The best thing about WordPress is the plugins, they allow you to do so many different things.
They can transform a standard WordPress website into an e-learning system or a membership site, collect bookings, or data, or even manage file downloads, all using plugins. If you can think of it, there’ll be a plugin to help you achieve it.
In this article, I’m going to share my favourite plugins with you, most of which I use on every single website that I create.
If you are just starting out with plugins, then you might want to check out my other tutorial which teaches you how to install a plugin on your website in two minutes.
And stick around till the end to find out my top tips for installing plugins on your website.
What Plugins Do I Install On Every Website?
So, let’s have a look at some of my favourite plugins that I install on every single website that I create.
- Ninjas Forms
- Updraft Plus
- WP Rocket
- Insert Headers and Footers
- Smash Balloon
My all-time, favourite plugin for helping to create your website is Elementor and it’s especially great if you’re just starting out.
Elementor is a page builder that uses an interactive, simple-to-use, drag and drop interface. You can move things around, change colours, set up brand defaults, and essentially make your website look amazing.
It’s basically a really easy way to create a beautifully optimised website, even if you know nothing about code.
- Related content: What is Elementor for WordPress?
The next plugin that I always recommend that you use is Aksimet, which is an anti-spam plugin.
And this is really useful if you have a blog on your website and you’re allowing comments as it will stop any spam from coming through, which is really useful.
The next one is Yoast, which is an SEO plugin. This integrates really well into Elementor, and you are able to see the Yoast settings within Elementor, which is really helpful.
Optimising your website for SEO can be a little tricky, but Yoast gives you suggestions of what you can do to improve your post or your page and suggestions that can help you rank higher.
Plus, if you go for Yoast Premium, you can do keyword optimization really easily.
4. Ninja Forms
If you’re using Elementor, it does have a built-in form function, but I absolutely love using Ninja Forms as it has lots of add-ons that allow you to do almost anything with forms.
You can build a multi-step form, you can have conditional forms, you can link it up with third-party software, and you can do all sorts with it.
But the best thing about it is that it records every message that is sent to your website so you can have a look at your admin screen and check that you haven’t missed any of your messages.
The next plugin is Optimole, which is an image optimisation plugin. It controls your images, compresses them, loads them to a CDN, which is external storage and it just makes it super quick to get your images.
There are other image optimisation plugins out there, but the best thing about Optimole is that also serves retina-ready images. So, if someone’s looking at it on an iPhone or on a Mac, or a really good monitor, then they’re going to see the best quality image that they can.
But if someone’s looking at it on an old phone, on mobile data, or they’re not on WiFi, then Optimole knows that and serves them a much smaller image than it would to someone on WiFi on a large high-definition monitor.
6. Updraft Plus
All websites should have a backup plugin installed as it just gives you full control of how your website is getting backed up.
If you’re using a managed hosting such as Flywheel, you can automatically schedule your backups. However, most people will need to install a plugin to backup their website, and I recommend UpdraftPlus.
The reason that I love UpdraftPlus is that you can store your backups externally. So, it’s not just storing them onto your computer, but it can upload them to Google Drive of Dropbox or any external storage you’ve got set up.
Another great thing that you can do with UpdraftPlus is clone your websites, which is great if you want to test somethings out or migrate your website.
7. WP Rocket
The next plugin is a caching plugin called WP Rocket, which will help speed your website up in just a few clicks.
Slow websites will be penalised by search engines, so the faster your website is the better. Not only will this improve SEO but it will make the overall experience better for your customer.
The only thing I’d say that if you were going to install WP Rocket or any other caching plugin is to do it after you finished development because it can delay things going live on your websites.
Wordfence is another one that should be in your security arsenal. This will protect your website and will scan regularly to make sure that you don’t have anything dodgy on there.
Wordfence looks for any file changes, which could indicate that someone has hacked in. It will then warn you that things don’t look right so that you can fix them.
For example, if you’ve been blogging for a long time Wordfence will look through all your old files, and get rid of anything that is putting your website at risk.
But in general, it just stops your website from getting hacked full stop.
You might be thinking: “I’m just a tiny company. Who’s going be interested in my tiny bakery website or my floristry website?”
But they’re not interested in you specifically, they want to get to the server so they will target smaller businesses because they might not be as secure.
So, make sure you install Wordfence and set it up and have a read through and see what works for you.
9. Insert Headers and Footers
I have a whole video on how to add code snippets to your header or footer.
Insert Header and Footers allows you to easily add code snippets to your website, to allow you to add Google Analytics, Facebook pixel or a cookie script.
Using this plugin allows you to add code quickly, simply and safely, and it will automatically update if you ever change your theme.
- Related content: How to add code into your header and footer
The next plugin is Cookiebot, which is going to help you make sure that your website is compliant, especially if you’re dealing with users within the EU.
The great thing about this particular plugin is that you can totally customise what the user sees if you pay for the premium version.
And it’s also useful for the CCPA compliance, which is the California Consumer Privacy Act.
Again, super easy to install and set up and you’ll be compliant in minutes.
11. Smash Balloon
And the last plugin that I use on every website is Smash Balloon, which is a social media plugin. This helps you get your social feeds onto your WordPress website.
I have a video on how to use Smash Balloon to install an Instagram feed on your website and it’s really customisable and allows you to create a really lovely-looking feed on there.
Related content: How to add an Instagram feed to WordPress
What Specialist Plugins Do I Recommend?
All the plugins so far are ones that I use on every single website that I create.
However, the next three are pretty specialist ones that are more for doing specific jobs on your website.
So, the first one is WooCommerce, which will help you create an e-commerce site.
If you don’t have or want a shop on your website, then you don’t need to install WooCommerce.
But if you do, then you’re in luck because it’s a free plugin and it’s very comprehensive, which is why it’s so frequently used.
And you can add a shop for absolutely no cost whatsoever to your website in minutes, and again if you are using Elementor then you can customise the way you shop looks which is very useful.
The next one is LearnDash, which I use for all my e-learning courses. It’s a brilliant e-learning plugin and it allows you to set up multiple courses.
You can integrate it with WooCommerce so that you can take payments on your website so that people can pay for the course and then get instant access. This cuts down on admin, which is always great.
It creates a really immersive learning experience, with quizzes, assignments and basically everything you need to create a new course for your business.
Finally, MemberPress, which again would only be used if you need a membership site on your website.
This calls itself the all-in-one membership plugin for WordPress so, it allows you to convert your WordPress website into a membership site. You can control users, control who sees what, set up monthly subscriptions, everything you need to create a really amazing membership site.
My Top Tips for Installing Plugins...
The first thing to note is that you shouldn’t just install all the plugins that I’ve recommended.
Firstly, you should do an audit on your website and see what plugins you already have installed and get rid of anything you don’t need. I’d recommend you deactivate it first to check that it doesn’t break anything and then reactivate it if you still need it. And if not, then you can delete it.
Having plugins hanging around that you are not using can be a security risk and also means you’ve got to update them. So, I’d definitely get rid of any plugins that you’re not using.
The next thing that I’d suggest when using plugins is that you try to keep it to a maximum of 20. Every plugin that you add will take up some space on your server, and it can bloat your website. So you should try and keep it to as few as possible.
You should also check that your plugins are not conflicting. For example, if you are installing Elementor, you should make sure that you don’t have any other page builders such as Beaver Builder or Divi installed.
So hopefully that has given you a few ideas for what plugins you should install, and some things that you should consider before you do.