If I’m right (and I probably am), you’ve just finished setting up the basics of your newest WordPress site, and you’re not quite sure which plugins to use.
I know your pain; I’ve built scores of WordPress sites, and had this same problem with almost every one of them.
I’ve got a handy list I keep with me of all the plugins that I know I’m going to want in each of my new sites, and I want to share that list with you.
(PS: I’m always on the lookout for new and awesome plugins, so if you have some favorites, please share!)
You’re always going to need forms for your site, whether it’s a form to sign up for your newsletter, order a product, request a quote, or fill out a survey; forms are critical to your new site’s success.
I’ve probably been through every free form plugin on the web, but I have yet to find one that matches Gravity Forms. Its price tag is reasonable, but its functionality is incredible. If you’re using forms (and you will be), there’s no substitute for Gravity Forms.
Yes, there are thousands of SEO plugins for WordPress, and I’m sure you could find other plugins that do the things that Yoast’s WordPress SEO does. But I guarantee you that none of them will do it as well as this one.
Yoast’s SEO plugin is simple and beautiful. If you’re an SEO beginner, his tooltips will guide you through the setup process and help you understand what each portion of his plugin will do. If you’re more experienced, you can access features for more complex SEO tasks, like canonical tags, meta robots tags, and redirects.
Alright, so this is the second plugin by Yoast that I’ve put on this list, and for good reason. Yoast’s Google Analytics plugin carries his trademark consideration for both the WP beginner as well as the seasoned veteran. You can simply paste your GA code in the plugin and allow it to run, or you can customize it how you see fit for event tracking or subdomain tracking.
This is a must-have plugin for any WordPress site, even if you’re using another analytics platform as well as Google Analytics.
This is the scrolling social sidebar you’ve seen on sites like TechCrunch and Problogger. If the “all the cool kids are doing it” argument isn’t enough to snag you, it’s also one of the most easily customizable social plugins I’ve come across.
If you don’t like the lefthand scrolling look, you can also change the display to a simple bar above or below your posts. The scrolling sidebar will also automatically convert itself to a compact horizontal array if the screen is below a certain resolution, so you won’t have to worry about the sidebar covering up your precious content.
Disqus is the only comment system you’ll ever need. The comments are crawlable by search engines, the interface is customizable and attractive, the spam filters are impressive, and the system itself is nearly ubiquitous.
Don’t settle for the mediocre default WP comments system, and don’t pull your hair out trying to configure Facebook Comments; Disqus will do everything you want and more.
Speed is critical to keeping visitors on your site. Studies have shown significant bounce rate increases for longer load times, sometimes for as little as a single second delay.
The solution? Minify, cache, gzip and compress all the things!
W3 Total Cache is the most thorough and effective plugin I’ve found for compression and minification. It’ll improve your site’s speed like no other plugin can.
There you go. That’s my list of must-have plugins for new WordPress sites. How about you? Do you have any favorites that I missed? Talk to me in the comments.
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