The WP-Tonic Live panel has resumed. It’s now on Blab on Saturday mornings, and a bit more structured than it was before–though I miss having a large group of people.
This past Saturday the main topic was “WordPress Plugins for Every Site.” You can watch the discussion here.
I thought it would make sense for me to actually list the plugins I mentioned, with links, for anyone who might find them useful. Though many of them are Genesis-only plugins and not much use to people who develop on other frameworks or use one-off themes, some of them are universal.
These are the plugins that I include in my “deploy” install. Some I use only during development, like What Template Am I Using? and the Genesis Visual Hook Guide. Others I might end up removing because I didn’t need them on that particular site. In almost all cases I will supplement these with additional plugins that are specific to the needs of the site. (I suppose it would make sense to list some of the plugins that I use very frequently but not on every site I build.)
Universal WordPress Plugins
- Anti-Spam. It’s free for either personal or commercial use, and it keeps bot-produced spam from cluttering up your database. (Akismet stores those thousands of spam comments for 30 days.)
- BackupBuddy. I use this for deploying sites as well as for backing them up, while developing and afterwards. There are some hosts (like WP Engine) that prohibit the use of BackupBuddy on their production servers; in those cases I usually use WP Migrate DB Pro for site migration.
- Display Posts Shortcode. You can use it to display posts, pages, or CPTs anywhere, which is handy for pages that have a lot of sub-pages. I tend to use it more on sites that have a lot of levels of content than on those which don’t.
- Enable Media Replace. This helps keep your media library un-cluttered, by letting you replace images and other media files instead of adding a new file. In addition to replacing images, you can replace PDF files for clients who want to update their ebooks or one-sheets or white papers.
- EWWW Image Optimizer. Because clients WILL upload 10-megapixel images straight from their cameras. (There are many image optimizing plugins; this one has the advantage of not limiting the number or size of images you can optimize.)
- Gravity Forms. I’d like to get to know some of the other form plugins better, and I’ve used the free version of Ninja Forms before, but Gravity Forms is the best deal for the all-in package.
- Heartbeat Control. I once failed to log out of the admin on a couple of my sites and sucked up a huge amount of server resources just because of the Heartbeat API. Use this plugin to limit the heartbeat to post edit screens where it belongs.
- iThemes Security or iThemes Security Pro. Since I own a perpetual license to everything iThemes produces, there’s no real reason for me not to put the pro version on new client sites. Handles things like XML-RPC, brute force attacks, and limiting login attempts. Will also change the URL for your wp-admin.
- Mail on Update. Most clients don’t log into their sites very often, and wouldn’t know there are updates without this.
- Regenerate Thumbnails. Always necessary if you create new image sizes or switch themes.
- Rich Text Excerpts. Especially valuable if you show excerpts on archive pages, use a widgetized home page, or use Display Posts Shortcode.
- Scriptless Social Sharing. I switched to this plugin recently on my own site. Social sharing plugins can be a real performance hit, and anyway, I like the way it looks.
- Sidekick. This is to help remind clients how to do things. So far I’ve only used the free version.
- Simple Custom CSS. This is particularly useful when developing; in many cases I’ll incorporate the final CSS into the child theme child theme stylesheet, but this is quicker to test.
- Simple Social Icons. Because I prefer icon fonts to images.
- What Template Am I Using? Because sometimes I’m not sure whether the custom template I’ve created is actually being called.
- WordPress Importer. For when I need to import the content from a client’s previous WordPress site, which is not always, but often enough to be included.
- WP Help. Not every client is willing to pay for custom documentation, but most of them need it.
- WP Rocket. This is a premium caching plugin that’s easy to use, integrates with CloudFlare and other CDNs, and which hosts like WP Engine allow you to use. I notice a much bigger difference on bad hosting than on good hosting, though.
- WP Rollback. Because plugin updates sometimes break things. Only works for plugins in the WordPress Repository, but still handy to have.
- WP-Sweep. For clearing detritus like excess revisions out of the database.
- Yoast SEO. As annoying as this plugin is with all its extra admin nags, it’s still excellent.
Genesis-Specific WordPress Plugins
- Genesis Custom Footer makes it easy to update the copyright notice in the footer.
- Genesis Custom Headers to insert image headers or use the featured image as a header. The developer also makes Blox, which I have not yet tried.
- Genesis eNews Extended for email subscription forms. Sometimes I use Gravity Forms instead; depends on the client’s email system and the information they need to collect.
- Genesis Featured Page Advanced lets you show the featured image or a custom image; the page content, page excerpt, or custom text in a widget.
- Genesis Featured Posts Combo is a premium plugin by Chinmoy Paul. Displays posts, pages, and custom post types in several pre-defined layouts, with various hooks and filters for customization. Worth the cost of the developer license.
- Genesis Sandbox Featured Content Widget hasn’t been updated for some time, but it still worked the last few times I used it.
- Genesis Style Trump is something I activate after I’ve moved my CSS additions from the Simple Custom CSS plugin into the stylesheet.
- Genesis Visual Hook Guide is a great tool for developers. Remember to deactivate and delete it when the site is finished.
Other Frequently-Used WordPress Plugins
- Advanced Custom Fields Pro. I don’t use this on every single site, but I use it on a lot of them. Not only does it make adding custom fields easier, it helps you set up post edit windows to make it clear to clients what goes where.
- FooGallery includes several gallery layouts (responsive, masonry, justified, polaroid, owl carousel) and allows you to connect your thumbnails to custom links.
- FooBox Lite or FooBox Pro. The lite version is sufficient in most cases, but you can include HTML content in the pro version.
- Meta Slider or Meta Slider Pro. The advantage of this over Genesis Responsive Slider is the ability to use images that aren’t the featured image, and to link to multiple post types in one slider. The pro version also includes a thumbnail slider and a content slider that works nicely with The Events Calendar.
- Strong Testimonials includes a testimonial submission form, the ability to add custom fields, multiple views, and testimonial categories. The developer is very helpful, too.
- The Events Calendar / Events Calendar Pro for event management. In some cases it’s overkill. The pro version includes a couple of additional views, which may be important to you, or not. You may find the tickets extension or community events extension useful. This is one of those cases where the client should buy the license.
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