Most – if not all sites – may well need the majority of these plugins installed and activated – depending on the type of site it is. Nearly every new site I develop gets a good proportion of these plugins as they are just so useful.

Contact Form 7
In a nutshell – a customisable contact form for your contact page.
Install. Activate. Check details. Insert custom code into content area on page. Publish. Done. It really is that easy. There are loads of options and you can have as many forms as you want. It’s easy to see why this is still the favourite free form plugin.

NextGEN Gallery
In a nutshell – a plugin that allows you to have tons of galleries and have them all function differently if necessary. Add albums and manage everything within the WP Admin sidebar.
I’m a big fan of this plugin and there are loads of add-on plugins for it as well. It’s really easy to set up and very simple for the end-user to manage and build on. I particularly love the widget that comes with it, enabling me to display my portfolio on every page in sequence.

Post Types Order
In a nutshell – enables you to rearrange the order of posts and post-type elements.
Really really simple and hugely useful. The theme I use most has me creating post-type elements all over the place and so this plugin is an absolute lifesaver. Drag-and-drop heaven.

Display Widgets
In a nutshell – allows you to choose which widgets get displayed on which pages, making each page feel a lot more customised and bespoke.
I came across this one by chance and it’s fabulous! Simply install the widget in the sidebar of your choice and then use the tick boxes either to ‘show’ or ‘hide’ that plugin on specific pages. The interface is a bit clunky if you have a site with loads of pages, but works very effectively indeed. Particularly useful if you have the more than one widget of the same type displaying different information depending on the page. See the calendars here for a good example.

WP-Table Reloaded
In a nutshell – creates tables to use inside your WordPress blogs.
The one frustrating thing WP can’t do as standard is create tables within the content panel. There are plenty of table creator plugins out there, but this is my preferred choice. It’s not perfect by any means, but easy to use, you can set up multiple tables, and add lots of custom code and fairly easy to tweak with a bit of custom CSS.

My Calendar
In a nutshell – creates widgetised calendars to show in the sidebar of your choice on your blog site.
This differs from the standard Calendar widget as it set up to display diary events. You can set as many categories as you want and either set them up to show on just one calendar or spread them over multiple calendars displayed on different pages (when combined with the Display Widgets plugin). This is a very simple and powerful plugin. It doesn’t allow people to book events online, but for showing diary or facility availability, this is the perfect tool.

What would Seth Godin Do
In a nutshell – creates a semi-personalised message for first time visitors to your site
I came across this one in a rather random way and it’s great. If this is your first time on my site, you’ll have seen the message at the top of the screen welcoming you and asking you to check out my RSS feed. That’s this plugin hard at work. It’s a very simple plugin that’s easily customisable and a really powerful way of creating a positive new visitor experience.

What plugins do you find yourself using most of them time? Are there better alternatives to the ones mentioned here? Leave a comment at et me know.