James' essential WordPress plugins and plan James_essential_wordpress_plugins.html — rev 05 January 2016 ➽ back to dir

Here is my current plugin setup, and the plugin plan

Note: This is not a collection to blindly copy and use.
It's like cooking, everyone has their own way. This is what works for me.


Click on the "[notes]" for each plugin to find out what it does.

Front end (viewable on the live website pages)


Images n Galleries

Other Functionality

Back end (the admin)

Admin Tools



Customise display

Customise plugins



Malware scanners

File and activity monitors


Login protection



Custom post types


Multi-language website


Three notes about plugins:

1. James breaks a rule: Woah! Lots of plugins!
You probably noticed that there are a lot of plugins listed.
Yes, yes there are, and yes, i do use all of them.
But isn't this against the rules?
Yes. Yes it is. If you are using more than 6 or so plugins for front-end display, you're doing it wrong. Absolutely! WordPress is pretty dang awesome. We don't need any plugins to build most websites with it. We may want a few for front-end stuff like contact form, a video widget, and to please the client, an image slider.
Well then, wtf James???
Scroll through the page a little more slowly, and notice how many are for front-end functionality, and how many are for administration, maintenanance, security. Hmmmm.
There are others that might have been in the functions file, but (better!) are plugins instead.
2. James breaks another rule: Waitaminnit! Some of these aren't free!
My normal riff is: Everything i share and use is free of cost.
Well then, wtf James???
There are a few plugins that are so good, and the license is reasonable, that the cost is really worth it: Admin Columns Pro, Advanced Custom Fields Pro, and WPML.
3. James makes a rule: When in doubt, throw it out.
“I'm fast coming over to the idea that if a plugin is too much hassle to set up, then it shouldn't call itself a plugin so much as it should call itself a nail in sanity's coffin.” Lee Hodson
Yep. Often they are making life harder, not easier. Or they start out good and then add "features" until they fall over. I'm always keeping an eye on all my plugins, and ready to kick them out any time they start causing me trouble.
In the past few years i have been through three caching plugins, and finally gave up on them completely. Tried four logging plugins, and now one is staying stable so far. Security plugins that have vulnerabilities are pretty much a no-go! I don't give them a second chance.
Others improve over the years, but stay good and stable, and i am fiercely loyal to them.
4. And another rule: I always develop a site on local, and always make any code or plugin changes on dev first.
So all plugins are kept updated, with same settings, on both dev and live unless, of course, they are (dev only) or (live only)