- WordPress offers a robust ecosystem of free or low-cost tools business owners can use to enhance their first website.
- Caching and Security plugins are helpful, but high-quality WordPress-specific hosting is still recommended.
- Like everything new, web development takes time to learn the language. It’s common for someone new to web design to feel overwhelmed, but there’s always plenty of support if you reach out and ask professional web designers how to do something.
There’s no question that trying to build a website for your business is challenging.
It’s when stuck between not being able to hire a web developer yet, but still needing a website for your business, most business owners discover there’s a lot more to websites than they first thought. Between the lingo, terminology, and overall complexity of “All that is” web development, it’s understandable if you feel (or felt) a little overwhelmed.
If you’ve already figured out your domain name, found a high quality and fast WordPress host, and picked your new website’s first theme, there’s still a lot of features you may want your businesses website to have that isn’t offered with your theme and you just don’t know how to add otherwise.
This article is going to introduce you to some dependable WordPress plugins you can use to add the features and functionality that you need.
7 Great Free Plugins For Your First WordPress Website
- Contact Form 7 (alternative WPForms Lite)
- Yoast SEO
- W3 Total Cache
These plugins will provide your website with some of the basic features that will be most valuable for your business. Best of all, they are free!
Some of these do offer paid upgrade options, but you won’t need them when you are just starting out. By the time your website gets to the point of needing that kind of help, you may be better offer hiring a professional WordPress developer to take things over so you can focus strictly on growing your business.
1. Contact Form 7
One of the first things your business website is going to need is a way for your customers to reach out and contact you with questions about your products or services.
WordPress doesn’t offer this functionality right out of the box, which at first you may find odd. The thought process behind that is by allowing you to select your own preferred contact form solution, you can pick the best option that serves the needs your your business best as opposed to them deciding for you.
Contact Form 7 will give you a very basic contact form that is straight forward, easy to setup, and has a proven history of working flawlessly.
Pros: Easy to setup, easy to implement, one of the most popular contact forms for WordPress
Cons: Can provide a very basic look unless you know how to style it.
Find It Here: Contact Form 7
Alternative: WPForms Lite
If the forms Contact Form 7 provides are a little too plain looking and you don’t know how to style them yourself, WP Forms makes a very good alternative.
It is below CF7 on our list because it does hide a lot of features behind a paywall, not always making it the most affordable options for businesses building their first websites on a shoestring budget.
Pros: Builds nicer looking forms and offers more functionality than Contact Form 7.
Cons: A lot of those features are locked behind a subscription that you would have to pay for.
Find It Here: WPForms Lite
Once you put a contact form on your website, one of the things you will have to worry about is getting a lot of spam sent through that form. Capctahas help prevent that by using challenges that automated spam bots have difficulty bypassing when they try to submit the contact form.
The most popular captcha solution is Google’s ReCaptcha, but it comes at a serious performance impact to your website. If you’re worried about optimizing your WordPress site so that it ranks well in search engines and help customers find your business online, ReCaptcha’s performance implications are a big concern.
Pros: Free to use, and very performance oriented to keep your website ranking well. The chosen solution for ClevelandWebWorks.com
Cons: The account creation process can be a little confusing for first time users, and may take 5-10 minutes longer than you would initially expect. A small price to pay for the value it delivers.
Find It Here: hCaptcha for WordPress
3. Yoast SEO
Finishing the design and content for your new business website is certainly an exciting time. The next step is getting it in front of your customers so that they can find you online.
The most common way new businesses use their website to get into front of potential customers is with SEO. If you’re already aware of what SEO is and have picked a search engine optimized WordPress theme, then you are off to a great start!
The next step is using a dedicated plugin that will allow you to control how your individual web pages appear in search engines by using custom titles, detailed descriptions, structured data, and more.
Pros: Free to use, and has a friendly setup process to walk first time website builders through the steps they need to complete.
Cons: Like most SEO plugins, there are a lot of tools, options, and features that may feel a little confusing at first.
Find It Here: Yoast SEO
When it comes to SEO, images are one of the biggest areas of concern for a WordPress website.
Image files can be very large in some cases, which means they may slow down a website, negatively impacting its SEO. This is particularly true when first-time website builders use full-sized stock photos on their website that are far too large as they come downloaded from the vendor.
Smush is a free plugin that can help with this by reducing the size of images, and loading them more efficiently for your website visitors, which helps to improve your website’s SEO.
Pros: Understanding how different image format affect website’s performance can be mind-bending for most people, but Smush greatly simplifies that. Additionally, it’s setup and configuration is easy for first time web builders.
Cons: There are very few things not to like about this plugin. More advanced users may long for features found in premium plugins, but this is still a great tool for just about everyone else.
Find It Here: Smush – Lazy Load Images, Optimize & Compress Images
If you’re working on your first website or thinking about it and decide that maybe you need a professional to take the reins, we are always here to help. Tell us a little about yourself below.
There’s nothing more frightening for new business owners than one day discovering that their brand new website has already been hacked.
Security is a big concern with WordPress, and if you aren’t using a host with strong, WordPress-specific security features built into their platform, you may find yourself in the position of trying to figure out how to fix your website.
While there is no one solution that will address every security or hacking concern, WordFence goes a long way towards giving you a basic level of reassurance and peace of mind.
Pros: Free peace of mind for business owners that need a basic level of security support and may not be sure where to begin.
Cons: The most important features are locked behind a subscription paywall. Overall, WordFence offers a good starting point, but should still be combined with dedicated WordPress hosting on a secure, core-controlled host for the best results.
Find It Here: Wordfence Security – Firewall & Malware Scan
6. W3 Total Cache
WordPress websites are known as dynamic websites, meaning they rely on a database to provide the website with the content it needs to show users when they visit your website.
It takes time for your website to call to it’s database and get the information it needs to create the page and send it to a potential customer trying to learn more about your products or services.
Caching helps this situation by storing copies of your webpages pre-built and ready to send users when they visit your website.
Pros: Great performance boosting potential at no cost.
Cons: Can be a little overwhelming for novice users. Many premium WordPress hosting platforms make it somewhat redundant.
Find It Here: W3 Total Cache
If you’ve built your website already and people have started to find it, that’s a great thing. But what happens when you have to change the URL (website page address) that some of your content lives on?
If you just delete the old page and add a new one with a new URL, and anyone had linked to your old page, visitors won’t be able to find what they are looking for when clicking on that link. They will get the dreaded ‘404 Page Not Found’ error that nobody enjoys.
Redirection solves that by allowing you to effortlessly create 301 redirects from old pages to new pages. This is particularly useful if you are rebuilding an older site and replacing it with a new website that has a different page structure.
Redirection is the same tool used by professional web designers to ensure a good user experience. It helps promote a customer-centric design experience and will help you avoid one of the most common mistakes web designers make.
Pros: Free, easy setup wizard, a very simple and easy to understand user interface.
Cons: There’s not much to not love about this plugin.
Find It Here: Redirection
Did these plugins not solve the problem you were trying to solve?
Shoot us a message. We are happy to offer some advice or help you get your project across the finish line if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.