The Best WordPress Plugins of All time – Web Development Edition [Updated 2016]
As a WordPress web developer, there is no shortage of choice when it comes to plugins that add functionality to a website. However, a choice of the wrong plugin can lead to extended development times, frustration, and heavy unintended expenses. That’s why we created a list of the best WordPress plugins of all time – Web Development Edition.
Our list includes WordPress plugins that have stood the test of time, and has made us highly productive by giving us the ability to add many features to a client project quickly and easily. When considering this list we also looked at the frequency of how many times which deployed the plugin, how often it is used by clients, and how essential the core functionality provided is to a website. We hope this list can assist not only anyone starting out with WordPress development for the first time, but also web developers who use alternatives and have not given these staple plugins a true test.
5. Slider Revolution
There are many web designers and developers who don’t like sliders… they tend to be heavy on the site due to their high resolution images & accompanying large image sizes, they have low click through rates, and the space that they utilize above the fold can effect a websites SEO significantly. Despite all of this… most sites these days do have sliders, and large banners – and many clients want this implemented by their web developer.
That’s where the Slider Revolution plugin comes in: it’s feature packed, really easy to deploy, and has the ability to create amazing, jaw dropping slides quickly. Slider Revolution by ThemePunch is the number one slider on Code Canyon for a reason. The slider enables images and videos from multiple sources – with a hundreds of effects that can be applied which really allows them to stand out. With its latest version, the slider has really raised its game… allowing for better mobile compatibility, faster load times, better SEO, a refreshed interface, and premium pre-made layers and layouts.
Alternative WordPress Plugins: Layer Slider, Royal Slider
4. Advanced Custom Fields
Having one WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) area to enter body content by default is not ideal for most advanced websites. Sometimes, you might need extra fields to display custom attributes for a product or service page, or maybe you want to break-up content. You might even want to add specific things such as repeater fields, or split content into boxes, or columns, or have a colour picker so that your content team can control the background colour for a particular post at any time. Whatever your custom requirement – ACF has you covered.
3. Yoast SEO
Yoast’s WordPress plugin makes SEO on your site much easier (though overall SEO is still an incredibly difficult and time consuming job).
It’s intuitive traffic light system where it informs you in the backend whether your page or post is optimised as per your chosen focus words – with a red, orange or green display is a god send. After years of using the All in One SEO Pack we finally made the switch… and did so happily. Yoast was able to evolve better over the years much faster. Under most circumstances… there’s no need to install additional no category base plugins, no need for another XML sitemap plugin, or a redirect manager. With its latest update it even allows you to assign a primary category so that you have full control over your URL and breadcrumbs.
It doesn’t do everything I wish it could do… provide reports, and analyse things like keyword linearity, count content within custom fields, and most of the time when analysing client sites I still predominantly use and rely on the SEOToolSet by Bruce Clay, but the things Yoast SEO does do… it does so well – and better than any other SEO plugin out there… and for that it earns our number three spot on our list of the best WordPress plugins of all time.
2. Woo Commerce
A long time ago, when we were just starting out – we had a problem. We had been developing corporate WordPress based sites for clients for a while, but came across our first client who wanted a fully featured e-commerce site – shopping cart, checkout, and payment gateway. We didn’t know where to start – do we build a custom solution? Do we switch to Magento – and learn to develop for a whole new CMS? Do we try to figure out Open Cart?
At the time… we were even confused about which WordPress plugin to use… we got lucky and tried out WooCommerce – and we were up and running in minutes after installing the plugin. Woo Commerce took out all the trial and error in getting the user flow right… it did everything: Inventory management, payment gateway integration, sales reports, and more.
Woo Commerce today is now owned by Automattic, the makers of WordPress – and for good reason. Not only does the WP development community now have an officially supported way to build e-commerce sites… it has a very powerful one at that. Woo Commerce powers more than 24% of e-commerce websites on the internet.
1. Gravity Forms
Oh my… in our eyes there could only be one clear number one that stands out from the rest and be the best WordPress plugin of all time – and that is Gravity Forms.
Who needs a contact form? Practically everybody. Almost website owener out there needs something out of their site – an inquiry, a sale, a conversion, an “action” out of their Call to Action (CTA) button.
Gravity Forms has no coding required, and a user interface so dead-simple that beginners latch on to it very quickly. The WordPress plugin allows developers and their clients to create contact forms in seconds and add a variety of features: multi-step forms, multi-checkboxes, radio buttons, drop downs, IP tracking, conditional formatting, email notifications, and a database that can be accessed from your WordPress dashboard.
The developer bundle also includes add-ons/extensions that easily allow for many other features such as polls, surveys, quizzes, user registration for websites with memberships, and third party integrations with PayPal, Slack, MailChimp, and many others too.
For the things it doesn’t have, Gravity Forms also has its GF API and Web REST API as well, which allows developers to easily extend functionality out. Many developers have used this to create their own plugins such as GF Charts and Gravity Views.
While are a few things that we would have liked improved or included into the premium set of add-ons such as a comprehensive reports system that is accessible in the backend and allows you to generate charts, a more comprehensive search with better data filters, more pre-made email notification templates to choose from, easier deployment on WordPress Multi-site installs, and easier to understand documentation of how to use the GF API… we still think that Gravity Forms is still by far the best WordPress plugin of all time.