Perhaps you’re already using WordPress, or you’re in the process of looking for a hosting service for your website. Either way, WordPress is an excellent option, partly because it’s free, and partly because it offers an extensive range of plugins available for anything you need.
However, while some of them will improve your page and solve some headaches, not all of these plugins are great quality, and not all of them will be great for your site. A lot of them are abandoned and haven’t been updated in a while, which can put your site at risk. Let’s take a look at what are the best and worst WordPress plugins.
How do you recognize a great plugin?
Generally speaking, you’ll likely know what plugins are the best because everyone is talking about them. It’s much easier to identify excellent plugins than it is to weed out the bad ones. They’ll have some general positive traits:
- It has a high rating from users
- It’s been installed by a lot of users
- It’s compatible with the current version of WordPress
- It’s been updated recently, and the creator is still responsive
The best plugins tend to be talked about online and they’re usually very popular; when it’s the best product in a certain category (let’s say, contact forms), most people will use it for their site.
How do you recognize a terrible plugin?
Before choosing and installing plugins, you’ve got to review them closely. Bad plugins are ones that haven’t been updated in a while, because no one’s been maintaining them, and should there be an issue, you may not be able to find anyone to help you out. Plus, they will most likely have a lot of vulnerabilities.
There’s a WordPress repository for plugins, where anyone can contribute and people do, every day. However, there is no security analysis or source code auditing, so you’re technically always running a risk of running into a poorly designed plugin. That’s why it’s better to check who put together that particular plugin. Here’s how to recognize a terrible plugin:
- It hasn’t been updated in a long time (2 years +)
- It has a low number of active installs (under 1000)
- It has a low rating
- It is not compatible with the latest version of WordPress
The best 8 plugins
Here are some of the best – and most useful! – plugins available, essential to get your site up and running in no time.
Elementor WordPress page Builder is a plugin that makes it super easy to build your pages. It’s all drag and drop, so anyone can do it. It’s the easiest way to create custom designs for your pages, including different layouts – no code necessary! You don’t even need to hire someone to work on your site, because you can do it in a few minutes with no issues.
Note: If you are looing for site builders, then see Best website builder reviews
One of the best thing about Elementor is its mobile editor. The elementor is mobile friendly automatically, but still you want any changes, then you can design for mobile only
2. Yoast SEO
You will most likely already know that SEO is a huge part of increasing popularity and traffic for your website. And thankfully, WordPress is very good with that and offers strong SEO support, but a plugin never hurts. Yoast SEO is not only among the best SEO plugins, but one of the best plugins, period.
Among the features it offers are social media optimization, sitemap generation, adding meta tags, connecting your page to Google Search Console, creating auto-directs, and others.
If you’re going to set up an online store, then you need WooCommerce. If a business is using an eCommerce plugin, it’s probably this one. That’s because it hooks you up with everything you need to start up your online store. Basically, you can set up everything, from the product pages to the shopping cart to the payment methods
In fact, WooCommerce is so popular, that there are even WooCommerce plugins, themes, hosting, etc.
As you probably know, taking analytics into consideration is essential for any website you set up online, and yes, there’s a plugin for Google Analytics, and it’s called MonsterInsights.
That will allow you to keep an eye on and track people’s usage of your site and see some statistics on who is using your site, for how long, for what purposes, etc. That will enable you to draw some valuable conclusions and make some changes to increase your traffic and your conversion rate.
You may have noticed that a lot of websites – particularly online stores – have introduced live chat on their websites. That comes in super handy for both customer and seller, because it cuts down on time spent on customer support emails or phone calls.
LiveChat is the plugin that will enable you to use this on your website and it puts a ton of options for customization at your disposal.
One of the very first pages you’re going to put together when starting your website is a Contact page, and you probably want one of those contact forms most sites have. They’re a quick, easy, convenient and reliable way to communicate, so a plugin like WPForms is recommended. Contact forms, online orders, email subscriptions, payment forms can all be put together via this plugin.
7. Shared Counts
If you’re going to the trouble to set up a website, you’ll also want to make sure your social media pages are getting enough attention. Shared Counts is one of the best plugins that enable you to place buttons for social sharing on your page. Shared Counts also displays the share count of that particular page, which can help lend legitimacy to your page.
8. Constant Contact
A mailing list is absolutely essential for your business, because email is what’s going to keep your users coming back. It’s the easiest way to keep them updated on your site and send them constant reminders and offers.
You’ll need a little help with that and Constant Contact is the plugin to help you out. The best thing about it is that it’s easy to use, so if you’re technologically-impaired, it won’t be a problem.
The Most Popular Worst Plugins
If we talked about the best, we must also address the worst – stay away from these!
We all know that backing up your data is non-negotiable, right? Otherwise, you risk losing all your hard work. The only problem is that WP-DB-Backup is not actually very good at its job. That’s mainly because it’s outdated, in terms of functions, and you can do so much better.
No matter what features you want from it, you’re better off looking at a different plugin to get your job done, cause this one isn’t it.
3. Broken Link Checker
On the surface, Broken Link Checker seems like it would be a great plugin, and it would be…if it worked. But you run it and then discover that while it will identify some broken links on a page, it will completely miss others.
It doesn’t even matter what function it serves, if it doesn’t work, then it’s a terrible plugin and you should be looking for alternatives.
4. Theme Check
The reason why Theme Check is here is that…it doesn’t actually work that well. It’s supposed to check your themes for errors, but it can give some skewed results. First of all, you only use this if you’re developing themes, so if you’re just looking for some easy drag and drop type plugins, this isn’t for you.
Second of all, even as a developer, this is useful if you’re trying to get your plugin listed in the repository, because that’s what Theme Check looks for. Otherwise, your perfectly functional theme may end up with “errors”.
What to do if you’re using a terrible plugin
If you’ve already installed your plugins, you may be looking at that list of signs of terrible ones and thinking “Uh-oh”. You’ve discovered that some of your plugins are awful and they are actively slowing down your page, which cuts way down on your activity. What do you do now?
Well, let’s see how you can cull the bad apples. The manner of removal will depend on the type of plugin it is and what the problem is, in the first place. Most plugins can just be disabled and removed. If you then reinstall it, you will get the latest version of the plugin in question, which may have very well solved all the issues with the original one.
If the plugin has any kind of vulnerability, you’ll want to disable it and remove it completely. You can then choose to contact the creator and ask about vulnerabilities, maintenance, etc. but if the plugin has not been updated as of late, it is unlikely that you will receive a response or an update.
Limit the number of plugins for optimum efficiency
Users who are inexperienced or who are just new to WordPress may take the “the more, the merrier” approach to plugins, but that would be a mistake. While it may seem like installing all the ones that look cool will make your website even better, the truth is that this approach will backfire spectacularly and leave you with a site that isn’t running very fast or very smoothly at all.
In short: the more plugins you have, the slower your site will be. That means that you’ll have to pick and choose between your favorites and engage in a pretty ruthless cutting process in order to limit the number of plugins.
WordPress experts say that the magic number, when it comes to WordPress plugins, is between 5 and 20, so be sure not to pass that number, in order to achieve optimum efficiency for your website.
What’s the bottom line?
WordPress is, thankfully, a complex and super useful platform that you can do a lot with. Because of its open-source model, that means that there’s a wide variety of plugins at your disposal to help you achieve basically anything you want out of your WordPress website. You want it to be an online store? You can do that. You want to upload fancy images? You can do that, too. Contact forms? Emails? Sure.
But not all of these free plugins will work like it says on the tin. Some of them will be brilliant and will save your life, especially if you have no idea which end is which, when it comes to coding. Others will make your life even more miserable and slow your page down to a crawl. That’s why it’s important to gain a little knowledge about plugins, what makes them good, what makes them bad, and which are the best and the worst available online.
Jack is the Co-founder of WebsitebuilderLy, a Software Engineer from Standford University, An entrepreneur with 12 years of Website Creation, Management, Marketing Automation & App Development Experience. Worked for the world’s leading companies such as Roblox, HTC, etc.