Top 6 WordPress Plugins You Need in 2023

August 21, 2023 Web development


WordPress plugins are powerful tools that can add helpful functionality to your site. But with over 55,000 plugins available for WordPress, it can be difficult to know which ones are truly essential for your website. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the key plugins every WordPress site needs to install.

Whether you’re a beginner building your first site or a seasoned pro, these plugins will optimize your images, back up your content, improve security, speed up your pages, and more. Let’s dive in!

1. Page Builder Plugins

Page builder plugins like GenerateBlocks, Elementor, and Beaver Builder allow you to create and customize WordPress pages through an intuitive drag-and-drop interface.

These plugins come equipped with pre-designed page templates, sections, rows, and content blocks that you can use as building blocks for your pages.

GenerateBlocks provides an excellent array of flexible content blocks for building custom page layouts. The template sections and design elements allow you to assemble beautiful pages in minutes.

GenerateBlocks integrates tightly with WordPress to provide a seamless page-building experience right within your WordPress editor. The premium version unlocks even more templates and customization options. To get more information about using this plugin for your website, you can check on this GenerateBlocks review.

However, some page builders also tend to create more bloated code, negatively impacting page load times. It’s a trade-off that needs to be managed through the proper use of caching.

2. Image Optimization

Having properly optimized images is crucial for fast page loading speeds. High-resolution photos straight from your camera or stock photo sites can be massive files that bog down your site.

An image optimization plugin like ShortPixel can intelligently compress your images without reducing visual quality. This significantly reduces file sizes and makes your pages load faster.

ShortPixel works by cutting down overly large images to a more reasonable size for the web. So a huge 6000 x 4000-pixel photo can be resized down to something like 1200 x 800 without losing any visible details.

The plugin can also convert image formats to WebP when possible. WebP is a newer image format supported by most modern browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. 

It employs advanced compression techniques to create much smaller files than traditional JPEGs and PNGs. We’re talking file sizes that are 20-25% smaller without losing quality.

The bottom line is that image optimization should be one of the first plugins you install. Faster load times keep visitors engaged and can boost your website’s search engine ranking.

3. Backup Plugin

A reliable and automated backup solution is a critical security measure for any WordPress site. Server issues, plugin conflicts, security breaches, and accidental mistakes can all potentially damage or erase your site.

A specialized WordPress backup plugin like UpdraftPlus gives you peace of mind by regularly backing up your WordPress installation, database, images, themes, plugins, and other important files.

With UpdraftPlus, you can easily restore your entire site with just a few clicks if anything ever goes wrong. It allows you to download backups to your computer and store backups remotely on cloud storage like Google Drive or Amazon S3.

The plugin is configured to run scheduled automatic backups each day, week, or month. You can also manually trigger a backup at any time. UpdraftPlus retains multiple backup versions (like daily and weekly), so you have options when restoring your site.

Having a comprehensive backup solution like UpdraftPlus is essential insurance against catastrophes and human error. No WordPress site should run without it!

4. Security Plugin

As an open-source platform run by millions of sites, WordPress is an appealing target for hackers and malicious bots. Using a dedicated security plugin is critical to help protect your site.

The Wordfence plugin provides complete security scanning to detect and block hack attempts, malware, insecure code, phishing, and other threats. It acts as a firewall by blocking dangerous traffic before it can reach your site.

Wordfence also has a real-time traffic monitor that keeps tabs on all activity on your site. If it detects a security issue or suspicious behavior from a particular IP address, it can instantly block them.

The plugin can scan your files, themes, and plugins for malware or changed code. This helps uncover backdoors, injected spam links, hidden redirects, and other unwanted modifications.

Wordfence offers both a free and premium version of the plugin for maximum protection. The premium option includes advanced features like IP blocking, country blocking, email alerts, and rigorous scanning of files, posts, and comments.

No matter which version you use, having Wordfence or another security plugin installed is a must for protecting your site from hacks, bots, and spam. Don’t skip this essential step!

5. Contact Form Plugin

Adding a contact form to your site provides an easy way for visitors to get in touch with questions, comments, or requests. Forms are especially useful for service businesses, agencies, e-commerce stores, and blogs.

There are many form builder plugins to choose from.

Also, Contact Form 7 is one of the popular choices that’s easy to customize and integrate into your WordPress site.

With Contact Form 7, you can create simple contact forms or advanced multi-page forms using shortcodes and HTML tags. It allows conditional form logic, file uploads, captcha, and much more.

Since contact forms can attract spam bots, using an anti-spam service like Google reCAPTCHA is highly recommended. This will present a simple checkbox for humans to validate they are not robots before submitting your form.

You can then configure Contact Form 7 to send all submissions to your email address for follow-up. Contact forms allow you to segment inquiries instead of publishing your personal email address.

Just keep in mind that contact forms should only be added if they serve a clear purpose for your site visitors. Don’t add one just for the sake of having a form. Provide value!

6. Caching Plugin

Caching is an advanced technique that can dramatically speed up your WordPress site. It works by storing static copies of your pages and serving those cached versions to visitors instead of dynamically generating each page on every request.

WP Rocket is one of the most popular and user-friendly caching plugins available. Once activated, it automatically begins caching your pages, posts, archives, feeds, etc.

The plugin intelligently knows when to clear and update the cache when you publish new content. It also excludes non-cacheable pages like your account dashboard, cart, and checkout from being cached.

In addition to basic caching, WP Rocket allows you to manually cache certain actions like logged-in users, RSS feeds, API requests, and search results. These extra cached elements can further optimize performance.

The premium version of WP Rocket also offers options like cache preloading, critical CSS generation, and lazy loading of images and videos. Caching can easily shave several seconds off your site’s load times.

Limit Your Plugins

While certain plugins are very beneficial, you should be selective about what you install to create an effective WordPress website. Too many unnecessary plugins will slow down your site, create conflicts, and complicate maintenance.

Carefully evaluate each new plugin you consider to determine if it provides enough value to justify being installed. Avoid plugins that are buggy, outdated, or slow your site down without good reason.

Also, be very wary of plugins from developers you don’t know and trust. Plugins have been known to contain security holes, hidden redirects, spam links, and other shady behavior. Only install reputable plugins with good ratings and many installations.

As a rule of thumb, try only using essential plugins for your site. Don’t get tempted by every cool plugin out there or overcomplicate things. Quality over quantity!