With so many different WordPress plugins available, I found it necessary to go through and hand-pick some of my favorites that are helpful tools to have for virtually any website. The Fuzzy Duck team as well as our clients will agree that the following list of plugins will move your website to the forefront of today’s highly competitive digital landscape of 2015. To help narrow the list down to the top 15 plugins, each was evaluated on 3 key factors: user rating, usability, and frequency of updates. Here are the ones that came out on top:
1. Advanced Custom Fields – free
Advance Custom Fields is hands down one of my most frequently used plugins. It has a simple user interface and many additional free add-ons that make this developer-friendly plugin extremely useful for creating custom websites with dynamic content. However, it does require some degree of coding knowledge. For those who are looking for a more basic plugin that doesn’t require any coding knowledge, you might have better luck with the Types plugin.
2. BackWPup – free
Keeping your WordPress site backed up as you keep making updates to your WordPress site can be exhausting, but it’s absolutely necessary in today’s state of the online world. This particular plugin allows you to easily keep your files backed up with automatic scheduling. With the multiple versions of PHP, you have to be careful that the back plugin with 5 review stars works for your server’s version of PHP. In our experience, BackWPup works just about 99% of the time. BackWPup minimum requirements are PHP 5.2.6. If you have PHP 5.4 or high on your server Akeeba is a good option.
3. Google Analytics Dashboard – free
There are many analytics plugins out there and they all work pretty much the same, but there are only a few free ones that have dashboard widgets. The Google Analytics Dashboard is one of the best, as it retrieves a sites analytics data and reports directly on the WordPress Dashboard. With all of the data now conveniently located in one place, you will save time checking your website’s stats without having to leave WordPress.
4. Redirection – free
Do you need to change or update the URL of a webpage on your site? The Redirection plugin can do all of the heavy lifting for you without asking you to lift a finger. Simply edit the URL address of the webpage with the new content and the redirect will be configured for your page behind-the-scenes! It’s simple, it’s automatic, and it’s free – what more could you ask for?
5. Regenerate Thumbnails – free
When adopted into WordPress Core, Regenerate Thumbnails makes it easy to create custom thumbnail sizes for custom content and regenerate uploaded image sizes when needed. I feel this plugin should be adopted into WordPress Core.
6. WordPress SEO by Yoast –free
WordPress SEO by Yoast — What can we say other than Yoast does a good job building SEO plugins and keeping them maintained. It has many extensions, good support, and has been around for years, so you can count on Yoast to provide you with an accurate search engine analysis.
7. Custom Post Type UI – free
In Custom Post Type, you are able to create and manage custom post types and taxonomies in one place using a simple interface. Creating a custom post type typically requires a person to have a solidg understanding of PHP and the WordPress API, but luckily, this plugin takes care of all the hard work for you. This free plugin is necessary if you are working with custom fields.
8. WP Lightbox 2 – free
9. Akismet – free
There is nothing else comparable out there that’s free like Akismet. Akismet checks your sites comments against their known spam database and immediately moves them to the comments spam folder without you having to dig through them.
10. All-in-One Event Calendar – free
All-in-One Event Calendar is an easy way to list your events in WordPress providing lots of options to customize the visuals of the calendar and widgets. It is very extendable with premium extensions and can be integrated with multiple services for clients to charge for events.
11. Custom Menu Wizard Widget – free
There are 101 way to get a custom menu on a WordPress site. Coding it will always give you the most options, but so will this widget. Custom Menu Wizard Widget has about every feature available within an easy to use interface. It makes quick work of long coded functions that could typically take a PHP developer 2-3 hours.
12. Ultimate Member – free
Ultimate Member enables you to create almost any type of site where users can join and become members with absolute ease. It has so many customization options and add-ons to give a nice personal touch to your website. Plus, the Ultimate Member team is constantly adding capabilities to keep up with the ever-evolving demands of WordPress.
13. Social Media Feather – free
Social Media Feather adds social media icons to any post or page that you choose. Its ease of use for even the most novice of WordPress users is one of its best qualities, plus it is lightweight so it does not take up many other resources.
14. Gravity Forms – premium
We have been using Gravity Forms for a while now, and this premium plugin is the outright best when you need to create and manage multiple forms on a website. It is well worth the $39 for a personal license ($199 for a developer license). With this price comes a great support staff and lots of add-ons that work with other third-party services like PayPal, Slack, and MailChimp. If money is a concern, go with a free alternative such as Ninja Forms.
15. Slider Revolution – premium
Slider Revolution is our go-to slider for almost all of our projects. As a premium plugin, it has excellent support and documentation and is only $18 for a regular license ($90 for the extended license). The best part about Slider Revolution is that it is easy to use and that means it is easy to learn and maintain on your own.
As we will be updating this list in conjunction with WordPress updates, subscribe to our blog to find out when the next newly released list becomes available!