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Starting off with a new WordPress website? Wondering what are the best WordPress Plugins to be installed?
What is a WordPress Plugin?
WordPress Plugins are bits of software that when uploaded (or rather installed and activated) into your WordPress backend, extend the functionality of your website.
We can compare the WordPress Plugins to the apps you install of your mobile device. When you purchase a new mobile, what are some of the apps you install? An app lock, WhatsApp, battery enhancers, photo editors, etc. These apps enhance or rather adds functionalities to your mobile device. On similar lines, a WordPress Plugin enhances the functionality of your website.
WordPress Plugins are written in the PHP programming language. And don’t worry, you needn’t know anything about programming to install or use a WordPress Plugin. Installing a WordPress Plugin is as easy as 1-2-3. That’s right, 1 – Search, 2 – Install, and 3 – Activate.
Check out the WordPress website and you will notice there are more than 55,000 plugins at this point in time. There is a plugin for just about any functionality you require.
For e.g., if you are looking for a plugin to help you with SEO, you will have options such as Yoast SEO, All-in-one SEO, RankMath, etc. If you are looking for a plugin to help you with your website backup, you have options such as All-in-one WP Migration, UpDraft, etc. And for adding SSL to your website, you could consider Really Simple SSL, etc.
Here are a few more examples,
WordPress Plugins for Caching, to increase website speed
This plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After a html file is generated your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.
W3 Total Cache (W3TC) improves the SEO and user experience of your site by increasing website performance and reducing load times by leveraging features like content delivery network (CDN) integration and the latest best practices
WordPress Plugins for Online Courses
So, as I said. There is a WordPress Plugin for just about anything and any functionality.
Ok, so which WordPress Plugins can we install? How do we know if a WordPress Plugin is safe to install? How many WordPress Plugins can we install? Will WordPress Plugins slow down your website? Yo! One question at a time! 😉
We will cover all these questions in this article, before finally jumping into the must-have WordPress Plugins for your website.
Next obvious and frequently asked question is,
How to install a WordPress Plugin?
Before we get into how to install a WordPress Plugin, a quick mention of, how to identify or select a good plugin. There are a number of plugins. To be precise, more than 55,000 plugins. How do we know which is a good plugin?
To begin with, if you are downloading a free WordPress Plugin, download it from the official WordPress website – WordPress.org. If you are buying a WordPress Plugin, ensure it is a trusted source. You wouldn’t want to end up installing a WordPress Plugin which is coded poorly and results in slowing down the performance of your website or even, leaving open ends for hacking.
The next thumb rule to follow while selecting a plugin is to note the number of active installations and the ratings. While this alone cannot be a yardstick for installation, it does help on most occasions.
And the reason I say this is, a plugin may have just been launched and its functionality may be great. But it takes time to reach, let’s say, a million downloads. Hence, the active installations alone cannot be a yardstick for comparison. But, nevertheless, it’s a start and a good rule of thumb.
To install a plugin, simply go into your WordPress dashboard. From the left-hand side menu links, select ‘Add new’ under Plugins.
You type out the name of the plugin or search for the functionality you require. For e.g., I will search for SEO. I then get a list of plugins under SEO. I select a plugin which has
- A higher number of active installations
- A higher rating
- And preferably one which is compatible with my version of WordPress
Once you have identified and decided on a WordPress Plugin, click on the ‘Install Now’ button against the plugin. Once installed, the button changes to ‘Activate’. Go ahead and click on ‘Activate’, and voila, your WordPress Plugin has been installed.
I have included a video on How to install a WordPress Plugin. I have also mentioned in the video, how to deactivate and delete a WordPress Plugin if it is not required.
Are WordPress Plugins Free?
Yes, a majority of the WordPress Plugins are free to use. As shown in the WordPress website, there are more than 55,000 WordPress Plugins. And all these are free. Nevertheless, some of the plugins have a paid version, rather a PRO version.
Should you be buying the PRO version?
It really is a personal choice. Some plugins, e.g., Elementor (which is an awesome page builder) comes free and has some really great features. At the same time, the PRO version has some even better features and is one tool you could consider buying. I personally use Elementor and it is by far the best page builder I have used. And hence, I went ahead and picked up the PRO version.
On similar lines, you may have some plugins that you are using currently and may find the PRO version to add to your existing plugin functionalities. Hence, it would make sense to buy the PRO version.
Having said that, will the free version suffice? Absolutely YES!
In addition to the above, one common and frequently asked question is,
How many plugins can I install on my WordPress website?
Will installing too many WordPress Plugins affect the website speed, performance, security, etc?
A simple answer is, No! It depends more on the quality of the WordPress Plugins than the quantity.
To explain this, I will have to go a wee bit technical.
Any website has what is called a front-end and a back-end.
The front-end, yes, is what you see on the website. The look and feel, the font, the colors, the contact forms, the image galleries, etc.
The back-end is part of the admin section of the website. The part of the website you do not see. You have in here, the database, the back-ups, integrations, etc.
If there is a plugin installed on your website which sends a lot of backend requests, or rather, sends constant backend requests, this obviously reduces the performance a wee bit.
For instance, an eCommerce website is a classic example. The products displayed on the frontend is as a result of the requests made on the backend database. So, there is a constant ‘https’ request made on the backed. If you have a wrongly coded plugin installed for this server request, chances are that your website will slow down, and in some cases, be brought down.
Another example is your 404 Page not found request. It constantly checks if there is a broken link on your website when a request is made.
Hence, more than worrying about the number of plugins, you must be conscious of the quality of the WordPress Plugins being installed. A basic website could start off with 10 to 20 WordPress Plugins. As you scale up the website or even if you were to build an eCommerce website, you may have more WordPress Plugins, in the order of up to even 30. The emphasis is more on quality than quantity.
25 Must Have WordPress Plugins for Your Website
I hope you found value in this article.
Please do share your views and feedback in the comments section below. It will only help me improve and in turn, help me in bringing out quality content for you.