Though WordPress works OK out of the box, we need extra functionality to help make websites successful.
Though there are thousands of WordPress plugins available, you need to be careful. All plugins are a potential security weakness. They should be:
- Kept to a minimum.
- Kept up-to-date.
- Monitored for safety.
Shrewdies websites only use safe plugins, and I monitor all websites regularly for security. As well as security checks, I also use WordPress Plugins to improve speed and success. Speed improvements include streamlining admin procedures, as well as optimizing the speed that content is presented to visitors. Success factors include:
- Is the website attracting the target audience?
- Is the target audience reaching the best page?
- Are visitors fulfilled?
- Are visitor numbers matching targets?
- Are expected rewards being achieved?
As I develop Shrewdies Knowledgebase for WordPress Plugins, I will rate candidates according to those criteria of safety, speed, and success.
WordPress Security Plugin Candidates
My main WordPress Security Plugin is Wordfence. At the time of writing, this is the first security plugin suggested by WordPress, when searching their official plugin repository for the keyword: security. Other popular suggestions are:
- BulletProof Security by: AITpro.
- WP Security Audit Log by: WPWhiteSecurity and robert681.
- iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security) by: iThemes, Chris Jean, Aaron D. Campbell, gerroald, and Matt Danner.
- All In One WP Security & Firewall by: Tips and Tricks HQ, wpsolutions, Peter Petreski, Ruhul Amin, mbrsolution, and others.
There are over 1,000 security plugins in the WordPress plugin repository, and premium plugins listed elsewhere. You should avoid security plugins that are not marked as compatible with the latest release of WordPress.
WordPress Speed Plugin Candidates
Speed is less specific than security, and will always be affected by how you use WordPress. My biggest speed improvement comes from CloudFlare. If you use CloudFlare, then the CloudFlare WordPress Plugin is essential.
Real speed gains are most often achieved using cache plugins. I’ve found the fastest performance is achieved by combining the cache component of Wordfence with the external CDN (Content Delivery Network) of CloudFlare.
Be wary of plugins that claim to improve Google Insights PageSpeed results, or similar services. Those services exist to provide pointers to issues that might need to be improved. They rarely improve speed for you and your visitors. The purpose of your website is not to gain better scores in technical tests. Your purpose is to better serve your market, which brings me to…
WordPress Success Plugin Candidates
You cannot assess WordPress Success Plugins, until you define the purpose of your website, and how you will measure rewards.
One common success measure is tight control of 404 (Page Not Found) errors. Minimizing 404 errors is vital for many reasons, which I discuss often in my forums. I use the Redirection WordPress Plugin to manage 404 errors.
I’ve listed other website success factors above. Because these factors are different for every website, there is no single type of WordPress Success Plugin. As I review my own plugins, and those discussed in my forums, I will explain how they contribute to successful websites.
Your WordPress Plugin Candidates
Please help me expand the WordPress Plugin Knowledgebase by suggesting candidates in the Internet Resources forum.
As I investigate plugins, I will create new records in the knowledgebase. It is important to identify important benefits, and any costs. In particular, I’d like to know your thoughts about why you use WordPress Plugins, and how they meet safety, speed, and success criteria. Perhaps you also have other important criteria that you use to judge WordPress Plugins.