Simplify your WordPress maintenance by implementing these essential plugins.
By Max Ellinger
With its wide user base and engaged developer community, WordPress offers a dizzying array of plugins. Which ones does your site really need? We offer five mature plugins that stay popular for good reason.
1. Relevanssi: Amp up your site’s search capabilities
Spelling isn’t everyone’s strong suit, and this is especially true of mobile users. To pull in relevant search results — even from mis-keyed terms — Relevanssi allows you to display results for synonyms, related terms and common misspellings. Maybe you’re an upscale grocer who sells crudités, but you know some folks will be searching for vegetable platters. Relevanssi has you covered. Beyond that, this plugin also allows you to weigh title matches more heavily so they appear first, ignore words that occur so frequently as to muddy the search results, and index PDFs and other non-page content.
2. Gravity Forms: Streamline your users’ form-fill experience
While free-form plugins exist, a paid plugin, Gravity Forms, more than earns its keep with its slick presentation, intuitive drag-and-drop form builder and arsenal of add-ons. Wiring up custom logic (like a “Submit an Event” form that automatically creates a draft event in the dashboard) is as easy as installing an add-on. Need to collect payments? There’s an add-on for that, too. Other add-ons can help focus the language of your forms, integrate with Mailchimp and much, much more.
3. Jetpack: Enhance your Related Posts algorithm
Many sites have a Related Post carousel at the end of an article, and often those are populated by pulling recent articles from a relevant category. Jetpack allows you to go one step further, using their algorithm to scan your content and find articles that are related on more dimensions than just the category level. Another bonus? It’s free.
4. Redirection: Preempt “404 page not found” errors
No website redesign is complete without a redirection plan. At C/A, we use a combination of automated tools and real human hands to create a redirect spreadsheet indicating where URLs on the old site should point once the new site goes live. We input that spreadsheet into Redirection, a robust, free plugin that is simple enough for non-specialists to maintain post-launch.
5. Advanced Custom Fields: Refine your WordPress editing view
Advanced Custom Fields is an old stand-by for improving the editing experience on WordPress sites. Along with its bonus content sibling, ACF Extended, Advanced Custom Fields offers tools for custom page builders and the new Gutenberg editor — making the editing experience more visual and allowing you to create and re-use templated groups.
If you’re about to launch a new website — or if you just want to improve the one you have — don’t sleep on these tried-and-true plugins. Just a few tools will go a long way toward improving the user experience.