My favorite WordPress plugins (and also HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by experienced WordPress developers). All these plugins are clean-coded, super-fast, and best in class. I’ve also included thoughts on others that I don’t like…just so you have some context.
Last updated APRIL 27, 2023
- See my review on Gutenberg block libraries and Gutenberg pagebuilders.
- Kadence Blocks – my favorite medium-size one.
- GenerateBlocks – my favorite minimal one.
- Stackable – my favorite fancy ones.
- WP Show Posts – allows you to show posts anywhere. You can choose filters to decide which posts are shown, and then also options on how they are displayed. Very lean and when combined with other plugins, are great for getting rid of pagebuilder reliance. 🙂
- Lightweight Grid Columns – let’s you create columns, however many you want, whichever size you want. So that you can push your page layout around without having to use a pagebuilder! Genius!
- Smart Content Filter – great way for users to filters posts on busy pages.
Caching (detailed review):
- WP Performance (FREE) – awesome free cache plugin. Solid, reliable, many features, amazing UI, and super unique simple way of granularly excluding/disabling optimizations.
- SWIFT Performance (FREE / PRO)- Lite version is best free cache plugin, paid version is the fastest full-featured cache plugin out there.
- LiteSpeed Cache (FREE) – incredible free cache plugin with many features, but only works on LiteSpeed servers. This is actually the best cache plugin if you have thousands of pages or many MANY visits (like millions).
- FlyingPress (PRO) – amazing premium cache plugin made by infamous speed-expert Gijo Varghese. All the top features but super simple UI.
- WP Rocket (PRO) – another fast (premium) cache plugin. easy to use, not recommended for NGINX.
- Simple Cache – fastest plugin for my VPS with REDIS object cache enabled. This is recommended if you’ve done all manual optimizations possible.
- Breeze or Cache Enabler – highly recommended for NGINX servers.
- Comet Cache – fast and nice but SWIFT (free) and WP Rocket (paid) are better.
- Borlabs Cache or WP Speed of Light – other good premium cache plugins.
- WP Fastest Cache – it’s a nice one, too, but not the fastest from my testing. Many do like it.
- W3TC – I hate it. Way too bloated and technical. Incompatible with many plugins and not the fastest even when it does work!
- WP Super Cache or WPMU Hummingbird – absolute garbage. Bloated and slow.
Read my: Best WordPress Cache Plugins Review
- Autoptimize – helpful but not necessary if your theme and plugins are already optimized. (This is like a band-aid.)
- WP Gonzalez – amazing, useful, costs money.
- Plugin load filter – asset organizer plugin but simple-enough to use.
- Plugin Organiser – full asset organizer plugin but UI can get complicated.
- WordPress Asset CleanUp – supposedly WP Gonzalez but free. I like this one.
- PerfMatters – nice one by Brian Jackson.
Image compression (detailed reviews):
- ShortPixel – SP has best compression and GLOSSY formats.
- LiteSpeed Cache – can do tons of images, FREE! Great for huge sites and you don’t want to pay anything.
- WP Compress – another great compression service, perfect for sharp details. Lower price than SP. (Can also try my LIFETIME link.)
- Imagify – is 3rd place for me (in terms of quality). But I wouldn’t even use this.
- Swift Performance PRO – this paid cache plugin has image compression feature in it.
- TinyPNG/JPG – can be good sometimes but ShortPixel is definitely better!
- WP Smush/EWWW – horrible compression quality/file-size ratio.
Image, gallery, slideshow:
- Quick Featured Images – best plugin for managing/automating your featured images. Pro version is so worth the price!
- Enable Media Replace – replace media files without having to dig through FTP folders.
- reGenerate Thumbnails advanced – best IMO, easy-to-use with great filtering options.
- Metaslider (free/paid) or Smart Slider 3 (free/paid) – are the best. Metaslider is good for super simply minimal sliders. SS can do fancier things like dynamic height or showing different sliders on mobile, also more features (embedding video, changing button images, etc). Soliloquy used to be great/lightweight but has now been surpassed. Whatever you do, avoid Slider Revolution (REV Slider).
- WP Featherlight – simple jquery for lightbox. I use this (and ONLY THIS) along with default Gutenberg for building image galleries.
- WP Featherlight Disabled – my even more lightweight fork of the original WP Featherlight. (Only loads featherlight CSS/JS on pages you allow.)
- Meow Gallery – if you want a full-featured gallery, use this instead of the bloated NextGEN, FooGallery, Envira, etc.
- WP Offload Media – beautiful plugin by the respected Delicious Brains. Offloads your media files elsewhere so you can save space on your web server.
Database tools & optimization:
- Advanced Database Cleaner – incredible for tidying up your DB. (I like this much better than WP Optimize.)
- editor – great for editing your database from WordPress instead of via cPanel/phpmyadmin (BE CAREFUL!)
- WP Migrate Lite (FREE) – easiest way to move databases and also does string rewrites really well (better than Better Search Replace). Pro version has more useful dev features.
- Better Search Replace – (formerly) my favorite database editor by Delicious Brains. Has a great “test run” feature. I use it to fix URL’s for migration or https purposes. I love that you can specify which tables. But I now do all this with WP Migrate plugin.
Backup (detailed reviews):
- BackWPup – awesome free plugin that does FULL backups and even remote to S3! Yes, FREE! (my favorite)
- WPVivid – another awesome FREE full-featured backup plugin. Has extra convenient clone/staging features that BackWPup doesn’t have but can be buggy for larger sites.
- UpDraft – very popular, get it for offsite backup feature. I hate the free version but the pro version is nicer, comprehensive.
- BackUpWordPress – my favorite free backup plugin for local backups. Works well, clean/quiet interface.
- BackupBuddy – other people like it. I think it’s really annoying with many distracting screens.
- Fluent Forms – now my #1 favorite form plugin for both FREE and PAID. Easier to use in some ways and nicer design and extra features. See my review.
- Gravity Forms, Happy Forms, Piotnet Forms – all great premium forms plugins. Mostly same features but different workflow, UI, and pricing.
- Caldera – my former default. Free and works great. No bloat. I hate that it picks up a lot of spam. But it’s already abandoned now, and the team is focusing on their main commercial offering Ninja Forms.
- Contact Form 7 – I hate how it loads on every page.
Use these for moving sites or pushing from live to staging environment and vice versa.
- All-in-One WP Migration – my favorite, popular and works. Free version has 500MB limit and won’t export/import from remote destinations (S3/Gdrive/etc). TIP: you can circumvent size limit by excluding “wp-content” during export; just manually compress and extract it using cPanel’s “File Manager”.
- Duplicator – great for migrating/clone sites but also works for backups. Popular among developers. May feel too technical for newbies.
- Migrate Guru – easy to use and free…can move huge sites and handle URL rewrite for you. Only issue is it misses non-WP directories and doesn’t always work. If you’re not a pro and need something that’s ALWAYS 100% reliable, stick to AIO Migration or do things manually.
WordPress SEO Plugins:
- SEO Framework – my favorite. Clean and bloat-free. Most simple and doesn’t try to do everything for your site. SEO only!
- ALL-IN-ONE SEO (pro version) – my 2nd favorite. High quality, and fast.
- Yoast SEO – they responded to complaints and improved UI, faster, cleaner, and less bloat. Still annoying nag screens and I still prefer the others.
WordPress Redirection Plugins:
- Htaccess – not a plugin but is the most recommended method!
- Safe Redirect Manager – the best one! Enterprise grade, high quality code, super fast redirects with the least speed impact.
- Redirection – hell no! Drives me crazy that so many people use this. It slows your website down by 1-3 seconds. You’re better off just copying the redirects to your htaccess!
- Using SEO redirect function – also a “no” for me.
WordPress Membership Plugins:
- MemberPress – best membership plugin out there. I’ve tried many and this one has all the features I needed, easy and fun to use. Also great pricing that doesn’t overcharge you for necessary add-ons. See my review. I’ve also made MemberPress add-on plugins.
- Restrict Content Pro (RCP) – also good membership plugin depending on your use case. See my review.
- WooMemberships/WooSubscriptions – great if you want to integrate with WooCommerce. Overkill if you don’t.
- Easy Digital Downloads – great plugin and very friendly (industry standard for selling digital products), but a little pricey. Many basic features are add-ons cost $$$.
- MemberMouse – I hate it. Expensive and hard to work with (design & coding), also loads many scripts and slows down your site.
- DigitalAccessPass (DAP) – outdated in many ways.
- Shopify – works great, looks great. Totally worth the monthly price so you don’t spend thousands developing on WordPress/WooCommerce. Cheapest plan is $9 or $15 if you want to use it with WordPress.
- FluentSMTP – new email plugin that has more features and works well. Another miracle job by WPManageNinja team!
- WP Mail SMTP – my favorite email plugin. Works better than my old favorite “Post SMTP Mailer”.
- Comment Reply Email – my simple plugin that sends replies to p
Email lead generation & popup:
- MailOptin – lean, simple, fast. Limited design options but still my favorite.
- OptinMonster – the gold standard but pricey! Lots of options.
- Convert Pro – common alternative to OM, cheaper but not as many features.
- Thrive Leads – I hate it, bloated and laggy as hell if you have many pages and lots of traffic.
- Shared Counts – great for putting social networking share counts on your sites.
- Social Warfare – handles shared counts and also controlling how shared content is displayed.
- Social Pug – same as Social Warfare and good reviews but I haven’t tried it yet.
- Scriptless Social Share – simple clean way to get shared boxes, but loads faster because it doesn’t do any counts.
- Novashare – new share plugin by the respected Brian Jackson.
- MainWP – site manager tool that is free and open-source, pro version is sold with lifetime license.
- ManageWP is expensive but prettier mainstream option.
- InfiniteWP is open-source version as well but addon prices are high, also more difficult to use and fewer features.
- JetPack Manage (only basic features), I didn’t consider.
- iThemes Sync – seems like good alternative but have to install more plugins. I wouldn’t use it unless it already came free with their whole bundle package.
- DoLogin – provide easy WP-admin login link for other contractors and support staff.
- Adminimize – control what different users can see once logged in.
- User Role Editor – edit what different user roles can do once logged in.
- User Switching – test how things look/function from another user’s POV. Login as User is another alternative.
- PHP Compatibility Checker – great to know if your WordPress themes and plugins are ready for a higher (faster) version of php.
- WP Server Stats – server stats plugin with nice info.
- AffiliateWP – is the best! Don’t use anything else. See my review.
- AffiliateRoyale – no! Don’t use it. It’s abandoned. I built an AffiliateRoyale to AffiliateWP migration script if you’d like to use.
- Relevannsi – I’ve had it forever and love it.
- SearchWP – probably the most “official” search plugin for WP.
- Algolia – good if you want something more robust and scalable for giant sites.