10 Essential WordPress Plugins

Here’s a selection of my current favourites. They all do something useful – rather than just provide unnecessary bling and bloat – and are frequently updated, well supported and nicely coded.

Plugins provide additional functionality, or make accessing existing functionality easier. But with so many to choose from, either on the WordPress Plugin Repository or via Google searches, it can be daunting for a new WordPress user to know which are good, which are useful and which should be avoided.

This article does NOT propose the “best” plugins. Only you can decide what is “best” in that sense, depending on what functionality you require. Rather, the plugins which are shown below have been (or are being used) by me and meet my requirements for a good plugin, namely:

  • Useful – it actually does what I need
  • Updated – the developer keeps pace with WordPress releases and users’ functionality requests
  • Supported – the developer provides support and responds to emails and forum posts
  • Nicely coded – the developer knows his/her stuff!

NextGen Gallery

Possibly the Rolls-Royce of gallery plugins. Built on Flash (but don’t let that put you off), very flexible and well supported.

Breadcrumb NavXT

Highly configurable breadcrumb navigation for your site.


Ok, not everyone needs to create FAQs for their site, but with this plugin you can think beyond traditional FAQs and use it for creating all sorts of easily maintainable lists, then drop them into posts and pages wherever you like!

Email Immuniser

Need to display your email address on your pages? Worried about email harvesters blocking your inbox with spam? Well, this is what you need. It hasn’t been updated in ages, but doesn’t need updating – it does exactly what is required – activate it and forget about it.

cForms II

Another Rolls-Royce plugin, this time for forms. Rather daunting at first but worth taking a little time to understand how it works. It can also be used to create all sorts of forms related data capture, if desired, far beyond a simple contact form.

All In One SEO Pack

In my opinion this should be part of the WordPress core. If you care about your page rankings this is just a about as close as one can get to THE essential plugin.

Google XML Sitemaps

Another SEO orientated plugin. This one creates a XML file containing your sitemap and which is used by Google to crawl your site. Automatically updates whenever you add new posts/pages etc.

Language Switcher

OK, not needed by everyone, but if you need to set up a multilingual blog this is probably the best plugin to do it with. Not for the faint-hearted but neither is setting up a multilingual blog!

WP Download Manager

Do you offer downloads from your site? If you do, this plugin will help you manage adding download links to your posts and pages, track the number of hits, and organise your download files.

Shadowbox JS

There are lots of “lightbox” plugins out there but this one is my personal favourites. It incorporates an intelligent approach to help avoiding javascript conflicts with other image/gallery plugins and scripts, and is compatible with my very own Dynamic Content Gallery v2 plugin. Get hold of version 0.4 if you can.

Maintenance Mode

Let’s face it. From time to time you will need to perform maintenance on your site and take it offline for a while. This plugin provides a nicely customisable “maintenance mode” landing page for your visitors yet still allows full access to your site when logged in as admin.

And finally…

Oops! I seem to have listed 11 plugins rather than 10, but it was too difficult to decide which one to leave out. I hope you find this list useful. Happy blogging!


  1. This is great list of compiled WP plugins… a few I don’t have! Off to check them out!

  2. SmokyBlue says:

    Same here!! Thanks.. and keep up the good work.. 😉

  3. @Candace

    Thanks! Go for it!


    Thanks! Appreciated.

  4. Thats nice list.
    I was looking for plugin which can show post highlights in article itself, so the users who don’t want to read whole article can read just highlights only.

  5. Breadcrumb NavXT is the only plugin I used for showing breadcrumbs. It’s a great plugin.

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