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The 22 Best WordPress Plugins of 2021

Use these WordPress plugins to make your website world-class.

When it comes to using WordPress plugins in your website, you might feel somewhat overwhelmed. After all, there are over 50,000 plugins in the WordPress directory! So, how do you decide which ones are right for you? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

This year, we’ve done our homework for serious professionals who want a world-class website. Not only are the plugins we recommend the “best of the best” but they all play nicely with each other. That means, less plugin stress for you and more time spent on the fun stuff, like design and content!

So, are you ready to jump in? Let’s get to it!

The Approach

First, in your search for the best WordPress plugins, you might have come across an article or two that highlighted many of the same plugins. And while you might see some of those plugins listed here, what you won’t find are any affiliate links to those plugins. That’s just one core pillar of our approach.

1. No affiliate links (Unbiased reviews)

We believe that if you see an affiliate link for a product, it’s really a coin toss on whether or not that product is actually good. That goes for online courses, products on Amazon, plugins, or really anything sold online. That’s why the plugins we list below are ones we actually use in real websites.

2. Use plugins that play nice with each other

We’ve been building advanced WordPress websites for over a decade. So we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. And because we come from a design mentality, we’ve been intentional about using no code (or as little code) as possible.

That approach bodes well for our custom clients too, many of whom want the ability for someone (a “non-techie”) on their team to be able to make simple, quick changes to their website. That’s why we only use plugins that play nice with each other.

And a bonus if they actually build for each other. (All the good ones do.)

3. Use plugins built by reputable developers

Almost anyone can build a WordPress plugin (or have one built) in as little as a week or even a day. But that doesn’t mean you should use it. Why? Perhaps it solves one of your problems. But what happens a year or two from now when you need to update the plugin? Or what if that developer is no longer in business?

Guess what? You’ll be up the creek without a paddle!

So stick to reputable developers, ones who’ve been building for quite a while and whom people say have “clean code”. You can find out that info in some of the comments on their websites or in the WordPress directory.

All the plugins listed below are built by the best developers on the planet. Yes, there are more. But we’re only including what we believe are the “best of the best”.

4. Keep it simple & lean (Don’t use too many plugins)

You might have heard that you shouldn’t use more than 20 WordPress plugins in your website. Some “experts” say it’s less. Some say you can get away with more.

The reality has more to do with the overall bulk of the site, like how much RAM or bandwidth a plugin requires in order to function properly. For example, if you have 3 plugins in your site but one of them is a monstrosity of a plugin, then if you’re on cloud hosting and get more than a hundred simultaneous users, your site is going to crash.

That’s why we recommend you keep your plugin stack simple and lean. Google “WordPress plugins that slow down my site” and you’ll find a number of articles for plugins you should not use, even if it’s popular with millions of people.

Okay, now that we’ve shared our approach with you, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this article…

The Top WordPress Plugins for Your Website

We’ve broken out the best WordPress plugins by “essential” plugins we believe should be in every website, followed by plugins in online community sites, online course websites, e-commerce stores, and membership websites. Yes, we could have included a hundred different variations of websites, but since these are the most common sites, that’s what we’re covering in this article.

Essential Plugins

Every website needs some core essentials, like a page builder, the ability to capture leads, sales funnels, marketing automation, speed optimization, spam prevention, security, and more. That’s why we’ve listed these world-class plugins below.

1. Elementor Pro Website Builder ($49/year)

Elementor (Pro) is by far the best website builder in the world. If you’re comparing to other website builders, Elementor is faster, built with better code, and has the funding to outpace the competition. Simply put, if you pick no other plugin to use in your website, you simply have to use Elementor. It goes without saying that all our websites are built with Elementor. We can’t recommend it highly enough.

2. Ultimate Addons for Elementor ($55/year)

3. Cartflows Pro Sales Funnels ($199/year)

If your website isn’t making you money online, then what’s the point? That’s why you need sales funnels software. So instead of shelling out $297/month for popular stand-alone sales funnel software, just go with Cartflows (or WooFunnels – see below) and save yourself thousands.

4. WooFunnels Sales Funnels ($199/year)

Just so we’re clear about the sales funnels plugin you choose, you only need one. Now, admittedly, picking the right sales funnel software is a toss-up between the two. In the WordPress community, this debate is hotly contested! For now, we’ll just let you know that you’re not going to go wrong with either one.

5. WP Fusion Marketing Automation ($247/year)

If you’ve had a website for a hot minute, you probably already know that you need to connect it to other online business services you use (like your CRM). That’s where WP Fusion comes in. They bill themselves as the “no-code” solution for connection your website to anything. That’s not far from the truth. And it’s why we love them.

6. Smush Pro Image Optimizer ($147/year)

7. Hummingbird Pro Website Speed Optimizer ($147/year)

8. SmartCrawl Pro SEO Optimizer ($147/year)

9. Defender Pro Website Security ($147/year)

10. Akismet Anti-Spam Software ($100/year)

11. GDPR Cookie Consent (Free)

12. WooCommerce E-Commerce Software (Free)

13. Insert Headers & Footers (Free)

14. Redirection (Free)

15. Pretty Links (Free)

16. Yoast Duplicate Post (Free)

Online Community Plugins

17. BuddyBoss Pro ($228/year)

Online Course Plugins

18. LearnDash Pro E-learning Platform ($189/year)

19. GamiPress All Access Pass Gamification ($699/year)

20. AffilateWP Affiliate and Referral System ($299/year)

Membership and Subscription Plugins

21. WishList Member Membership Plugin ($147/year)

22. WooCommerce Subscriptions ($199/year)

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