Our list of Top Wordpress Plugins to use in 2020
As a Wordpress developer, you'll quickly find there are lots of plugins available to help develop the features you need. There are, however, a handful of plugins that will really make your life easier when building a Wordpress site, and you will find yourself reusing them over and over. We thought we'd put together our list of top 10 must have plugins when developing with Wordpress.
These 10 plugins are packages we find ourselves using regularly as they work well and help us achieve outcomes in a quick and nimble way. We don't recommend just installing all of them for the sake of it! Not every project will require the same tools, however these are some tools that come in handy more than others. Check them out!
Please Note: We are not sponsored by, nor do we receive any commission or kick-back from any of the plugin authors mentioned herein. We have simply put together this list of plugins that we use daily and find very useful.
1. Advanced Custom Fields
Advanced Custom Fields is by far and away the most useful plugin we use on a day-to-day basis. Even more important is ACF Pro, the premium version of the plugin, which provides some features (repeater & flexible content) that we can't live without!
If you haven't used ACF before, it's the plugin that easily turns Wordpress from a simple blogging platform into a CMS (content management system). ACF essentially does what it says on the tin: provides custom fields. "What's all the hype then, that sounds pretty simple?" I can hear you asking. ACF gives you really easy to use tools to add custom fields to any and all of your post types, pages and even menus. We highly recommend you check out our quick tutorial on Getting Started With ACF if you haven't already.
View Advanced Custom Fields in Wordpress plugin repository.
2. W3 Total Cache
Caching - It's a must-have for any production site now. Google and mobile users expect your site to load almost instantly! How can you achieve this when battling the somewhat hefty Wordpress internals combined with potentially poorly coded plugins and themes? Caching! Of course there are many ways to achieve a quick site, and many ways to implement a caching solution, however we find W3 Total Cache to be the easiest, quickest to set up, and most reliable solution. We also have a quick guide on getting started with W3 Total Cache.
view W3 Total Cache in Wordpress plugin repository.
3. Ninja Forms
Forms and form submissions suck. Really! Handling user input, validation, submission errors, saving submissions and sending out emails (we'll come back to those two in a second) are tasks that make all of us at NimbleWebDeveloper groan when we have to deal with them. Enter Ninja Forms. Ninja Forms really is a must-have plugin if you're building a Wordpress site that needs enquiry forms, user submissions, registrations or anything in between. Ninja Forms is very robust, I've almost never seen it fall down, super easy to use, it logs submissions and sends emails. For 99% of the websites we build for businesses, Ninja Forms is our go-to form solution.
View Ninja Forms in Wordpress plugin repository.
4. Post SMTP Mailer/Email Log
Following on nicely from Ninja Forms, is Post SMTP Mailer and Email Log. This one is an absolute must-have if your wordpress site is sending out emails. Post SMTP Mailer logs all emails that are sent from your site, and also allows you to configure your site to use an external email delivery service. If you're building sites for clients, these features are really great. Clients hate emails going missing! Using a plugin like this means that all outgoing mails are logged, and using the external mail delivery provider means your emails are pretty likely to actually land in the correct mailbox and not in spam.
View Post SMTP Mailer/Email Log in Wordpress plugin repository.
Ok, I cheated a little here. This list was meant to be plugins that could be used on almost any install, but it's pretty hard not to include Woocommerce here. If you haven't heard, Woocommerce is an ecommerce plugin for Wordpress. It allows your site to sell both physical and digital goods, it's super reliable and flexible, and has heaps of 3rd party support and addons. Woocommerce is easy to configure out of the box, but can still be extended to achieve almost any outcome you need.
View Woocommerce in Wordpress plugins repository.
6. Code Snippets
Code snippets is an awesome plugin for Wordpress developers. Often we find ourselves having to make small modifications to a client site that was build by someone else, or needing to add a small snippet that isn't necessarily theme related. Where do you put this code? In functions.php? Well what if we change the theme, but still need the functionality (e.g. an ajax or REST handler). OK, so let's use a plugin. Sure, but it kinda seems like overkill to use a plugin for maybe 15 lines of code (as an example). Or maybe you did chuck the code in functions.php, but now there's a conflict somewhere and you'd like to turn off some of the snippets you've added. Have fun commenting out the sections in the functions file.
So for these reasons we often use Code Snippets as it allows us to add snippets of code that are outside the theme, can be turned on and off independently with the click of a button.
View Code Snippets in Wordpress plugin repository.
View Clearfy in Wordpress plugin repository
8. Custom Post Type UI
Custom post type UI is another one that pretty much does what it says on the label. It provides a handy easy to use user interface to add and manage custom post types (and taxonomies). Sure, you can achieve the same thing with a few lines of code (once you've found the right snippet) and spend a while finding the right options to get what you need. CPTUI give you a quick way to add and edit custom post types.
View Custom Post Type UI in Wordpress plugin repository.
We find ourselves needing to move websites - from a production location to a new development instance, from development to a new production server, from one server to another. Sometimes we're needing to clone a site we didn't build and don't have FTP access to. Duplicator bundles up the Wordpress files and the database, compresses the bundle, and then provides an easy installer. Download the installer and the file bundle, then upload them to the new location and run the installer. Easy! There are many ways to migrate a Wordpress install, but Duplicator is (as far as we have found) the easiest way to go most of the time.
View Duplicator in Wordpress plugin repository.
10. Yoast SEO
Last on the list is Yoast SEO. Yoast is intended to be an all in one solution to help improve your SEO. Obviously Yoast can't replace a real SEO expert, but it provides the tools you need to help implement some SEO strategies. Yoast has tools to edit page & post titles and meta descriptions, generate sitemaps, give insights into keyword density, focus keywords and readability analysis etc.
View Yoast SEO in Wordpress plugin repository.