WordPress Plugins: Keeping Things Simple With Just The Essentials

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WordPress plugins are great little applications that add can enhance the functionality of your website in cool ways. Using them to make WordPress even more awesome by adding essential features to your build can make a world of difference for the way your website runs.

Peep how I mentioned “essential features” in that intro paragraph. Yeah, you only need the ESSENTIALS when it comes to your plugin stack.

It’s pretty easy to get lost in WordPress plugin soup. With over 50,000 plugins in the official WP directory (with more being added daily) it can be a bit to take in as a WordPress beginner.

Lucy at the candy factory
Lucy loves plugins… I mean candy. 😂

It’s like a website feature candy shop… but just like the sweet stuff, plugins should be installed in moderation.

First off, all plugins are not created equally. When searching for a specific plugin, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I really need to add this feature to my website?
  2. How will it serve my audience?
  3. What do the ratings/reviews say?
  4. How many people have downloaded it?
  5. Is this plugin regularly maintained?
  6. Could it slow down my website due to its size?

The easiest way to answer these questions it through the official plugin page in the WordPress directory. It’ll look something like this:

Screenshot of the "Really Simple SSL" WordPress plugin page
The official “Really Simple SSL” plugin page in the large WordPress plugin library.

Plugin pages have tabs sections for reviews, installation instructions, support, and development information. The development information tab is very useful as it gives you a great idea of how often the plugin is updated via its changelog.

Now, you may be trying to figure out what plugins you’ll need for your small business website. This very well depends on the type of business that you have.

To start, I’ll give you a quick list of my plugin recommendations that all business types should have installed on their website.

  • WP Forms – Because EVERY website should have a contact form.
  • Yoast – Because it makes kicking off your SEO efforts a breeze.
  • W3 Total Cache – Because it helps to keep your website speedy for your visitors.
  • Akismet – Because website spam sucks and this plugin effectively blocks it.
  • Sucuri Security – Because a secure WordPress website makes for a happy small business owner.
  • UpdraftPlus – Because a regularly backed up website = peace of mind.
  • Google Analytics Dashboard – Because seeing your website’s visitor stats right in your WordPress dashboard screams instant gratification.

There are SO many more, and I could go on and on but the above plugins are true essentials just to start with.

Akismet Plugin Ready to Be Installed

As you search for plugins more specific to your small business website’s needs, keep the following items in mind:

  • Installing too many or heavy plugins can cause your website to run slow. A slow website will make visitors close the tab with the quickness to find the next best solution.
  • A plugin that isn’t regularly maintained by its developer can cause funky things to happen to your website. Plus, it may no longer be secure which could leave holes in your website’s security, aka a playground for hackers.
  • Also, updating your plugins regularly is a MUST for keeping your website secure as developers (who do regularly maintain their plugins) include patches to fix any plugin security holes.
  • Remove plugins that are inactive or that don’t compliment your essential plugin stack.

If you have any questions about what plugins you should have for your specific small business website, don’t hesitate to contact me! And be on the lookout for another post where I’ll dive deep into a list of my favorite plugins that I use for WordPress builds.

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I’m Brittany and I’m all about making your website work hard for your small business. This is the place for actionable website guidance, productivity tips, and resources for both designers and non-designers!

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