OK, forgetting the infelicitous year that lies behind us, here’s my list of the seven WordPress plugins that I expect to be installing on every WordPress website I build in 2021:

Complianz

Complianz | GDPR/CCPA Cookie Consent

Category: compliance

In the past, it has always been a bit of a headache to create opt-ins and privacy policies for websites that actually comply with regulations, whether they be EU GDPR, AVG, DSGVO, CNIL, PECR, UK DPA, UK GDPR, CCPA, COPPA, PIPEDA or CASL (phew!). However, this plugin is extraordinarily comprehensive, providing cover for all the above regulations, and it’s not a headache to set up.

Complianz scans your website for cookies and scripts that require opt-in. It then looks them up in its database to categorise them as either functional or marketing related. The plugin then compiles a customised privacy policy and a cookie opt-in notice for users to select the types of cookies they’re happy to receive.

Complianz can be made to handle your external scripts such as Google Analytics, Adwords, Matomo analytics etc, and can block external scripts and iframes inserted by the theme or other plugins until the user gives their consent for them to load.

Email Encoder

Email Encoder – Protect Email Addresses

Category: security

If you put an email address or phone number on your website then it’s pretty much guaranteed that a bot will pick it up and send you spam. This plugin provides a good way to combat that. It uses several methods to scramble email addresses and phone numbers for bots while keeping them clear for humans, with CSS, images, javascript and rot13 encoding.

What’s more, the plugin does its stuff right from activation without needing any manual setup.

LiteSpeed Cache

LiteSpeed Cache plugin

Category: speed

LiteSpeed Web Server is web server software similar to Apache and NGINX that is growing in popularity. It’s built to be configurable in pretty much exactly the same way as the most popular alternative, Apache, but when configured correctly can greatly outperform Apache and NGINX when it comes to website speed.

This plugin was built by the makers of the software to get the best speed performance out of WordPress sites running LiteSpeed. General features can be used by websites running any web server software, but some advanced features are available only for websites on LiteSpeed.

Considering this is a free plugin the offering is impressive:

  • Site caching
  • Minification and combining of scripts
  • Image and iframe lazy loading
  • WebP image conversion
  • Free CDN cache
  • DNS prefetching
  • HTTP/3 and QUIC support
  • Database cleaner and optimiser
  • And more

Rank Math

Rank Math plugin

Category: SEO

Rank Math has quickly risen to become a powerful WordPress website SEO tool with an enthusiastic user base.

It includes a ton of features in one plugin, including Google schema markup (aka rich snippets), Google Search Console integration, redirections manager, local SEO setup and an SEO analysis tool.

They’ve recently released a pro version which allows for keeping track of multiple keywords and a very powerful schema generator.

Really Simple SSL

Really Simple SSL plugin

Category: security

It does what it says on the tin, really. After registering an SSL certificate with your hosting provider this WordPress plugin helps you get your website loading everything stored locally over SSL. It will redirect all incoming requests to https with an internal WordPress redirect or an .htaccess redirect, and it can scan your site for mixed content

UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus plugin

Category: backup

This plugin will make backups of your website’s database, plugins, themes and files periodically, with a customisable schedule. Backups can be automatically sent to external storage such as Google Drive, Dropbox, FTP, Amazon S3, email and more and the site can be restored from backup for free. Premium features include the ability to create a clone or migrate backups to new websites, multisite support and incremental backups.

Wordfence Security

Wordfence plugin

Category: security

This is the daddy of WordPress security plugins.

As well as tweaking many WordPress settings to harden a website’s security, Wordfence also provides a proactive firewall that scans incoming traffic and blocks anything malicious.

The plugin can scan core files, themes, plugins and media for malware, backdoors, malicious redirects, SEO spam and code injections, comparing the files to known safe versions. It can then fix issues itself if requested.

Good login security is another major feature of a safe website, and Wordfence can provide this with compromised password scanning, two-factor authentication and a login CAPTCHA.

So that’s all from me this year.

What’s your list of plugins you can’t do without?

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Author: Aidan Ashby

Aidan is a web and branding designer living in Northampton, UK. He’s a cautious optimist and is loathe to discuss himself in the third person. He loves pancakes and has a perpetual desire to just be sat in the woods with his feet up in front of a bonfire.

Connect with Aidan on LinkedIn.

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