Recommended plugins for WordPress

one of the main advantages of WordPress is the freedom to install both plugins and templates without limits. However, the indiscriminate use of this advantage can also be its main disadvantage. In this note we want to draw attention and alert our WordPress users to this scenario: when can so much freedom turn against you?

Many plugins fulfill the same function and, in fact, they are too similar. The difference between one and the other could go unnoticed to our eyes, but the truth is that, behind the interface, or is there clean code or is there heavy code. This is the real difference in quality, and what will ultimately affect the performance of our site more than you think.

the same but different: how to differentiate the good from the bad?

Whether WordPress works fast for us depends approximately 50% on the hosting provider we use... But the other half is a slave to the selection of plugins we have installed, and the activated template.

For example, Rank Math is an excellent SEO plugin. But it doesn't just insert a banner of its own component into the HTML code of each of our site's pages (which requires fiddling with the file functions.php of our template to be able to deactivate it), but also the number of queries to our MySQL database is considerably higher than other alternatives.

Discovering the 'modus operandi'

Here we have another great indicator of malpractice (not exact, of course, but generally coincident): the weight of the plugin itself. If we download the plugin to our computer, we can see the combined weight of all the files that make up the plugin. Excessive weight can be an indicator of hidden advertisements, or an unnecessary amount of code for basic functionality. That is, one poorly optimized programming.

The same thing happens with each of the functionalities that we add to our site, or the visual editor that we use (eg: Elementor, Divi), and the template or Theme. That is why in this report we compile what we consider to be the best free alternatives for each functionality.

Important: We recommend only keeping the plugins that we need installed and activated. As light as a plugin is, adding non-essential components will result in more weight on our site. This compromises the administration and, almost always, makes the visible face of our website heavier.

List of recommended free plugins

Tools

QueryMonitor: Ideal tool for identify PHP errors or measure queries of MySQL and processes behind our site. It is the tool we use to measure the consumption of the different plugins and thus be able to choose the best option.

WP Hide LoginNote: Brute force attacks on WordPress login pages are becoming more and more common, so it's a good idea to rename the pages to something custom. This plugin allows you to do that, in addition to setting up a custom 404 page.

Limit Login Attempts Reloaded: This plugin allows you to avoid one of the most typical attempts, that of brute force. If you monitor the income to your site with a plugin like Activity Log, you will surely see failed login attempts constantly. This plugin helps with this (Important, it is not compatible with WP Hide Login).

All 404 Pages Redirect to Homepage: If we only want a personalized 404 page, and a record of the 404 that we find, this plugin weighs only 7 KB.

WPControl: We can review the cron tasks that our WordPress has scheduled with this simple and lightweight plugin.

Activity Log: Recommended plugin to keep track of changes and actions on your site (an alternative could be Simple History).

Ninja Firewall: The lightest option to protect failed login attempts on our site.

Disable WP Rest API: WordPress by default shares a lot of private information publicly, you can try this with your site at WordPress API explorer. To solve this, we recommend the Disable Rest API plugin, the lightest and most efficient plugin for the function.

Insert Headers and Footers: Only 9 kb to insert code in our header, body or footer. If instead we want to add code for the functions.php of our theme, but without editing it, Code Snippets it is the ideal.

Forget Spam Comment: The lightest antispam plugin, without the need to register anywhere. Of course, it is not as effective as others.

Login Security reCaptcha: If we don't mind registering with Google, we can easily use reCaptcha with this lightweight plugin, which does what it says to do and nothing more.

two-factor: Allows us to add a new security layer to our WordPress, including two-step authentication, using email confirmation or integrating it with Google Authenticator / Authy.

Crazy Translate: allows us to translate any part of our template or plugin that is not in our language.

Slim Maintenance Mode: Simple plugin to protect access to the site while we are working on it. It does not need any type of extension and it only activates/deactivates when we need it.

maintenance mode: In case you need to show a certain text, we recommend this plugin, simple, light and without upgrades or ads.

Force Login: Even lighter, Force Login is 12 kb that requires whoever wants to visit the domain, to be registered and to enter with their data.

user-switching: In case you need to log in as another user, to test some functionality with other permissions, this is the lightest plugin that adequately fulfills said function.

Advanced WordPress Reset: Lightweight plugin to restart the site if needed.

Duplicate Page: Useful for cloning pages or posts and leaving them as a draft.

white-label: Light and fast plugin in case we want to hide some items from the WordPress menu, to simplify the interface for our clients.

SEO / Marketing

The SEO Framework: The best alternative to control the SEO requirements for your site. We compare it with all the alternatives and it is the lightest, although if we look for something more robust, Yoast is still the leader.

Redirection: Many times we need redirect old content, or monitor for 404 errors to set redirects. This is the recommended plugin to do it.

SMTP Mailer: WordPress sends all emails via PHP, which can increase the probability that the emails we send from our WordPress will be filtered as SPAM. This plugin allows you to send emails via SMTP (having previously created the mailbox).

Fluent Forms: Creator of contact forms luxury for our site.

WPSocialNinja: If we want to add our Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Yelp feed (and many others), in addition to incorporating Facebook chat, this is the plugin we recommend.

Analytics Insights for Google Analytics 4 (AIWP): If we use Google Analytics, we can use this lightweight plugin, compatible with Google Analytics 4, to see the statistics within our WP.

Koko Analytics: Lightweight statistics, within WordPress, without depending on any external service, or having to register anywhere.

plausible analytics (paid): This plugin allows you to incorporate Plausible analytics on our site. Although the service is paid, it allows us to have more complete statistics of our site, without sharing data or delivering data from our clients to third parties. This is the plugin we use at Duplika.

Search Analytics: Seeing what our visitors are looking for is very valuable information to generate content on demand, or solve some needs of those who access our site.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery: The best free alternative to contact users who have not yet completed the checkout on our site.

Performance and cache

Lite Speed Cache: In case we have support for LiteSpeed on our server (Litespeed is included in our hosting plans) we delegate the cache generation to the server instead of WordPress. Not only do we take advantage of the generous speed that the cache allows, but at the same time we make the management and optimization of our site more efficient and faster with outsourced resources (ie those of the server itself).

If your site is not hosted by Duplika, we recommend using Duplika instead. WP Super Cache; first because it's lightweight, and second because it's developed by the same organization behind WordPress.org (Automatic).

Flying Press: The simplest, fastest and lightest plugin to optimize your website. It is also the one we use on our site.

WooCommerce

Disable WooCommerce Bloat: WooCommerce includes several links and functions that are not necessary in the vast majority of cases. This 9 kb plugin helps us disable them and keep our interface cleaner.

Smart WooCommerce Search: Improve the product search for your customers with this lightweight plugin that provides fast results.

YayCurrency: Many times we want to charge abroad in dollars, and in Argentine pesos, or any other local currency. This plugin is ideal, its free version allows up to 3 currencies and works quickly. The interface is simple and light, as it should be!

Checkout FieldEditor: WooCommerce asks for various data that is often not necessary. This is the lightest and most useful plugin to hide the fields we need. The paid version allows you to add new fields to the order form.

Email Verification for WooCommerce: If we want our customers to verify their email before they can place orders, leaving them on pause until they do so, this is the plugin we recommend.

Page Builders

The native WordPress builder, Gutenberg, is the ideal combination of speed and simplicity of use. It is included by default in all updated WordPress installations.
We do not recommend using install the plugin that is available, since the latest versions of WordPress already include the improvements. We would only install it if we want to see the most beta news of the editor, as the developers clarify here.

If we are looking for absolute control of the code, and the minimum generation of HTML, the best option is OxygenBuilder, although its use requires knowledge of CSS.

In case you want more design freedom, but without something as complicated as Oxygen, we recommend Elementor.

Plugins included with Managed WordPress

With our service Managed WordPress we include licenses of the following premium plugin, which we recommend for each functionality:

Element Pro: For a good mix of design freedom, interface, and robustness, Elementor Pro includes numerous features that, added to its native theme, Hello Elementor, allow us to design almost anything.

OxygenBuilder: We just said “almost anything”, because if we really want get hardcore and design literally anythingAs in the days of HTML/CSS code, we recommend Oxygen Builder.

Goal Box: If in addition to posts and pages we want to have a custom content class, Meta Box is the option we recommend and whose extensions we include in our service.

FluentForms Pro: If need advanced fields in our form, conditional forms, PDF generation or other features that are not included in the free version, the Pro version includes everything we need.

Fluent CRM: If you want to generate automations for sending emails, but are well integrated into WordPress, FluentCRM is the ideal option.

Perfmatters: Before any optimization, the ideal is to generate the least amount of code possible and then look at how we can speed it up with caching plugins. Perfmatters helps us disable many native WordPress features that we don't need, in addition to activating our plugins selectively depending on the section of our site.

FilterWP: If we need to offer a search filter for our content (the typical case being a store), FilterWP allows us to do so. It is the ideal component that enables our visitors to filter products by categories or prices quickly and efficiently.

WPSocial Ninja Pro: The Pro version includes integration with WhatsApp, Amazon, Yelp, TrustPilot, among others, to be able to integrate all your networks within your website through a single plugin.

Did we miss a need, or do you have any suggestions to add? Share your contributions in the comments or write us so that we can together update and incorporate the best alternatives to this analysis.

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