I’ve been a WordPress user for a number of years, running my enterprise IT (information technology) blog over at www.derekseaman.com. However, this photography site is significantly different and thus requires a whole different set of plugins. Anyone that has looked at the WordPress “app store” knows there’s an overwhelming amount of options out there. Want a social plug-in? There’s probably well over 200 options. Want a theme, Twitter widget, or Instagram feed? Ditto, hundreds of options. After significant research, trial and error, and vetting, here’s a good list of what plug-ins to consider for a photography blog and e-commerce site. Prices are current as of the date of this article. Some plugins are subscription based, while others are a one-time fee with lifetime updates, or completely free.
Being a very technical person, I had a few basic requirements that I wanted all my plugins to have:
- Fully support SSL (no mixed content errors)
- Where relevant, support Retina/High DPI graphics
- PHP 7.0 compatible
- Not on WP Engine or Kinsta’s disallowed plug-in list
- Fully responsive
- Appear to be adequately maintained/updated
- WordPress 4.9.2 (as of this writing) compatibility
Photography Plugin Recommendations
- Advanced Image Styles – Allows you to add borders and padding around images in posts, when using the built-in WP editor. Free.
- Ajax Search Lite – An amazing free live search results plugin. Replaces the default (i.e. near useless) WordPress search engine. Pro is needed to return image search results. “Lite” is free. Pro is $29/site/lifetime updates.
- All in one Favicon – Adds favions to your WordPress installation. Supports separate frontend and backend pictures, and Apple Touch icon. Free.
- Anti-spam by CleanTalk – Universal anti-spam plugin. Filters comments, registrations, contact emails, and much more. Premium is $8 per yr/1 site. Much better than Akismet. Comparison here.
- Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode – Great for new sites, or maintenance periods. Many options. Free and Pro versions. ($29 per yr/1 site)
- Contact Form 7 – Simple, flexible, and easy to use contact form plugin. Free.
- Featured Image Column – Simple and free plugin that adds a column to the backend post edit screen to show the featured image.
- Flamingo – Compliments Contact Form 7. Stores messages that users send. Great backup in case of SMTP (e-mail) failures/issues. Free.
- ShortPixel – Speed up your website with advanced image compression. Works with WP Retina x2. Free (limited) and paid options (one-time or subscription). Can significantly reduce photo sizes, and creates webp versions automatically.
- Justified Image Grid – Amazing premium WordPress photo gallery. Image sources can be WP Media Library, NextGEN, and others. $35 one time fee.
- Media Library Assistant – Highly technical plug-in, that among a zillion other features, let’s you pull IPTC and EXIF data out of photos and put into image metadata fields. Free.
- iThemes Security Pro – Adds a slew of security features to your WP site, including 2FA (paid version).
- MonsterInsights Pro – Premium version of the free plugin for highly detailed Google analytics analysis. $39+/yr 1 site. Look for a coupon.
- OneSignal Push Notifications – Push website notifications (e.g. new blog post) directly to subscribed users. Free.
- Photopress – Image Taxonomies – Adds photo specific taxonomy fields to images (e.g. camera, lenses, photo cities, photo states, photo countries, etc.). Free.
- Really Simple SSL – Amazing plugin to help secure your site with SSL and debug complex problems. Highly recommended. Free.
- Really Simple SSL Pro – Adds more features like extensive scans, HSTS configuration, and more. Worth every penny. $25/site.
- Social Warfare – Amazing social sharing icons. Highly configurable. Very fast.
- Social Warfare Pro – Pro version adds additional social networks and configuration options. $29/site/year.
- Social Login – Enables, among other things, social logins for wpDiscuz (below). Free.
- WP Real Media Library – Lets you organize thousands of media files into folders, collections, and galleries. Integrates with WP/LR Sync (below). $24/site/lifetime updates.
- WP Retina 2x Pro – Creates image files needed by high-DPI displays (e.g. 4K, cell phones, tablets). Free and Pro ($10/yr 1 site)
- WP/LR Sync – Amazing tool to sync photos between Adobe Lightroom and your WP Real Media Library (required). $16/yr 1 site.
- wpDiscuz – Enhanced comment system. Can use social media logins via Social Login. Free.
- Yoast SEO – The ultimate SEO tool. Free and Premium versions. ($89/year/1 site).
There are zillion WordPress plugins, and almost countless duplicates for trying to accomplish the same thing. I’ve tried several variations of many plugins, and found that the above list represents the best in that category. New software versions come out and features change, so what may be good today may change in a year. But this list is a great starting point.