When doing a lot of WordPress work you'll find yourself installing the same plugins in every instance. Here is my list of must have plugins that I use in almost every instance.
Feel free to add your go-to plugins in the comments.
After I install a new WordPress I do a few steps first:
Hello Dollyfrom the plugins page (should be empty afterwards)
- set a static page as the homepage (Settings - reading)
- disable comments and avatars (Settings - discussion: disable all "default post settings" and "show avatars", enable "Comment must be manually approved")
- set permalinks to "post name" (Settings - permalinks)
For most servers I use WP Super Cache. Install and enable it. After that go into the Advanced settings and enable some of the other
Recommended settings under
Miscellaneous. Always click the "Delete Cache" button and test your page afterwards.
If you run a LiteSpeed server you should use LiteSpeed Cache as an alternative.
Once caching is working I'd like to add some minify plugin that will merge & minify files. My choice is Autoptimize for those tasks. This requires some testing at the end how far you can optimize your files. Especially if you use custom JS. Some settings that you can enable right away are: Optimize JS, CSS and HTML. Be careful with the subsettings. I recommend checking it at the end to see if you page still works fine.
Nice extra feature: Autoptimize has two nice features in the Extra settings: remove Google fonts and remove emojis. Enable those to reduce some slack.
Of course I played with Yoast first but I've quickly switched to The SEO Framework. It's very lightweight and the developer has deep WP knowledge and added some performance features to the core so he really knows what to do!
If you don't need any special Yoast or Rank Math features that your SEO team is forcing you to use: stick with SEO Framework.
GDRP/DSGVO is still a big topic and there are plenty of plugins out there. I found Real Cookie Banner a very good and easy to setup plugin. I have a dedicated tutorial at Real cookie banner tutorial - WordPress cookie banner if you want to get some more details.
It has a free version that you can use for most of your pages but you'll have to do some of the work yourself. If you buy the paid version you'll get some presets that will make your setup easier/quicker. But again: free version is enough for most pages!
Side note: Use code
MIGAWEBto get 20% off in case you want to buy it
Still needed if you want to upload SVG files: SVG Support
A simple plugin to get some stats is WP Statistics that will run on your server and doesn't use external connections.
As I develop my pages locally first and then transfer them to the client server I use WP Vivid - Backup & Migrate to do that.
After the site is running I use that to make backups too.
Yes, I'm an Elementor user! The advantage for me is that it is very easy for the end user/client to add content without me. That said: I create custom widgets and themes (if needed) the optimize HTML output for bigger widgets. So all the "but it's slow and produce ugly code" is almost gone :) I still would prefer a smaller DOM output for some widgets but for most pages it is fine and I still can get a 100% page speed score.
To extend the free version of Elementor you should install the Elementor Header & Footer Builder to create you own header/footer templates. And I've made an own plugin to create templates for custom post types: Custom post type templates for Elementor. This allows you to style e.g. news posts without buy the Pro version.
If you want to buy the pro version make sure to do that before December 4th 2023! The will adjust/increase the pricing as shown in Upcoming Modifications to the Elementor Pro-Essential Subscription Plan. That way you'll keep all the benefits of the old price model.
Go to your Elementor - settings section and disable "Google fonts" and "Generator tag" in the "Advanced" tab
Many pages require you to use a custom font. To have it installed locally I use Custom fonts. Upload the font and you can also use it in Elementor without requests to Google fonts.
I'm a Contact form 7 user. I like the bare-bone form editor, gets the job done quickly.
One very nice anti-spam plugin I recently found is WP Armour – Honeypot Anti Spam. Just install it and enable it - works right away with Contact Form 7 and reduces spam by a large number!
Those are my general plugins that are in almost all my WordPress pages!
For a theme I most of the time go with a custom, self-made theme or create a child theme of Astra with their own Child theme generator. The advantage of a child theme is that you can add custom PHP code and still be able to update your theme.
Some nice-to-have plugins that I don't need all the time are:
- Popups: Popup Maker
- Custom Post Types/Custom fields: ACF
- Redirect plugin: Redirection
- Newsletter: Newsletter
As mentioned before: these are my favorite plugins that I use on all instances. Especially Elementor is one big plugin not everyone is using or has alternatives for it like Bricks Builder, Breakdance, Divi,.... That's up to you what you want to use there. I still find Gutenberg not very user-friendly when editing pages. Would love to switch to that at some point!
Happy to hear what you are using in your current and next projects!