Top WordPress plugins

We’ve all read a ton of blogs with eye-catching titles like the top fifty WordPress plugins, the ten best WordPress themes for your website and the mind-boggling 100 Best WordPress plugins as recommended by 1stdesigner? Personally, I stopped reading after 20 plugins.

I’ll make this simpler. I’ve been building websites since 1998 — with various legacy, dead and buried systems and software and a few that survive. Xara, Adobe’s PageMill 2.0, Dreamweaver, Microsoft’s FrontPage and shamefully QuarkXpress. In the last ten year’s I’ve been using WordPress and in that time have experimented with a wide variety of plugins and have slowly found my perfect five.

Essentially these plugins cover all the key areas needed when building a website — security, customisation, protection, optimisation and speed.

Incidentally, these are all free plugins.

iThemes Security

An essential plugin that protects your WordPress install from hackers, spammers and pranksters. Used on over 900,000 sites and updated on a regular basis by the plugin developers, it protects my sites on a daily basis and occasionally when I’m bored I’ll have a read of the logs it generates to see how well it’s performing.

Simple CSS

It’s simple, and it’s for CSS. What else can I say? It’s light-weight plugin that is very stable and makes customising any website effortless. The plugin interface is white on black and with colour-coded classes and id’s you can easily spot if you’ve mistyped some styles. 90,000 people can’t be wrong.


It’s a good idea to backup your websites on a weekly basis and this plugin will make that process easy. All the processes can be automated — from what is backed-up, to where and how often. Setup takes five minutes and then just leave it to do its thing. Plus the default back-up time at 4am in the morning when I’m in bed means server load is minimised. 600,000 installs — that’s a lot of time saved, by a lot of people.


We all love Yoast. No one else can do Search Engine Optimisation better and although the interface keeps changing, new features are added or removed. Bye bye Google+, it’s reassuring to know that I don’t have to keep an eye on changes in SEO. Don’t be tempted by cheap knock-offs.

WP Fastest Cache

I’ve tried too many caching plugins over the years. Most of them break your site eventually by storing files in the wrong places or causing a higher-server load. I finally settled on this one. Don’t be put off by the plugin icon. It’s a lightweight plugin that will speed up your site instantly. All the features are listed in one place and easy to understand. What is deflating anyway? A million people can’t be wrong.

Told you it was short and simple. Good luck.