Top 5 WordPress Plugins
WordPress plugins are the core of every WordPress website, and there are thousands of plugins to choose from. Plugins are developed by third party authors, and there is a plugin for just about everything you can imagine. From Contact Form plugins, to Photo Galleries, Slideshows, and Social Media plugins, chances are there is a plugin available for your project. Naturally there are many plugins that do the same thing, it's up to you or your developer to find the plugin that's best suited to your needs. There are also paid plugins and free plugins, each having their own pros and cons. In many cases, a developer will offer a free or "lite" version of a plugin for testing, in which you would buy the full version for full functionality.
I find myself using a few favorite WordPress plugins that I consider my "go to" plugins, here are my top 5.
Jetpack is one of the most powerful plugins you will find for WordPress; it does almost everything from social media integration to site backups. I often find myself checking my website traffic just by logging into my website and looking at data provided by Jetpack. The simple-to-use graph shows traffic by day and by month, giving you a quick and easy view of your site data. It also shows how people found you (top searches) and which pages have the most views. Using this information in combination with Yoast, you can start to edit and modify your content to get more views and traffic to your site.
Social Media in 2017 is extremely important, and connecting all of your accounts is extremely easy with Jetpack. Simply enter the URL for each page, and Jetpack will automatically add the correct link and add an icon for you.
SiteOrigin Page Builder
Few plugins are more necessary than page builder plugins. These plugins build each page and give your website a unique look. From simply adding content and pictures, to more advanced parallax images, SiteOrigin's Page Builder does it all. One of the best parts about Page Builder, frankly, is because it's free. I have used several fairly expensive page builder tools, and SiteOrigin is just as good if not better. When I say "better", I mean in number of features and how easy it is to use. Now, honestly, when I first used Page Builder I did not know what I was doing. There are few resources that give you step-by-step instructions. However, once I figured out each nuance, Page Builder became my choice and I use it on almost every website I build, including this one.
Read More about SiteOrigin Page Builder.
Contact Form 7
Most, if not every website uses a contact form of some kind. There are many contact for plugins available, but there is only one that I prefer, and that's Contact Form 7. One of the things that I look for in a plugin is how often the author updates it, and if it's compatible to the latest version of WordPress. Updating plugins is important for several reasons, one being site security. Hackers are always identifying loops and hacks, and it's up the plugin author to keep the plugin safe. I have found plugins that I like to use but do not only because they are no longer supported or updated.
Contact Form 7 contains everything you need to have a functional web form. The interface is easy to use and works well right out of the box. The only real downside is the plugin is not easy to customize, it requires knowledge of CSS. You can add a file upload option, which allows people to send you files directly from the website. The ability to add drop-down boxes, radio boxes, and check boxes is also available.
Read more about Contact Form 7.
Website security may be the most important aspect of your website. There are several paid subscription based software packages that hosting companies like to sell, and sometimes they're necessary, but WordFence is an excellent first line of defense. The interface is simple to use and even offers a firewall with the free version. The team at WordFence are constantly monitoring the latest threats, and you can subscribe to their email for notifications.
Read more about WordFence Security.
Yoast SEO Tools
Now that your website is published and secure, you need traffic! Search Engine Optimization take time and patience, and Yoast provides an excellent platform to optimize your website. I use Yoast to look at each page for readability, keywords, meta content, links, and more. Yoast provides simple visual tools that let you know when categories are optimized or not by using red, orange, and green dots. A red dot means the site has problems, orange means there are problems but not as severe, and green indicates the section is optimized. There is also an overall page indicator that also uses the same system. The SEO experts at Yoast also publish a newsletter that I highly recommend.
Read more about Yoast.