Last updated October 28th, 2016.
This is a current list of plugins we are using on this site as well as some other plugins I’ve used and would recommend. I’m always testing new plugins and trying to figure out how to make our site work better, and I’ll update my findings here.
I will note that we use Genesis and there are lots of very solid plugins developed exclusively for this framework. I mention this because it’s a big reason I often suggest using the Genesis Framework for your WordPress site.
Disclosure: We have a couple of affiliate links on this page meaning we earn a commission if you use those links. This is a list of the plugins we use (most of which are free), but if the services we pay for offer a referral commission, we might use an affiliate link.
Our Current Plugins (non-theme specific)
Akisment: Spam Filtering
Easy Recipe: Recipe Formatting. We use the “Plus” version for some added functionality, but it isn’t vital.
Google Authenticator: This enables two-factor authentication on our site. Sadly, hackers try to gain access to our site with regularity. This is one more layer of protection.
jQuery Pin It Button for Images: If you hover over our images, you’ll see a “Pin It” button.
Limit Login Attempts: Just a security measure, but this helps protect against malicious traffic. Worst part of using it is that you’ll see how many people are wrongfully trying to login to your site (hint: a lot).
MailChimp for WordPress: Although I designed custom email opt-in forms, this plugin allows some added functionality (without custom coding) if you’re using MailChimp for your email newsletter service.
Search WP: The default WordPress search is terrible for recipes for some unknown reason. Free search alternatives took up way too much database space, so we switched to Search WP and have had great success.
Send Images to RSS: Bleh, I’m not a huge fan of using this plugin, but it’s a solid plugin to make sure our images show up correctly in our newsletter.
Simple Share Buttons: Share buttons on the bottom of posts. We use the plus version, but the free version is pretty decent too.
Subscribe to Comments Reloaded: – Allows commenters to subscribe and manage how/if they receive comment replies
ThirstyAffiliates: We use this to manager special affiliate and other trackable links from our site. I tried lots of different options and this is one of the best (but the idea is still to not use a plugin at all).
VaultPress: Our go-to offsite backup plugin. The $5/month “lite” plan is sufficient for almost all needs. If you want hourly backups (instead of daily backups), go with the $15 “basic” plan. This helps ensure you never lose your valuable content.
WP Rocket: This is a tool that allows you to speed up your site load times and enhance overall performance by doing a bunch of fancy, behind-the-scenes computer work – one function being “caching”. I use MaxCDN and Cloudflare, and WP Rocket makes it a breeze to install these, and other functions, to your site.
WordPress SEO: Just been using this for a little while, but it’s doing the job for now. I was just using the theme SEO settings (another benefit of Genesis), but this helped with some other issues I was seeing (unrelated to the theme).
WP Smush: Reduces the image file sizes by removing unnecessary data. We only use the lossless compression (not the lossy version), but both are valuable for different uses.
Genesis Specific Plugins
Genesis Title Toggle: Allows me to turn page titles on/off sitewide and individually
Simple Social Icons: We use these in the sidebar to link to our social media accounts
Plugins not in use, but recommended
Genesis Featured Widget Amplified: If you’re using the basic “Featured Widget,” this gives you a few more options.
Genesis Simple Share: Social Share Buttons on the bottom of posts. Solid plugin that I keep as a backup.
Genesis Simple Sidebars: Before I was comfortable coding templates, I setup some sidebars on this system to show on different pages.
SocialFans Counter: We used this to show our current subscribers on different social media platforms in our sidebar. It’s a nifty little plugin, but didn’t fit our updated site design as well.
Things I’ve learned
Plugins are amazing. It’s easy to complain about them when they are glitchy or cause configuration conflicts, but the reality is that with a few clicks of a button you are able to add amazing functionality to your website.
- I still try and find a reasonable alternative to a plugin if ever available. Ideally, I code in the functionality I need directly into my site. Many times I find articles by Googling something like “(special site functionality) on WordPress without plugin.”
- If you notice a glitch on your site, think about plugins you might’ve added recently. Temporarily deactivating a plugin that might be causing an issue is one of first ways to troubleshoot a problem.
- It’s helpful to read the recent reviews and support requests on a plugin before installing it, just to make sure a lot of people aren’t having trouble or there is a potential conflict with something already on your site.
- Being willing to change and try a new plugin (even temporarily) is a healthy attitude to make them work really well for you. Sometimes site features or needs change and your willingness to adjust your plugins to match makes things run much more smoothly.
- Sometimes you’ll see a warning on the WordPress directory if a plugin hasn’t been updated in 2+ years. By default, this isn’t a bad thing. If a plugin is simple enough, it’s quite possible it just doesn’t require updates. Checking the reviews and support notes (are there recent tickets, what are others saying, etc.) can be helpful to know if the plugin is still worth your time.
If you think I missed a good plugin or should look into one (or you just want to say thanks), reach out to me on twitter!
Sorry, I’m unable to help with the plugin support via email and I’m not accepting freelance work.
If you’re looking for customized support, check out Codeable.
Last updated October 28th, 2016.