Wordpress

Our Favourite WordPress Plugins – Staff Picks

2 September 2015

WordPress is the most popular content management systems (CMS) available today. It’s free, and it’s also (relatively) easy to set up a simple, attractive website with it. According to W3techs, 24.3% of all websites are powered by WordPress.

This overwhelming popularity has led to the development of thousands of themes and plugins to customise your WordPress website. But not all plugins were created equally. How do you know which plugins would provide the best value to your own web presence?

Wordpress Plugin Directory

WordPress does a great job of letting you know which plugins work by simply offering users the chance to review them, as well as having “Featured” and “Popular” sections on their site to showcase the best plugins. But the best way to tell if a plugin is suitable for you, is to download and try it out. There could be tiny differences between similar plugins that could influence your decision as to which one to keep, and which ones to discard.

While Lilo mostly develops their own plugins, we asked our staff members to name some of their personal favourites:

Free Plugins

Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO

When the words “SEO” and “Wordpress” are brought up in the same discussion, the name “Yoast” will inevitably be mentioned. This plugin was developed by Joost de Valk and his team to improve WordPress’ basic SEO, and improve your site on “all needed aspects”. It even assists your writing by analysing and indicating your content, and reporting where and how many times you should add your relevant keywords.

With over 1 million downloads, this plugin is as essential as it gets.

W3 Total Cache
By installing W3 Total Cache, you will be increasing server performance and reducing download times.  If your site is not loading quickly enough, you could be potentially losing valuable traffic. Kissmetrics reports that 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Speed affects your SEO ranking too thanks to search engine algorithms.

While there are numerous plugins to improve your site’s speed and performance, W3 Total Cache is preferred by websites like Mashable, as well as the team at Yoast.

WooCommerce
WooCommerce
Specifically designed for WordPress, this is the premier ecommerce plugin. Not only in terms of dominating the WordPress ecommerce market, but for the entire internet.  It has been downloaded over 9.5 million times.

While WooCommerce offers a handy core set of features, there are still hundreds of extensions (both paid and free) to further customize your site’s shopping experience.

Advanced Custom Fields
Advanced Custom Fields
If you’re looking to include more flexible content to your posts and pages, then look no further than Advanced Custom Fields. This plugin enables you to add specific kinds of fields to your content in a more practical manner.

You can select from a large variety of input types – from plain text, images, files, e-mails, locations in Google Maps, and much more.  Though the base plugin is free, we do recommend upgrading to the Pro version to gain access to the Repeater Field, the Gallery field and even more options.

Disqus
Disqus
Disqus is a direct replacement for the standard WordPress comment system. Not only is it easier on the eye, it provides you with an extensive set of moderation and admin tools. You can even import your old comment into Disqus.  It also makes all your comments indexable by search engines for SEO purposes.

Paid Plugins

Gravity Forms
When you’re looking for a contact form plugin and you’re on a tight budget, you can certainly get the job done with Contact Form 7. If you’re looking for something more sophisticated, then you should consider Gravity Forms.

Options include: multi-page forms, the ability to schedule forms for limited periods, automatically limiting the amount of people who can complete a specific form, and more. And you can set this all up easily by using their simple drag-and-drop interface.

Royal Slider
Royal Slider
Fact: 73% of the world accesses the internet via their mobile device. So optimizing your website to function and display well on these devices is very important (Google thinks so too).

Royal slider is a responsive (and touch friendly) image gallery and slider plugin. It features touch swipe navigation, the ability to dynamically populate data from networks like Flickr and Instagram, and you can even create video galleries from YouTube and Vimeo content.

Sidebar & Widget Manager
Sidebar & Widget Manager
This is a great plugin to create custom responsive page layouts by “widgetising” your pages. Essentially you create a series of custom sidebars (as many as you need), and create your custom layout on a new page.

We love these plugins as they work superbly with our WordPress projects, but they might be the right fit for you. Please take into account what your goals are with your website, and pick the best plugins to help you achieve them.