Use Code LOVE25 at Checkout


00D 00H 00M 00S
woman working on her website with a matcha latte

13 Best WordPress Plugins: Essentials for Your Website in 2024

Mar 12, 2024

filed under  //

on Tap

Get my best tips and tricks on design & marketing in your inbox every week.





One thing I know when it comes to WordPress plugins… They are not all created equal! And when there’s thousands of plugins out there to choose from, that makes knowing which ones to use super tough.

Some websites might not need any WordPress plugins and that’s perfectly OK… But typically, the more you want your website to do, the more plugins (or custom web development) you’ll likely need.

(This article contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission for purchases made through links in this post at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I 100% believe in and use myself. Read the Privacy Policy for details.)

In my 13 years of being a professional web designer, I’ve designed hundreds of websites and a large majority of those sites have been designed on WordPress. Over these years, I’ve also tried and tested dozens of WordPress plugins for various reasons and even made a few of my own.

When you are deciding whether to add a new plugin to your site, there are some things you will want to consider. While adding new functionality can be fun, or sometimes necessary, you should do so cautiously.

Here’s why…

Bogging your site down with a ton of bloated plugins can affect your site’s user experience and your site speed. Not too mention, plugins can conflict with each other causing, unwanted glitches or errors on your site… Aannnd it also means you have more plugins to maintain on a regular basis.

Unless you have an e-commerce site, I typically recommend to keep the number of installed plugins on your site around 10-15 or less. This ensures you can maintain your plugins properly and that you don’t run into a ton of conflicts that give you that dreaded white screen of death.

Now, I know my curated list isn’t necessarily the biggest, but I do believe these are some of the best WordPress plugins.

How do I know? Because these are plugins that I either, actively use on my own site, and/or client sites, so I can vouch that they are reliable and actually do what they say they do.

Contact Form & Notifications WordPress Plugins

Gravity Forms

Gravity forms, WordPress form plugin, homepage: Powerful data captured by Gravity Forms. The most powerful solution for building custom forms and flows to connect with your users and expand your reach. All in WordPress.

Gravity forms* is the absolute best plugin I’ve found to easily create dynamic and powerful forms on your WordPress site. From basic text fields to complex calculations and conditional logic, Gravity Forms allows you to build interactive and user-friendly forms.

Now, you won’t find Gravity forms in the standard WordPress plugin library next to it’s free counterparts (like Contact Form 7), because it is a paid-only WordPress plugin, BUT, I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a form tool as robust as this one. The lowest tier plan is currently only $59, and in my opinion, that is a steal for all of the features it offers, including integration with popular CRMs like Hubspot, Zoho and more.

Not only do I use this plugin on my own website, I use it for nearly all of my client websites. For my own site, I use this for both the client inquiry process (contact forms) AND onboarding process (questionnaires.) I also use it for client feedback, surveys, and custom order forms for my brand kits. All of its features combined with how easy it is to use, make this hands-down the best WordPress form plugin out there.

OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now. (I’m sure you didn’t think it was possible to be so hyped about website forms, did you?)

Related Video: How to Add a Gravity Form on Your Showit + WordPress Website


wp smtp - making email deliverability easy for wordpress. The most populare WordPress smtp and php mailer plugin, trusted by over 3 million sites, a wp forms product

Here’s something else I bet you didn’t know… that your WordPress website wasn’t built to send you email notifications automatically. Say whaaaa?

Don’t believe me? Just search “wordpress form not sending email” and see how many Google results come up from distraught users wondering were all there email notifications are. If you’ve experienced this firsthand, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

While there are a number of reasons, you might not be receiving email notifications from your website, one of the most common reasons is because your hosting server is not configured for it.

Many hosting providers disable or circumvent the default WordPress email settings, which are set up to send emails using your hosting server and its wp_mail() function (based on the PHP mail() function). 

WP Engine

Using a plugin like WP SMTP is how you those avoid lost emails and can track your email deliverability reliably, rather than just hoping those emails magically get delivered to your inbox.

The built-in email logs with this plugin let you track all messages sent from your site, making it invaluable for high-volume inquiries and e-commerce websites, or really anyone who just wants to make sure they get all their emails.

Theme Customization Plugins

Custom Post Type UI

custom post type ui

Custom Post Type UI is a powerful, yet simple plugin that enables you to create and categorize unique post types for your website, beyond standard blog posts. Whether it’s reviews, podcast episodes, team members, or something else, this allows you to completely tailor your WordPress content structure to your business’s unique needs.

I use this WordPress plugin on my own site to display my client projects / portfolio designs, but really the possibilities are endless.

Related Post: How to Use WordPress Custom Post Types with Showit for Advanced Users

Advanced Custom Fields

advanced custom fields - extend wordpress with powerful custom fields, post types and taxonomies

Most every-day users of WordPress, won’t actually need this plugin, but if you are looking to up the ante on your website’s layout and edit-ability, Advanced Custom Fields is where it’s at.

ACF allows you to create and collect custom data fields on the backend of your site in order to display them to your users on the front end. Essentially, Advanced Custom Fields lets you input and display unique information, giving you the flexibility to design your site exactly the way you want and also making it easier to maintain in the long-run.

Code Snippets

Code snippets

Customizing your WordPress site with Code Snippets is so easy, even non-techy website owners can benefit from this plugin. The basic version of this plugin allows you to create and manage PHP and HTML snippets without altering your theme’s base files, which ensures you don’t break your site, or even if you do, you can easily turn off the snippet that caused it. The Pro version includes CSS and JavaScript snippets for even more flexibility.

I just recently started using this plugin in the past couple of years and it has been a game-changer. I mostly use it to add ChatGPT-written, PHP code snippets to help add additional functionality to websites I am working on that I don’t want to add additional plugins to.

The CSS snippets capability on the paid version is also great when you need to do more fine-tune styling of your site. It beats the built-in WordPress Customizer because you can separate your styles and keep them organized rather than have them all jumbled together.

Post Types Order

post types order plugin banner showing drag and drop interface to reorder posts in the wordpress dashboard

Post Types Order is incredibly basic, but effective plugin that makes rearranging the order of your posts stupid-simple. This plugin allows you to drag and drop posts into any desired sequence, providing flexibility beyond the default chronological display that WordPress uses.

SEO WordPress Plugins

Yoast SEO

yoast SEO wordpress plugin, seo for everyone

If there is one plugin that I install on EVERY website I work on, this is it. The Yoast SEO plugin helps you easily optimize your WordPress posts and pages for search engines. This robust, yet simple tool provides a comprehensive SEO reference checklist for every piece of content on your site, ensuring your get the most out of your content creation.


redirection plugin banner (closeup of flower in a field)

This no-frills plugin is my go-to option for simplifying the process of creating 301 redirects without delving into code or your htaccess file. Redirection is a must-have for preserving SEO value when your website pages change, providing a seamless user experience for your visitors.

Related Video: How to Create a A Redirect for Showit Websites

Security / Spam Plugins


wordfence plugin banner, securing your wordpress investment

I can’t tell you how many of my clients had old websites that got hacked and then they had start from scratch.

Wordfence helps you ensure the security of your website by shielding you against malicious attacks, malware, and password breaches. With both free and paid options, Wordfence is a must-have for safeguarding your site’s integrity and protecting sensitive information. (Honestly, I typically use the free version of this plugin and find it to work great without upgrading.)

Having this installed on your site will give you much-needed peace of mind about keeping your website safe and keep all your hard-work protected from needless attacks.


clean talk - spam protection for WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and any other websites, no captcha, no questions, no counting animals, no math. fight spam.

This versatile anti-spam plugin shields your website from spam bots and unwanted (or explicit) content in areas, like comments, orders, widgets, bookings, registrations, contact emails, subscriptions, or on any custom web form. It even checks existing comments and users for potential spam.

What sets CleanTalk apart, and what I love about it so much, is it doesn’t require use of a CAPTCHA, silly questions, or puzzles. It’s super easy to set up and it starts working instantly. While this is a paid plugin, it only costs $7 per year which is a nominal amount that I think most website owners could afford to pay for the benefits it brings.

E-commerce WordPress Plugins


woocommerce plugin banner

When it comes to adding E-commerce to your WordPress site, there’s no option more robust than WooCommerce, IMO. From multiple product variants to a versatile cart system, WooCommerce offers a feature-rich solution for selling both digital and physical products.

That being said, being such a powerful plugin, WooCommerce does have some quirks and a steep learning curve, but once you master your initial setup and get the hang of adding your products, you’ve set yourself up for a low-maintenance way to generate income from your website. Did I mention it’s free?


slice wp affiliate plugin for wordpress

When I recently relaunched my online shop, I looked for DAYS for the best affiliate plugin and none came close to SliceWP. Even though I’d never even heard of this plugin, the free features it has rival any of the more-popular, expensive affiliate plugins I’ve heard about.

This is an affiliate program tailor-made for WordPress that has both free and paid options. SliceWP allows affiliates to sign up, earn commissions through product referrals, and provides a beautiful user-friendly interface out-of-the-box. You can also, easily upload creative assets for your affiliates, making promotion seamless.

So, there you have a list of some my favorite and best WordPress plugins out there. Struggling to find the right WordPress plugin to meet your needs? Reach out to K Design Co. and let’s chat.

Don't worry, we hate SPAM too and we promise to never blow up your inbox!

Get our best tips and tricks on design & marketing in your inbox every week.




on tap

Subscribe to our newsletter and get free goodies, insights and discounts delivered to you with love.

Your not-so-typical brand and web bestie.

kristin pruis

Armed with a decade of design prowess and keen business insights to boot, she's the creative powerhouse behind these digital musings.


meet the blogger

learn more

When she's not crafting brands and websites that turn heads, you'll find her penning blog gems that cut through the noise with wit and wisdom. Get ready for a rollercoaster ride through the world of branding, design, and entrepreneurship – with a side of sass and humor. Buckle up, babe - you're in for one heck of a journey!


Flawless fonts Pairing Guide

brand your business messaging checklist

Looking for the free goods? Check out our curated collection of free resources and essential tools to help you craft a distinctive and bold online presence.

fan-favorites resources

color palette inspiration guide

Your Cart is empty!

It looks like you haven't added any items to your cart yet.

Browse Products