Creating a brand new site powered by the world best platform, WordPress is a real joy, but once you have set things up and installed your new theme there are some plugins every new site developer should consider to really kick things off in style.
This post will guide you though some of the awesome plugins you can use to ensure your site is not only ready to make an impact in the search results, but also secure and safe. We will cover basics such as SEO plugins as well as solutions for beefing up your sites security and keeping things backed up in case the worst happens.
Speeding Things Up
There are no shortage of caching solutions for WordPress, and this can be a real headache for any novice user as getting a good caching solution up and running can be a very daunting task. Although plugins such as W3 Total Cache offer an incredible amount of options, in most cases its just too much for the average user so we recommend the wonderful free plugin, ZenCache.
ZenCache is pretty much plug-and-play in its operation, requiring minimal setup to get going and its effectiveness is incredible given its simplicity, so to ensure your new site is loading nice and quickly for your would-be visitors, this plugin is a must.
Using optimized images on your site is a must these days, and although the best method for keeping image sizes in check is to only upload well-compressed images, there are plguins around which can help reduce your image sizes with minimal effort.
WP Smush is a drop in solution which basically further compresses your sites images without any loss in quality. It important to note that its no substitute for your usual image compression, so dont expect a 2mb jpg to become a 100kb file by running this plugin, always take care to optimize your media.
For more tips on how to speed up for you WordPress site, please see Speeding Up WordPress.
By default, WordPress doesnt really have you covered against many of the nasties out there looking to hard your site, so having some kind of security solution installed is essential for any production site.
Thankfully, there is an excellent free plugin which doesn’t an excellent job of keeping things safe in the form of iThemes Security. The plugin offers a simply installation guide which takes you through the process of locking down your files and even offers functionality for changing the core folders and urls for log in/registration as well as the url for you entire admin area, so you can really take things to the next level with just a few moments of setting up this awesome plugin.
For further advice on beefing up your WordPress sites security, please check out Securing WordPress.
Search Engine Optimization
Although WordPress, when partnered with an SEO optimized theme, is a very powerful thing in the eyes of search engines such as Google – however WordPress doesnt really offer any control of such details like page titles and descriptions so a plugin is needed to gain full control of these details.
This is where the sublime Yeost SEO plugin saves the day. The plugin fills in all the areas which WordPress is lacking by handing over the reigns to you, on top of this the plugin is bundled with a handy SEO checker which scans your posts as your write them, scoring them against your chosen keywords and rating your efforts. This allows you to ensure all your content is lazer-targeted without any fuss.
We have a more in depth view of WordPress SEO over in our article, Boost Your Sites SEO.
What’s the point of having a website if no one can contact your through it? If thats a sentiment you agree with then having the ability to quick and easily whip up safe and reliable contact forms is going to be essential. For this task, you cant go wrong with the very popular, and totally free plugin Contact Form 7.
Contact Form 7 has been our go-to plugin in our Premium WordPress Themes for a long time, and the reason is it simply works, and works well. Forms are created with a simple to follow interface, and offer full logic control and many input styles so almost every type of form can be handled with ease. Once you have created your ideal form, your provided a shortcode which can be placed almost anywhere on your site so its the most flexible solution with zero cost to yourself, ideal!
This plugin is something I feel could easily fit into all WordPress installations as it provides something which, once you know about it, becomes an invaluable tool for controlling your content. Intuitive Custom Post Order lets you re-order ALL of your content such as posts and pages into any order you wish, so if your not happy with the default date-based ordering most themes and plugins provide, you can tweak your content exactly as you wish.
Not only that, the plugin lets you do the same for you categories and taxonomies, which are usually ordered alphabetically.
Taking Things Further
Once you have the foundations in place provided by the plugins above, you can continue customization your by viewing some of our other blog posts. Perhaps you want to give your Dashboard a personal touch? Then check out Spicing Up Your WordPress Dashboard.
And of course all sites should have a backup solution in place, so if you havn’t done so already, you check check out our post on that too.