WordPress Plugins

My top 3 WordPress Plugins

If you’ve been following me for a while, you might have noticed my adversity towards over bloated WordPress installs with copious amounts of plugins installed. Read my post here.

I recently installed a prebuilt theme for a client and was astounded that the theme itself needed 10 plugins just to work!

I am of the mindset that if a function is required for a websiste, that is already included in the core functions of the WordPress framework, or can be added with one line of code or function, then it shouldn’t require a plugin. In addition, a theme should work stand alone without ANY plugins installed.

That being said there are definitely some great plugins out there that can extend your basic WordPress install. So I thought I would share with you my top 3 plugins.

Gravity forms

This is a paid plugin, but the functionality it punches out is totally worth the price tag! Not only can you drag and drop to create your own forms (no coding required) but you can also setup payment with Paypal, integrate with Mailchimp, create multistep forms, create auto responders plus loads more.


SEO by Yoast

Whilst your site still needs to be setup correctly this plugin is great for tweaking your onsite search engine optimisation. The indicator lights give you instant feedback on whether a page or post is relevant to the term you want to target. Not only that, you can control what text and video that goes to your social channels.



Again another paid plugin, but it’s worth it’s price to make sure you have a backup of your site if your site happens to go belly up. This plugin is built by the WordPress guys themselves, so you know it’s good. The bonus of this plugin over other backup systems (Like Backup Buddy) is it actually is so incredibly easy to install and includes the offsite backup storage.



What WordPress plugins can you not live without? Leave a comment below!

2 thoughts on “My top 3 WordPress Plugins”

  1. Yes, a theme should work without any plugins installed – but it depends what you mean by “work”.

    The job of a theme is to display the content of your site. It is not to add functionality to your site – that is the role of plugins.

    For instance, if your site calls for custom post types (e.g., portfolios, directory listings, etc) then the functionality that creates these should be in plugins, not the theme. By all means, the theme could contain display templates and styling for these, and suggest the plugins to be used to create the functionality – this is the path that a lot of premium themes take.

    There are 2 main problems with including additional functionality directly in themes:

    1. The theme becomes bloated. This will often manifest in your site being slow to load. It is also harder for the vendor to support and can result in instability an/or security vulnerabilities. And if you are not using all of the functionality that the theme provides, then these are pretty high prices to pay.

    2. You are effectively locked in to the theme. It takes a lot of effort to get all of the functionality set up correctly, and if you go to change themes you will lose all of this work. So you will get to a point where you are no longer happy with your site, but the thought of having to recreate all of the functionality in another theme is just too daunting to contemplate. Had the functionality been added as plugins in the first place, then changing themes at worst would require some restyling, but all of the functionality (and custom content) will still be there.

    I know the most popular themes on ThemeForest (and similar marketplaces) tend to be those that are stuffed full of hundreds of options, short codes, custom post types, etc, but I wonder if the people that buy these themes know what there are getting themselves in to. We all know that even the best website today will look dated in a few years and will need an update. Let’s hope that these people are not disappointed when that time comes.

    1. Great point Warren, yes plugins for functions!

      As for what I meant by ‘work’, I was mostly referring to the fact that a theme should work independently of any plugins to do it’s main function ie. Page styling. For example, I recently came across a theme that required a plugin to ensure the menu worked on the mobile version, to me should be included in the styles, another plugin was added to add an ‘excerpt’ to a page, which is included in wordpress core and just needs to be switched on. For the purposes of this article which is not targeted at fellow web coders like yourself, the use of the word ‘function’ wasn’t used in the technical sense.

      I think there is a big issue with the quality control of many plugins out there, but it’s probably more of a reflection on the industry as a whole.

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