: enabling AMP content creation fully integrated with Gutenberg.
- AMP-first Experiences support: enabling full-site AMP experiences without sacrificing the flexibility of the platform, or the fidelity of content.
- Many Optimizations: A myriad of code, performance, and developer experience improvements: from customization flexibility to better UI flows, internationalization, accessibility, etc.
With the official AMP plugin for WordPress, the WordPress ecosystem is provided with the capabilities and tools it needs to build world-class AMP experiences without deviating from its standard, flexible, and well-known content creation workflow. To learn more about the plugin and start leveraging its capabilities to power your AMP content creation workflow check the official AMP plugin product site.
4. Breadcrumb NavXT WordPress Plugins
Breadcrumb NavXT, the successor to the popular WordPress plugin Breadcrumb Navigation XT, was written from the ground up to be better than its ancestor. This plugin generates locational breadcrumb trails for your WordPress powered blog or website. These breadcrumb trails are highly customizable to suit the needs of just about any website running WordPress. The Administrative interface makes setting options easy, while direct class access is available for theme developers and more adventurous users.
Breadcrumb NavXT 5.2 and newer require PHP5.3
Breadcrumb NavXT 5.1.1 and older require PHP5.2
- RDFa format Schema.org BreadcrumbList compatible breadcrumb generation.
- Extensive breadcrumb customization control via a settings page with appropriate default values for most use cases.
- Network admin settings page for managing breadcrumb settings for all subsites with configurable global priority.
- Built-in WordPress Widget.
- Extensible via OOP and provided actions and filters.
- WPML compatible (enhanced compatibility with WPML extensions plugin).
- Polylang compatible (enhanced compatibility with Polylang extensions plugin).
- bbPress compatible (enhanced compatibility with bbPress extensions plugin).
- BuddyPress compatible (enhanced compatibility with BuddyPress extensions plugin).
Breadcrumb NavXT now supports WordPress.org language packs. Want to translate Breadcrumb NavXT? Visit Breadcrumb NavXT’s WordPress.org translation project.
5. GDPR Cookie Consent WordPress Plugins
NOTE: INSTALLING THIS PLUGIN ALONE DOES NOT MAKE YOUR SITE GDPR COMPLIANT. SINCE EACH SITE USES DIFFERENT COOKIES, YOU MAY NEED TO ENSURE YOU HAVE NECESSARY CONFIGURATIONS IN PLACE.
The plugin will help you to become GDPR compliant with following features.
- The plugin will show a notice with Accept and Reject options. By default, the cookie value will be set to ‘null’. If the user clicks ‘Accept’ button the value will be changed to ‘yes’. IF the user clicks on ‘Reject’ the value will be set to ‘no’. Your developer can check this value to set a cookie
This plugin adds a subtle banner to your website either in the header or footer so you can show your compliance status regarding the new EU Cookie Law. You can fully customize the style so it fits in with your existing website- change the colors, fonts, styles, the position on the page and even how it behaves when you click “accept”.
You can choose to make the cookie bar disappear after a few seconds (completely configurable) or to accept on scroll (an option available under Italian law). It also has a Cookie Audit module so you can easily show what cookies your site uses and display them neatly in a table on your Privacy & Cookies Policy page. This plugin supports WPML and qTranslate so your translation needs are covered.
- Fully customizable to look just like your own website’s style: customize the colors, styles, and fonts
- Put the cookie bar in either the header or the footer
- (Optional) automatically close the cookie bar after a delay (delay is configurable)
- Cookie bar can be permanently dismissed or accessible through a “show again” tab. (Optional)
- (Optional) “show again” tab is fully customizable including position shown on page and styles
- WPML compatible
- qTranslate support
6. Everest Forms WordPress Plugins
One of the fundamental pages you need on a website is the ‘Contact‘ Page. No matter how big or small website you have or whatever type of website it is, you definitely need a contact page from where your website audience can contact you. The purpose of contact can be anything; to provide you feedback on your work, reach you out for business deals, or suggestions in general, a well-designed contact page is a must.
So, to create contact forms, here is a plugin ‘Everest Forms‘. It’s a modern WordPress contact form plugin with drag and drop interface that lets you build beautiful contact forms easily and quickly. It has a set of general fields along with advanced fields which you can easily drag and drop to create forms. The plugin lets you create unlimited WordPress forms and in multiple design layouts. The plugin offers two design layouts: 1. Default and 2. Classic layout to choose from.
7. JetpackWordPresss plugins
Hassle-free design, marketing, and security — all in one place.
DESIGN AND CUSTOMIZATION SERVICES
Create and customize your WordPress site from start to finish. Jetpack helps you with:
- Hundreds of professional themes for any kind of site
- Intuitive and powerful customization tools
- Unlimited and high-speed image and video content delivery network
- Lazy image loading for a faster mobile experience
- Integration with the official WordPress mobile apps
MARKETING AND PERFORMANCE SERVICES
you’ll Measure, promote, and earn money from your site. Jetpack helps you with:
- Site stats and analytics
- Automated social media posting and scheduling in advance
- Elasticsearch-powered related content and site search
- SEO tools for Google, Bing, Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress.com
- Advertising program that includes the best of AdSense, Facebook Ads, AOL, Amazon, Google AdX, and Yahoo
- Simple PayPal payment buttons
SECURITY AND BACKUPS SERVICES
Stop worrying about data loss, downtime, and hacking. Jetpack helps you with:
- Brute force attack protection, spam filtering, and downtime monitoring
- Daily or real-time backups of your entire site
- Secure logins with optional two-factor authentication
- Malware scanning, code scanning, and automated threat resolution
- Activity: a record of every change and update on your site
- Fast, priority support from WordPress experts
8. Akismet Anti-spam WordPress Plugins
Akismet is yet another plugin developed by the people behind WordPress (Matt and his team at Automattic). It is one of the default plugins of WordPress that comes with every new WordPress core installation. It is basically an anti-spam plugin which checks all comments and filters out the spammy comments.
The plugin provides a status history for each comment so that you can learn which comments were found spammy by Akismet or the moderator. Moderators also can view the number of approved comments for each user, see the URLs in the comment body and remove the suspicious links.
The plugin is free for the personal site and blogs while you have to subscribe to its monthly plans for commercial sites. The premium plans provide advanced security solution besides spam protection.
It is a useful plugin to protect your WP security.
9. Yoast SEO WordPress Plugins
Yoast SEO: THE #1 WORDPRESS SEO PLUGIN
Need some help with your search engine optimization? Need an SEO plugin that helps you reach for the stars? Yoast SEO is the original WordPress SEO plugin since 2008. It is the favorite tool of millions of users, ranging from the bakery around the corner to some of the most popular sites on the planet. With Yoast SEO, you get a solid toolset that helps you aim for that number one spot in the search results. Yoast: SEO for everyone.
Yoast SEO does everything in its power to please both visitors and search engine spiders. How? Below you’ll find a small sampling of the powers of Yoast SEO:
TAKING CARE OF YOUR WORDPRESS SEO
- The most advanced XML Sitemaps functionality at the push of a button.
- Full control over site breadcrumbs: add a piece of code and you’re good to go.
- Set canonical URLs to avoid duplicate content. Never have to worry about Google penalties again.
- Title and meta description templating for better branding and consistent snippets in the search results.
- [Premium] Expand Yoast SEO with the News SEO, Video SEO, Local SEO, and WooCommerce SEO extensions.
- [Premium] Need help? Yoast SEO Premium users get 1-year free access to our awesome support team.
WRITE KILLER CONTENT WITH YOAST SEO
- Content & SEO analysis: Invaluable tools to write SEO-friendly texts.
- The snippet preview shows you how your post or page will look in the search results – even on mobile. Yoast SEO Premium even has social media previews!
- [Premium] The Insights tool shows you what your text focuses on so you can keep your article in line with your key phrases.
- [Premium] Synonyms & related keyphrases: Optimize your article for synonyms and related key phrases.
- [Premium] Automatic internal linking suggestions: write your article and get automatically suggested posts to link to.
KEEP YOUR SITE IN PERFECT SHAPE
- Yoast SEO tunes the engine of your site so you can work on creating great content.
- Our cornerstone content and internal linking features help you optimize your site structure in a breeze.
- Integrates with Google Search Console: See how your site performs in the search engines and fix crawl errors.
- Manage SEO roles: Give your colleagues access to specific sections of the Yoast SEO plugin.
- Bulk editor: Make large-scale edits to your site.
- [Premium] Social previews to manage the way your page is shared on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
- [Premium] Redirect manager: It keeps your site healthy by easily redirecting errors from Google Search Console, deleted pages and changed URLs.
10. Google XML Sitemaps WordPress Plugins
Notably, Google XML Sitemaps is another very useful SEO plugin for WordPress. The plugin helps the search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. to better index your site with a special XML sitemap.
Important to realize, as you activate the plugin, it will automatically create an XML sitemap for your site making it easy to index. A sitemap enables the search engine bots to view the complete structure of your website and retrieve the results more efficiently.
With such a sitemap, it’s much easier for the crawlers to see the complete structure of your site and retrieve it more efficiently. The plugin supports all kinds of WordPress generated pages as well as custom URLs. Additionally, it notifies all major search engines every time you create a post about the new content.
Supported since over 9 years and rated as the best WordPress plugin, it will do exactly what it’s supposed to do – providing a complete XML sitemap for search engines. It will not break your site, slow it down or annoy you. Guaranteed!
Please, the above defined WordPress Plugins are some of the convenient towards your website building. If you wish to get a list of Top Plugins not listed above, please Contact Us. You can also learn more about other Research Content through our Blog Page. You’ll be able to locate our RSS FEED link Here!
Joseph Mucira is the Founder of The jmexclusives Agency. Uniquely, Joseph is an experienced I.C.T. expert with a wide range of experience and influence when it comes to profile branding and consulting with all-inclusive online brands, products & businesses. Additionally, he is a top rated content writer, profile certifier, search engine optimizer, affiliate marketer, internet lead campaigner, a digital content promoter as well as responsive website designer and developer.