Self-hosted WordPress probably is the most versatile content management system out there. It is easy to install, extend and maintain. It comes as complete as an out-of-the-box-system can be. More than 20’000 plugins provide answers and solutions to all thinkable questions.

With only a few plugins you will get yourself a pretty solid base to build your digital home. Here’s my list of essential helpers:

The best WordPress Plugins – 2015 update

  • Analytics: Google Analytics. Track your WordPress site: views per author & category, automatic tracking of outbound clicks and pageviews. // Track that Stat. Alternative to Google. Integrates into the dashboard, quite versatile.
  • Authors: List authors. A configurable widget to display a list of authors.
  • Backup: BackupBuddy. Perfect out of two reasons. Gives you the power to do a full backup of your site – including your database. And it holds a great migrate and repair feature, enabling you to fully restore a complete site – again including your database, i.e. settings, posts etc. Worth the cost of $75 for two live sites.
  • Cache: WP Total Cache. Improves site performance and user experience via caching: browser, page, object, database, minify and content delivery network support.
  • Calendar: The Events Calendar. Great calendar solution with a ton of options from easy ones as Google Maps to more tricky like paid events, booking, recurring and event series. Paid extensions available.
  • Categories: Category Posts Widget. To display the most recent posts from a certain category.
  • Comment: Disqus. Replaces your WordPress comment system with your comments hosted and powered by Disqus. Best in versatility and outreach.
  • Contact: Contact Form 7. Can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.
  • Image: EWWW Image Optimizer. Does what is says. Reduces image file sizes the intelligent and lossless way (thanks Justin Seeley for this one). // Image Cleanup. Checks all attachment images against the current image sizes (default and custom sizes) and removes files which no are no longer represented
  • Issuu: WP Issuu. Just in case you need to embed your issuu publications.
  • Logging: Activity Log. Logs edits, updates and deletes of your pages, posts, taxonomies, custom types etcetera. Keeps track of each and every user, especially useful when working with multiple users, say admins and editors.
  • Maintenance: Server buddy. Tests the server configuration to look for problems with hosting configuration and determines hosting quality. Provides several tools such a WordPress CRON viewer, site size mapper, database table viewer, and more. // Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions: Deletes redundant and trashed elements and revisions, basic DB maintenance. // Debug Bar. Adds a debug menu to the admin bar that shows query, cache, and other helpful debugging information. // Server Buddy. Tests server configuration, determines hosting quality. Provides several tools (CRON viewer, site size mapper, database table viewer etc.)
  • Multilingual: WMPL. Tried a few, found this one best. Complete solution, complex translation management, seamless .po and .mo integration, works like a charm with native WP language settings. Auto string translation, tag and category translation per content type. Note: Be aware that any multilingual solution will slow down your site.
  • Notes: Dashboard notepad. This dashboard widget provides a simple notepad. The widget settings allow you to choose which roles can edit the notes, and which roles can merely read them.
  • Performance: P3 – Plugin Performance Profiler. Creates a profile of your WordPress site’s plugins’ performance by measuring their impact on your site’s load time.
  • Popup: Easy Popup Announcement. Helps to display popup / pop-over / popup overlays.
  • Print version: Print friendly. Printer Friendly pages without coding, css, or print.css. Configurable printer and PDF output.
  • Redirection: Redirection. Plugin to manage 301 redirections and keep track of 404 errors without requiring knowledge of Apache .htaccess files. // 404 to Start. Sends 404 page not found error directly to start page (or any other page/site) to overcome problems with search engines. With optional email alert.
  • Related posts: YARPP. Gives you a list of posts and/or pages related to the current entry, introducing the reader to other relevant content on your site. Good customization.
  • Safety: All In One WP Security & Firewall. Easy and seamless setup, deals with the most critical issues including typical WP vulnerabilities. Best: completely free, unlike other solutions like Sucuri.
  • SEO: All in one SEO pack. Besides the standard SEO features this plugin provides you with handy post-integrated features. Runs smoothly and does not add massively to your server load.
  • Share: Shareaholic. Adds a social bookmarking menu and related content widget to your posts, pages, index, or any combination of the three.
  • Sitemap: Google Sitemap Generator. Generates a special XML sitemap which will help search engines to better index your blog.
  • Spam: Akismet. Comes with WordPress, just needs to be activated. Saves you from spam, tells you what it did, gives you the freedom to focus on the important stuff. Just get yourself a nifty API key and go.
  • Tagging: Simple tags. Add some tools for taxonomies: Terms suggestion, Mass Edit Terms, Auto link Terms, Ajax Autocompletion, Click Terms, Auto terms, Advanced manage term.
  • Twitter: WP to Twitter. Adds the options to automatically or manually tweet your posts. Tweets are editable prior to sending them out.
  • Video: Video Sidebar Widgets. Displays videos such as Vimeo, YouTube, MySpace Videos etc. With added shortcode and quicktag to embed video in posts and pages.