Whenever you speak about WordPress, you invariably talk about the plugins. Plugins extend the functionality of your website and in most cases without expecting any technical know-how from you.
There are so many varieties of plugins and so many use cases that there are more than 50000 plugins available for usage.
Not all of them are useful to your site, and in some cases, the plugins have a security vulnerability or they slow down your site.
Hence it is imperative to use the plugins carefully and judiciously.
I have curated a list of plugins that are most commonly used, have great functionality and will add value to your website.
All the plugins listed here are free of cost or at least there is some sort of a free version.
1. Contact Form 7
I have used this plugin on all of my websites. By using this plugin, you can create various contact forms, inquiry forms, subscription forms or any other kind of form.
You can add the fields to the form as per your requirement and design the emails that will be delivered to you and the person who fills up the form.
More importantly, this plugin does not expect any technical knowledge from you. Although, if you need to change the look and feel of the form from its default one, then you will have to use CSS.
This plugin has more than 5 million installations at the moment. So you can see, how useful and easy to use this plugin is.
A vital point while, selecting a plugin is how often the developer of the plugin is updating it? Because WordPress is constantly is upgrading its core.
And sometimes the update causes the plugin to fail. But if the plugin developer is active, they will keep their plugin updated with the latest version of the WordPress.
2. Yoast SEO
A website without SEO (Search Engine Optimization), is like having a home without the door. SEO helps you in ranking your website organically on various search engines like Google, Bing and Yandex.
This plugin takes out all the technical aspect of SEO and provides a very simple to use interface for you to implement SEO.
Similar to Contact Form 7; this plugin also has more than 5 million active installations.
This plugin has a premium version as well, however, in most cases a free version is more than enough.
WooCommerce converts your website, into an e-commerce store. Setting up WooCommerce is like a breeze. After using this plugin you will feel like, ‘Did I just created an e-commerce store that easily!’
WooCommerce also has a huge installation base with more than 4 million active installations.
WooCommerce provides integration for payment gateway PayPal out of the box. However, almost every payment processor has a plugin that integrates perfectly with WooCommerce.
Setting up product variations, prices, discounts, coupons and almost everything is straightforward with WooCommerce.
Some stores use WooCommerce for more than 10000 products although you will need a good website hosting if you want to use those many products.
Being an e-commerce plugin, it is highly critical that it is very secure. Hence updates are necessary from the developer.
And they do not fall behind their updates!
4. EWWW Image Optimizer
Many times we upload images to our WordPress site that are big (storage wise). And big images tend to slow down the site quite significantly.
EWWW Image Optimizer compresses the images while maintaining the image quality with indiscernible quality degradation.
Not only images, but this plugin compresses the pdf files as well.
This plugin has more than half a million installations. And the developer is actively involved with the updates of the plugin.
5. Really Simple SSL
Security is of paramount importance these days, and the SSL certificate is one of the ways to make sure that your site secure for the users.
However, when you or your web hosting provider install SSL on your WordPress installation, the chances are that some of the URLs are still using an unsecured connection.
And because of that, the visitor on your website will get a warning that this website has some unsecured content.
To avoid this and setup SSL seamlessly on your WordPress site, this plugin is handy.
This is another of those actively updated plugin with more than 1 million active installations.
6. Elementor Page Builder
If you want to design your website, with the ease and simplicity like a Lego set, then this is the plugin to use.
With this page builder, you can design the pages, the style them, and make sure they look the way you want them to.
There are a free version and a premium version of this builder. The premium version has more functionality than the free one. But you can start with the free version, and if you feel like you need those additional functionalities, then you can go for the premium version.
This plugin is must have for people who want to build their website but lack the technical know-how.
7. WP Mail SMTP by WPForms
Plugins like Contact Form 7 or WooCommerce send emails as order received, subscription received or payment related emails. But these emails are sent by either PHP’s mail function or WordPress’ email function.
Problem with these emails is that a valid server does not sign them and there is a high likelihood that they will end up in spam.
What this plugin does, is it uses the proper SMTP server like SendGrid, Gmail or some other server to send the emails. When an email comes from an SMTP server, the chances of delivery are very high they are delivered without any issue.
Hence using this plugin is advised.
This plugin is actively maintained and has almost 1 million installations.