Background to Our Top 10 Free WordPress Plugins for 2019
After several years of working with WordPress, testing plugins, reading reviews and speaking to others in the community, I thought I would compile my Top 10 Free WordPress Plugins for 2019. With hundreds and thousands of WordPress plugins to choose from, and most folks just choosing the most popular, I started to try the less popular and newer plugins. It’s by no coincidence however that indeed several of the plugins tested, are in fact some of the most popular. Popular for a reason, they do a great job, they are all secure and stable with a well supported development team.
One of my goals has always been to minimise the number of plugins I use. I therefore look for WordPress plugins that might replace possible two plugins that I currently use. There are also numerous other reviews, which I always tend to read and then go test the plugins.
I would highly recommend backing up your website before testing and trying any plugins, or even better use an offline tool such as Local by Flywheel (it’s free)
Many of my top plugins on the list, may well already be on your list, but I consider these top 10 free plugins my core plugins.
You can view some of my work and see the various plugins in action. In the meantime, let me know what you think of the list.
In no particular order, as there is no one stand out plugin, they are all, in my opinion, must have plugins for 2019
This WordPress plugin allows you to export your WordPress website including the database, media files, plugins and themes with no technical knowledge required.
Upload your site to a different location with a drag and drop in to WordPress. The free version only allows you to create a file which you export and import on your new WP site. There is a file size limit of 560MB, (workaround available) but in my experience you very rarely exceed this, unless you have a full production eCommerce site, for example. A great plugin.
Autoptimize makes optimising your site really easy. It can aggregate, minify and cache scripts and styles, injects CSS in the page head by default.
One thing that can throw you with this plugin, is trying to then view your web site source (right click and view source). What you’ll see is quite different from what you would normally expect, but remember, the optimisation isn’t there to make it easier for humans to read.
Certainly in my view a must have plugin, but caution should be taken with all Caching plugins, make sure you set up and test offline and ensure you clear your browsers cache, as you may not see issues until you go live and your visitors see issues before you do.
This plugin allows you to create custom image sizes for your site. Override your theme sizes directly on the media option page.
You can regenerate all the sizes you have just created and choose which one you wanted to regenerate.
You can now get all the code to copy and paste to your function theme file.
Now you can use the generated sizes directly into your posts and insert images at the right size !
A great little plugin, and further adds to optimising your image sizes and quality.
More than a WordPress Plugin, Elementor is amazing and simple page builder to use. There are both FREE and Pro versions available.
Everyone I’m sure has their specific favourite, however Elementor in my opinion is one of the most elegant and easy to use page builders.
The development team behind Elementor, bring out regular updates and certainly invest a lot of time in ensuring the plugin has added functionality and great looking content.
With Elementor’s unique features, you can create websites that have that certain ‘designer touch’. Among our page builder features are: Box Shadows, Background Overlays, Hover Effects, Headline Effects, Animations, Shape Dividers, Gradient Backgrounds and much more.
If your site is vulnerable to attack, you’re putting your business and your reputation at serious risk. Getting hacked can mean you’re locked out of your site, client data stolen, your website defaced or offline, and Google will penalise you.
Shield offers a wizard that take you through the setup from Anti-Spam to Brute force login protection. Security plugins can always look daunting, but once you go through the wizard, it’s the type of plugin that you can forget about once set up.
Again there are hundreds of security plugins, these one seems to be clean and also has a very nice feature allowing you to hide your login, or at least change the path.
Recommended reading : Top 10 Actions You Must Take To Secure Your Website
UpdraftPlus simplifies backups and restoration. It is the world’s highest ranking and most popular scheduled backup plugin, with over a million currently-active installs. Backup your files and database backups into the cloud and restore with a single click!
Backup into the cloud directly to Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3 (or compatible), Rackspace Cloud, DreamObjects, FTP, Openstack Swift, Updraft Vault and email. A must have WordPress Plugin.
I recently set it up to backup to my Google Drive, (google allowing a larger standard online storage than DropBox for example.)
Options do exist to backup locally, but even with the FREE version of this WordPress plugin, you can schedule backups of your theme, plugins and database, either together or separately scheduled.
Smush has been benchmarked and tested number one for speed and quality and is the award-winning, back-to-back proven crowd favourite image optimisation plugin for WordPress.
Easy to install and set up, WP Smush speeds up your site, by allowing different size versions of your images to be utilised, thus meaning you only need to use the right size and resolution that you need.
Large image files may be slowing down your site without you even knowing it. Smush uses WPMU DEV’s super servers to quickly Smush every single one of your images and cuts all the unnecessary data without slowing down your site.
Icegram is the best plugin we’ve looked at, easily allowing you to create beautiful opt-ins and call to actions campaigns. You can choose a few free templated layouts and customise the message, showing them to targeted visitors and converting them to customers and prospects.
You can easily set it up within minutes and start recording results right away.
Most similar quality plugins are paid and still offer a lot less. Icegram is full featured, easy to use, trusted by thousands of users, and best of all, it’s free.
However the Pro Version of Elementor now has Popups so if you use Elementor Pro, you may not need this.
Swift Performance allows you to easily run the set up wizard, and enable caching as well as a wealth of optimisation techniques. Including:-
- Cache Preloading
- Gzip Compression
- Browser Caching
- Remove Query Strings
- Minify CSS
- Minify JS
Plus many more features.
We recommend running a page loading test tools such as QTMetrix prior to enabling Swift, and then run it afterwards. Use the report to help you decide which feature to enable within the plugin. Other alternatives include WP Super Cache.
When it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO) there really is only one plugin.
It has a wizard to help you configure and provides guidance on how to construct a page or post, with help and guidance around key words and their utilisation within the page.
Here are a few other key features of the free version: –
- The most advanced XML Sitemaps functionality at the push of a button.
- Full control over site breadcrumbs: add a piece of code and you’re good to go.
- Set canonical URLs to avoid duplicate content. Never have to worry about Google penalties again.
- Title and meta description templating for better branding and consistent snippets in the search results.
Would be great to hear what your top 10 free WordPress Plugins are. Please comment below.