My Site’s WordPress Plugins List

A couple weeks ago I told you that I had changed my theme. One reader wrote back and said, essentially, that's nice but can you get us your WordPress plugins list? I had two immediate thoughts:

  1. Are there any extraneous plugins I should clear out before I write about the list?
  2. Am I going to create a debate when I explain why I picked one plugin over another?

Where I landed was pretty simple, after a quick check of the list. No and don't care.

Worrying about whether someone else will like or want to debate your plugin selection is a little like inviting someone into your home to hang out and then worrying about whether they'll like our couch or the paint color we chose for our walls.

So here is my list. Every one of these plugins is active. And I recommend all of them.

My Active WordPress Plugins

Always on my WordPress Plugins List

Let's start with the ones on the hill that I would die on. In other words, there's no way you're getting me to change my call on using these. These will always be on any WordPress plugins list I create.

  1. Yoast SEO Premium – If you're creating content, there's no better plugin to make sure that the content is good, found, and indexed. The other day someone asked me about the competitors. “They're great,” I said, and quickly followed up with, “but I prefer the folks that are at the front of the pack, not the ones who are quickly following behind and copying everything.” Until the day comes where the team at Yoast gets comfy and starts following others, I'll stick with them.
  2. WooCommerce – It may be a bit overkill right now since I'm barely selling anything on my site except for a bundle of two eBooks. But when I wanted to make a t-shirt available to my team at work, it was crazy fast to add it. That's why I love WooCommerce – because there's virtually nothing I can't do with it.
  3. Pretty Links Pro – My links to plugins in my posts are often affiliate links. It costs you nothing and sends me a few bucks if you purchase. It never affects my recommendation. But Pretty Links makes it easy to manage all my outbound links, and I have never stopped loving it – for more than 10 years.
  4. Code Snippets – It's on every site I work on. If you've never used it, you should. It makes it easy to add code to your site, control it, and organizes all of it. I haven't put code into a functions.php file in forever. And did I mention it's free?
  5. WP Mail SMTP – I know there are a lot of different solutions out there. I have used this forever. And if you're still sending email directly from your web server, this is where I tell you to stop that if you like deliverability. There are tons of solutions for sending email from your site (AWS, Mailgun, Sendgrid, etc.) and WP Mail SMTP integrates with all of them.
  6. Header Footer Code Manager – I never expect or count on my theme to let me place the various JavaScript calls to third party solutions on my site. So whether you're integrating FB pixels, Google Tag Manager, or something else, this is an easy way to push little bits of code into your header or footer. This plugin is also free.
  7. Disable Comments – Another free plugin that I didn't use to use, but in the last few years I've landed. I'm in the “no comments” side of the blogging discussion. It took too long, and was often more distracting than it was worth. Comment moderation is hard. So instead, I killed all the comments.

Ok, so that's the first 7. They go on every site I work on.

Almost Always Active

But there are a couple of plugins that show up on ALMOST every site I work on. That's because sometimes there's a situation where something else is needed. But in almost every case, the next few listed are active plugins on sites I work on.

  1. Ninja Forms – This is my go-to forms plugin. Don't get me wrong, the others are all awesome. I have licenses to all of them, in case a customer needs a specific feature that Ninja Forms may not have. But that's rarely the case. When I need an integration (SalesForce, Recurly, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, etc.), I never doubt that Ninja Forms has me covered. (Note, those extensions have a cost, even if Ninja Forms is free.)
  2. Ninja Forms Layout & Styles – If you're using Ninja Forms, this is the extension I recommend you purchase (even if you purchase nothing else). It makes it really easy to customize the look and feel of your forms.
  3. Click To Tweet – This is the old school plugin that I keep using on my site because the shortcode is all over my site. Changing now would be too much work. It works great, even if it's simple. Need a bit more? Check out the better click to tweet solution (also free).
  4. Imagify – Again, there are a lot of image compression solutions out there. They're all great. Even after trying several, I always come back to this one. It's fast, easy, and runs automatically in the background (and even support bulk operations).
  5. CheckoutWC – If you're going to run WooCommerce, then you might as well make sure that people finish their checking out. And that's where CheckoutWC comes in – as a really clean checkout solution with a lot of ability to customize how things look / work.

So those five are on almost every site, and they're certainly on my own site. Highly recommended! But that's only 12, and I have more active plugins running. So what are the others?

The WooCommerce Extensions

You can find the WooCommerce related products I regularly recommend on my favorites page. On my site, since there's very little eCommerce going on, these are specific to my needs. But I'm guessing most of these will appear on your list too.

  1. WooCommerce Payments – It's a collaboration between Automattic & Stripe
  2. WooCommerce PDF Invoices – This free plugin sends PDF invoices
  3. WooCommerce Product Bundles – I combine two eBooks in one product bundle
  4. WooCommerce Printful Integration – I use it whenever I sell t-shirts (requires Printful)

We're about halfway thru my WordPress plugins list. Let's dig into the utilities I use.

WordPress Utility Plugins

These plugins do one thing, and one thing well. They're not center-stage, but I really appreciate what they do, which is why they're listed on my active WordPress plugins screen.

  1. ConvertKit & ConvertKit for WooCommerce – This connects my site to ConvertKit
  2. Data Tables Generator – These guys created a pretty cool table plugin that I like.
  3. ETH Redirect to Latest Post – I was looking for this very thing and then found it!
  4. Lucky Table of Contents – I can't tell you how much I love this little TOC plugin.
  5. Ninja Forms ConvertKit – Wait, I forgot the other ConvertKit integration (for Ninja Forms)
  6. Ninja Forms Conditional Logic – The conditional logic add-on for Ninja Forms
  7. Novashare.io – This is the lightweight plugin for social media sharing
  8. Safe Redirect Manager by 10up – A super safe and clean way to manage redirects
  9. SVG Support – This adds SVG support to my site
  10. YIKES Simple Taxonomy Ordering – A great little plugin by YIKES that lets me re-order stuff
  11. Link Whisper – It helps build internal links between all my content.

We're 28 plugins and you're likely thinking, like I am, what else could possibly be on his active WordPress plugins page?

Well, I did recently shift to Gutenberg….

Gutenberg Block Plugins

The last few plugins are all Gutenberg-related.

  1. Blocksy Companion – This is what I use to help my theme do awesome things
  2. GenerateBlocks – Super cool blocks
  3. GenerateBlocks Pro – More blocks
  4. Stackable Premium Blocks – Even more cool blocks

Is that it? Nope, there's one more. I wrote about it yesterday. It's new to me.

It's called NitroPack – and it's for performance. It makes this site run pretty darn fast.

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Chris Lema
Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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