WPMUDEV says WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) for websites. WordPress.org says the first version of WordPress released in 2003, was the authorized successor to b2/cafelog introduced during 2001. WordPress is an efficient CMS based on PHP and MySQL. It is an open source project released under a General Public License (GPL) license that gives a free copyleft license for the software.
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The goal of WordPress was to have a 50% market share of websites using a CMS. By 2016, WordPress passed this goal with increasing popularity. W3Techs reports that WordPress is used by 59.3% of websites that use a CMS. This is equal to 26.4% of the total number of websites.
The usage of WordPress dwarfs its CMS competitors, which include Drupal, Magento, Blogger, and Joomla.
Here is the list from W3Techs of the most popular websites that use WordPress, which includes some statistics about each website:
In 2004, WordPress plugins were first introduced. These plugins extend the capabilities of the WordPress CMS by creating new features and adding applications. Some do simple routine tasks like making a regular backup copy of a website. Others are more complex.
The attraction to the WordPress CMS is that it is easy to use, even by non-technical users. Additionally, expert software developers can extend the CMS capabilities by creating new plugins. These plugins are then shared with the WordPress community. The variety of plugins is extensive. A non-technical user does not have to create any software code. They simply find a plugin that does what they want and add it to their WordPress CMS.
Here are some of the most useful WordPress plugins as identified by SpeckyBoy Design Magazine that every WordPress website would benefit from using:
- Duplicator – The free version makes a backup copy of a website but does not store it in the cloud. The premium paid version makes the backup and automatically sends it to cloud storage. It starts at $39 per year for up to three websites for personal use. Here is a handy comparison of the differences between the free and the paid versions of Duplicator.
- Backup Buddy – Creates an automatic scheduled backup of a website that is stored securely in the cloud for $80 per year.
- Vault Press – Makes and stores automatic backups of a website for $9 per month or $99 per year
- Login LockDown – This free plugin stops repeated login attempts from a particular IP address after a certain number of failed login attempts. This prevents a brute force attack to gain unauthorized access to the website administration.
- Wordfence – This security plugin comes in a free version and paid premium version for $4.92 per month. It has a firewall, helps stop brute force attacks, and scans a website for malware. The premium version allows country IP blocking, scheduling of malware scans, password auditing, and includes premium customer support.
- iThemes Security – This security plugin has a free version and a paid pro version, which starts at $80 per year for WP bloggers. The paid pro version has 30 security features more than the free version.
Website Forms and Contact List Management
- Contact Form 7 – This free plugin makes it easy to create forms for a website and use the form information to build a contact list or capture feedback from website visitors.
- Fast Secure Contact Form – This free plugin makes it easy to create web forms and organize the entry fields using enhanced features that are not limited by templates. It uses CAPTCHA and Akismet to block spammers.
- Gravity Forms – This is the most popular paid plugin, which starts at $39 for personal use that creates web forms for a contact list, forms to take payments by PayPal, and any other type of web form needed. The $99 business version and the $199 developer’s version include many add-ons for extra functionality.
Social Media Connections
- Add-to-Any Share Buttons – This free plugin makes it super easy for website visitors to make connections with social media to share webpages and/or posts with over 100 social media and sharing applications that include Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, WhatsApp and more.
- Shareaholic – This free plugin allows webmasters to monetize web traffic, encourage social sharing by web visitors, and manage native ads or affiliate links. It also provides social analytics.
- Share Buttons by Addthis – This free plugin allows webmasters to place share buttons anywhere on the web page.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin – This multi-lingual plugin comes in a free version and a paid version that starts at $69 per year. It helps webmasters with SEO for WordPress websites and rates the SEO efforts on a page-by-page basis for SEO effectiveness.
- All in One SEO Pack – This plugin optimizes a WordPress website for SEO. It comes as a free version and as a paid pro-version for $79 per year.
- SEO Ultimate – This plugin has more than twenty modules and hundreds of features in the free version. The SEO Ultimate+ paid version for $49 per year, includes technical support and added features.
Website Coding and Management Tools
- Display Widgets – This free plugin allows a webmaster to choose the web pages on the website to hide or display widgets.
- List Category Posts – This free plugin organizes posts by categories.
- Raw HTML Snippets – This free plugin creates a library of various raw html code that adds easily to a WordPress website by using an abbreviated shortcode snippet.
- SB Child List – This free plugin uses a shortcode to create an unordered list of links to child pages or display a link to the parent page within a child page.
- Smart WYSIWYG Blocks Of Content – This free plugin makes it simple to create WYSIWYG widgets.
- WP DBManager – This free plugin makes a backup copy of a database and emails it on a regular schedule.
- YouTube Shortcode – This free plugin creates a shortcode to make it easier to embed YouTube videos.
- YOURLS – This plugin creates short URLs for use where space is limited, such as on Twitter.
- Q2W3 Fixed Widget (Sticky Widget) – This free plugin fixes a widget on a webpage so that no matter how the page is scrolled, the widget is still visible.
- WPFront Notification Bar – This free plugin creates a pop up in the bar that shows after a certain amount of time, which is useful for special sales, discount offerings, or important notifications.
The Top-Ten E-Commerce Solutions
- WooCommerce – This free plugin is the most popular e-commerce solution for WordPress websites. It is plug-and-play easy to use. There are also plenty of plugins available to extend WooCommerce reviewed by SpeckyBoy that give it added features.
- Jigoshop – One of the developers of WooCommerce created this free plugin. The plugin is free, but only works with WordPress themes that cost $35 each.
- eShop Plugin – This free plugin is a very simple e-commerce solution that supports PayPal payments and is mostly useful for small web stores.
- Shopp Plugin – This plugin is free for personal use, otherwise it is $75 for a single website license.
- WP eCommerce Plugin – The free version supports a limited number of payment gateways. The Gold Cart version, which supports many more payment gateways, costs $100.
- WordPress eStore Plugin – The $49 plugin was specifically made to sell digital products and services.
- Cart66 – This e-commerce solution is available as a stand-alone plugin for $98 for one website and for $95 for a cloud-based e-commerce solution called Cart66 Cloud. It supports over 70 payment gateways.
- ShopperPress Plugin – This $79 plugin adds Adsense integration to the e-commerce solution and allows data imports from Amazon, CSV, Datafeedr, and Ebay.
- WordPress Shopping Cart Plugin – This $69 plugin allows webmasters to organize products for sale according to multiple categories.
- Ecwid – This plugin is free for up to ten products. For a larger number of items, the price is $35 per month. This e-commerce solution integrates extremely well with the social media sites of Facebook and Tumblr. It is fast to set up and supports over 40 payment gateways.
- MarketPress eCommerce – This plugin costs $19 per month. Its main feature is the ability to create multi-site integration, which allows a webmaster to control a network of web stores.
- WordPress Ad Widget – This free plugin makes it easy to add images and ad code to a WordPress website.
Website Usage Tracking
- Crazyegg Heatmap Tracking – This plugin allows the use of the Crazyegg heatmap, which shows how web visitors are viewing and accessing the various parts of the web pages.
This list of WordPress plugins are some of the most useful ones, but it is by no means comprehensive. There are literally hundreds of other WP plugins available to support almost any need and developers continually make more plugins. This is one of the main reasons that the WordPress CMS remains so popular.