My list of trusted WordPress plugins for 2020 and beyond

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Ask various developers what their preferred list of WordPress plugins is and you’ll get a varied and subjective list. The immense repository of WordPress plugins available to users is so overwhelmingly vast, it’s likely that nobodies two lists will look the same. With that being said, I’ve decided to write my list of trusted WordPress plugins for 2020 and beyond.

Before I continue, I should note that all of these plugins are 100% free, unless otherwise stated. I will be touching on some Premium plugins, but only a few as I want to make this list as accessible as possible.

AMP

AMP

Category: Mobile

Implementing AMP into a website has never been so easy thanks to the official plugin for WordPress.

The plugin can be configured to follow one of three different template modes: Standard, Transitional, and Reader.

In Standard mode, you use AMP as the framework for your site, and there need not be any separate AMP and non-AMP versions. When configured to operate in Reader and Transitional modes, a given page will have a canonical URL as well as a corresponding (paired) AMP URL.

The most important thing to understand about the plugin is that it’s not serving as a mobile theme; it does not redirect mobile devices to the AMP version. Instead, the AMP version is served to mobile visitors when they find the content on platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest, Google Search, and others.

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Block Bad Queries (BBQ)

BBQ

Category: Security. (Free & Pro version available)

BBQ is a great light-weight bad query blocker that protects your site against malicious URL requests. The plugin checks all incoming traffic and quietly blocks bad requests containing nasty server requests and excessively long request-strings.

The best part of it is that it’s a simple yet solid solution that requires no configuration. The free version is good for most blogs, but the Pro version comes with a lot more configurable features such as a customizable firewall and additional scanners.

Due to this plugin’s light-weight nature, I often prefer it when compared to its meaty alternative, Wordfence Security.

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Wordfence Security

Wordfence

Category: Security. (Free & Pro version available)

Probably one of if not the most popular WordPress security plugin out there, Wordfence sets out to secure your WordPress website in a number of ways and ultimately excels at it.

Wordfence includes an endpoint firewall, login security protection, traffic monitoring and malware scanner to name a few. The free version is a superb WAF (Web Application Firewall) and shelling out for the Pro version does come with additional benefits such as real-time firewall rules and advanced scanners.

The plugin has helped me out a couple of times for websites that have been both compromised and under attack.

If you looking for solid security for a WordPress website, I think very few could argue against Wordfence – it’s extremely good at what it does and coupled with the fact that it’s highly configurable, that’s definitely a plus for any WordPress website from a tiny blog to a full-fledged corporate website.

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Contact Form 7

Custom Form 7

Category: Forms

Contact Form 7 is not the best form plugin out there. However, it does one thing really well; simple no-frills forms for your website.

The popular plugin has some missing features one would come to expect from modern WordPress form plugins (see Gravity Forms below) such as saving submissions, conditional form fields and submission redirects – but those can either be remedied with additional plugins.

When I’m looking to add a super simple no-frills form to a website, Contact Form 7 (coupled with the next plugin I’m about to discuss) is my go-to. For more advanced form features, I usually look elsewhere like Gravity Forms.

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Flamingo

Flamingo

Category: Forms. (Requires Contact Form 7 to operate)

Flamingo is a straight-forward submission saving plugin for Contact Form 7.

Because Contact Form 7 doesn’t have a submission saving functionality, one usually has to rely on another plugin to extend its functionality and this is where Flamingo comes in.

Each time a Contact Form 7 form is filled out and submitted, Flamingo will log that submission. A nice little touch is that Flamingo can export all entries as a CSV file – handy for reports.

Flamingo goes hand-in-hand with Contact Form 7 and coupling the two together will bring much desired additional functionality to a rather simple plugin.

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Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms

Category: Forms. (Premium plugin only)

Gravity Forms is a modern form solution that goes over and above the basic functionality that something like Contact Form 7 and Flamingo provides.

Features like advanced fields, conditional logic, friendly interface, hooks, add-ons (upon add-ons) and an API makes Gravity Forms a much more extensible and developer-friendly solution to working with forms in WordPress.

I’d definitely opt for Gravity Forms over Contact Form 7 if I’m going to be implementing forms on a larger website or a website that requires forms to be more flexible.

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LiteSpeed Cache

LiteSpeed Cache

Category: Caching

WordPress has many well known caching plugins, but none of them quite come close to the speed and configuration that LiteSpeed Cache offers.

I personally find caching plugins such as W3 Total Cache, WP Rocket, Autoptimize and WP Super Cache to be hit or miss – more often miss than hit thanks to their fiddly nature, but LiteSpeed Cache for WordPress takes caching to a whole new level.

The way it presents itself and works with the user to optimize caching potential feels like a breath of fresh air in a sea of other caching plugins all trying to do the exact same thing.

LiteSpeed cache comparison

I found this plugin also offers more modern features over other caching plugins such as HTTP/2 & QUIC support, ESI (Edge Side Includes) support, Cloudflare and Memcached/LSMCD/Redis support.

If you’re looking for a solid and modern caching solution of WordPress, I’d definitely urge you to give LiteSpeed Cache a chance.

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Redirection

Redirection

Category: SEO

Broken website links are not only a headache for the user but adversely affect your SEO rankings.

Redirection is a great management tool that not only shows you broken URLs users are hitting on your website, but it allows you to put a redirect in place.

The plugin also features logging, conditional redirects, import & export functionality, 404 tracking and permission-based redirection.

In most cases, the usefulness of this plugin becomes apparent if change the slug of a long-standing WordPress post and need users quickly redirected to the new URL.

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SSL Insecure Content Fixer

SSL Insecure Content Fixer

Category: SEO & Security

While something like mixed content warnings can be resolved with a few well-placed rules to a .htaccess file, SSL Insecure Content Fixer makes it even easier and future proofs requests from trying to reach http:// over https:// ever again.

The plugin comes with 5 levels of fixing insecure requests, from simple to full. The plugin also makes provision for additional fixes for WooCommerce https:// issues.

There isn’t a whole lot more to this plugin, but it still goes on my list of trusted and necessary WordPress plugins for quickly dealing with mixed content warnings and ensuring https is locked into your website across the board.

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Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO

Category: SEO (Free & Premium version available)

What can be said about Yoast SEO that most people don’t already know about? Arguably the best SEO plugin for WordPress, it’s not hard to see why this is an essential and super popular choice for WordPress websites.

While the free version pretty much contains the features most will need, there is a Premium version of the plugin that offers even more options.

If you looking for a solid SEO plugin that ticks most of the boxes, Yoast SEO is undeniably it.

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Custom Post Type UI

Custom Post Type UI

Category: Extensibility

I’m personally not a fan of plugins that set out to do just one thing, especially if said thing can be done in code. However, I will always make an exception for CPT UI.

Custom Post Type UI provides a super easy to use interface for creating and managing custom post types and taxonomies on your website. When it comes to extending WordPress websites, ACF (see below) and CPT UI is usually my first stop.

Why this plugin is not part of WordPress core yet boggles me, but never has it been so easy to manage custom post types.

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ACF – Advanced Custom Fields

ACF

Category: Extensibility. (Free & Pro version available)

ACF is another amazing plugin that I believe WordPress should buy and incorporate into core. The amazing flexibility and potential it provides for a website make it a super popular and trusted option.

While the free version is fine, it’s the power of the Pro version where the plugin really shines brightly with it’s repeater fields, flexible content fields and clone field functionality.

If you’re building a website with slightly more complexity than your standard website, it’s likely you’re going to run in to the need for something that offers the features that ACF provides.

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UberMenu

UberMenu

Category: Menu (Premium Plugin)

Sure, the standard menu WordPress is fine when you’re operating within the realm of its limits, but if you looking to include larger, more complex menus then I have no doubt that you’re going to run into trouble.

UberMenu grants the ability to create some really unique, super complex menus that can contain some interesting features such as maps, contact forms, dynamic content, shortcodes and tabbed submenus.

I’ve used UberMenu many times in past projects and can vouch for its super ease of use and the huge amount of flexibility it gives a developer to really make those website menus pop.

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WP All Import

WP All Import

Category: Data (Premium Plugin)

If you’ve worked with data manipulation like getting batches of data out or into a WordPress website, you’ll know it can be a bit of a hassle. Thankfully WP All Import has come to my rescue a few times in the past.

WP All Import grants a developer to import data into to any theme or plugin field, update existing content with new data, import WooCommerce, ACF, users, listings and also includes automatic scheduling for those times when you want imports/exports to run on a timely manner.

The ability to also get exported data out of a plugin (and into Excel, XML or CSV) or the need to get CSV, RSS, JSON, XML, or Excel data sources into a plugin or custom post type quickly makes WP All Import a highly valuable tool well worth the price tag.

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I hope you enjoyed my list of trusted WordPress plugins for 2020 and beyond. Going forward, I’ll try keep this list updated by adding any other trusted plugins I use on a regular basis that I feel belong on here.

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