WordPress is a popular blogging and Content Management System (CMS) software. It is used to publish blogging content to the internet or as a base system for web pages. Other widespread CMS software is Joomla! or Drupal. These systems exist since many years and over the time theses systems became very similar to each other.
WordPress can be considered as a construction kit with many modules. The basic design is called “theme”. The theme consists in font styles, color schemas, graphical elements, menus and so on.
Plugins on the other hand are modules which are providing not a design but a functionality – like a backup function, a contact form, translations, compliant functions or security improvements.
Themes and plugins are mostly and basically free of costs, but advanced functions can cost money. WordPress itself is free as well.
In this article we will learn which free plugins support us to develop a professional WordPress page. We are starting with a backup plugin.
1. Backup Migration (by Migrate)
The topic backup is ubiquitous in IT. A data backup means that there is in the case of data loss a copy of the lost data, so that the original status of the system can be restored.
In our case, when we develop and maintain a WordPress page, changes happen during the time. Content changes and updates are installed constantly. I the case of a failure, it can be a hacking, a server failure or a maintenance mistake, with a backup the system can be restored.
I recommend “Backup Migration” by Migrate.
The handling is quite intuitive. Manual and automatic backups can be done and backups can be downloaded. There is a special feature called “migration”. A migration of a web page to a new domain or a new server can be done easily.
The data restore in a case of failure can be done easily as well.
2. Disable and Remove Google Fonts (by Fonts Plugin)
Nowadays it is important to have a “General Data Protection Regulation” (GDPR) compliant web page to not catch a juristic case.
In 2022 people were sued because their web site connected to the Google servers to use Google’s fonts. Google got the IP address of the web site visitors and could track the visitors behavior without their consent. This caused juristic troubles to web site owners. WordPress doesn’t suppress this behavior by default.
A plugin is necessary to stop WordPress connecting to Google’s servers.
The plugin has the name “Disable and Remove Google Fonts” by Fonts Plugin:
The plugin just needs to be installed and it then provides its function. I will continue with the topic security because it’s important next to the GDPR compliance.
3. Sucuri Security – Auditing, Malware Scanner and Security Hardening (by Sucuri Inc.)
IT systems and data security is a very important topic and integrity, confidentiality and availability of the data and the systems is the aim.
To protect our web page against hackers additional security is desirable. The plugin “Sucuri Security – Auditing, Malware Scanner and Security Hardening” by Sucuri Inc. does a good job in securing our web page.
The free version’s features are security logging, integrity scanning, web page hardening and notification services.
An alternative to the Sucuri Inc. plugin is “Wordfence Security – Firewall & Malware Scan” by Wordfence. On some of my web pages I am using Wordfence on others the Sucuri Inc. plugin.
The next plugin affects the ranking on the Google result page.
4. Yoast SEO (by Team Yoast)
If a web page is designed mostly it should have a good ranking in the Google result page. The technical term is “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO). Since money is invested and money should be made with web pages clients want to be ranked well in Google.
The free version of the Yoast SEO plugin gives hints and feedback about the structure of the content of the web page. It analyzes the structure of the text and gives hints about key words and meta descriptions of the web page and sub pages.
As you see in the image feedback by Yoast is given about the SEO and readability of the text.
The next topic is about statistics.
5. WP Statistics (by VeronaLabs)
WP Statistics is a GDPR compliant alternative to “MonsterInsights – Google Analytics”. Google Analytics could cause juristic trouble and a worry free alternative is WP Statistics. For sure the free version is very limited compared to Google Analytics.
WP Statictics shows details like the visitors browser, the country of origin and visitors and visits are distinguished and counted.
The plugin shows popular sub pages and dates and time of the visits as well as the visitors operating system.
It is important to get the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) an statistics of your web page, so that you can optimize the content and measure your success.
A clear and handy alternative with a focus on privacy too is “Burst Statistics – Privacy-Friendly Analytics for WordPress” by Really Simple Plugins.
Nowadays it is all about GDPR, privacy and compliance and the next plugin is another building block to stay on the safe side.
6. Real Cookie Banner: GDPR (DSGVO) & ePrivacy Cookie Consent (by devowl.io)
Cookies are small files and they are stored by web pages to the visitors computers and cookies can be used to track visitors. Visitors need to have chance by law to deny the set of cookies on their computers.
Real Cookie Banner is a cookie banner which really prevents the set of the cookies on the visitors computer if he or she denies it by clicking on the “deny” button. I tested it and it works. The only disadvantage of the free version is the fact that it doesn’t cover Google AdSense cookies.
For Google AdSense to be covered the Pro version is needed instead which takes money. The plugin scans the whole web page and detects all the cookie setting code automatically. After the scan an appropriate banner is created and later on served to the web page visitors.
Depending on the setup of the web page a proper functioning cookie banners can be mandatory for your web page. It is very obvious if there is a cookie banner when one enters the web page or there is no cookie banner popping up.
Ask your lawyer to check your web page for its GDPR and privacy compliance.
Because GDPR compliance is an important topic another plugin helps to protect you and your web page.
7. Disable Emojis (GDPR friendly, by devowl.io)
Emojis are small symbols which are enriching the text and content of your webpage. These little smiles can have an impact to the visitors privacy because they are sometimes downloaded from another domain. IP addresses are then transferred to this domain and this causes a violation of the visitors privacy.
To prevent the violation of the visitors privacy just install “Disable Emojis (GDPR friendly)” by devowl.io. You don’t have to do additional configurations and the text enriching Emojis will still work.
Okay, it’s enough now about compliance. Let’s talk about the web page performance at the last point.
8. WP Super Cache (by Automattic)
Let’s speed up our page. The “WP Super Cache” plugin loads the bulky WordPress PHP files in advance and converts them into HTML, which is then served to the visitors computers. This improves the loading times of the web page.
Just install the plugin and activate it. A new menu entry appears in the WordPress Dashboard.
As you see in the screen shot there is an easy mode for quick configuration and no special configuration is needed:
In my role as web developer I nearly always install the plugins listed above. I can recommend you to do so if you want stay compliant, secure and performant with your web page.
Depending on your projects requirements other plugins for sure can be necessary as well. Feel free to give a comment to this post.