One of the many great things about WordPress is it has a massive development community who contribute to the WordPress plug-in repository. This means there are so many plug-ins out there that can make your life easier as a WordPress developer or WordPress user. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
Advanced Custom Fields: This is my absolute favorite WordPress plug-in as it really saves me time when custom theming and I can pass those time savings onto my clients in pricing and timeline. It simplifies the creation of custom fields and their surrounding meta boxes enabling developers to create intuitive backend admin systems for their clients with ease. It creates really beautiful admin systems that my clients find incredibly easy to use. While not necessarily the best route for custom fields on every project, it’s a great asset on many.
Gravity Forms: Granted, this is a premium WordPress plug-in so it’s not free like most others but I will say this is without a doubt the best developer license investment I’ve ever made. It’s my go-to on almost every project that involves forms — and most do — and its developer add-ons allow you do some incredibly powerful things using them as a base. If you don’t want to pony up for a Gravity Forms license, Contact Form 7 is the best alternative, though not nearly as powerful. If you want to dive deeper into the differences between Contact Form 7 and Gravity Forms, you can check out my other post discussing that here.
Yoast SEO: Probably the most well-known plug-in when it comes to WordPress SEO and it’s for a reason. This plug-in allows clients to easily manage their meta info and other SEO-related items, as well as creates an XML sitemap for search engines.
Those are just a handful of plug-ins that I love. In general, when checking out WordPress plug-ins, I recommend reviewing the rating of the plug-in and taking a look at the Support tab to see what users of the plug-in are responding with. Granted, don’t take one person’s “This plug-in doesn’t work!” as gospel because user error always factors in, but if several people are speaking up about plug-in issues or claiming that the plug-in ruined their life… may be worth thinking twice before installing.
This post was first published in February 2013 and modified in August 2015.