Design, UI, UX, Insights

Top WordPress Plugins in 2020: Practical, Useful and Essential

Why do we need WordPress plugins? At its core, a WordPress plugin is a software app that contains specific functions that can be added to your WordPress website. This app will add the selected features and extend the functionality of your WordPress websites.

These plugins are specifically designed to integrate with the WordPress platform. In other words, they run over the main WordPress software. Since WordPress was originally very much a blog site, these additional plugins allow huge flexibility of features and allow you to create any type of site. For example, for eCommerce online stores, the WooCommerce plugin will do the trick.

Some WordPress plugins are available from the WordPress plugin store, while others are developed by other third-party developers. In addition, some are free and others require additional payment. The choice is vast as there are over 50,000 different plugins and the number is growing as we speak. In this article, we will review the top reliable plugins that will add the key functionality while keeping your site performance fast and smooth.

We’ve selected a number of top WordPress plugins and separated them into categories based on functionalities.

1. Security Plugins
2. Plugins for SEO, Site Optimization and Analysis
3. Ecommerce Plugins
4. Forms Plugins
5. Plugins for Communication and Social Media
6. Other Useful Plugins

 

Security Plugins

Security is a top priority for website owners for obvious reasons. Generally, the core WordPress software is pretty secure and there can be a lot done manually to improve the defense. Still, WordPress security plugins are some of the most popular. They can be tremendously helpful as all-in-one simple security solutions, or for dealing with specific security vulnerabilities. Here are some of our top choices.

Sucuri

Sucuri’s plugin offers various security features like security activity auditing, file integrity monitoring, malware scanning, blacklist monitoring, and website firewall. It uses various blacklist engines including Google Safe Browsing, Sucuri Labs, Norton, McAfee Site Advisor, and others to check your website. If there is anything wrong, it will notify you via email.

Features include:

  • Free version
  • Tools for blacklist monitoring, malware scanning, file integrity monitoring, and security hardening.
  • Notification for security issues
  • Premium options give more supports and greater check frequency
Wordfence Security

One of the most popular security plugins is WordFence with over 3 million users. WordFence checks for malware infection, scanning your WordPress core, theme, and plugins. In addition, it offers login security, a firewall, and other security tools. It also scans your posts and comments for malicious code. You can also check the traffic on your WordPress website in real-time and see if there is any security threat targeting your website.

Features include:

  • Free version
  • Firewall
  • Malware Security Scanner
  • Notification of issues
  • Premium option
Akismet

Akismet is a comment spam filtering service.  The plugin catches blog comment and pingback spam by using a smart algorithm that learns from mistakes. It can also save you a great deal of time on comment moderation by checking comments against a global database of spam. An increasingly common problem, easily solved. Free for personal use with paid-for versions; plus and enterprise for commercial sites.

Features include:

  • Automated checks of all comments and filters out the ones that look like spam.
  • Discard feature blocking obvious spam, speeding up your site and saving you space
  • Comment status history -easily see which comments were caught or cleared by the plugin and which were spammed or unspammed by a moderator.
  • Moderators can see the number of approved comments for each user.
Jetpack

Jetpack is a multi-featured plugin developed by the people from Automattic who operate millions of WordPress sites,  making is reliable compatible.  It has a great deal of the most important features like contact form, stats, design, email marketing, customization, all in one plugin. There are security tools that block suspicious activity, brute force, and spam. In all, a great starter plugin.

Features include:

  • free plan.
  • The premium plans – offer a suite, with further benefits like backups, spam protection, and security scanning.
  • Frequent Plugin updates are managed entirely through Jetpack.
  • Jetpack is also a plugin that eliminates the need for other plugins. For instance, it has features for email marketing, social media, site customization, and optimization.
VaultPress

VaultPress is a subscription-based protection, security, and backup service for WordPress made by Automattic.  It guarantees compatibly smooth running. There are personal and business plans. The security tools monitor suspicious activity on your website, with tabs for viewing your history and you can see which threats have been dealt with.

You can also check out stats and manage your entire security detail from your dashboard.  There is a 1-click restore function, stats, priority support, brute force attack protection, real-time monitoring, block spam, site migration, and an activity log.

Features include:

  • Easy to understand and use for all users.
  • You can make real-time or manual backups.
  • Stats tab revealing information on the most popular visiting times on your site, while also showing what threats have occurred during those times.
  • Daily scans for threats and automatic fixes with notification

With the help of a few options and installing the right plugins, you could increase your website security like a pro. In order to do so, you could check out our step by step guide on how to make your WordPress website unhackable.

 

Plugins for SEO, Site Optimization and Analysis

Search Engine Optimization, Site Optimization, and Analysis are vital for how your WordPress site will perform in the rankings. Surely, there are plugins that can simplify this process and help you get your key words flying. Site Optimization plugins will gain you vital speed by cleaning your database, compressing images, cache, and more. WordPress does not come with built-in analytics so these plugins will do a great job.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is a search-optimization plugin for WordPress, with over 5 million active installations and over 200 million downloads. Easily, it is one of the most widely used plugins out there. The comprehensive SEO-related WordPress extension does the majority of what you need in its free version.

Of course, there is a premium Yoast SEO  with extensions for some extra functionality, it depends on how much control you want to have. Yoast enables you to control titles and meta descriptions, set your targeted keywords, and track how often you’re using them, manage sitemaps, and much, much more.

Google XML Sitemaps

A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site. Search engines like Google read this file so your pages could crawl. This sitemap allows the crawlers of your site to get to all areas of your website no matter the size.

It’s easier for search engines to find all the content on your website. Google XML is rated as one of WordPress’s best plugins and will really help your website performance not only Google but also on Bing, Yahoo and ask.com. The best news is, it comes free for both commercial or personal use.

MonsterInsights

MonsterInsights is a plugin that allows you to add, customize, and manage the Google Analytics website tracking services very easily on your WordPress site. It is the most popular Google Analytics plugin for WordPress allowing you to connect your WordPress site with Google Analytics without coding experience.

It can track events, links, file downloads, eCommerce, forms, and more: all from one place on the dashboard at the click of a button. The extension works perfectly with other WordPress integrations and produces custom reports. However, there is no free version but 3 premium versions: Plus, Pro, and for agencies.

W3 Total Cache

For site optimization, W3 Total Cache (W3TC) offers a total solution.  It improves the user experience of your site by increasing the loading speed and server performance. In other words, this boosts the SEO performance of your website.

The plugin is currently used by more than a million users. It’s rated to give at least a 10 times better performance and also improves conversion rates. There are many many more key features to this impressive plugin.   W3 Total Cache is a free plugin, but a Pro subscription is available.

WP-Optimize

Here is another all-in-one plugin to optimize your site by cleaning your database, optional compressing of your images, and caching your site, creating fast loading times. It’s popular, heading toward the million user mark, and gives you space and control as well as speed. There is a free version or a more powerful premium version for greater control, flexibility, and support.

WP Smush

An easy to use a specially designed plugin for optimizing the visuals, WP Smush helps you pick up the speed without any loss of image quality. Additionally, you can compress images in other folders, as well as there is also a rather useful lazy load feature. It’s completely compatible with other plugins. A free or pro version, depending on usage.

Autoptimize

Autoptimise is a full site optimizer for lazy-loading images, Google Fonts,  aggregating, minifying and caching scripts and styles. These features increase the speed and performance of over a million websites that currently use Autoptimize. In all, your code becomes lightweight. However, as a downside, Autoptimize does not do page caching so it’s best used with another plugin that deals with that issue. There are two paid options; expert or speed.

 

Ecommerce Plugins

From starting as a primarily blogging platform, WordPress has grown and developed in all areas. There is one area in particular, however, that has received focus during the last years, and that is eCommerce. WooCommerce is WordPress’plugin specifically design for this growing trend.

WooCommerce

With well over 5 million active users in the eCommerce community, Woocommerce is a well known, and well-loved plugin. Basically allowing you to set up an online store in a very short time, with certain key features.

  • Product, Cart, and Checkout pages
  • Secure payments by credit card and alternatives such as bank transfers
  • Shipping options, including flat rates, label printing, inventory integration
  • Integrate content and commerce across your site via modular blocks
  • Automated Tax calculations
  • Ecommerce dashboard

In the meantime, if you’re thinking of turning your physical store into an online store or setting up from scratch, you could check out this insightful 7 step guide for starting an online store.

 

Forms Plugins

Forms enable you to easily accept uploaded files and collection documentation. For instance, subscribers lists, registrations, employment documentation, reviews, testimonials, and the creation of quizzes, are just a few of the many areas that WordPress forms plugins will save you time and effort.

gravityforms

With the Gravity form WordPress plugin, you can quickly and easily build and design your WordPress forms using the intuitive visual form editor.  Simply select your fields, organize your options, and embed forms on your WordPress powered site. The built-in tools include email auto-responders to notify you every time a form is submitted.

WPForms

A beginner-friendly WordPress contact form plugin with intuitive drag and drop form builder that allows you to create contact forms, email subscription forms, payment forms, and lots of other types of online forms with just a few clicks. It is the most popular WordPress plugin for forms and the lite version is completely free. The forms are mobile-friendly, optimized for server and site performance, and have well-designed templates.

User Registration

The WordPress Plugin for user registration gives you an easy way to create and customize a user registration form and a login form. All of this with a simple drag and drop process. This plugin is great for account pages, password changes, and logouts. It’s mobile-friendly, translation ready, and you can receive an email notification for new users. Paid for personal,  premium for the professional versions.

MailChimp

Mailchimp is hugely popular, amongst over a million users, newsletter email service that allows you to send out email marketing campaigns to a list of email subscribers.  This plugin integrates your WordPress site with your free Mailchimp account.  It also integrates with other WordPress plugins such as WooCommerce for a full ecosystem. You can also create user friendly, customized sign up forms that are optimized for mobile. There are add on plugins available too. In all, the software comes with a free base plugin version, and 3 paid for a version from hobbyist to an agency that is dependent on the number of sites being used for.

 

Plugins for Communication and Social Media

It’s essential these days to be able to successfully link your website to your social media and other communication platforms, and of course, there are WordPress plugins for that.

LiveChat

The LiveChat WordPress plugin offers an instant chat service for your website to engage visitors and potential customers, to help you respond to their questions, concerns, or need for information. It is one of the best ways to efficiently improve customer service, gaining positive feedback, and boosting conversion. This plugin offers multiple simultaneous chats, ticket taking, canned responses to FAQ, typescript review, and file sending. Above all, it perfectly integrates with other plugins including WooCommerce. It requires monthly subscription fees.

Shared Counts

Shared Counts is a WordPress plugin for share buttons that will encourage your visitors to share your posts and pages with their friends on social media. The plugin packs Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other platforms share buttons as well as print and email sharing. Also, you can choose a style for your buttons to match the design of your website. In addition, it doesn’t produce cookies. The plugin is scalable and doesn’t affect performance, due to the cache methods used.

 

Other Useful Plugins

There are some plugins that deserve a mention but don’t quite fit in any of the above. Therefore, we can’t leave them out though, so let’s jump into it.

WPML

The WordPress MultiLingual plugin allows you to translate pages, posts, menus, and even themes for 40 languages. Packing the right translation tools, it will also optimize the SEO for other languages. It works with all WordPress API plugins and is equally good for Woocommerce. However, there is no free version. The plugin comes with 3 premium options depending on the scale of your project.

Beaver Builder

Beaver builder is a WordPress plugin page builder that works with a flexible drag and drop editor. It’s a reliable, easy-to-use WordPress page builder plugin for beginners and experts with clear code, great features, updates, and excellent support. There is a standard version for your own theme, as well as a Pro version that has different themes and multisite capabilities.

CSS Hero

A great plugin for beginners who want to customize a WordPress site design without coding. In other words, CSS Hero plugin gives you the power to customize without CSS or NTHL  coding, using a live preview mode with an intuitive interface. This means you can customize your site, edit, and undo errors and redo with almost no experience.

SeedProd

Seedprod is a WordPress plugin for Coming Soon, Under Construction or Maintenance Mode Pages. It allows you to work on your site while visitors see a “Coming Soon” or “Maintenance Mode” page which will keep the traffic and leads. Customizable and responsive, it works with any WordPress theme. There are 3 premium options from basic to pro and, as well as a try before you buy option.

Grammarly

Grammarly is the best tool to check Grammar errors, spelling mistakes, and punctuation. This popular plugin is perfect for non-native speakers but also useful for professional writers. It helps you notice typos before publication, it uses powerful AI to find common mistakes and spelling errors.

Grammarly packs checks for subject-verb agreement, article usage, and modifier placement. It also gives synonym suggestions and other tips to improve the quality of your written content. In addition, it has a free plan or paid for premium and business plans with increasingly sophisticated tips for clarity and delivery tone.

In conclusion

These top plugins show you just how special, flexible, and usable WordPress can be. There are plugins for almost anything you can think of.

There is something for everybody. Make the most of the hard work of others, by utilizing the fantastic features and produce a website that not only looks great but works exactly as you intended it to work.

Which plugins do you usually pack with your WordPress website? Please let us know in the comments below.

Leave a Comment

Share