5 Most Popular WordPress Plugins

If you’ve perused the WordPress plugin directory, you’ve likely noticed the Most Popular ranking. WordPress users have downloaded each of these plugins over a million times and in some cases multi-million times. I use a couple of them, Askimet and Contact Form 7, on a regular basis. The popularity of the others make me wonder — Am I missing something amazing? I’ve downloaded and installed them all for this post. Here is my take on the top 5.


Created by matt, ryan, andy, mdawaffe, tellyworth, and automattic

5 Most Popular WordPress PluginsIt’s no wonder Askimet is on the list, since it’s included in every WordPress.org download. And it’s a good thing, since spam is almost inevitable on comment-enabled blogs. On one occasion I launched a site and hadn’t yet activated this plugin. In a few days, we were pummeled by 50 or so spam comments in rapid succession. This was just the reminder I needed to activate Askimet as soon as physically possible.

Contact Form 7

Created by takayukister

Need a hassle-free way to extend WordPress’s CMS functionality to your forms? I commonly implement Contact Form 7 to satisfy this need. Once you have your forms styled the way you’d like with CSS, you can use this plugin to manage them. On the plugin’s admin interface, you can add and delete forms fields, edit labels, and change the recipient email address. Much easier than rooting through the code.

WP Super Cache

Created by donncha and automattic

The WP Super Cache authors claim this plugin is most useful to those who administer high traffic sites or have an underpowered server. It did not noticeably affect the load time of my site, so I promptly uninstalled it. Unfortunately, uninstalling the plugin is not as easy as clicking “Deactivate” and “Delete” like other plugins. WP Super Cache adds a line of code to your wp-config file and creates two files within the wp-content folder, which have to be removed. Because of the complicated uninstall process, I’d recommend testing this plugin only if you have the traffic or server issues mentioned above.

NextGEN Gallery

Created by alexrabe

NextGEN Gallery allows for a painless and fast image-gallery-creation process. You can display your photos either as a slideshow or as thumbnails with lightbox display functionality. NextGen Gallery offers more admin options than other gallery plugins I’ve tried. You can choose from multiple CSS styles, Javascript effects, and sizing parameters. You can manage your photo collection with tags. The array of admin options makes this a worthy contender among WordPress gallery plugins.

All in One SEO Pack

Created by hallsofmontezuma

If you’d rather not edit code but still need to optimize your site for search engines, you may wish to investigate All in One SEO Pack. Upon installation, you can edit your various page titles and meta tags from the admin page. You can also prevent duplicate content on your site. I decided this plugin was not terribly helpful; however, site owners who need to implement an SEO strategy via the WordPress admin interface may discover otherwise.

Wrapping It Up

Overall, this plugin-testing process proved worthwhile. The next time a client needs to install an image gallery or fine-tune his/her site’s page titles, I will know what to try. Or if I notice lugging site performance, I may give WP Super Cache another chance.

Until next time, when the top 5 is shuffled and another plugin gains access to the esteemed list.

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