WordPress essential free plugins (2020 Edition)

WordPress essential free plugins (2020 Edition)

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Just over a year ago, I published an article on my Essential Plugins for WordPress, which was followed by my Advanced WordPress plugins in April. I thought it was time to update these this time I am combining them.

I am also going to zoom into my uses for these plugins, as many of the plugins have multiple parts to them.

Last year plugins I still use:

  1. All-in-One WP Migration (Free & Paid)
    Nothing has changed from last year with this choice; the plugin now has a handy scheduler though I have not used it myself.
    The free version only restores sites up to 128GB.
  2. Analytify (Free & Paid)
    I still use this on all the websites I create, Google now has a competing tool called Site Kit, but I have not looked at it yet so I  will not recommend it at this time.
  3. Regenerate Thumbnails (Free)
    Still as useful as ever
  4. WP-Optimize (Free and Paid)
    If you are not using it yet, why is that? It has grown to include image and script optimisation, and that is in the free version.
  5. WPS Hide Login (Free)
    This is still in use on all the production sites under my care.
  6. Yoast SEO (Free and Paid)
    Still using it but I don’t know for how long, the free version glitches on me regularly. It t may be time to go shopping elsewhere.

If my client wants an e-commerce enabled site, I use WooCommerce

Last year this list also included Contact Form 7, Really Simple SSL, TinyMCE Advanced, WP Super Cache are off my list of free plugins and have either been abandoned as useful or replaced by something better.

I added a few plugins to my standard installs:

  • Antispam Bee
    It seems to work, like magic. I can’t say more, it just works.
  • Classic Editor
    Call me old fashioned; I find it easier to work with Elementor.
  • Code Snippets
    This is the most useful plugin I  have come across since Elementor. In short, it allows you to create and manage PHP code snippets for every occasion. I create reusable shortcode and modifications to WooCoomerce and more using this tool. Why don’t I use the child-theme functions file? Because I know it all will change the theme and … Let’s not go there.
  • Cookie notice
    Because it’s easy and painless
  • Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades
    You need to force an update to a theme or plugin where you have the file? This solves the problem.

The Elementor related plugins I use:

  1. Elementor (Free)
    The free Elementor plugin will allow you to create nice and flexible sites with bells and whistles; it does not have the theme builder but is a good start.
  2. Elementor Pro (Paid)
    With the ever-improving theme builder and dynamic data abilities, who needs a theme? It is that powerful and it is also mobile-friendly.
  3. Crocoblock (Paid)
    Crocoblock is an Elementor (Free or Pro) plugin and I use parts of the suite on all my sites, there are some plugins that I use more than others, I  will list these here

    • JetElements
      This will add useful elements to your toolbox, I use a few of these on a regular basis, mostly those relating to WooCommerce and some of the more advanced ones not found in Elementor.
      A selection of these also have deep dynamic data abilities if paired with Elementor Pro or JetEngine.
    • JetMenu
      Custom Mega Menus on Steroids, in short, the full power of Elementor in a mega menu.
    • JetTabs
      Customizable tabs with Elemantor templates. Create an Elemantor template and Assign it to a Tab, style your tabs and voila.
    • JetSearch
      A highly customisable ajax search box.
    • JetEngine
      This is a relatively advanced custom types, custom fields and custom taxonomies management tool that now can also be used to create complex form and event calendars
      JetEngine is compatible with all the Crocoblock plugins, Elementor Pro and Gutenberg blocks. I use it on any sites that require a little flexibility, and that need the data to stay independent from a theme.
      It has many advantages over other similar tools when used with Elementor with its deep integration for templating.
      It is not my favourite, but it is growing fast enough that I use it more often.
    • JetSmartFilters
      This is a very powerful companion to WooCommerce but is not limited to it. This tool is deeply integrated into Elementor and can filter any standard types or custom types created by JetEngine.
    • JetWooBuilder
      Create custom product templates using Elementor, it is not perfect, but it is very flexible.

    This is not an exhaustive list of plugins that comes with Crocoblock, they also have a Product Gallery, Review system and Booking system that I have not used or found inadequate to my purposes.

  4. Elementor Extras (Paid)
    This is a bit of an oddball, I use some of their elements, this is an addon to Elementor Pro, and can’t seem to switch from JetElements on others both will make a strong toolbox.

    • Posts Extra
      The recently introduced Custom Post Skin using Elementor templates is unparalleled, even ELE Custom Skin which I used until now does not come close.
      I wish a Template type were added to the Elementor Templates as ELE does, but that is my sum total reproach.
    • Google Map Widget
      One of the two reasons I originally purchased this suite, it provides multiple points on a single map with additional routing and navigation capabilities.
      Petty these are not dynamic list compatible.
    • Display Conditions
      The ever-growing condition and the ability to combine them just makes this a must-have. Though it does not have field-level conditional functionality such as DynamicConditions, which they have announced, it is still powerful.
  5. DynamicConditions (Free)
    This requires Elementor Pro and allows you to use a field or custom field to show and hide elements on the page, that is all there is to it.

Tip:  When using Elementor plugins with multiple elements or widgets, disable the ones you will not use. Elementor will work faster and requires less memory.

Plugins that I find useful in some use cases:

  • iThemes Security (Free & Paid)
    Offers a lot of security in one bundle, it has become a standard install across all my projects.
  • Reading Time WP (Free)
    It estimates the page’s reading time, and I use it on all project where there is a blog or news, it allows the reader to decide to read now or later.
  • Post View Counter (Free)
    This is useful for the webmaster to quickly track an estimated amount of views per page, post or product. If enabled on the frontend, it allows the user to see the popularity of a page.
  • WP Last Modified Info (Free)
    I use this on pages and very seldom on posts or custom posts. It displays the last modified date in the admin area and, optionally, on the frontend. Why would you want to show it on the frontend? For Google to update the validity and content but also to show the viewer that the site is actively updated and that there is no stale information.

Lastly, here are the only 2 themes I use:

  • Kava Pro, which comes with the Crocoblock Suite.
  • Hello by Elementor (Free)

Both are minimalistic in nature, Hello is the bare minimum.

I hope this will help you with your WordPress and Elementor development.

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Pascal Parent

Pascal Parent

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