A few people I know are now running WordPress installs, or are currently setting them up. The one question that always seems to come up while discussing them is “what plugins are best”? I try to sum up what I use below (in alphabetical order), as well as how these might be changing in the near future due to the new Gutenberg WordPress editor.

I won’t bother to list some of the more common plugins such as Akismet Anti-Spam or Jetpack, as these are already pretty visible in the WordPress world.

Plugins

Archived Post Status

Archived Post Status allows you to archive posts and pages so that content can be unpublished without having to put it in the trash. The “Archived” status is added to the list of available post statuses, and all archived posts can be viewed separately in the posts list view. Any archived posts will not be visible publicly.

The Archived post type can be seen at the top of the post list view

I have used this for removing older content from my blog that doesn’t really fit with what it has now become. But I still want to keep these posts around to be able to look at them, and potentially use them in the future. So Archive!

Broken Link Checker

Broken link checker will monitor your post and page links and images and let you know when any of them are not reachable for any reason. The details of all links is shown within the broken links tool page and is split into a variety of different sections.

Anything that is actually broken and needs to be fixed can be easily seen and have one of a handful of actions applied to it:

  • Unlink – This leaves the text in place of the link..
  • Not broken – Can be used when the site has blocked the request that tried to check the link status.
  • Dismiss – Will continue to show the link with a strikethrough so that users don’t bother clicking on it.
  • Recheck – Runs the rechecking code again, you could get a 200 this time!

The Redirects section of the tool also allows you to see any links that respond with a 300 redirecting header before you get the content that you want. Fixing these allows you to shave some milliseconds from your users link click times, but also fix any issues such as hardcoded http when you actually want https.

Crayon Syntax Highlighter

Crayon Syntax Highlighter allows you to have syntax highlighted code snippets from a wide variety of languages in your blog posts. It also provides line numbers, optional code wrapping, line expansion and much more. An example snippet can be seen below taken from this post:

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP)

It’s always useful to have some idea of how well various areas of your site are doing. Not only do I have the hit analytics from the Jetpack wordpress.com plugin but I also have Google Analytics linked up. The plugin automatically includes the tracking code in posts and pages, provides me with options for which users to track (so I can ignore myself) as well as an administrative widget for the admin home page.

Google Analytics provides more detailed data about visitors and also enables a comparison between the data collected by Jetpack and itself.

Gutenberg

Gutenberg is the new visual editor for wordpress. It allows you to construct posts out of a series of blocks. Each block has a type, the default being paragraph, but other including heading, image, video, audio, file, code, embeds and more.

I’ve only been using the editor for around 1 week now, but it is brilliant, and a really nice experience.

Rather than try to put the experience in words you can go and take a look at https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/ which should allow you to try the demo out for yourself, as well as walking you through all of the block types and how the system works.

My Custom Functions

My Custom Functions allows you to add custom PHP code to your WordPress install that you would normally have to include in files that in my opinion you shouldn’t really be editing such as functions.php and others.

You can add any PHP code to the plugin and it will survive through WordPress upgrades. I have a little code snippet that stops Jetpack from announcing posts that I add to my “unfeatured” category.

oEmbed Gist

The Gist plugin allows you to embed Gists from gist.github.com right into your posts. I tend to use Crayon Syntax Highlighter more for short snippets, but embedding a Gist can be better for larger code sections or for other people’s code as it keeps the code out of your post.

However, it looks like the “embed” block in Gutenberg now covers this case, so I will likely be ditching the oEmbed Gist plugin in the next few days.

Embedded using Gutenberg (not oEmbed Gist)

OnePress Image Elevator

OnePress Image Elevator is another plugin that has served me well over the past year, but another whose functionality that I actually use now may be getting replaced by Gutenberg. And Image Elevator isn’t even free… it cost $15 USD…

The main functionality that I used from Image Elevator was the ability to copy and paste images directly into WordPress posts and page and have the smartly upload the image into the pile of Media within WordPress.

Redirection

Redirection allows you to monitor locations on your site that result in 404 pages and create 301 redirects in those locations. This can be useful if your site ever has any big restructurings, but the redirects that I have put in place don’t seem to get a whole lot of traffic now anyway.

Remove exif and metadata

In some of my posts I include images that might have exif data and other metadata attached to them such as locations, camera data, names etc. Rather than manually having to remove these all of the time I found a plugin to do this for me. It only works for JPGs and PNGs, but I don’t tend to upload anything else.

Shortcodes Ultimate

Shortcodes Ultimate provides you with a tonne of shortcodes to use and play with in your blog posts. These include simple elements such as galleries and lists, but also advanced elements such as carousels, accordions and tabs.

It doesn’t seem to yet work very well with Gutenberg, and I imagine that logs of the shortcodes can now be replaced with Gutenberg blocks, but this is what it looks like in the default editor:

TinyMCE Advanced

TinyMCE Advanced adds more functionality to the default WordPress editor, and allows for customization of the toolbar buttons. The main features that I added this plugin for was the easy table editing. Yet again this is probably a plugin that I can get rid of if I continue to use Gutenberg.

Ultimate Category Excluder

Ultimate Category Excluder can be used to hide posts from your main page / main posts list. I use this in conjunction with “My custom functions” mentioned above to hide my “Unfeatured” category from the main page.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is one of the larger SEO plugins in the WordPress world. I don’t actually want it for most of its SEO powers, I simply added it to give my posts nice default images when shared on social media.

It has other interesting tool such as SEO scores and Readability scores for your posts and pages, but I tend not to use any of these.

Summary

Not all of the plugins that I use have been listed above. Some just really aren’t that interesting so I’ll list them down here instead:

  • Buy Me A Coffee – Accept donations in a fast and friendly way. Instant payout via Paypal and Stripe (direct bank transfer).
  • Limit Login Attempts – Limit rate of login attempts, including by way of cookies, for each IP.
  • Really Simple SSL – Lightweight plugin without any setup to make your site SSL proof.

It looks like this new Gutenberg editor could be replacing quite a few of the plugins that I have been using over the past years.

Lets see if I remember to do another blog post covering my in use plugins in a years time and see how this compares.