WordPress part 2: 10 WordPress plugins that your website needs

WordPress plugin

Jake Clegg-Reed

Digital Developer

Posted on June 23, 2015

We love WordPress. Not only do we think it’s the finest content management system on the market, we believe it has the potential to make the best-looking websites too. We use it for all our web-building projects and are becoming, quite frankly, pretty evangelical about its performance.

In part 1 of this blog, we ran through some reasons why dismissing WordPress as ‘just’ a blogging platform might be a big mistake for businesses developing their web presence.

One of the stand-out features of WordPress is its plugins. Third-parties have produced a plethora of open source add-ons that, with a quick download, enhance WordPress’s inbuilt functionality in a surprising variety of ways. Community-verified, regularly updated and secure, with a real focus on day to day usefulness  rather than merely acting as niche toys for coders to play with, plugins are what make WordPress fly.

Here is the Talisman development team’s indispensable top ten:

1. Advanced Custom Fields

This is our favourite and one we use in nearly every single site we build. Custom fields are what let us design a website to suit our client’s objectives exactly. It allows us to create custom content areas, vary the type of data they feature, and enables you to easily change what appears on your site once we’ve handed over the reins. It’s what gives a WordPress website the potential to be anything you want it to be.

2. Jetpack

This is pretty much what it says on the tin: a way of supercharging your WordPress build. Drawing on some of the user-friendly features designed for novices using WordPress’s hosted service, Jetpack enhances the CMS you can interact with and adds some excellent, easy-to-use functionality.  From an improved commenting system to social sharing, extra content tools to security; Jetpack is always worth installing.

3. WordPress SEO

WordPress SEO is an easy way to enhance the content you put on your site and make it more likely to be found by search engine traffic. De-cloaking how search engine optimisation works in practice, without the need to bring in costly consultants, this plugin talks you through everything you need to think about in terms of keywords, word placement and metadata. It analyses your content as you input it, shows you ways of improving each page and post, and incorporates a great XML sitemap creation tool too.

4. Adminer

This is a plugin principally for developers, but because it makes our life easier, it will make yours easier too. Adminer lets us access core database information directly through the WordPress dashboard, without the usual complication of having to log-in through your hosting provider or the phpMyAdmin tool. Especially helpful if we find hiccups or conflicts that are unfixable elsewhere and need to clean up. It’s a maintenance tool, basically, and a very useful one to help keep things running smoothly.

5. Admin Menu Editor

This nifty little plugin lets us edit and customise the user dashboard – specifically the long menu of options you’ll find on the left-hand side. Optimising the dashboard for each client, we can make sure the features and shortcuts that are most useful to you are easy to find, and hide all the confusing extras that you don’t need to worry about. Encouraging us to think about how you’ll use your CMS in practice and adapting it to show different options for different admin roles, this helps us to streamline your content management and keep everything nice and simple.

6. Mobile Smart

Most custom and out-the-box themes these days are designed to be responsive to mobile devices.  Occasionally, however, it can be useful to develop a separate mobile theme – perhaps to run a parallel site with a different purpose, or to completely change the design and features displayed to mobile users. This plugin makes that possible. Allowing you to tailor exactly which mobile devices show what (creating special rules for tablets for example), this allows us and you to completely customise your users’ experience.

7. BackUpWordpress

This is a peace-of-mind plugin more than anything, but when you’ve had a beautiful site created and filled it full of valuable content, you need to know it’s not just going to disappear due to error or malicious intent. BackUpWordpress does exactly what you’d think it does – it allows you to backup your entire WordPress install and store it wherever you like. Phew.

8. Hide My Site

When you’re working on a new website or a microsite linked to a project, getting the launch right can be problematic. This WordPress plugin allows websites, content and code to be developed live and worked on behind the scenes by both developers and clients, but hidden from public view behind a landing page. When it’s time for the big reveal, it’s as simple as clicking a button. No lengthy transfer procedures or staff struggling to access content in some developer’s sandbox. And if you need to take the site down for a touch of maintenance or some housekeeping at any time, this allows you to do that easily too.

9. EditFlow

EditFlow is best described as an internal project management tool. If you’re familiar with group comms systems like Basecamp or Trello, you’ll have a good idea what we mean. Allowing users and team members to communicate within the WordPress CMS itself, this enables teams to organise project stages, set a schedule, comment internally, receive status updates and even manage your content budget.

10. Contact Form 7

Contact forms can be a pain in the neck to set up, but, this plugin takes all the hassle out of them. Allowing you to customise your form fields, easily slot forms into content through the use of simple shortcodes, and avoid problems with validation, this is well worth having. It even comes with an extendibility option that can automatically create databases that organise and save all information inputted through your forms.

So what about you? Do you have a favourite plugin? We’d love for you to add to our list, so do comment and tell us which ones you keep coming back to.