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Every developer should have a core set of plugins that get them up and running quickly with each new project. These could be part of a Craft CMS boiler plate project or just installed in each project on an as-needed basies.
Here are the core set of plugins (both free and paid, sorted alphabetically) that will be helpful in almost any website project using Craft CMS.
We’re decades into making websites for the world wide web and here we are still creating contact forms. Our technology has gotten better, forms are more powerful and easier to set up but it’s stlil a contact form. Contact Form from Pixel & Tonic is a basic, no nonsense form plugin that could easily fly under the radar. But I install it on almost every single site I build with Craft CMS.
Feed Me is a first-party plugin by Pixel & Tonic, the creators of Craft CMS. I’ve used Feed Me for migrate hundreds of thousands of pieces of data from different CMSes and platforms into Craft CMS. It’s a workhorse plugin that makes data migration acccessible to everyone. Via their mapping UI, you can pull in data via JSON, XML, CSV, Google Sheets, and other formats, and create elements like entries, assets, categories in Craft.
If you need to do any data migration, like blog content, long-form articles, users or categories into Craft from a different CMS, then Feed Me is a needed utility.
Where Feed Me makes it easy to get data in to Craft, the Element API plugin makes it easy for outside systems to get data out. Element API provides a simple configuration to create a read-only JSON API of your Craft elements data. You specify the endpoint name and which data should be exposed. You can even manipulate and transform it before it is displayed.
Formie is a newer plugin in the Craft plugin ecosystem and creating a form builder plugin is not easy. However, the developers of this, Verbb, have a seriously good reputation as plugin developers (they created Feed Me before Pixel & Tonic acquired it).
Most sites need some kind of form builder system and Formie is my pick for must-have. It has the functionality you’d expect with a drag and drop builder tool, a couple dozen field types and external system integrations.
SEOmatic has become the standard way to make good content metadata for a Craft-powered website. What I really like about SEOmatic is that gives your site all of the technical SEO advantages with simple configuration; there’s no template coding and metadata hoop jumping required. You provide great content and SEOmatic lets you dial in how it’ll look to search engines, social networks, bots, etc.
This commercial plugin holds a promient place in the best selling list on Craft Plugin Store because so many developers find it so useful.