Ten essential WordPress plugins for developers

Written by | July 23, 2014 | Posted in Process

Here at Cuberis, we have a set of WordPress plugins that we install on every site we build. Each and every one of them have a proven track record of improving site performance, making administering a site easier, or just being incredibly amazing. Every site we build is unique, and usually has a handful of additional plugins that add special functionality specific to that website. This list is meant to give an overview of plugins that are helpful for any WordPress website, regardless of its functionality.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of plugins for WordPress, many of which do the same thing in (slightly) different ways. So some people may agree or disagree with our picks, but these are our current favorite WordPress plugins. Enjoy!

Advanced Custom Fields


This suite of plugins provides a great UI for all custom fields that may need to be added for admins to more easily manage their site. Some of our favorite add-ons are for the options page, date/time picker, gallery fields, repeater fields, website fields, and the field length text limiter.

Ajax Thumbnail Rebuild


Ever find yourself building a site, uploading a bunch of pictures, and then having to either add a new image size or change an image size? Yeah? Well this free plugin will make your life a whole lot easier. It adds a menu item under “Tools” that allows you to rebuild all image sizes from one place. It also lets you go to an individual image in the media library and click a “rebuild thumbnail” button to rebuild all image sizes for that one image.


WordPress › BackWPup Free - WordPress Backup Plugin « WordPress Plugins 2014-07-21 08-31-14

BackWPUp is a free plugin that allows you to schedule and configure automatic backups for databases and files. We always configure monthly backups of files, and weekly backups of databases. Using this plugin, backups can be configured for storage in a secure directory on the server, emailed to you, or even saved in the cloud.

Email Address Encoder

WordPress › Email Address Encoder « WordPress Plugins 2014-07-21 08-31-43

This super simple, lightweight, and free plugin automatically obfuscates any email address that is entered in posts, pages, comments, excerpts, and text widgets. No installation or configuration is necessary other than activation!

Google Analyticator

WordPress › Google Analyticator « WordPress Plugins 2014-07-21 08-32-11

Google Analytics is such a powerful free plugin to track site visitor behavior, but your valuable data can sometimes be muddled with tracked visits to the site from site administrators. It’s usually unnecessary to track site administrators who are spending longer times on the site and refreshing pages repeatedly to check for changes. The great thing that this plugin allows is the ability to disable tracking for logged in users (per user role). It also comes with a handy dashboard widget that gives a brief overview of the past 30 days.

Google CSE

WordPress › Google CSE « WordPress Plugins 2014-07-21 08-32-37

Everybody loves Google search, right? WordPress is great at a lot of things, but its search is nowhere near as good as Google’s. The free Google CSE plugin gives you the ability to link up the power of Google’s Custom Search Engine with your own website’s design. All you need to do is configure a Custom Search Engine for your website though Google’s interface, create a project in the Google API Console (don’t forget to enable the Custom Search API), and then enter a couple settings on the settings page in WordPress. Then your website’s search will automatically leverage the power of Google and display the results displayed in a list styled with your custom WP theme.

Helpful Information

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The name of this incredibly simple, free plugin says it all. Simply enable the plugin to get a new menu item on the admin bar which shows which theme template is being used, what post type is being displayed, what scripts are registered and enqueued, which styles are registered and enqueued, and all of the PHP files that are included in core and per theme and plugin.

TinyMCE Advanced

WordPress › TinyMCE Advanced « WordPress Plugins 2014-07-21 08-33-07

Usually, WYSIWYG editors have way too many options. So we narrow down the options for text formatting to what a client actually needs to enter their content in the simplest way possible. The free plugin TinyMCE Advanced allows us to remove buttons that are not needed on professional websites (like emoticons, strikethroughs, text colors, text background colors, and the like) and add the ones that are (like insert tables). This plugin also allows an administrator to create custom text styles (like main headings or sub headings) that a user can then use to change the style of a block of text to be automatically displayed on the front end matching the website’s custom design.

User Switching

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If you are ever developing or managing a site with multiple user roles with different capabilities, this free plugin will be your best friend. It allows you to switch back and forth between different user accounts at the touch of a button.

W3 Total Cache

WordPress › W3 Total Cache « WordPress Plugins 2014-07-21 08-33-40

This free plugin is so incredibly powerful and even the most minimal configurations can have dramatic effects on page load time. You can use it to minify files and configure site caching — this includes the ability to add expires headers, set cache control headers, cache database queries, and enable WordPress’ powerful object caching abilities (to help with functions that leverage the Transients API). You can even configure a CDN for assets and a seamless integration with New Relic for application monitoring.

Did I miss anything? What are your go-to plugins? Connect with me @isabisa on Twitter to discuss!