One of the best appeal of WordPress is the huge library of plugins. With over 50,000 to this date, it can be difficult to know which one to use. Here I list the 20 essential WordPress plugins for 2020.
It is worth noting that you shouldn’t use too many WordPress plugins if you don’t want to slow down your site. With that said, there are essential ones which will help you get the most out of your site. The following ones will improve functionality, security and make your website easier to use.
Developed by WPMUdev, Smush is the leader in media optimisation for WordPress. It helps you compress your images to a minimum so your pages load as fast as possible. The free version enables you to smush your existing images manually, and the pro version does it all automatically. Either versions compress new media as you upload them for the first time.
Perfect tool for boosting performance of your site. I use it for the caching and the assets optimisation. The user interface is nice and intuitive enough to make such power user tool easy to understand to beginners. Hummingbird is installed on over 100,000 sites, with regular updates and quality support from the team behind Smush.
In my opinion the best page builder out there. With the free version you can make websites as customised as you want for desktop and responsive design alike. The pro version has few extra tools like a popup builder. I think this is definitely a must have tool for graphic and web designers. Over 4 millions installs to date.
One of the best coming soon page maker out there. Although the free version let’s you create a simple and efficient page, I recommend getting the paid version for a small fee. It will give you the ability to create a secret link to share to your client. They love to see work in progress and working in transparency is definitely an added value. Over 1 million active installs to date.
I still don’t know how I could do without Wordfence. This is by far your best WordPress tool, it safeguards your precious project from malicious codes and brute force attacks. And believe me there are attacks all the time! The free version protects your site well enough, with a brilliant firewall and brute force login protection. If you install it on many sites, I recommend Wordfence Central, where you can manage all of them at once. Protecting your site and your client is the best thing you can do.
Whatever you do on WordPress, you cannot afford not to have backups of your database, options and files. Saving copies of your files using an FTP tool just takes too long, what you want is a tool that does it for you. You can create backup profiles and choose how to save the files. I use the free version and manually trigger backups, but with the pro version you can schedule them and never worry about it anymore.
With this plugin you can reorganise the backend interface to your liking. I use it to simplify the menu of WordPress for my clients, so they can find the tools they need faster and not be disturb by the ones they don’t use. You can rename tools, hide them and move them around. Simple yet useful tool.
This does exactly what it promises. With it you can clone any posts or pages so you don’t need to do the layout over and over again. It creates a draft copy of posts or pages in seconds. This can save you so much time so you can focus on creating good content instead. I am not sure why this is not built in WordPress itself!
A great tool to change images and other media already in place in your site. You don’t want to delete and re-upload media because that would simply mess things up and create unnecessary page errors. With this plugin you can upload a new version of your image and it will take care of re-linking the file to your post and pages where it is placed. Especially useful when you resize an image for example.
Part of my toolbox as web designer. This is probably the most sophisticated image slider tool out there. It is so popular that most quality themes will bundle it in their package. You can create amazing html 5 sliders, with images and animated texts for example. It also handles video embeds really well, and takes care of the responsive aspect perfectly. There is so much you can do with it, I feel I barely know all its potential.
This smart little tool will help you optimise your content for searches. You will setup a keyword for your posts, pages and taxonomies. You control the SEO title and description so you know exactly how your pages appear on searches. The tool guides you with useful tips and scores until you have properly optimised your content. I enjoy how you can get your site map URLs to easily implement in Google Search Console. A must have with over 5 million installs.
You setup an e-commerce site, you use Woocommerce. As simple as that. With over 5 million installs, it is by far the leading e-commerce solution for WordPress. You can easily integrate Paypal and Stripe payment gateways, and the customisation is very flexible for your products. It has near perfect maintenance and support, and with a huge community of users, you are never far from finding out the solution to your problem.
I find this is a great tool to insert your Instagram feed on your site. You can choose many different layouts and the customisation is fairly intuitive. It has a good level of maintenance and support, with over 1 million installs to date.
Not every sites can afford to receive user comments. This tool simply disable comments site wide once and for all. You can still enable comments on a granular level, let’s say on a specific page of post. It has over 1 million installs to date, which definitely shows you that you are not the only one looking for this functionality!
You are bound to move or disable pages at some point. You should not forget all your pages and posts are indexed and so you always need to setup some redirections to avoid the dreaded “error 404”. This plugin helps you do that very simply. You can either setup redirection directly from the page itself or from the dedicate setting area. It has over 1 million install and is frequently updated.
Despite using the best theme, there will always be some things missing. With this tool you can create custom fields for your pages, posts, portfolio and products to suit your need. Those custom fields can be displayed wherever you want with some coding. It is definitely a pro user feature, but so popular that many great themes bundle it in their package. It has over 1 million installs to date.
Probably the most popular contact form out there. It is simple and efficient and let’s you create classic forms for your contact page. It is not the most intuitive tool but it doesn’t take too long to understand. The good thing is that the form is fully mobile responsive and integrate well with google captcha anti spam. It has over 5 millions installs to date.
reCaptcha is a system developed by Google to protect from spamming. This little plugin helps you integrate the tech on your site, so your contact forms in particular cannot be used by robots to spam you. It integrates especially well with Contact Form 7. Once installed you complete forget about it, no more spams. It has over 100,000 installs to date.
Some hosting don’t provide email services. Or sometimes your contact forms don’t seem to send emails at all. This plugin fixes your email deliverability by reconfiguring WordPress to use a proper SMTP provider when sending emails. You can connect to your gmail servers, or use free ones out there like Pepipost – Sendinblue – Mailgun – Sendgrid… It has over 1 million installs to date.
These 20 plugins should get you going and give your site some good functionalities. Things change fast, so new ones will most likely need to be added to the list. What’s important is to avoid getting carried away with too many plugins as they can also have a negative effect to your site performance. It is all about balancing the pros and cons, as long as you get more from them than they take!
Feel free to contact me to get your free consultation. Let’s discuss your website project now. I am a freelance graphic designer in Hong Kong, building quality branding across media, from print to digital.
Read more on this topic:
24 Must Have WordPress Plugins for Business Websites in 2020 by wpbeginner.
30 Best WordPress Plugins in 2020 (mostly free) by isitwp.
Plugins categorised as popular by WordPress.
* Cover image by Webaroo