I get a lot of emails asking for advice on which plugins to use or which hosting provider to go with. With the huge array of web hosting companies out there, I know how confusing it can be to select one that's reliable. And looking for good, reliable plugins can be even more difficult, with over 59,000 just in the official Plugin Directory alone!
To help make at least some of your choices a little easier, I thought I’d share with you some of the more common plugins, tools and services that I use on a regular basis, both on my own sites and when I'm building client sites.
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One of the most important things you can do for your site, is to run it on decent hosting. Your website hosting needs to be reliable as well as have great support. This site is running on the seriously powerful Managed VPS Hosting from Conetix. Conetix delivers one of Australia's best web hosting platforms.
There are a lot of really badly coded themes out there (unfortunately). When buying your new theme, make sure it's from a reliable theme shop. A theme shop that takes care when developing themes and codes them using WordPress best practices.
It's easy to create fantastic looking layouts now with a variety of powerful, drag ‘n drop Page Builders, and when it comes to choose which one to use, these three are the top contenders.
Don’t wait until your site is hacked or compromised, use a good, reliable security plugin to mitigate the chance of it happening.
If you care about your site speed, you should be running a caching plugin. A caching plugin helps speed up the delivery of your pages to your visitors browser.
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Sometimes it's really handy to have a test or staging website, so that you can try things out. Perhaps you have an existing site and want to try a new theme or plugin, or maybe you're just starting out with WordPress and want a test site where you can play around prior to signing up for a yearly hosting contract. That's where these resources come in handy.
If you're looking to create a membership site, then you'll be wanting a way to restrict your content for your members, regardless of whether you're offering paid membership or even free membership. If your membership site provides access to video and/or audio files, then you should also consider offloading those bandwidth intensive files, to somewhere like Amazon S3. These plugins will help you to achieve all this functionality, and more.
If you're selling a product or service, there's a very good chance you'll be wanting to send out some sort of regular newsletter or email campaign to your customers & clients. The best way to do this is to use a service that specialises in sending bulk email campaigns. Not only is there a greater chance your email will reach its intended target, but they also provide lots of useful tools for setting up your email campaigns, collecting statistics & targeting customers.
If you're creating a website, you'll most likely need some sort of contact form, or even a subscriber form, and these are some of the most popular forms plugins around. I personally use Gravity Forms on all my sites.
Who doesn't love a good image slider. They need to be flexible and easy to use.
If you’re looking to sell products on your website, you can’t go past WooCommerce. If your products are purely digital, check out the awesome Easy Digital Downloads.
WordPress is pretty good for SEO, straight out of the box. These popular plugins will make it just that bit more flexible.
If you're serious about growing your site, you need to know who your visitors are, how they're using your site and how they're finding you. The best way to do this is through analytics.
I shouldn’t need to tell you how important it is to make sure your site is backed up, regularly!
If you want to truly connect with the rest of the world, you should be thinking about making your site multilingual. Supporting multiple languages on your site opens up so many more opportunities.
Sometimes reading a manual isn't enough or you might find that you learn better watching videos. No matter what your preference, you should never stop learning.
Although I’ve listed these under Miscellaneous, these plugins and resources are just as useful as the ones I’ve mentioned above. In fact, these are some of the ones I use the most when building client sites!