Top 10 Favorite WordPress Plugins 2016

Today I want to show you my top 10 favorite WordPress plugins that I find myself using again and again whenever I design websites for clients. These plugins will speed up your workflow, and offer valuable tools for designing your website. Even if you’re a web developer, WP plugins can save you so much time and effort. That’s one of the reasons I love WordPress so much is because of the huge database of open source plugins.

1. Page Builder by Siteorigin

Page Builder by SiteoriginMy number one favorite plug-in right now is Page Builder by Siteorigin. Just go to add plugin, type Page Builder, and install. You can see it has 1,000,000+ active installs, because it’s awesome! It’s actually a whole collection of widgets and page layout functionality that it adds into WordPress, and it just makes life so easy.

All the layouts are responsive, and you can define the number or rows/columns. You can even use the golden ratio to space the columns. There are so many great features in this plugin including parallax, padding/margin controls, font/color controls and more.

Along with Page Builder goes Siteorigin Widgets Bundle which I recommend installing to get the most out of Page Builder. I didn’t even count this as its own plugin in the top 10, because it’s just kind of a necessity in my opinion. This one has 600,000+ installs at the time of this article. I like the Hero Image, Testimonials, and Features widgets the best.

2. Mailpoet Newsletters

Mailpoet NewslettersMy number two is Mailpoet Newsletters. This is a great plugin for collecting email subscribers, and you can send out emails through your own hosting, or you can connect it to Mailchimp, Constant Contact, etc. As your email list grows, you’ll probably want to upgrade to a newsletter service, because they will ensure your emails are delivered, and hosting providers have limits on how many emails you can send out to prevent spam. This plug-in is great because it allows you to make really customized professional looking newsletters with a drag-and-drop interface. You can even create autoresponder sequences if you want, or you can have it send out an automatic daily/weekly digest. Newsletter subscribers are so important for traffic generation these days.

3 Animate It!

Animate It!My number three pick is ‘Animated It!’ This is just fun plugin for adding subtle animated effects to elements on the page. You can have the effects trigger on load, scroll, hover, or click. It uses CSS3 effects to make page items move, jiggle, fade-in, slide-in, etc. It’s not really necessary, but it’s a nice effect when used sensibly. It depends on the site. Some sites it makes more sense to use it than others. It can be used to draw attention to important elements to improve usability, or it can be used to make your site more interactive and fun.

 

4. Custom Contact Forms

Custom Contact FormsNumber four is Custom Contact Forms. A lot of people use Contact Form 7, and that used to be my favorite, but I prefer CC Forms now. I had a conflict with Contact Form 7 and Buddypress in the past when I was experimenting with a small social network a while back. If you’re not using Buddypress, you’ll probably be fine, and you can even go in and edit the code. They may have even fixed it since then, but I really like Custom Contact Forms, because it is incredibly flexible. It’s really cool, because you can easily integrate Google’s reCAPTCHA to prevent spam. You can make multiple forms, and there are all kinds of fun features to play with. You can have email notification sent out when someone sends a form, and you can also view the submissions directly from your WP dashboard.

5. WP Canvas – Gallery

WP Canvas GalleryMy number five pick is WP Canvas Gallery. This is currently my favorite image gallery plugin. WP Canvas Gallery has robust functionality, and I spent a lot of time researching free plugins. You can create a really nice masonry style gallery in no time. There’s a lot of options out there, and it can be really overwhelming. It’s just a lot of trial and error activating deactivating different things. I really found that WP Canvas Gallery provided all the flexibility I needed. It’s also super easy to update, so clients can add their own galleries. They can also manage their galleries without needing to know how to write a single line of code.

6. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEONumber six is the Yoast SEO plugin. Everyone can use a little SEO boost these days. Especially since Google updated their algorithm. Many business owners experienced their SEO drop off the deep end. The only people who are able to stay afloat in the top rankings now are powerful social media influencers, bloggers, and reputable companies. It’s a difficult time now to break through if you’re starting out. You just have to have the most relevant content possible, and there’s a lot of competition. As long as you do your research, make high quality content, and take steps to decrease bounce rates, it’s still possible to rank.

Yoast SEO plugin definitely helps you to keep things optimized. It gives you some good tips and bullet points to check off. You can edit your page titles, meta data, and more. I highly recommend it. It also generates a sitemap which you can submit to Google Console, so you can monitor the SEO on your site, and get recommendations directly from Google.

It tells you where you can strengthen things up a bit. It’s a little buggy when using it with Page Builder, because it doesn’t always detect all the content properly, but it still helps. It will also detect how readable your text is, and sometimes it will recommend to shorten up your sentences or clean things up. It can find errors or ways that you could make your article even better, so it’s definitely good if you’re going to have a blog. Check out my top reasons for having a blog.

7. Page Transition

Page TransitionMy number seven plugin is Page Transition. This is for a very subtle or intense CSS3 page load transition. You can pick different intros and outros in the settings. I think it makes a difference when people come to your site and it slowly fades-in as opposed to things just appearing haphazardly on the screen. This plugin preloads your page content, and then it will fade-in, or you can choose some other interesting effects. When I’m working on a site, and I want it to look really elegant and clean, Page Transition is a goto add-on.

8. Easy Google Fonts

Easy Google FontsNumber eight is Easy Google Fonts. This is the best plugin I’ve found for using Google Fonts. It makes it super easy to customize them visually while you’re looking at your site through the customize view.

With Easy Google Fonts, you can also target custom classes or IDs. So, if you want to edit a specific font that’s not one of the h1-h6 tags or a paragraph tag, you can do that with minimal effort.

9. Easy Smooth Scroll Links

Number nine is Easy Smooth Scroll Links. When you have an anchor link, it will smoothly transition to the ID on the page. So, if you have a one-page scrolling website which is really trendy right now. Instead of going to another page when you click the link, it just moves you down the page with whatever effect you select in the Plugin settings. ESSL is yet another subtle user experience effect that makes things feel very smooth instead of  just jumping to the anchor on the page.Easy Smooth Scroll Links

10. Easy Fancybox

Easy FancyboxLast but not least, Easy Fancybox. I know these last three plugin names all started with the word easy, but it really is easy! I mean you just install the plugin, activate, and it will instantly enable the Fancybox effect site-wide. If you link to directly to the media file/image url, it will pop up in a Fancybox window with an overlay effect. There’s some customization options as well. Easy Fancybox is very cool.

There’s another Fancybox plugin out there that I use sometimes for different purposes. It’s called FancyBox for WordPress, but Easy Fancybox will do nicely in most cases.

Summary

That concludes my top 10 for 2016. There are some other plugins that I really like such as Facebook Comments or Shareaholic. There are so many plugins out there, but I wanted to share my top 10 that I use for almost every single website design. I hope this helped you, and feel free to post your favorite plugins in the comments below.

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