Recommended Plugins

Recommended Plugins for WordPress

Jeff Reifman

Hi, I run Lookahead Consulting in Seattle. Follow me @reifman or email me.

WordPress’ extensive plugin library is one of the reasons the platform has been so successful. Here are the plugins that I recommend you consider in any baseline installation:

W3 Total Cache (W3TC)

W3 Total Cache is the go to plugin for scalability. I’ve written extensively about using this plugin in conjunction with Varnish Cache to enable scalable websites with minimal cost. W3TC helps WordPress manage caching of the most frequently used pages of your site so that they are available immediately to visitors without having to have WordPress rebuild them on every request.

Disqus

As Disqus has matured over the past few years, there are definite advantages to using it for your comments over native WordPress comments. One key reason is performance. W3TC doesn’t cache pages for users that are logged in via WordPress to read and post comments. Whereas Disqus javascript is cacheable regardless of whether frequent readers are logged in to your site. If you don’t use Disqus, you will want to use Akismet’s comment spam protection plugin.

WordPress SEO by Yoast

I’ve recently begun using WordPress SEO by Yoast, a popular SEO plugin and it seems to work well. It also replaces the need for my sitemap and Facebook open graph plugins listed below. I did have to re-save Settings -> Permalinks after installation to get the sitemap to function properly.

Contact Form 7 with Mailgun for WordPress

Running your own mail server can be an arduous, frustrating effort. Instead, I’m a big fan of Mailgun and its WordPress plugin. Using Contact Form 7 becomes a breeze with the Mailgun plugin.

Google Analytics & StatCounter

Some themes provide built in settings for pasting your Google Analytics code, but if not, you can use this plugin. I also appreciate the real time, granular reporting that StatCounter provides me.

VaultPress

VaultPress is Automattic’s subscription-based backup service for WordPress. I’ve run into limitations with VaultPress for very large WordPress sites but for small sites it provides an excellent cloud-based backup system.

Jetpack

Jetpack is Automattic’s all in one plugin which works best with sites hosted by their WordPress.com but also works with self-hosted sites. I’ve not found it useful for my site.

BetterWordPress XML Sitemaps

Sitemaps are essential to search engine optimization (SEO). The BWP Sitemap plugin builds a sitemap for your WordPress blog which you can submit to Google Webmaster Tools. I’ve recently stopped using this plugin in favor of Yoast’s SEO above.

NextGen Facebook Open Graph

NextGen Facebook Open Graph automatically creates Facebook Open Graph tags so when readers share your content in Facebook, there is more information provided from your blog e.g. the correct image, headline and caption. I’ve recently stopped using this plugin in favor of Yoast’s SEO above.

Other popular plugins that you may be interested in:

WordPress Plugin Resources

Browse these resources for additional plugins:

Do you have other suggestions that should be added? Please post them in the comments below or email me. You can also reach me on Twitter @reifman.

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