My favorite WordPress plugins (and also HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by experienced WordPress developers). All these plugins are clean-coded, super-fast, and best in class. I’ve also included thoughts on others that I don’t like…just so you have some context.
WordPress Gutenberg block library plugins:
- See my review on Gutenberg block libraries.
WordPress content plugins:
- WP Show Posts – allows you to show posts anywhere. You can choose filters to decide which posts are shown, and then also options on how they are displayed. Very lean and when combined with other plugins, are great for getting rid of pagebuilder reliance. 🙂
- Lightweight Grid Columns – let’s you create columns, however many you want, whichever size you want. So that you can push your page layout around without having to use a pagebuilder! Genius!
WordPress Cache Plugins (detailed review):
- SWIFT Performance – Lite version is best free cache plugin, paid version is the fastest full-featured cache plugin out there.
- LiteSpeed Cache – incredible free cache plugin with many features, but only works on LiteSpeed servers. This is actually the best cache plugin if you have thousands of pages or many MANY visits (like millions).
- WP Rocket – another fast (premium) cache plugin. easy to use, not recommended for NGINX.
- Simple Cache – fastest plugin for my VPS with REDIS object cache enabled. This is recommended if you’ve done all manual optimizations possible.
- Breeze or Cache Enabler – highly recommended for NGINX servers.
- Comet Cache – fast and nice but SWIFT (free) and WP Rocket (paid) are better.
- Borlabs Cache or WP Speed of Light – other good premium cache plugins.
- WP Fastest Cache – it’s a nice one, too, but not the fastest from my testing. Many do like it.
- W3TC – I hate it. Way too bloated and technical. Incompatible with many plugins and not the fastest even when it does work!
- WP Super Cache or WPMU Hummingbird – absolute garbage. Bloated and slow.
Read my: Best WordPress Cache Plugins Review
WordPress Asset Optimization:
- Autoptimize – helpful but not necessary if your theme and plugins are already optimized. (This is like a band-aid.)
- WP Gonzalez – amazing, useful, costs money.
- Plugin load filter – asset organizer plugin but simple-enough to use.
- Plugin Organiser – full asset organizer plugin but UI can get complicated.
- WordPress Asset CleanUp – supposedly WP Gonzalez but free. I like this one.
WordPress Image Compression (detailed reviews):
- ShortPixel – SP has best compression and GLOSSY formats.
- LiteSpeed Cache – can do tons of images, FREE!
- WP Compress – another great compression service, perfect for sharp details. Lower price than SP. (Can also try my LIFETIME link.)
- Imagify – is 3rd place for me. I wouldn’t even use this.
- TinyPNG/JPG – can be good sometimes but ShortPixel is definitely better!
- WP Smush/EWWW – horrible compression quality/file-size ratio.
WordPress image plugins:
- Quick Featured Images – best plugin for managing/automating your featured images. Pro version is so worth the price!
- Enable Media Replace – replace media files without having to dig through FTP folders.
- reGenerate Thumbnails advanced – best IMO, easy-to-use with great filtering options.
- Metaslider (free/paid) or Smart Slider 3 (free/paid) – are the best. Metaslider is good for super simply minimal sliders. SS can do fancier things like dynamic height or showing different sliders on mobile, also more features (embedding video, changing button images, etc). Soliloquy used to be great/lightweight but has now been surpassed. Whatever you do, avoid Slider Revolution (REV Slider).
- WP Featherlight – simple jquery for lightbox. I use this (and ONLY THIS) along with default Gutenberg for building image galleries.
- Meow Gallery – if you want a full-featured gallery, use this instead of the bloated NextGEN, FooGallery, Envira, etc.
WordPress Database Plugins:
- Advanced Database Cleaner – incredible for tidying up your DB. (I like this much better than WP Optimize.)
- editor – great for editing your database from WordPress instead of via cPanel/phpmyadmin (BE CAREFUL!)
- Better Search Replace – my favorite database editor by Delicious Brains. Has a great “test run” feature. I use it to fix URL’s for migration or https purposes.
- Migrate DB Pro – easy way to move databases.
WordPress BackUp Plugins (detailed reviews):
- BackWPup – awesome free plugin that does FULL backups and even remote to S3! Yes, FREE! (my favorite)
- WPVivid – another awesome FREE full-featured backup plugin. Has extra convenient clone/staging features that BackWPup doesn’t have but can be buggy for larger sites.
- UpDraft – very popular, get it for offsite backup feature. I hate the free version but the pro version is really nice, comprehensive.
- BackUpWordPress – my favorite free backup plugin for local backups. Works well, clean/quiet interface.
- BackupBuddy – other people like it. I think it’s really annoying with many distracting screens.
- Caldera – my default. Free and works great. No bloat.
- Fluent Forms – slowly becoming my #1 favorite over Caldera. Easier to use in some ways and nicer design and extra features.
WordPress Migration Plugins:
Use these for moving sites or pushing from live to staging environment and vice versa.
- All-in-One WP Migration – my favorite, popular and works. Free version has 500MB limit and won’t export/import from remote destinations (S3/Gdrive/etc). TIP: you can circumvent size limit by excluding “wp-content” during export; just manually compress and extract it using cPanel’s “File Manager”.
- Duplicator – great for migrating/clone sites but also works for backups. Popular among developers. May feel too technical for newbies.
- Migrate Guru – easy to use and free…can move huge sites and handle URL rewrite for you. Only issue is it misses non-WP directories and doesn’t always work. If you’re not a pro and need something that’s ALWAYS 100% reliable, stick to AIO Migration or do things manually.
WordPress SEO Plugins:
- SEO Framework – my favorite. Clean and bloat-free. Most simple and doesn’t try to do everything for your site. SEO only!
- ALL-IN-ONE SEO (pro version) – my 2nd favorite. High quality, and fast.
- Yoast SEO – they responded to complaints and improved UI, faster, cleaner, and less bloat. Still annoying nag screens and I still prefer the others.
WordPress Redirection Plugins:
- Htaccess – not a plugin but is the most recommended method!
- Safe Redirect Manager – the best one! Enterprise grade, high quality code, super fast redirects with the least speed impact.
- Redirection – hell no! Drives me crazy that so many people use this. It slows your website down by 1-3 seconds. You’re better off just copying the redirects to your htaccess!
- Using SEO redirect function – also a “no” for me.
WordPress Membership Plugins:
- MemberPress – best membership plugin out there. I’ve tried many and this one has all the features I needed, easy and fun to use. Also great pricing that doesn’t overcharge you for necessary add-ons.
- Restrict Content Pro (RCP) – also good membership plugin depending on your use case.
- WooMemberships/WooSubscriptions – great if you want to integrate with WooCommerce. Overkill if you don’t.
- Easy Digital Downloads – great plugin and very friendly, but aggressive pricing. Many basic features are add-ons and cost $$$.
- MemberMouse – I hate it. Expensive and hard to work with (design & coding), also loads many scripts and slows down your site.
- DigitalAccessPass (DAP) – outdated in many ways.
- Shopify – works great, looks great. Totally worth the monthly price so you don’t spend thousands developing on WordPress/WooCommerce. Cheapest plan is $9 or $15 if you want to use it with WordPress.
- WP Mail SMTP – my favorite email plugin. Works better than my old favorite “Post SMTP Mailer”.
- Shared Counts – great for putting social networking share counts on your sites.
- Social Warfare – handles shared counts and also controlling how shared content is displayed.
- Social Pug – same as Social Warfare and good reviews but I haven’t tried it yet.
- Scriptless Social Share – simple clean way to get shared boxes, but loads faster because it doesn’t do any counts.
- DoLogin – provide easy WP-admin login link for other contractors and support staff.
- Adminimize – control what different users can see once logged in.
- User Role Editor – edit what different user roles can do once logged in.