Checklist of WordPress plugins to get started

Discover in this article our checklist of WordPress plugins, mandatory and imperative to start on the right foot.
Checklist of WordPress plugins to get started
Table of contents

In order to get started with WordPress and to start on a good and solid basis, it will be imperative to acquire a certain number of plugins. But what are these? Which ones should you use on a daily basis to manage your WordPress website? That's what we're going to focus on in this checklist of WordPress plugins to get started.

What is a plug-in?

A plug-in is an additional extension for a WordPress site that extends functionality or adds new features.

As we saw in our previous article How to get started with WordPress: 9 things to know, there are tens of thousands of plugins for WordPress. Some are totally free, some a little less so, and some are paid for at various prices.

If you can't find what you're looking for in the vast array of WordPress plugins, it's possible to create your own plug-in with unique features. If you feel the need for such a plug-in, turn to your favourite contact.

The essentials checklist

The essentials checklist

With over 6,000 possible extensions, it's hard to find your way around! Especially since the plugins you need also depend on the nature of your site.

This article aims to provide a list of plugins to get you started with WordPress. These extensions are intended to be simple to use and complete. To avoid multiplying them, we have selected a panel of so-called "Swiss Army knife" plugins.

To go further, you can entrust the management of your website project to our WordPress experts who will find the most suitable solution for you. If it does not exist, INGENIUS web developers will create it for you!

The page builder

A page builder is an extension that allows the design of complex pages on WordPress without having to go through code. Recommended for beginners, but also for the most advanced WordPress users, page builders on the market are very powerful website creation tools with infinite possibilities.

Among the best WordPress page builders in 2022 is Elementor. Launched in 2016, Elementor is THE reference for WordPress page builders. A freemium plugin, Elementor will avoid going through hundreds of lines of code to create the site of your dreams. Its premium version includes several interesting features to go further in page design.

Elementor is very intuitive and offers the ability to see the changes made in real time. Simple drag and drop modules will allow you to format content efficiently. The paid option unlocks access to templates that provide a solid foundation for not starting from scratch.

Elementor is compatible with almost all themes on the market and the available plug-in and has its own management interface.

Another alternative to Elementor : Divi Builder. Offered by theme builder ElegantThemes, Divi is an equally effective plug-in, as it is versatile and can be used for all types of WordPress websites. This page builder allows you to customise an entire site, with responsive designs that adapt to all formats.

Create and manage your online shop

In the age of digital technology, it is difficult to do without an online shop (or "e-commerce" in English) for any commercial project. Even today, far too many entrepreneurs or traders do not dare to launch their business for fear of facing what they think is an insurmountable challenge.

However, there are now several solutions for creating and managing an online shop.

As far as WordPress is concerned, the 200% essential plug-in for an e-commerce is of course the WooCommerce.

Woocommerce is the perfect tool for creating an online shop. Free to use with no obligation to pay at the checkout, WooCommerce contains a wide range of features for selling physical and digital products and services. It is a complete solution that also allows you to manage customer accounts, product stocks, VAT... Several extensions at various prices complement the WooCommerce offer with, for example, the addition of different payment methods.

All of its possibilities, which are essential for the proper management of an online shop, make WooCommerce the most widely used e-commerce plug-in in the world.

We will come back in more detail on the functioning of WooCommerce. You can already consult the advantages of WooCommerce over PestashopWooCommerce, an alternative solution to create your e-commerce.

Natural referencing or SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO ) is a set of best practices to improve your position in the results of a search engine.

To help you ask the right questions as part of an SEO strategy and rank for the most effective keywords, Yoast SEO is THE guide to follow with a WordPress site.

Yoast SEO is a freemium plug-in dedicated to WordPress natural referencing that is full of features. A real virtual assistant, it points out the elements to be optimised so that a website respects the rules of referencing: tags, internal and external links, keywords, meta description, slug, etc. More generally, Yoast is involved in the SEO analysis of a text and its readability, and allows you to customise the appearance of an article or page shared on different social networks.

The premium version of Yoast SEO adds interesting features such as internal link suggestion, focus on phrases in addition to the chosen keyword. In addition, this paid option manages 301 redirects and removes the ads present.

Security

Security

The security of a WordPress website is not to be neglected. That's why we recommend THE WordPress security plug-in : Wordfence Security.

Wordfence is a freemium plug-in, meaning that the basic options are free, and the more advanced ones are reserved for users who purchase the plug-in. Wordfence is a complete plug-in with which it is possible to manage the main security concerns: firewall, anti-spam, integrity scanning, real-time traffic monitoring, IP banning, etc.

Although Wordfence offers a number of effective options to ensure the security of your WordPress website, it has one drawback: the system is not intuitive enough for a beginner.

For such a comprehensive alternative, we choose the Jetpack Security. A true Swiss Army knife, JetPack includes a complete, easy-to-use security solution. It includes features such as malware scanning, protection against brute force attacks, automatic backup, and website monitoring.

JetPack intervenes in other areas that are very useful for the daily management of a WordPress site, which makes it a very interesting and complete plug-in that deserves a more thorough presentation on its own... Appointment taken!

Checking the performance of your WordPress site

Keeping an eye on the performance of a WordPress website is just as important as security. A poorly optimised site or one that is slowed down by heavy images will impact its credibility and search engine ranking.

For an efficient cleaning, we recommend WP-Optimize. A freemium plugin, WP-Optimize is an all-in-one solution for cache optimization, image compression, and database cleaning. Very efficient on this last point, WP-Optimize detects and deletes obsolete tables in the database to save a few MB of storage and guarantee a website's performance.

For a very simplified management of images, Smush is the ideal free plug-in. A compression will reduce the weight of the images without degrading their quality. With lighter images, page loading time will be optimised; a very good point for SEO!

Backup

In the event of a glitch, hacking or fatal bug, it is mandatory to always have a backup of your entire website, including the database, on hand. Fortunately, there are WordPress plugins that automate this process.

The ideal plug-in in our selection is UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup. A freemium extension to the sufficiently free version, UpdraftPlus is an easy-to-use plug-in for creating backups. It also allows you to restore a backup, migrate or clone a WordPress site. In addition, UpdraftPlus offers the ability to send your backup to different storage platforms such as FTP, Google Drive, Dropbox or to an external server.

Maintenance of its website

When a website is being created or modified, it is often useful to prevent your visitors from accessing it during this phase called maintenance. During this phase, two solutions are possible. The first is to make the website private, and the second is to add a holding page in addition to making the entire site inaccessible. The operator mode is free, but it is preferable to use option 2 to give notice of the reason for going offline.

This is where WP Maintenance comes into play.

This free plug-in allows you to create a customised waiting page to warn visitors of ongoing maintenance. A countdown timer can be configured to visually schedule a return to the website. In addition, a bot can be added for interactivity. This last option proves to be an effective way to capture email addresses. Indeed, visitors will be able to enter their email address to be notified when the website goes online. Practical and clever.

Managing the caching of your WordPress site

Caching your WordPress site is not to be neglected. Indeed, search engines tend to sort out the indexing of websites that have a too long loading time. This is also an element to be taken into account for natural referencing (SEO).

By definition, the cache is an intermediate memory system that allows a page to be loaded more quickly. This system displays to the visitor the last save of the page he is consulting through a temporary file saved on his computer.

To manage the cache of your WordPress website in the easiest and most efficient way, a wide range of plugins is available. We have chosen one of them: WP RocketWP Rocket, which is simply the most powerful WordPress cache plugin.

WP Rocket allows the management of caching to reduce page loading time. This premium plug-in (therefore paying) intervenes on more than 20 parameters such as the reduction of the bandwidth thanks to the GZIP compression, the preloading or to program a cleaning of the cache every 10 hours.

For a freemium solution, WP Fastest Cache is another excellent and regularly updated caching tool with features similar to WP Rocket. WP Fastest Cache is easy to use and has a convincing user interface.

Page redirection

If you regularly move pages or articles by changing their title or URL, we recommend using a dedicated redirection tool. In addition to avoiding sending visitors back to a "404 not found" page, redirection eliminates broken links that are bad for the natural referencing of a website.

To easily manage the redirections of your site, we advise you to install dedicated plugins, and we can only recommend Redirection.

Redirection is a free plug-in to easily create and manage redirects. Logs are provided to track any broken links or 404 errors that visitors to the site using this extension may encounter.

Managing a newsletter

Managing a Newsletter

To build a loyal audience for a WordPress site, project, or business, a newsletter is an essential tool. Simple to set up, a newsletter, also known as a mailing list, sends frequent emails to subscribed users to generate regular traffic to a site while maintaining a link with its readers.

The plug-in MailPoetplug-in, which is free up to the 1000th newsletter subscriber, does all this. The newsletter administrator will not have to leave the WordPress interface to build effective mailing lists from scratch or using predefined responsive templates.

Contact form

What would a website be without a way to contact the people behind it? Okay, but why put up a form when all you need to do is display an email address or a phone number in plain text?

Offering a contact form on your WordPress site has two advantages that should not be overlooked. The first is that a form allows you to avoid the spam caused by the registration of your email address on mailing lists. The second is that it collects useful information (name, subject, message, etc.) for processing a request from a visitor, prospect or customer.

ContactForm7 is a free WordPress plugin for creating and managing multiple contact forms. With a few lines of HTML and CSS code, the forms can be customized without risking the security of the site.

Anti-spam

Protecting yourself from spam and unwanted comments requires not only solutions such as contact forms, but also spam filters.

The most popular WordPress extension is Akismet Anti-Spam. Installed by default on any WordPress site, the plug-in automatically checks comments made on a website and contact form submissions to filter out malicious messages.

The comment area

The comment area allows for interaction and exchange between the readers of a website or blog. This space is a mine of useful information for visitors or for the author to create new content or adapt his offer.

By default, WordPress comes with a commenting system that requires no settings: one text field, two fields for name and email address, and an optional field for a site URL. While this system is fast and efficient, it does not allow for much interactivity between readers.

To go further and add new features, there are (obviously) plugins : wpDiscuz is one of them.

wpDiscuz adds up to 3 ready-to-use comment formatting options to the comment area, as well as offering visitors the ability to log in to their social media accounts to react. The presence of a "reply" button and an option to sort comments will bring new life to a space in need of freshness.

Translating your website

To avoid the cumbersome and repetitive task of translating line after line of a website into several languages, there are plugins that make life much easier.

WPLM is a premium translation plug-in with over 40 languages. With WPLM it is possible to add language variants via an editor.

As a free alternative, Polylang has established itself in the field of language plugins for creating a bilingual or multilingual WordPress site.

Your recommendations

In this article, we've introduced you to several WordPress plugins that are sure to simplify the day-to-day management of your website! Keep in mind that this checklist is based on a few plugins with essential functionality, but that there are many others (both features and plugins) with various and varied uses.

And if you had a must-have plug-in to recommend, what would it be?