A list of WordPress plugins I install on my websites, and I recommend you do too!
While this website you're looking at right now is built with Squarespace, I have worked with WordPress for over 5 years now and I offer it as part of my website design package for clients too.
When I'm working on a website for a client, I will usually install several 'standard' plugins that are great for almost any site, and then I'll also install some plugins that are more tailored to the client's needs.
WP Maintenance mode
This plugin basically gives you the option to create a 'cover page' that you can switch on and off, which prevents visitors getting past and onto your actual website.
This is useful for when I'm initially designing the website, but also for any future updates/edits/changes the client might want to do at some point.
limit login attempts
This is a pretty standard plugin, that 'locks' your website back-end if you enter your name and password incorrectly several times. You can set how many times you can retry entering your details, as well as how long you get locked out for.
This is a great way to prevent hackers and bots trying to access your site, adding an extra layer of security.
WordPress will suggest you use this as a standard spam comment blocker. The cheapest plan is something like $5 (£3.34) a month, and it really does do the job.
You have no idea how annoying spam is until a 'spam-bot' latches itself to your website and leaves 100 comments a minute. Not uncommon if you don't have protection.
I've always loved using Yoast SEO to keep my website up-to-scratch. Not only does it provide clear, easy to understand advice for making your blog post or page 'green' (your page can be 'red', 'amber' or 'green' depending on how well it's optimising for search engines), but it also goes into lots of extra detail in the settings if you're interested in more!
w3 total cache
A fairly boring and complex plugin from the backend view, W3 Total Cache is really important for keeping your website from getting too slow (which is equally important for SEO! Fast pages rank better).
It's worth exploring the settings if you're worried your site might be sluggish, but the plugin will always prompt you to empty your cache to help speed things up as you edit your site and update other plugins.
Jetpack by wordpress.com
A plugin full of plugins! Jetpack is 'packed' with extra goodies for your site; you just need to scroll through the options and activate what you want.
My favourites include 'Enhanced Distribution', 'Extra Sidebar Widgets', 'Shortcode Embeds' and 'Site Stats', but again, it depends on the needs of the website.
Very simply, this plugin allows you to assign a page (any page that you have created) as what will appear when your visitors get a 404 error.
I like to create these custom 404 pages so that it's not just a dead-end for your audience. In your page you can add suggestions and links to other sections of your site, or recommended content.
This tool is a life-saver.
Anytime you want to update the URL slug for a page, or change the structure of your permalinks, you can easily set up a redirect with this plugin.
Simply type in the original URL, and tell it to send people to your new URL instead - easy!
As I say, this isn't a totally comprehensive list of plugins I install on my clients' sites; as well as these I'll always add some that are more specific to their needs.
For example, they may have a blog or ecommerce section on their site, which would require different plugins to a simple portfolio website.