I’ve been running my website as a self-hosted WordPress installation for over four years now. Self-hosting’s given me a greater amount of flexibility than when my blog was previously hosted by Blogspot. While knowing general HTML/CSS skills help, along with the improvements in WordPress over the years, one of the biggest aids for my site are WordPress plugins. Plugins allow me to add useful features not built into WordPress by default.
While I’ve changed some plugins over time, there’s some I find consistently useful. Some of my favorite plugins are listed below.
Antispam Bee (https://wordpress.org/plugins/antispam-bee/) is an alternative to WordPress’ own Akismet. Like Akismet, Antispam Bee filters and blocks spam from sites’ comments sections. Unlike Akismet, Antispam Bee doesn’t seem to be integrated into Jetpack’s functionality. Antispam Bee’s main advantage over Akismet, however, is that it’s completely free.
BackWPup Free (https://wordpress.org/plugins/backwpup/) is a backup plugin for WordPress sites’ data that runs at a time preset by the user. The plugin can save a site’s installed data to a .ZIP file that can then be downloaded to the user’s computer or sent directly to several cloud services (Dropbox, etc.). However, a few services (backup to Google Drive, etc.) require the non-free Pro version for automatic cloud storage.
Broken Link Checker
Broken Link Checker (https://wordpress.org/plugins/broken-link-checker/) is a plugin that does what its name says: check one’s site for broken links at preset intervals. Information on broken links can be emailed to the user. The option to fix, edit, or delete broken links is also available.
Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (GASP)
Jetpack (https://wordpress.org/plugins/jetpack/) is a plugin by WordPress that adds multiple functions for a site that are normally available to WordPress.com users. These functions include: site statistics; email subscriptions; access to the WP.me URL shortener; contact forms (integrated with Akismet); automatically posting new blog posts to social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+); and more. One advantage of Jetpack is reducing the number of plugins that would otherwise be required.
Wordfence Security (https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/) is one of several security-related plugins for WordPress. Wordfence performs various basic and advanced site securing functions, including: scanning a site installation for malware and other vulnerabilities; blocking brute force login attempts by limiting the number of times logins are allowed; a firewall for added security; and more.
WordPress SEO (https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/) is a plugin that greatly extends WordPress’ search engine optimization (SEO) functionality, allowing for increased customizing of posts, pages, etc. for SEO as desired.
WP Super Cache
WP Super Cache (https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-super-cache/) is one of several caching plugins. Its function is to take some stress off of the site by serving up cached versions of pages that haven’t had any changes made. This plugin is particularly useful for periods of high traffic, lessening the risk of the site being unavailable altogether.
While others may have their own site-specific needs or preferences, I hope the above list makes for a useful place to start.
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Nikolay Bachiyski.