Plugins add functionality to any WordPress website. Plugins, and what they can offer, are probably the biggest lure away from a WordPress.com site to a self-hosted site using WordPress.org. Let’s just say, once you’ve had a taste of plugins you really don’t want to revert to anything other than self-hosted (you’ll be amazed at how soon you become reliant on plugins, and not to have them available gets frustrating very quickly).
Plugins come in all shapes and sizes and at there are over 40,000 plugins in the WordPress repository. Not that this is the exhaustive list of plugins, there are many more that aren’t even in the repository. However, having plugins listed in the repository does offer users easy access, viewable download stats, and a rating system of sorts.
Whilst probably the majority of plugins offer a free version, with the potential of paid upgrading to a pro version, there are also solely paid plugins. There are good reasons for sometimes paying for specific plugins. Firstly, you’ll get support and paid plugin providers are more likely to be working hard at maintaining security and compatibility of their plugins with the WordPress Core and other popular plugins. If you opt for a free plugin and something goes awry then you’ll be more likely searching for a similar plugin. Not that difficult for functions that are offered by many plugins, but more difficult when you are looking for something quite specific or even tailored to your industry. Of course, like everything else with a website, this is more critical if your site serves a business or is e-commerce.
So, what do all these plugins do. Well, some are invisible to the viewer; these offer functions such as helping to filter any spam comments, make your site more secure. A few of examples of visible plugins might be built-in calendars, advanced booking calendars, and photo galleries.
Here’s a list of just some of the really useful plugins that you might want to add to every site you build as a matter of course. These are just some that we use: there are many many choices from a huge array of plugin developers and of course, like everything, these will change in popularity over time.
Restricted Site Access (for development periods)
WordPress SEO by Yoast
One-Click Child Theme
WP Meetup (used on this site)
WP RSS Aggregator (import multiple RSS feeds)
Duplicate Post (clone posts or pages)
Post Types Order
All in One Favicon
Contact Form 7
Broken Link Checker
WP Touch (gives out-dated websites the functionality of a responsive design)
Social Media Widget