A basic set or WordPress Plugins, mostly free.
A standard installation of WordPress works, but it lacks many features that are needed for even a basic site. For any feature that you wish to add, there are usually one or more plugins that will accomplish the task. Plugins are a matter of your needs and personal taste.
The question becomes “What plugins do I need for my WordPress site?”. When you are choosing plugins, the best way to do so is from the Add New in the Plugins area. When you do that, you will see an indications of
- How many active installations use the plugin.
- If the plugin is know to be compatible with your version of WordPress or not.
- A Star rating from users
- When the plugin was last updated.
- A link to details. This will show reviews, FAQs and other informatin.
This is probably one of the most critical plugins and should be one of the first that you install. Due to the popularity and number of WordPress sites, new sites are targets for hackers. They will start attacking a site within hours of it being launched.
One tool to protect your site is Wordfence Security. You can use it ‘out of the box’ but it pays to go through and check the configuration. You can block users when their attempted logins fail after a certain number of tries.
I have learned over the years to not trust web hosting companies for backups. As your site grows, you should have backups of the database and all files. This includes media files. Depending on your work flow, you could have the media files backed up locally and not necessarily from the server.
The free version of BackupWordPress will allow you to back up your database and/or files manually or on a scheduled basis.
Lightboxes for images
The default behavior of images in your post leaves a lot to be desired. A plugin such as Huge IT Lightbox will enhance your user’s experience. When a user clicks on an image in a post, a lightbox will show the image full size.
The default installation of WordPress has no provision for forms. There a number of fairly good tools that will provide this ability. One example is Ninja Tools. The free version will allow you to place useful forms on your site.
Users sharing your site via social media can help grow your site quickly. There are social media plugins that will manage displaying buttons for social sharing. Sassy Social Media is one tool. You will need to tweak the configuration a bit. Don’t forget to check how the sharing buttons render on tablets and mobile devices.
A better editor.
The editor installed with WordPress is a basic version of the TinyMCE Editior. Your formatting choices are very limited. Installing the TinyMCE Advanced plugin will allow much more control over the formatting of your posts.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is critical to getting decent rankings for your content. The free version of Yoast will work for most beginners and intermediate users. Yoast will give you advice regarding the readability and search engine friendliness of your posts and other content.
Another part of SEO is controlling how the ‘link juice’ of your site flows to other sites. When you link to a site, you are endorsing that site. Some of the ‘goodness’ of your site will flow to other sites. If the site you are linking to is a legitimate strong site, that can be OK. However, there are other cases where you might not want the ‘link juice’ to follow. You can do that with a rel=’nofollow’. A plugin such as Ultimate Nofollow will enable you to do so easily.
Proper attribution of free images
The plugins listed above will give you a basic site with backups, security and some critical usability enhancements.
- Preventing images from overflowing a column in WordPress with an Artisteer theme and possibly other themes.
- Four Reasons I’m moving from Blogger to self hosted WordPress.
- Twitshot allows you to easily post images from your blog to Twitter
- Migrating from Blogger to WordPress
- WordPress Captcha plugin has a backdoor.
- Problems after uploading photos from Google Photos to Blogger.
- Opening multiple WordPress admin window for sites on a shared host results in high CPU usage.
- Why you need to watermark your images.