With almost 50,000 plugins in the WordPress Plugins repository, how do you go about finding the best plugins for your blog?
There are the obvious ones that everyone shares, but as a professional web developer who works on WordPress sites for Fortune 500 companies, I vet plugins a little differently. Working well is the bare minimum, but they need to be well coded and not impact site performance.
Here are 5 underrated WordPress plugins that have passed my test and I personally use on my blog:
- Comment Reply Email Notification – When a reader leaves a comment they now have to option to opt in to an email response when you reply. Don’t mind the lack of updates, this plugin is extremely simple and there’s really no reason for frequents updates.
- Comments Not Replied To – A great plugin to help you keep track of which comments you’ve replied to. It adds a new view and column to the comments page in WordPress admin to let you know which comments are still missing replies!
- Disable XML-RPC Pingback – XML-RPC is a commonly exploited feature by hackers, so best practice is to disable it if you’re not using it. However, some plugins like Jetpack use XML-RPC, so you don’t want to disable it completely, which is why you need this plugin. It basically disables the methods used by hackers while leaving open what’s needed by other plugins. You just install and activate it, no configurations required!
- Lazy Load for Comments – If you get a lot of comments, this can improve your site performance by not loading them until the user actually scrolls down to the comment section. It also lazy loads gravatars further reducing the number of requests made (ie. increases site speed!)
- The SEO Framework – Everyone and their mamas recommend Yoast SEO, and while I used that before, I hated how bloated it was. Luckily I found this plugin after reading Nose Graze’s post, and it’s perfect. Same powerful features, no extraneous bells & whistles, much faster load time, and there’s even a plugin to help you migrate your settings from Yoast SEO!
You’ll notice that most of these plugins are adding feature to the WordPress admin side and improving your blogging workflow, which are just as important as providing good user experience on the front end.
Sadly most people seem to focus on these “public-facing” plugins (think sharing buttons, comment plugins, etc) which is ironic because the more of those you have, the more bloated and slower your site becomes.
On the other hand, these behind-the-scene plugins have minimal impact on the speed and performance of your blog while still improving your blogging workflow – win win!
Hope you found this post helpful, and if you’re interested in more WordPress related topics and how you can improve the performance of your blog, let me know!