The best thing about WordPress is the plugins. You can transform a standard WordPress website into an e-learning system or a membership site, collect bookings, data, or even manage file downloads, all using plugins. If you can think of it, there’ll be a plugin to help you achieve it.
Hi, everyone, I’m Kelly, and today I’m going to share my favourite plugins with you, most of which I use on every single website I create. If you’re just starting out with plugins, you may want to check out my other tutorial, which teaches you how to install a plugin on your website in two minutes. Stick around till the end to find out my top tips for installing plugins on your website.
My all-time, favourite plugin, especially if you’re just starting out, is Elementor.
Elementor is a page builder but it uses a drag and drop interface, which is interactive and makes it simple to use. You can drag in controls, you can move things around, you can change colours, you can save your brand colours, and you can set up defaults. All of which makes it easy to create a website.
The next one is Akismet, which is an anti-spam plugin. This is useful if you have a blog on your website and you’re allowing comments. Akismet stops any spam from coming through there, which is really useful.
The next one is Yoast, which is an SEO plugin. If you use Elementor, this integrates well with that. You can see the Yoast settings within Elementor, which is helpful.
Optimising your website for SEO can be tricky, but Yoast gives you suggestions of what you can do to improve your post, or your page, and suggestions that can help you rank higher.
If you go for Yoast Premium, you can do keyword optimisation really easily. If you’re using Elementor, it has a built-in form function, but I absolutely love Ninja Forms.
Ninja Forms has lots of add-ons that allow you to do almost anything with forms. You could have a multi-step form, you can have conditional forms, you can link it up with third-party software, and you can do all sorts with it. But the best thing is it records every message that’s sent to your website, so you can look in your admin screen and check you haven’t missed any messages.
The next one is Optimole, which is an image optimisation plugin. It controls your images, compresses them, loads them to a CDN, (which is external storage) and makes it super quick to get your images.
There are other image optimisation plugins out there I like, like Smush, but the best thing about Optimole is that it also serves retina-ready images. So, if someone’s looking at it on an iPhone or a Mac, or a really good monitor, they’re going to see the best quality image they can. But if someone’s looking at it on an old phone on mobile data and they’re not on WiFi, then Optimole knows that and serves them a much smaller image than it would to someone on WiFi on a large high-definition monitor.
Back-up – UpdraftPlus
All websites should have a backup plugin installed as it gives you full control of how your website is getting backed up.
If you’re using a managed hosting, someone like Flywheel, you can automatically schedule your backups from within the tool they have (you may not need it in that case). Most other people will need UpdraftPlus or some other type of backup plugin.
I love UpdraftPlus because you can store your backups externally, so it’s not just storing them onto your computer, as they could be quite big, especially if your website has a lot of images. It can upload them to Google Drive, or it can upload them to Dropbox, or any external storage you’ve got set up.
Another great thing you can do with UpdraftPlus is clone your websites. You can clone it to test things out, and you can also use it to migrate. Therefore, if you currently have your website on one hosting and you want to switch it over to another, you can use an add-on from UpdraftPlus to help you do that.
The next plugin is a caching plugin called WP Rocket. This will speed up your website in a few clicks. Literally like it says there, you install it and it’s going to speed up your website for you. This is really important because you want your website to be as fast as possible for your users and also for search engine optimisation.
Slow websites get penalised by search engines, so the faster your website, the better. The only thing I’d say is that if you were going to install WP Rocket, or any other caching plugin, is to do it after you finished development because it can delay things going live on your websites. If you’ve just made a change and you go and look at it, it might not be there.
Always refresh the cache if it’s a live environment, but if you’re in a development environment and you’re just getting started up, then WP Rocket is something you’d install right at the end when you finish the majority of the development.
The next one that should be in your arsenal is the security plugin, and this one is called Wordfence. Again, a quick install, straight out of the box, your website is going to be protected.
It will do a scan to make sure you haven’t got anything dodgy on there already. It scans your website regularly, looks for any file changes, which could indicate that someone has hacked in and it will warn you and say, “this doesn’t look right” and help you fix that, especially on a really old website.
If you’ve been blogging for a long time, for example, installing this will look through all your old files, get rid of any junk, get rid of anything that might be a security risk, and in general, stops your website from getting hacked; full stop.
Even if you think, “I’m just a tiny company, who’s going to be interested in my tiny bakery website or my floristry website?”, they’re not interested in you specifically, they want to get to the server. Therefore, they target smaller businesses, because they think they’re not going to be as secure, especially if they’re on lower quality hosting, which might not be as secure.
Make sure you install Wordfence and set it up and have a read through and see what works for you.
Insert Headers and Footers
The next one is Insert Headers and Footers. I have a whole video on this particular plugin, and this just helps you add code snippets to your website.
Say, for example, you want to install Google Analytics, or you want to add a Facebook pixel, or you need to add scripting for a cookie plugin, you’re going to need to be able to add that to your WordPress website.
Using this plugin helps you to quickly, simply, and safely, add it to your website and ensure that if you update your theme or change something in your website, that data’s not going to get wiped out.
The next one is Cookiebot, which is going to help you make sure your website is compliant, especially if you’re dealing with users within the EU.
The great thing about this particular one is you can customise it if you pay for premium. Even if you don’t, you can still customise what the user sees. The user can choose whether to block some of your cookies or all of your cookies.
The next one is Smash Balloon, which is a social media plugin. It helps you to get feeds onto your WordPress website. I have a video on how to use this to install an Instagram feed on your website. It’s customisable, and it allows you to get a lovely-looking feed on there. Again, super easy to use.
All of the plugins I’ve shown you so far are plugins I use all the time on every website that I create. The next three are pretty specialist ones, which are for doing specific jobs on your website.
The first one is WooCommerce, which will help you create an e-commerce site. If you don’t have or want a shop on your website, you don’t need to install WooCommerce. If you do, then you’re in luck because it’s a free plugin. It’s very comprehensive, it’s the most frequently used one out there, and you can add a shop for no cost whatsoever in minutes.
If you use it with Elementor, you can customise the way your shop looks, which is very useful.
The next one is LearnDash, which I use for all my e-learning courses. It’s a brilliant e-learning plugin and it allows you to set up multiple courses.
You can integrate it with WooCommerce so you can take payments on your website, and people can pay for the course and get instant access. It means you don’t have to do lots of admin, which is great. It creates an immersive learning experience. It’s got quizzes in there and certificates and assignments. Basically everything you need to create a new course for your business.
The final one, which again, would only be used if you need a membership site on your website, is MemberPress.
This calls itself the all-in-one membership plugin for WordPress. It allows you to convert your WordPress website into a membership site, so you can control users, control who sees what and set up monthly subscriptions. Everything you need to create an amazing membership site.
That’s all the plugins I’m going to share with you today, but I have a few tips on installing plugins just to get you started:
1. Check existing Plugins
You shouldn’t just install all the plugins I’ve said, and you definitely shouldn’t install every plugin that someone recommends you use.
Have a look at what you’ve got. If you already have an existing website, I suggest you do an audit. Look at each one, Google it, find out what it does, try to work out what it does on your website, and get rid of anything you don’t need. You can deactivate it first to see if it breaks anything and then reactivate it if you still need it. If not, then delete it.
To have ones hanging around that you’re not using can be a security risk. It also means you’ve got to update them, and who wants to do extra updates? I’d definitely get rid of any plugins you’re not using.
2. Max. 20 Plugins
Try to keep it to a maximum of twenty. Twenty plugins is a lot to have on your website because every plugin you add takes up a bit of space on your server. It can bloat your website as it could be doing things in the background. So, try and keep it to as few as possible.
3. Conflicting Plugins
Check your plugins are not conflicting. I’ve just mentioned Elementor, which is a page builder. Before you go ahead and install that on your website, check your existing plugins. Do you already have a page builder? For example, if you’re using something like Beaver Builder or Divi, if you install Elementor, you’re going to have conflicts and it’s going to cause problems.
Have you found any plugins that you can install on your website today? Or have I missed any? I’m always on the lookout for new plugins to try.
Thank you so much for your time today and for watching my video. Don’t forget to like and subscribe [on my Youtube channel] before you go, and I will see you again soon.