12 Best WordPress Plugins for Web Developers

Posted on August 2, 2018 by in Resources | 30 comments

12 Best WordPress Plugins for Web Developers

WordPress lets everyone — no matter their specialty — dig in and do their thing. That goes from bloggers and writers, designers and creatives, and code junkies and developers. Each of those subsets, however, needs a slightly different set of tools. While there is no scarcity of WordPress plugins in the world, we want to showcase some of the plugins that we think you code junkies out there may get some use out of and up your game.

1. Freemius

Best WordPress Plugins for Developers

If you don’t know about Freemius (or do know about it and aren’t using it), and you make plugins — consider it. Not only does Freemius let you offer sales through the user’s back-end WordPress admin panel, it also gives you a downright fantastic opt-in that gets you a massive amount of feedback from users.

If you’re developing a WordPress product, it’s worth your time to check out.

2. Debug Bar

Best WordPress Plugins for Developers

Put simply, Debug Bar helps you debug your WordPress site in the most efficient way. You can check for PHP errors, database errors and requests, various cache options, too. Plus, the plugin description mentions a lot of add-ons that give you “more insight into, for instance, the registered Post Types, Shortcodes, WP Cron, Language file loading, Actions and Filters and so on.”

3. Health Check

Best WordPress Plugins for Developers

A relatively new plugin, Health Check gives you a rundown of what your overall WordPress site is doing. You can get reports for how the server-side stuff is going and generally just gives your WP site a once-over. Kind of like going to the doctor for a physical. Not really designed for everyday users, you web developers out there will get a lot of use out of this one.

4. Theme Check

Best WordPress Plugins for Developers

When you are working on a WordPress theme that you want to put in the WP.org repository (or are just working on one in general and want to make sure that its code is up to snuff), you should use Theme Check to make sure that things are going as planned. With the new automated system for checking themes that go into the repository, just running a quick scan with this plugin is the same as doing a spell check before submitting an article. Do it.

5. UpdraftPlus

The UpdraftPlus plugin.

You really do development without a solid backup plan. Things mess up, and you’re going to crash a site. It’s inevitable. For my money, I trust UpdraftPlus to be able to keep things safe and sound, especially with the extra remote storage it offers. Check it out before you write the first line of code.

6. WordFence

The Wordfence plugin.

If there’s one plugin that devs shouldn’t discount, it’s WordFence. The daily emails you get for updates and problems and firewall incursions…it’s just too useful not to install. You may also be a fan of Sucuri or iThemes, which are equally as useful and fantastic. It’s just that WordFence has saved my tail a few times, so I can’t recommend it highly enough. Getting your daily report that something you wouldn’t have thought to look for is wrong…well, it’s worth its weight in gold.

7. User Switching

Best WordPress Plugins for Developers

You may not have heard of this plugin, but I guarantee that you won’t forget it. The idea is simple: look at your website from the eyes of any user currently registered. If you’re an admin and want to see what a Member role sees, just click a button. Same for a Keymaster with bbPress, or any other role you’ve either created or had people sign up for. It’s quick and easy and really makes debugging anything a whole lot simper. Even as a user, I’ve found use for this one — so devs and bloggers alike may be able to squeeze some mileage out of it.

8. Regenerate Thumbnails

Best WordPress Plugins for Developers

We all swap themes occasionally. Or — maybe more likely — we have to do an update of our site to accommodate new best practices in web design and development. One of the most common is swapping image dimensions. It’s kind of a pain (read: really, really a pain) to do that by hand. So you probably definitely want  a plugin that can do that for you. This is that plugin. You’re welcome.

9. WP Reset

Best WordPress Plugins for Developers

It happens to us all. We do a few things, make a few changes, all in the name of building the best, fastest, most amazing website we possibly can…and we blow up the server and installation and no amount of tinkering can bring it back to life. No lightning strikes will bring this Frankenstein’s monster off that table. Instead of reinstalling and going through the hassle of database restructuring and all that, just use WP Reset. It gets rid of all the tweaks, media, and customizations you’ve made so you can start fresh and undo all the nastiness you accidentally did.

10. Password Protected

Best WordPress Plugins for Developers

There isn’t a dev site I make that doesn’t have this plugin on it. Sure, you can ask Google not to index your site, but that doesn’t mean people won’t see it (or that Google will comply). So when you’re developing something that you don’t need the world to see, you can put a password on the whole site. That way, all anyone sees is an “enter password” screen instead of the content. Anyone with the password can view it (not even logged in, just access restricted), but you can keep prying eyes away from your baby before its ready to make its debut.

11. Theme Switcha

Best WordPress Plugins for Developers

If you don’t want to keep the whole site password protected, give Theme Switcha a shot. You can keep your default theme live while tweaking and working on a secondary one at the same time. It’s pretty nice to be working behind the scenes while business as usual goes on up front. It’s like having your own little WordPress speakeasy.

12. WP File Manager

Best WordPress Plugins for Developers

Look, I know devs love FTP. It’s almost as much your bread and butter as the command line. But having a fully functional file manager inside your WordPress admin panel is unbelievably useful. Since I found this one, I have installed it on every single site I work on, and I can’t even begin to measure the time that it’s saved me. If you’re a WP dev, this needs to go in your toolbox.

Wrapping Up

That’s really only scratching the surface of dev plugins for WordPress, but these are the dozen that are really must-haves. They are the best of the best, if you ask me (which you kinda did). So have fun with upping your dev game, and hopefully something on this list will have made some of your upcoming development just a little bit easier.

What are some of your must-have WordPress plugins when you’re developing?

Article featured image by KenoKickit / shutterstock.com

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  1. Nice Post, I really like the file manager and debug bar. Those are fantastic at helping speed up troubleshooting and fixes…

    If I may, from a developers standpoint, here are some powerful plugins that I find indispensable when building new sites.

    * HTTP Headers by Dimitar Ivanov
    (I check the header security and this plugin helps me adjust whats missing for maximum speed and security)

    * Clearfy by Webcraftic
    (This plugin helps me eliminate unnecessary WordPress bloat to maximize site speed as well as tweak SEO)

    *WP SEO Structured Data Schema by WPSEMPlugins
    (This is a great JSON-LD plugin that is lightweight but gives you good control over the embedded data that goes on your site. Great for Google SEM)

    • I am gonna have to try HTTP Headers, myself. That one looks awesome. Thank you for the additions!

      • That WP File Manager, does that stop the need for using an FTP app?
        If yes, that is very powerful!
        Do you just load files and/or drag+drop from your desktop?

    • G’day Anthony,
      What is it that the HTTP Headers actually do? How did you measure the speed + security?

  2. Very Handy list B.J. Thanks!

  3. Thank you for the extensive and well described list much appreciated. I’m off to try some

  4. had heard of quite a few of these already but not the file manager which looks awesome. think i will be using this one on a few of my sites soon 🙂

    • I adore it. If I am in the backend of a WP site, it’s installed. Hands down.

    • I think the coolest feature of FileZilla is that you can download a file from the server, edit it locally and whenever you safe it, FileZilla notifies you and prompts you to upload it back to the server to make sure everything is in sync.

      This is the most important functionality for me while developing, so I don’t see the advantage of a ftp client inside the WP backend. Am I missing something? Does it have some similar useful functionality or is it just “handy”?

      • A dedicated FTP client is always better, but sometimes File Manager is easier for quick jobs and fixes from the WP backend.

  5. Excellent list and very helpful. I particularly like Updraft Plus and the Updraft Plus Central feature. You can self-host the Central feature. It gives you a dashboard of all the sites you connect to your Central site. From that dashboard you can do updates, backups, and more.

    Did I mention it is free? I can’t afford (yet) hosting by Flywheel that provide tools like this. Updraft Plus Central gives many of those features at a cost I can afford.

    One plug-in that is indispensable to me is All-In-One Migration. I use it frequently to bring a client’s website down to Local by Flywheel for ‘staging’ and development without impacting production. The down/up process is super easy and works reliably. Their support is top-notch too.

    • I haven’t ever used All-in-One Migration, but it does sound like it would make local development a lot nicer to do.

    • I second All-in-One WP Migration. It’s fantastic for moving an entire WordPress site from one server to another quickly and easily. It’s also great as a backup solution.

  6. All those plugins are fantastic! I use WP File Manager and WP Reset plugin to save my time. Both are free and user-friendly. Can you provide me a link of Portfolio plugin that supports Divi theme and have some useful features?

  7. I really appreciate the list of plugin which is must for wordpress webmaters. I think yoast plugin is also important for all webmaster owners. This is my own opinion

    • The main reason I didn’t include Yoast on here is because it’s pretty much a staple for web content. It isn’t necessarily work for devs as much as it does for webmasters, admins, and content creators. That said, it’s on every site I have, so you’re totally right. 🙂

  8. Great job and many thanks for this great post you have written. I have used about half of these and can’t wait to try some of the ones that are new to me. Thanks again!

  9. query monitor is better then debug bar, regenerate thumbnails and wordfence are good, but other plugins useless, and where is acf or carbon fields?

  10. Solid list of plugins, I use a number of them on almost all my sites. I’d maybe add:

    – ARI Adminer – Like phpMySQL but operates from within WP and I find it faster.
    – Google Analytics for WordPress (MonsterInsights) – Barely requires configuration.
    – Microthemer – For making tweaks to the CSS code without pulling out a theme editor. When you next are editing CSS, easy to pull rules from Microthemer and integrate into actual CSS theme styles.
    – WP-Optimize – Now owned by the same folks who do UpDraft Plus.

    I’ve got a few others, maybe I’ll write a blog post someday. 😉

    • Microthemer is great. I’ve had it for more than two years, and it’s gotten better and better with each update. Support is amazing, too.

  11. Great insights, but can these plugins be used with a WP site built with Divi Builder? As Divi Builder is a plugin itself, I believe this is not possible. We are trying to understand the full capability of Divi and available resources.

  12. Hi,

    Thank you for a very helpful post with a couple of plugins I will most certainly explore.

    I am already a user and Wordfence which I use, on every site I run, in conjunction with WPS Hide Login. Since using these two plugins, and without wanting to tempt fate, I have had no breaches of any of the sites I run.

  13. Great list. It just makes me sad that I don’t feel like Elegant Themes themselves are sticking to best practices. At least not when it comes to CSS.

    A revamp of your style.css and the newly added style-cpt.dev.css that is automatically being loaded on custom post type pages (think WooCommerce default pages, etc.) would go a VERY long way.
    You’ve now started to use IDs in this new stylesheet AND you’re adding !important statements. Which is making it almost impossible for us developers to overwrite what we don’t like…

    For all the good that the PHP and Javascript / React components of Divi bring, the CSS is sometimes giving me headaches that costs me lots and lots of time and money.

  14. Query Monitor would be a great addition, quite surprise it’s not included 😉

  15. thanks for the list!
    Does anyone know a plugin that analyzes media files and displays those not connected to posts and templates for cleaning?

    Of course it also works with the DIVI temaplte

  16. Great list, some I already use.
    A few plugins I didn’t know about:
    Password Protected
    File Manager


  17. Hi Keeton!! Thanks for sharing this wonderful WordPress stuff.
    You can also add one more WordPress plugin which is known as User Blocker. It helps to block or unblock any user account quickly and efficiently. Admin can be blocked by role or username for specific day & time, date range or permanently.

  18. This is really great. Worth the price of admission just for Debug Bar and File manager. Thanks for taking the time to write it up.

  19. Appreciate the information. I’ll start using a few of these immediately!

  20. In that list I would still add these 4:
    – Adminimize
    – Duplicator
    – Easy Updates Manager
    – No Page Comment

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