We have looked at how many plugins are too many on WordPress – now let’s talk about the top 3 must-have utility plugins in 2021.
There are over 58,000 plugins on WordPress.org. How do you choose which ones to install? Choosing plugins can feel like cutting through a jungle of vines and thick brush – plugins have important performance and security implications for your website.
What do I mean by utility plugin? A utility plugin is any plugin that adds a baseline functionality to WordPress. These plugins should be on every website, but you won’t necessarily see them unless you are an admin.
SEOPress (Free and Pro)
Yoast is the defacto SEO choice for most WordPress users, and there is nothing wrong with it, but we have fallen in love with SEOPress. SEOPress has multiple functions that save you from using other plugins like Analytics tag additions, redirection management, and custom title management. Save yourself from installing 2-4 additional plugins with this one.
I find the user interface feels cleaner and more straightforward than its competitors. If you don’t want to use a function, you can toggle that part off to prevent it from loading.
There is a simple easy to use setup wizard on install. If you are moving from Yoast, All in one SEO, or many others, you can one-click import your settings so you don’t skip a beat.
They offer the Pro version at a highly affordable price of $39/year for unlimited sites to top it off. If you are tired of having Yoast on every site, give SEOPress a try, you might find you love it as much as we do.
View SEOPress on WordPress.org here.
Have you ever had to edit or add PHP snippets to a functions.php file? If you have no idea what I am talking about, you are lucky! As full-time web designers, we often have to hook into WordPress or plugin core functions. The traditional way to do this was in a child theme’s functions file.
There is nothing wrong with this method, and you should always be using a child theme if you are editing your theme files. But instead of reaching for the functions file, try Code Snippets instead.
Code Snippets gives you a hand interface to execute PHP code without needing FTP or SSH access. Even better, you can get more organized and descriptive with what each snippet does via titles and descriptions. I love it because I can set each function in a toggle-able entry.
Some other parts of Code Snippets I love:
- If there is an error, often hitting the back button brings the interface back up for editing.
- Import/export snippets
- Run snippets on the entire site, only backend or just once
One nifty use is running a snippet to hide pesky admin notices for all backend users, but you can toggle it on and off when you need to see them.
View Code Snippets on WordPress.org here.
WP Mail Logging by MailPoet
It doesn’t get more utility than this plugin. WordPress mail can be a pain. If you don’t have a custom outgoing mail server, deliverability can be an issue and sometimes plugins that are supposed to send mail don’t.
If you have ever been in these situations, you probably wish you knew more about what the heck mail was doing on its way out of WordPress. WP Mail Logging can help you out!
As the name suggests, this plugin tracks and logs all outgoing mail on your installation. Logging is critical for troubleshooting and capturing all attempts at emailing from your website. Logging may save your bacon if you are losing notifications for form submissions as well.
WP Mail Logging is by MailPoet (who we covered briefly here) and is the perfect light footprint to keep an eye on your email. All it does is log your emails, nothing more.
Hopefully, these utility plugins give some needed functionality to your WordPress website. What are your top three utility plugins?