Essential Plugins for Designing and Developing Custom WordPress Websites in 2024

When designing a WordPress website, there are so many plugins available that will extend the functionality of your site that it can be overwhelming. With so many options, it can be hard to know which plugins are worth installing and using from the plugins that might cause issues.  

While plugins can enhance functionality and add valuable features to your site, they also have the potential to introduce issues such as bloat, conflicts, and security vulnerabilities. Poorly coded or unnecessary plugins can significantly impact your site’s speed and performance by adding unnecessary code and increasing page load times. 

It’s not uncommon for plugins to conflict with one another, leading to functionality issues or even website crashes and disruptions – and that dreadful white screen of death. Additionally, plugins with security vulnerabilities can expose your site to threats such as malware infections or data breaches. That’s why it’s important to keep your plugins up-to-date with the latest security patches.

Carefully evaluate plugins before deciding on installation. Consider factors like the developer’s reputation, user reviews, update frequency, and the compatibility with your WordPress version and theme. If you choose your plugins judiciously and keep them updated regularly, you can ensure optimal performance, functionality, and security for your WordPress site.

Below is a list of the plugins that I most commonly use in my web design projects. Throughout the year you can expect the list to have more additions.

advanced custom fields

advanced custom fields.

Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) is a powerful plugin that allows you to add custom fields to your WordPress content types, such as posts, pages, and custom post types. It allows you to create custom fields for text, images, files, URLs, and more, providing flexibility in how you organize and display content.

The ACF plugin allows developers to add various types of fields, such as text, image, file, relationship, and repeater fields, empowering them to collect and display diverse content types seamlessly. ACF’s intuitive interface and extensive customization options make it an indispensable tool for building complex data structures and organizing content effectively. 


duplicate page wordpress plugin

duplicate page.

Duplicate Page is a simple yet extremely useful plugin that allows you to clone posts or pages on your WordPress site with a single click. It provides options to duplicate content with or without attachments, making it easy to replicate existing content for editing or repurposing.

Duplicate Page streamlines content management tasks by saving time and effort when creating similar or related content. It’s essential for maintaining consistency and efficiency in content creation workflows.

tip. This is an especially useful plugin for those who are new to WordPress and are using templates to design their website. By duplicating a page that has the design you want to emulate, you can then easily swap out the text and images with your new page content.

gravity forms wordpress plugin

gravity forms.

Gravity Forms is a popular form builder plugin for WordPress that enables you to create complex, multi-page forms with ease. It offers a wide range of form field types, conditional logic, and integration with third-party services, making it suitable for various use cases, such as contact forms, surveys, and payments.

Gravity Forms provides a seamless solution for collecting data and interacting with website visitors. It’s essential for building interactive and user-friendly forms that enhance user engagement and facilitate communication with your audience.

tip. The use of multi-step forms reduces psychological friction in users. Multi-step forms allow visitors to answer questions without feeling overwhelmed, compared to the feeling of having to complete a single step long form. Also, elements like progress bars make users want to complete the form since they provide the sense of an endpoint.

the seo framework plugin

the SEO framework.

The SEO Framework is a lightweight and user-friendly SEO plugin for WordPress that helps you optimize your website for search engines. It offers features such as title and meta description management, schema markup, and social media integration, making it easy to improve your site’s visibility and rankings in search engine results.

The SEO Framework provides essential tools and features for implementing effective SEO strategies on your WordPress site, ensuring that your content is discoverable and optimized for maximum search engine visibility.


spectra blocks plugin

spectra blocks.

Spectra Blocks is a Gutenberg block plugin for WordPress that adds a collection of custom blocks to the block editor. It includes various blocks for creating visually appealing layouts and adding advanced functionality to your content, such as sliders, galleries, testimonials, and more.

Spectra Blocks enhances the functionality of the Gutenberg block editor, allowing you to create dynamic and engaging content layouts without relying on additional plugins or custom code.


animate blocks github

animate blocks.

Animate Blocks is a Gutenberg block plugin that adds animation effects and time delays to your content blocks in the WordPress block editor. It provides a range of animation options, including fade, slide, bounce, and zoom effects, allowing you to add visual interest and interactivity to your website content.

Animate Blocks enables you to create eye-catching and interactive content without the need for custom CSS or JavaScript. It’s essential for enhancing the visual appeal and user experience of your WordPress site.

tip. Remember not to go overboard making everything fly all over the place. Just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should. Some of the best animations are the most subtle.

easy accordion wordpress plugin

easy accordion.

Easy Accordion is a WordPress plugin designed to simplify the process of creating accordion-style content sections on your website. Accordion sections are collapsible elements that allow users to expand or collapse content with a click, making it ideal for organizing and presenting information in a compact and visually appealing manner.

tip. Accordions are a great option for Frequently Asked Question FAQ sections., and also if you have a number of service descriptions you’re trying to fit on a single page.

post type order plugin

post types order.

Custom Post Order is a WordPress plugin that allows you to reorder posts, pages, custom post types, and taxonomies using a simple drag-and-drop interface. It provides an intuitive way to rearrange content order without having to modify the publication date or use complex sorting options.

Custom Post Order enables you to control the display order of your content, making it essential for managing the presentation and organization of your WordPress site’s content hierarchy.

tip. This is very useful if you’re working with custom post types for content sections like portfolios or a team members. Being able to arrange your portfolio items or team members using a simple drag and drop function is extremely convenient.

SVG support plugin

SVG support.

SVG Support is a WordPress plugin designed to enable the use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) files within WordPress websites. SVG files are widely used for their ability to scale without losing quality and their smaller file sizes compared to other image formats. 

This plugin enables the ability to upload SVG files to your WordPress media library and easily insert them into posts, pages, or custom post types using the WordPress editor. 

tip. SVG images provide a crispness and scalability that PNG and JPG can’t. They are especially useful for making sure your logo stays sharp at any size. I like to use SVGs for my site icons as well. One thing to note, if you’re planning to animate the SVG you’ll want to place it into your page by pasting the SVG code into the Custom HTML block instead of using the Image block.

woocommerce plugin

WooCommerce.

WooCommerce stands as one of the most popular and powerful ecommerce platforms available for WordPress websites, offering a plethora of benefits for businesses looking to establish a robust online presence. 

Firstly, WooCommerce provides unparalleled flexibility, allowing users to sell physical or digital products, subscriptions, memberships, and even bookings for services. Its extensive range of customizable themes and plugins enables businesses to create unique, visually appealing storefronts tailored to their brand identity. Additionally, WooCommerce boasts a user-friendly interface, making it accessible to both novice and experienced users. 

Its product management system simplifies inventory tracking, order processing, and customer management, streamlining the entire e-commerce operation.WooCommerce’s scalability ensures that businesses can grow and expand their online stores seamlessly, with options to integrate additional features and scale up resources as needed. 

Lastly, WooCommerce is cost-effective, offering a robust e-commerce solution at a fraction of the cost compared to other proprietary platforms. Overall, WooCommerce empowers businesses to create dynamic, feature-rich online stores that drive sales, engage customers, and foster long-term growth.


​​conclusion.

In conclusion, WordPress plugins can play a vital role in extending the functionality and enhancing the performance of your website. From improving SEO and security to optimizing user experience and streamlining content management, plugins offer endless possibilities for customization and growth. 

However, choose your plugins wisely. Consider factors including reliability, compatibility, and necessity. By selecting high-quality plugins from reputable developers and keeping them regularly updated, you can maintain a smooth and efficient website experience for both yourself and your visitors. 

Remember, while plugins can offer quick and easy solutions to simple tasks, moderation is key – prioritize quality over quantity, and always strive for a lean and optimized website. With the right combination of plugins and a strategic approach to implementation, you can unlock the full potential of your WordPress site and achieve your online goals with confidence.

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