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We’ve been using WordPress exclusively for our web designs for around 10 years now. It’s an amazing platform that is extremely flexible and powerful. One of the things that makes it so powerful is the thousands of unique plugins that help you accomplish the goals you have for each website. We have used MANY different plugins throughout the years. Some have been amazing, some have been buggy, some have been expensive, and some have been free.

After 10 years of experience, here are the 5 FREE plugins that we use in every WordPress website we create.

1.) Contact Form 7 (Free)

Contact Form 7 is a great, free, contact form plugin. We now use this contact form plugin exclusively for all of our builds.

Pros: It’s free, widely used, constantly updated by the developer, and integrates with other online services such as MailChimp.

Cons: It is not the most user-friendly plugin in the world. It lacks a drag and drop form builder like GravityForms has. But, it doesn’t cost a lot of money like Gravity Forms does.

2.) Contact Form 7 MailChimp Extension (Free)

This extension for Contact Form 7 allows us to connect forms to MailChimp so that we can add people who contact us through a form to a list in MailChimp. This makes list building automated for us and our clients — no more manually entering names and email addresses into mailing lists.

Pros: It’s free, widely used, constantly updated by the developer, and gets the job done.

Cons: Should be integrated with Contact Form 7 instead of being an extension.

3.) Flamingo (Free)

Contact Form 7 does not store data from the forms people submit in the database. So, if you missed, lost, or deleted an email that someone sent you through a form on your website, you need a plugin like Flamingo to write submitted form data into your database so that you can log into your website and recover all data from submitted forms.

Pros: It’s free, widely used, constantly updated by the developer, and gets the job done.

Cons: None really, but, it should be integrated with Contact Form 7 instead of being another plugin.

4.) Disable Comments (Free)

I probably shouldn’t say that we ALWAYS use this plugin, but we do use it about 95% of the time. Unless we are building a blog where the client wants site visitors to interact with comments, we use Disable Comments. This cuts down on the annoying spam that WordPress comments are notorious for. And, even if you have WordPress set where you have to approve the comments, the comments awaiting moderation can bog down your database. So, we choose to just completely disable comments altogether whenever possible.

Pros: It’s free and it gets the job done.

Cons: WordPress should make disabling comments easier so we don’t need a plugin to just turn them off completely.

5.) WP Bakery Page Builder ($46 – formally known as Visual Composer)

We know there are other page builders out there that have a great reputation as well, but we’ve been using this page builder for years and there’s just about nothing we can’t do with it. It saves us time when building websites and gives us the flexibility to design a page in just about any manner we want while using a drag and drop page builder.

Pros: Powerful, flexible, & customizable. Frequently updated by the author. There are a lot of add-ons from third parties that can extend the features of the core plugin. Often times it is bundled with a premium theme so you don’t have to buy a license (this is how we suggest getting the plugin because themes that bundle WP Bakery Page Builder with their theme, are specifically designed for using the plugin).

Cons: As mentioned earlier, it can cost $46 if it isn’t bundled with a premium theme that you have purchased.

6.) Duplicate Page

If you are building a website that has many pages that will be laid out the same but with different content and photos, this plugin is a major time saver. With this plugin, all you have to do is click, “Duplicate This” when editing a page, go to the new duplicate page, rename the new page, change your content and photos, and boom… you’re done with that new page. HUGE time saver — especially with complex page layouts.

Pros: It’s free, gets the job done, and saves a lot of time.

Cons: None.


Author SteamWorks

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