Plugins are a great way for developers and webmasters to enhance their WordPress websites without spending a fortune on custom development for functionality that already exists. A WordPress plugin is simply a way of adding functionality and can be installed directly in WordPress to ‘bolt on’ to your current website.
There are literally thousands of free WordPress plugins available via the official plugins directory and we could name literally dozens that have served us well over the years. However, today we are going to focus on some of our current favourites that we think can really enhance your website.
1) Yoast Duplicate Post
Yoast Duplicate Post is a super handy plugin which I tend to add to all WordPress sites I build. It enables cloning posts of any type to help make creating new pages an absolute breeze.
If you’re a developer, you have probably spent a long time building out the components you want to use for a certain website and built out the page layouts perfectly as per the designs. Now when you hand over the website to the client, it is super easy for them to be able to replicate your hard work without starting from scratch and having to figure out how you did it.
Simply clone the desired page or post, swap out the content and hit publish – lovely!
2) WP Fastest Cache
There are hundreds of posts talking about WordPress cache, pitting the best plugins against each other and I’m sure there are varying opinions on this.
I have tried quite a few myself and for me personally, with real world testing and first hand experience, my go-to is always WP Fastest Cache. I love the fact that it ‘just works’ and with minimum setup required.
Some cache plugins go overboard with settings for the user and in my experience they never work particularly well. These other plugins make it far too difficult to select the right settings for your environment and with something like cache, which is a minefield enough already, I like to keep it simple. WP Fastest Cache is a fantastic free tool to help speed up your WordPress site.
I am loving FileBird right now. It’s one of those plugins that does one thing and does it really well. This is a must-have plugin for anyone wanting to organise and structure their media library within WordPress. I recently decided to give this a test drive on a photography website I was building to help the photographer categorise his images so it was easy to reuse them across the site in the right sections. It worked like a dream. Simple to use, with drag and drop for reordering and nested folders, and import/export folder structures for migrating a site.
Clean media library, clean mind!
4) Ewww Image Optimizer
Sticking with images for a minute, another plugin I love for its simplicity and functionality is Ewww Image Optimizer which I have found a great way to optimise my media library and generate WebP images to serve up on modern browsers. Not only does it handle compression but it has some options in terms of intelligent conversion to get the right image format for the job (JPG, PNG, GIF, or WebP).
Most other WebP image services currently available for WordPress rely on serving these images up using their servers or CDN which you might think sounds great. However in reality, I have found these to be slow and painful to troubleshoot when things go wrong. Ewww just works!
5) Perfect Images
Images are notoriously hard to get right on websites. You need a balance of compression and small file sizes with quality and sharpness across all screen sizes. It can be very difficult to get right, which is why my third and final image plugin recommendation is Perfect Images (part of the Meow Apps family). If Ewww shines with WebP images and general compression/quality, Perfect Images is my go to ‘cherry on the top’ for retina images displayed on high-DPI devices.
Pretty much all apple devices use retina displays which is all to do with the pixel density; with more pixels it requires a larger image to look crisp and sharp. Thankfully this plugin takes care of all of this for you and can generate retina images automatically.
If you are already taking advantage of the responsive images in WordPress, these retina images will be added to the ‘srcset’ and served up on relevant browsers so that your users get pixel-perfect images every time.
The official Gutenberg plugin has faced some big resistance from WordPress developers and users since its launch in December 2018. However, it seems more and more people are slowly starting to embrace some of the changes to the editor and this plugin is a great way to stay on the cutting edge of changes which will eventually may make their way into the core releases of WordPress.
WordPress is currently in phase 2 of its Gutenberg project now, focusing on customisation including FSE (Full Site Editing), block patterns, reusable blocks, block-based themes and so much more.
As a developer building for the block editor, the Gutenberg plugin can be a great way to test functionality, and get the very latest changes including experimental features not yet released into the core CMS (content management system).
We hope you liked this list of some of our favourite plugins and maybe it has given you some inspiration to add some of these to your WordPress site. As I said at the start, there are literally thousands of plugins available and there are so many more that we love and use with each build.
Ultimately, which plugins you choose to use comes down to the functionality you want to achieve and how you want your site to work. If you need any help with your WordPress site, or don’t know where to begin, why not get in touch with our team of experts to give you a helping hand.