Ah, WordPress plugins… the golden nuggets that largely set WordPress apart from any other platform. In this post I’m going to go over a list of some of the best WordPress plugins (or at least, my favourites!) as of 2017.
These are the plugins that I add almost immediately to every WordPress site I build. Combined, they speed up my workflow dramatically and make maintaining a site that much easier. So, if you’re seeking a list of the best WordPress plugins to download onto your site to get started, these are a few I highly recommend!
Without further ado: here’s my list of the best WordPress plugins!
1. Custom Permalinks
This is a pretty simple plugin that allows you to set your page permalinks to whatever you want, overriding the hierarchy that WordPress sometimes tries to force on your links. The Custom Permalinks plugin makes it so you can simply type whatever you want in that little permalink box — easy peasy!
Disqus replaces the WordPress commenting system with one that is attractively designed and organized into threads, making it easy for you to moderate and respond to comments. Commenters are also able to sign in using their social media accounts, set their own avatars, and more.
Overall, using the Disqus plugin makes for a much nicer commenting experience than WordPress’s default system. Plus, since Disqus is widely used across the Internet, many visitors will recognize the UI and perhaps feel more comfortable commenting themselves. Both of these can help promote engagement on your blog posts.
3. Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator
Your favicon is the little tiny icon that shows in the left corner of your website’s tab in someone’s browser. It is also shown next to your site when someone adds it to their bookmarks.
Although favicons may be viewed as a relatively minor detail, I actually consider them to be quite important because, in my opinion, they add a sense of professionalism to your site (in other words, a favicon makes your site seem more legit). It’s a personal touch which also helps create recognizability with your readers and demonstrates attention to detail.
In any case, Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator makes it so easy to add a favicon that there’s really no reason not to! Plus, not only does it sort out the favicon, it also sets up the icon to be used for buttons on smart phones and other operating systems where someone may save your site URL.
It’s really an all-in-one solution — upload your image at the specified dimensions (which at the time of this writing is 260 x 260px) and it’ll take you to a page with your icon superimposed into all the appropriate places it might end up. You can tweak some individual settings from there, but in many cases you just need to hit ‘save’ and you’re done!
Another simple but massively useful plugin is Redirection, which allows you to do exactly what it says on the box: redirect URLs. This is especially useful if you change a link but still want the old URL to redirect to the new one so you don’t lose any traffic.
Relevanssi (which I presume is a fun way of spelling ‘relevancy’) improves the default WordPress search engine. It comes with tons of options to configure (though they’re pretty good at explaining what each one does) but arguably the most useful feature it provides is what’s known as fuzzy matching: this means that if user’s search term doesn’t match anything on your site precisely, but it partially matches something, it’ll display those partial matches. The default WordPress search isn’t so good at doing that.
This is a really useful feature (hence why it’s on this best WordPress plugins list) because it’s unlikely that your users will know the exact wording you used in your post when they’re conducting a search. Relevanssi makes that less of an issue by providing smarter results.
And, again, it has tons and tons more options and features than that — if user experience is important to you (which it should be!) definitely don’t give this one a miss!
6. Disable Emojis
This is another which does exactly what it says on the box: disable WordPress from automatically translating your text smileys — such as 🙂 — to emojis in your WordPress posts.
As much as I adore a good emoji, I like to be in control of when and where they show up and I’m not too keen on WordPress automatically translating my text smileys into them 🙂 Disable Emojis prevents that from happening — simple as that!
7. WP Maintenance Mode
Sometimes, there are changes that we have to make to our site while it’s live, and depending on what those changes are, we may not want visitors to stumble upon the pages in question while edits are in progress.
WP Maintenance Mode allows you to activate “maintenance mode” so that if users visit your site while you’re working on something, it’ll let them know that it’s currently down for scheduled maintenance and that you’ll be back soon.
Naturally, it’s best to keep how much you activate maintenance mode to a minimum. But, sometimes it can’t be avoided, and this is a great way to ensure good communication to your site visitors.
It even has an option for users to leave their email addresses to be notified when it’s back up (I don’t always use this feature myself, but it’s still a good option to have), as well as for you to leave your contact info and/or social media links for them to check out while they’re waiting.
That’s all for now!
Just a quick note on WordPress plugins… as useful as they are, sometimes things can go wrong (the joy of technology!). It’s always good to occasionally test out any functionality you’re depending on from your plugins to ensure they’re still working as expected.
So long as you’re a bit discerning about which plugins you download (such as paying attention to reviews, level of support provided, and whether or not they are kept updated relatively frequently) the issues you may run into should be few and far between.
And the best part? If a plugin doesn’t work for you, in the vast majority of cases getting rid of it is as simple as deactivating and deleting it. Done! Easy peasy.
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