At DC Dev Shop, we build new websites and enhance existing WordPress powered websites. Many tasks can be repetitive from project to project, including website functionality needs. Instead of reinventing the wheel, our WordPress development team leverages existing plugins that have been battle tested on millions of websites and have a large community support team. Some of these plugins are free, supported through open source communities of developers, while others are paid, but all provide more value than what they cost, saving your dev team precious time and energy.
Making your website go fast
If most of your website traffic is coming from end user mobile phones, consider using AMP. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project is an open source initiative that makes it easy for publishers to create mobile-friendly content once and have it load instantaneously for end users. WordPress has a plugin to take care of the heavy lifting for you. The plugin is well maintained and has more than 300,000 active installs. The plugin will append amp into the URL for every blog post on your site and you may need to setup redirects if you are adding to an existing website. You can learn more about the open source AMP Project Initiative on their website.
Large image files on a website are the number one reason why websites load slowly. Website load time can be improved by optimizing the images on your website. WP Smush is a plugin you can add to your WordPress website that will smush and decrease the size of your images. Formatting and sizing before adding to the website is always your best option. This is a great plugin to use if your team inherits a website that has a large amount of images that need to be optimized. This plugin aims to preserve the quality of images and you can use this plugin at no cost.
Admin ease of use
When managing your WordPress website, admin users will need to create posts and pages. Most of the time, these pages and posts will be very similar to one another. Instead of starting from scratch to create a new page, admin users may want to duplicate a page, make changes, and use for the new page or post. This does not come standard with WordPress core and this plugin will enable admin users to do just that, duplicate a page or post. The plugin is well maintained and has more than 500,000 active installs. The DCDS WordPress developers add this to all our projects, making creating new posts and pages easy for project managers and client staff.
If you are rebranding or launching a new theme to a website and are altering the website architecture, consider using the redirection plugin. After cloning the current website, add the Redirection plugin, and when you change the permalink or URL to a page, the plugin will create a redirection to the new URL slug from the previous URL slug. This is helpful to eliminate 404 errors after changing a website page URL. It has great support and has more than one million active installs.
Custom Post Type UI
The default WordPress post type, while useful, does not always satisfy website requirements. Developers have the option to include a custom post type in the functions.php file in the theme directory, but if you change themes, you will lose that custom post type functionality. The DCDS development team chooses to use the Custom Post Type UI plugin, which allows for changes on the fly and will stay with the site if the theme is changed. It also provides the option for non-technical admin users to make changes to post type architecture. The plugin provides an easy to use wp-admin dashboard addition with options for post type field options and layout styles. The plugin is widely used and has more 500,000 active installs.
Digital Marketing for Search Engines and Humans
This is the most frequently used plugin year after year. WordPress does so much for SEO out of the box, but Yoast is a great addition to compliment default WordPress functionality. With more than five million active installs, it is easy to see why this plugin is so popular. The plugin gives admin users a solid toolset for adding metadata to website posts and pages to assist search engines in crawling and indexing your website content to increase your search engine result ranking. If you are looking to rank higher in Google search results, the Yoast SEO plugin is a great addition to your website.
Over the years, we have received more and more requests from clients to add social media sharing to websites. You can spend time creating this from scratch but the team at AddThis offer a great free alternative with their AddThis WordPress plugin. It is free to make an account and easy for website owners to set up. The plugin is mobile friendly and provides options for floating share buttons, inline share buttons, and image sharing buttons.
Form embeds for WordPress websites
We don’t want to promote just one plugin for having forms on your website. Most of the time, form submit entries aren’t stored in the WordPress powered website database. These entries may be to signup for a newsletter and go to MailChimp, or they may be on a contact form and update a Salesforce database. In general, most contact management systems have WP plugins to push form submits to the contact management software tool. Our project managers work with clients to understand what software their internal teams use and the DCDS team provides solutions to incorporate the website into their internal workflows. We are big fans of HubSpot but we also frequently use MailChimp, Contact Form 7 (which is free), GravityForms (which is paid but has options to push to Salesforce), and NinjaForms.
You can read more about making your website friendly for search engines and for humans on our recent blog post ‘SEO Fundamentals: How to make your website accessible to search engines and humans’.
Final Thoughts on Our Favorite WordPress Plugins
We don’t always use plugins, but when we do, we save time, improve the quality of our websites, and ease the managing of our WordPress websites. Our development team uses Pantheon upstreams to launch new website builds and these plugins are included in the repo. It saves our development team time and our project managers are familiar with using the tools and options that these plugins provide. Check out some of the plugins and reach out to our team if you have any questions, we’re always here for you to be used as a resource. You can read more about our website design and inbound marketing services to understand how we can help your team better manage your website.