Startup plugins and themes

Like most people who create WordPress website regularly, we have what you might call a default approach and some essential plugins that we use. Basically, allowing for a few variations depending on the type of website, we upload the same set of plugins to every install. We have a simple folder where we keep updated versions of these files, and when we install a new site we simply zip the folder and upload it to the server. We thought you might like to know what we do..

Free Plugins

BAW login logout menu – An old plugin that creates a login/logout menu item. Very handy, even if very simple. Available from the WordPress plugin repository.

Bulk delete – another free plugin. There are times when you need to delete posts, pages, attachments, users or meta fields in bulk, and this is the plugin to do it for you.

Duplicate Post – another free and quite old plugin which does exactly what it says on the tin. Install and activate it and you’ll have an extra menu item allowing you to clone any post, page and god knows what else. A great time saver.

Imsanity – a free plugin which automatically resizes uploaded images to a more reasonable size. The plugin is configurable with a max width, height and quality. Handy if other people are likely to be uploading images to your site.

Lazy Load – if we’re not using our normal caching plugin (which conflicts with lazy load) we use this on almost every site. Quite simply, it loads images when visitors need them, when they’re about to become visible, and not before, and so speeds up page load times.

Remove Query Strings From Static Resources – a bit of a mouthful to say, we use this just to get slightly better scores on the various testing sites. All it does is remove query strings from static resources like CSS & JS files, as the name suggests.

WP Optimise / WP Sweep – we don’t have any real preference between these two. They are simple plugins which tidy up your site and database, deleting revisions and so on. They are activated to use and then deactivated afterwards.

UpdraftPlus – a good and stable free backup plugin, available from the WordPress plugin repository. There is a ‘premium’ paid for version, but we’ve not tried it.

WordPress Zero Spam – We often use this instead of Akismet. It lets you use the standard WordPress comment form and there are no API keys required.

Wordfence Security – sadly, website security should play a major part in your planning from the outset. A WordPress website is a target for hackers from the day you put it online, not only if it becomes popular. There are countless security plugins in the WordPress library and everybody we know seems to have their own favourite. We like Wordfence – it does all we need and hasn’t let us down yet.

Code snippets – a plugin we don’t use, but which many people will find very useful is this free plugin available from the WordPress plugin repository. Quite simply, the plugin allows you to add and snippets on your site without touching your theme’s functions.php file. We don’t use it because we’re happy to mess about with php files.

Money-Saving Tip

Save money on WordPress plugins and themes by joining a membership site like where membership entitles you to download any from hundreds of premium WordPress themes and plugins. If you’re confident enough to use plugins and themes without support from developers and don’t mind manually updating plugins, it’s definitely the way to go.

However, if you’re a newcomer to WordPress or think it’s likely you’ll be needing author support to set up and run your themes and plugins,  we’d advise you to buy from the developers, who normally give 6 months’ or a year’s support after you buy.

Premium Plugins

Backupbuddy – a premium backup plugin which we don’t like anywhere near as much as UpdraftPlus, but which is very handy for moving an entire website from one domain to another. We’ve used it in this way surprisingly often. For regular backups we prefer UpdraftPlus.

Advanced Custom Fields (pro) – a very handy plugin which we use on sites where custom post types are a major feature. You still have to create your custom post type and taxonomies manually, but this handles the rest very well.

Gravity Forms – there are plenty of free forms plugins, but the reality is that most of them require you to cough up for one thing or another. You almost certainly won’t need it if all you want is a bog-standard contact form, in which case upload Contact Form 7 from the WordPress library.

WordPress SEO by Yoast – sadly, SEO takes up an awful lot of time and there’s nothing we can do to make its importance go away. That being so, it’s best to start dealing with on-page SEO from the outset. This is the best SEO plugin we’ve tried – and if you don’t want to pay, the free version from the WordPress plugin repository isn’t at all bad.

WP-Rocket – Before we decided to give this plugin a spin, we tried more or less every recommended cache plugin on the market, without ever once being impressed by the difference they made. Even if it’s the only paid-for caching plugin, it’s by far and away the best, in our opinion.

It’s worth saying that we don’t use all these plugins on every site, or that they are the only plugins we use; they’re just the starting set that we upload by default.