Episode 104 – Our Essential WordPress Plugins List


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By James Laws & Jean Galea, James Laws, and Jean Galea. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

The episode is sponsored by Plesk and Freemius.

This week I welcomed back Jean Galea to the podcast as we found some time to discuss the plugins we’re using at the moment, and why we chose them.

Although Jean and I work together, we rarely find the time to have discussions such as these since we tend to focus on different projects, so this was an opportunity to see what each of us was doing. At the same time, we’re hoping to give you a better idea of how we run our websites and perhaps point out some plugins you weren’t aware of before.

Throughout our discussion we focus on plugins and a few SAAS tools that have integrations with WordPress.

Since the WordPress sites that we run are focused around either content (WP Mayor) or e-commerce (WP RSS Aggregator, EDD Bookings), our choice of plugins is also centred around these markets. Even if your sites are not focused around heavy content or e-commerce specifically, there are some great little nuggets in there for you.

I won’t list down all the plugins we use here, but here is a quick overview of the main ones we have used on all or most of our sites over the years.

  • Content & Subscriber Management
    • Nelio Content to manage our posts more easily
    • Replyable to be able to reply to post comments through email, without having to log in to the dashboard
    • Akismet or Anti-Spam to prevent spam comments from, well, spamming your site
    • MailPoet to send out newsletters and to reach out to subscribers
    • Optin Monster to run various campaigns on our sites to attract subscribers
    • SEO Framework or Yoast SEO to ensure that our content is as optimized as possible
  • Forms
    • Ninja Forms as our main go-to plugin, having been introduced to it by James Laws, the other founder of this podcast
    • Gravity Forms is an established solution we used before and still do on some sites
  • E-Commerce & Marketing
    • Easy Digital Downloads and its extensions
    • WooCommerce and its extensions
      • Official extensions
      • Trusted 3rd-party WooCommerce extension stores
  • Analytics
    • Monster Insights, a great tool from Syed Balkhi
    • Hotjar Connecticator to connect to the Hotjar service for heatmaps, site visitor recordings, polls and more
  • Social Media
    • SNAP by NextScripts
  • Affiliate Management
    • AffiliateWP to run our affiliate programs on-site
    • Thirsty Affiliates to store affiliate links from other programs and cloak them
    • Impact and Shareasale as alternative ways to run an affiliate program when you need a more professional solution
  • Backups & Security
    • BlogVault to manage our site security and backups in a simple and reliable way
    • ManageWP to manage multiple sites from one dashboard, including running updates
    • WP Security Audit Log to track how multiple users are using our websites, which is especially useful when you have multiple authors or editors
  • Others
    • Advanced Custom Fields to be able to customise our websites with custom fields where we need them
    • Elementor as our page builder of choice when we need to create a quick website for which a default theme won’t do the job
    • Classic Editor; given that we are unsure of what Gutenberg will bring with it in WordPress 5.0, this is a safety net of sorts
    • PerfMatters, probably the most important of all, to control on which pages certain plugins run, which is essential if you have certain functionality that you only need on a few pages (giving you better performance site-wide)

We mention a few more plugins throughout the show that meet certain other needs, so be sure to listen in and learn more.

Are there any other plugins which you use religiously on your WordPress sites? Let us know in the comments to give them the exposure they deserve.

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