Joomla! is a popular open source CMS (content management system) used by millions worldwide to create websites.
One major advantage of Joomla! over other CMS such as Wordpress, is that it works well "out of the box" ie. without the need for lots of plugins and extensions.èp>
However, most websites can benefit greatly from the short list essential Joomla plugins I will share with you today. If you use no other plugins for Joomla, use these. I wont waste your time rattling of a long list of unnecessary extensions that you either will never use or can do without - just the fundamental plugins that can really do wonders for every Joomla website.
Beware of using too many plugins
First up a quick tip - it is good practise to use as few plugins as possible without sacrificing website functionality. Here's why:
- More plugins = compatibility issues down the line
Plugins are often developed by external companies (ie. not by Joomla!). Joomla is continually updated by the development team. Occasionally plugin is no longer updated by the development company and you end up with a broken plugin that is not longer compatible with your updated Joomla website.
- More plugins = slower website
» How I build this lightening quick website.
- More plugins = more maintenance
Like Joomla!, plugins must be kept up-to-date. The more plugins you have, the more maintenance and testing you have to do to ensure your website is running correctly.
- You will often need to translate your plugin
If you run a multilingual website, you may need to translate your plugin yourself.
Essential Joomla! plugins for 2016
Use: Every website should by backed up regularly and before any software updates. Akeeba Backup provides a quick one-click backup option for your website.
Advantages: Akeeba Backup will save you lots of time and headaches managing website backups for you. It also offers a quick way to restore old backups, create a development website or transfer your website to a new server.
Even though the plugin is simple to use, there is great online documentation and video tutorials on the Akeeba website.
Plugin type: FREE (basic version).
Use: SH404SEF is an SEO plugin that will manage website URLs; organise site structure; track 404 errors; manage meta data; handle page redirects; resolves duplicate content and duplicate link issues.
Advantages: SH404SEF is the best SEO plugin for Joomla - essential for any Joomla based website serious about finding new clients from Google search. Although it's a commercial extension, there are no other plugins that come close to matching the functionality.
The Weeblr dev team also provide very good support with answers within 1 hour.
Plugin type: PAID (though 1 license will cover all of your websites)
Use: K2 is a powerful blogging extension for Joomla. It allows you to create a more complete blog, than otherwise possible with native Joomla. K2 has a wider range of modules to show display your content throughout your website, more complete author section along with extra fields and related items.
Advantages: K2 allows you to create almost any type of blog ... and as any SEO expert will tell you, content writing is the best way to grow your organic website visitors base.
» Find out why content writing is so important
Plugin type: FREE (though you need a paid addon to get this working with SH404SEF)
Use: Allows users to comment via the powerful Disqus commenting platform.
Advantages: Disqus makes commenting quicker, easier and more interactive, while connecting websites and commenters across the thriving Disqus community, driving more users to your website.
Plugin type: FREE
Use: Allows you to add responsive slideshow to your website. Strangely (as most websites use one), Joomla does not offer a responsive slideshow out of the box. Some templates may already offer this, so check before adding it to your website.
Advantages: Create an animates, more dynamic website.
Plugin type: FREE
Plugins that do not make our Essential Joomla! Plugin list and why
Here are the near misses - great plugins that are widely used but can be avoided if you construct your website correctly.
- Jsitemap - a well build smaller websites should not need this plugin. It can be useful on larger websites, but again with a clear well structured website, I question the use of this plugin.
- Google Analytics plugins: most templates have a built in way to add Analytics tracking code making the plugin redundant
- Breezing forms: If your do need advanced contact forms, this is the best Joomla plugin. This did not make our essential list, as most websites just use a basic contact.