Here are the top 10 plugins that I tend to use when building WordPress sites:
- Jetpack – this is more bundle of plugins than a single plugin as it offers a wide variety of different features. I particularly use ‘Monitor’ which emails you if your sites goes down, ‘Publicise’ which allows you to easily post to social networks when you publish new posts and ‘custom CSS’ which allows you to easily customise the stylesheets
- XCloner – there are lots of backup plugins but I prefer this one which will automatically backup your site to Dropbox and there is an option to restore your site from a backup, which contains a copy of the database and all files on your site. Alternatives: updraft, backwpup, and many more.
- WordPress SEO – this is the most popular SEO plugin and bundles up a range of SEO tasks which are provided by a range of different plugins. Alternatives: All in one SEO Pack.
- W3 Total Cache – a handy plugin to improve performance of your site that doesn’t require too much configuration. Alternatives: WP Super Cache.
- iThemes Security – this offers many security features in one plugin including securing the login page, preventing brute force attacks and more. Alternatives: wordfence, bulletproof security.
- WP Author Slug - this allows you to change the author page slug to use your full name rather than your username which is a potential security hole when trying to stop hackers from gaining access to your site.
- Simple 301 Redirects – very handy to manage redirects, rather than having to edit the .htaccess file. Alternatives: Redirection.
- Contact Form 7 - although Jetpack comes with a contact form, this plugin is much more flexible and allows different types of contact forms. Alternatives: Jetpack, formbuilder and many more.
- Duplicate Post – allows you to make a duplicate of a post, page or other post type and save it as a draft. Especially handy when you have a page setup with custom fields, for example using a page builder.
- Akismet - the de-facto standard plugin used for filtering spam comments which comes shipped with WordPress. Alternatives: antispam bee, defensio.
As a rule of thumb, you should try to install as few plugins on your site as possible. The more plugins you have, the more chance of there is of compatibility issues with other plugins and your theme, so consider carefully whether you really need a plugin before installing. If you no longer need a plugin, make sure that it is removed from your site.