We’ve always provided free versions of our most popular pro plugins on WordPress.org, but recently we’ve been stepping that up. So even if you’re not a member, you should check them out and let us know what you think 🙂
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth reiterating: the more you help the community and the better the quality and functionality of your freely available GPL plugins, the more the community, WordPress as a whole, and, well, everyone, wins.
I’ve linked above the dedicated page we put up covering our core offerings (alternately, you can go to the plugins section of our WordPress.org page), so I figured it was about time that we gave you a quick guide as to what they do, how they differ from the pro versions (very little!) and talk about a couple of upcoming free offerings. Hey, don’t turn that page, this ain’t no simple listicle.
And one last thing, just so I don’t have to put ‘free’ in every heading, all of the below are exactly that ― freeeeeeee. Enjoy!
Smush and Hummingbird.
Our Titans of WordPress Performance Optimization.
So let’s start with the obvious one, our award-winning image compression plugin, Smush.
Smush Image Optimizer
She’s particularly special as adopting her was when we discovered that something done *just right* could be a huge hit. It turns out that when you take care of 99.9% of all users, 0.1% are more than happy to come over and try out a membership.
Smush rules at optimizing images! Turn on lazy load, resize, compress & improve your Google Page Speed with the incredibly powerful WordPress image smusher. And, the compression is all without a visible drop in quality.
Smush has been benchmarked and tested number one for speed and quality. It is also the award-winning, proven crowd favorite image optimization & compression plugin for WordPress, with +1 million active installs.
The free version of Smush is perfect for hobbyists and individual site owners. But if you’d like Super Smush lossy compression, fast CDN image delivery, WebP conversion, automatic resizing, the ability to optimize images up to 32MB, bulk smush optimization for all your images in just one-click, auto-convert PNG to JPEG, the ability to Smush and make a copy of your full-sized images (to restore them at any point), you can always take the next step with Smush Pro.
Ok, who is ready to fly?
Quickly moving up in the ranks is our site speed optimizing, caching, minifying and generally speed-up-everything stellar plugin that is Hummingbird.
Hummingbird Site Optimizer
Now I know you’re not supposed to have favorite children, but sadly here I have to make an exception. I absolutely love Hummingbird. This isn’t just because she’s amazingly useful, but because her growing pains were pretty severe. Turns out compressing files, minification and trying to cover every single base in making your site extremely fast is, erm, quite hard. Who’d have thought it, lol?
Hummingbird scans your site and provides one-click fixes to speed up WordPress in a flash. You’ll get faster loading pages, higher search rankings (SERP) and PageSpeed scores (get closer to that elusive perfect 100), and happier visitors with Hummingbird’s WordPress speed optimization.
Right now the experience of setting up and using Hummingbird is really, well, exceptional. I reckon it’s the best UX work we’ve done and the outcomes aren’t bad either. And it’s free! (I know I said I wouldn’t say that again, but hey, it’s pretty cool). And this is born out by the fact that she’s the fastest-growing of our newer offerings. Honestly, give her a try if you haven’t already.
If you want to go even faster, Hummingbird Pro is all about automation and optimization for users with a lot of sites, and adds automated scanning, uptime monitoring, enhanced minify compression (with 2x the regular optimization), and CDN hosted minification.
Our Premium Alternative to Yoast SEO.
This was something we thought about long and hard and figured we’d give it a crack.
Basically our thinking is that Yoast & All-In-One SEO have pared back their functionality in the way that Facebook has pulled back your page views (unless you pay for premium, or get a boost) and we think that sucks.
SmartCrawl SEO Analyzer & Optimizer
SmartCrawl is designed from the bottom up to provide you with most, if not all, of the premium features that you’re used to paying for. Plus a good helping of that gorgeous and easy-to-use UX that I mentioned above. That’s why we think it’s the best free WordPress SEO plugin out there (dammit, I used the “F” word again).
SmartCrawl is the queen of content optimization; there’s no more juggling settings, making guesses, and wondering if your SEO is properly optimized. Use SmartCrawl’s one-click setup, automatic XML sitemaps, improved social sharing, real-time keyword and content analysis, and scans and reports.
Create clear, bold, targeted content and rank at the top of your favorite search engine—from Google to Bing. SmartCrawl SEO adds streamlined content optimization to any site.
If you want to add automated scanning, reports, automatic linking for specific keywords, Crawler that checks for broken URLs, 404s, and multiple redirection, check out SmartCrawl Pro.
Our Premium WordPress Security Plugin. Free.
OK, I’ve given up not saying free now, sorry. But do bear with me because you’re not going to want to miss this one – especially if you either don’t have a security plugin **scream** or are paying for one that doesn’t stack up to this chap.
Defender Security Suite
We set out to make Defender as easy to use as possible – but also to provide as much critical security functionality as possible without giving everything away, lol. In fact, I’d go as far as stating specifically, there is no other security plugin with the same level of functionality available on WordPress.org.
Secure and monitor your sites with the keen watchful eye of Defender, in just a few clicks. Stop brute force login attacks, SQL injections, cross-site scripting XSS, and other WordPress vulnerabilities and hacks with Defender’s malware scanner, antivirus scans, IP blocking, firewall, activity log, security log, and two-factor authentication (2FA) login security.
No longer do you have to go through hair-pulling, complex settings and get a virtual PhD in security. Defender adds all the hardening and security recommendations you need.
To add automated scanning, scheduled malware scans for Core, themes, plugins and other files, audit logs, firewall protection, Blocklist monitoring (alongside Snapshot Pro cloud backups), the Hub with automated plugin, theme and core updates, and safe-upgrade scans, see Defender Pro.
Hustle… The Ultimate Opt-In / Pop-Up Marketing Plugin.
Hustle is the coolest cat on the WordPress plugin block. He’s got the looks, the style, and the features that make OptinMonster, Sumo and every other premium and paid plugin look like a gawky teen.
Hustle Marketing & Conversion Optimizer
And what’s more, he’s the only one of this bunch of five to have morphed from a simple pop-up plugin to your complete marketing suite for WordPress.
Essentially if you are looking to capture email addresses, offer free downloads to get leads, or promote your services in any way — he’s going to do it for you. Hustle makes marketing and conversion optimization easy. You’ll actually be amazed you don’t have to pay for him.
Hustle lets you easily grow your mailing list or display targeted ads across your site with popups, optins, slide-ins, widgets, and shortcodes. If you have an eye for detail you’ll love the additional customizations available with Hustle. As well as basic appearance elements like layout, images, typography, and color, Hustle allows for more advanced detailing like borders, spacing, shadow, module sizing, and more. There’s also custom CSS if you’d really like to make your modules your own.
For unlimited opt-ins, custom content, and social sharing, you can go with Hustle Pro.
Finally! The Form, Quiz, Survey, Poll Builder WordPress Has Been Waiting For.
Forminator is the form, quiz, survey, poll builder you can’t live without—and don’t have to live without—because we are giving him away!
Forminator Form, Poll, Quiz and Survey Builder
Forms are the Holy Grail for WordPress sites and now there is an option that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Forminator’s drag and drop builder is by far the easiest tool for setting up forms in WordPress (I’m not biased…promise). Quickly add a simple contact form or complex registration forms.
We didn’t stop there. Forminator includes polls with real-time chart and graph results, no-wrong-answer quizzes (think Buzzfeed), and knowledge tests.
But perhaps the real surprise is the included developer API. Because Forminator is now open to millions of users on WordPress.org any developer can build and sell integrations or custom apps.
I could go on and on about the included Gutenberg block, GDPR-friendly settings, and built-in spam protection, but I’ll let the articles linked in this sentence do the talking for me. 🙂
Should you need an e-signature feature, check out Forminator Pro. It allows the use of a mouse, trackpad, or finger (on touch devices) to leave a signature upon submitting a form. Simply insert the field and visitors can sign away!
Our Marketing Powerhouse Plugin.
White label your dashboard, customize system emails, maintenance mode and coming soon landing pages—Branda is everything you need to rebrand WordPress.
Branda White Labeling
Customize every aspect of WordPress to fit your brand with Branda, the only premium and 100% free white label plugin for WordPress.
Transform your dashboard, customize system (default) emails, quickly toggle maintenance mode and coming soon landing pages, change every aspect of your login screen, remove or replace logos, create color schemes, and much, much more. Branda has everything to rebrand WordPress for free without touching any code.
Even the best WordPress theme builders leave WordPress branding all over your site. On your personal blog it is not a huge problem, but for a small business, design and development agency, or any professional site, a finished look with a complete brand package is important. That’s where Branda comes in! Turn WordPress into your own white-label solution.
Branda lets you make all the brand customizations your theme doesn’t include. A must-have, best-in-class WordPress admin plugin.
If you want to remove the contextual promotion of our other relevant plugins, you can with Branda Pro.
Last but not least… a true FreeBee.
This last WPMUDEV plugin is fully functional, feature rich, and there is absolutely zero difference between the Free and Pro versions.
Originally released as premium-only in 2009, Beehive has consistently ranked in the top 10 WPMU DEV premium plugins for total downloads and active installs. To celebrate her decade plus analytics, we made one of the best Google Analytics WordPress Plugins on the market free for everyone.
Beehive Google Analytics
Set up with Beehive is as easy as connecting your Google profile and verifying your site. No more hunting through code files or manually adding tracking links. Beehive makes it easy to get valuable statistics for bloggers, small business websites, eCommerce sites, enterprise networks and more.
Beehive takes your user’s privacy seriously. Toggle IP Anonymization to anonymize your visitor IPs, stop demographic reports, protect user IDs and more.
Activate analytics for every site across an entire Multisite network with one tracking code. Pick and choose what sites have access. Beehive grabs all the information and makes user tracking, statistics reporting, and site management simple.
Beehive puts your Google Analytics overview, stats, and graphs right in your WordPress dashboard. Save time and get a better picture of the most important content on your sites.
If you’re running a business website or eCommerce store, Beehive provides information you need to convert more leads into sales and increase your bottom line, while making it easier to grow the traffic on your site.
“Why Would I Want A Membership?”
I can see the pitchforks and torches in the distance, and I can hear the questions―“Why pay if everything is free?”.
I’m confident that the real value of your membership is found in automation, and the time saving, money making machine that is the Hub.
The Hub offers at-a-glance summaries & actionable items for your most important metrics.
If you’re managing more than one site, consider that our well stocked pantry of super servers, white label reporting, safe upgrades, uptime monitoring, and 24/7 support for all-things-WordPress is hard to beat.
Our free offerings are totally fine for hobbyists and single site owners, but freelancers, development agencies, and basically anyone earning income with WordPress get incredible value. Don’t take my word for it – you can try all the pro features at no cost and without risk – on me. 🙂
We’re Not Done… Coming Soon…
Major Updates to The Hub & Hub Client
We often ask our members and visitors what they’d like us to make for them (to the same standard as our other offerings)—and, well, we listen.
Catering to the masses who’ve requested it, The Hub and The Hub Client both have exciting rollouts coming this year.
The Hub is our streamlined site management tool. From its smart and crisp UI, you can quickly handle a myriad of top level tasks, such as: managing updates; optimizing performance; monitoring uptime; staying on top of SEO; scanning analytics; tightening security; scheduling and implementing backups; generating white label reports; and collaborating with clients & colleagues.
The Hub Client lets you manage your clients at your own site with your own branding, providing a complete white label experience. This includes everything WPMU DEV offers for you to rebrand and resell, with your own hosting, or with ours.
All this and more… using any host! Click here to read all about the Hub & Hub client.
Here is a peek at the top Hub & Hub Client features heading your way soon:
Domains – Offer your clients the opportunity to search for and purchase a domain, which will be automatically mapped to their new hosting and templates set up… yep, be your own GoDaddy!
Global block lists (for Defender / security)
Now that client billing has arrived, we’re working to make it even more automated and convenient – plus more payment gateways to be considered in 2022. Let us know which ones you’d like to see
Various global UX improvements within Hosting DNS setup, preferences, and more
Completely reimagined client reports – complete with wizard and a lot more customization / theme options
And naturally, we’re not stopping there. If you think the plugins I’ve featured here are lacking in any specific way, have any particular requests for them, or just wanna let us know what’s on your mind, hit us up in the comments section below.
Plus, if you’ve got a burning desire for any other really good WordPress.org plugin that you think WPMU DEV could roll out for you in the future, let us know that too.
So there you go. It may have taken a while to figure out, but striving to better the quality and functionality of your freely available GPL plugins is by far the best way to go about your WordPress business, and the best way to operate as an open-source company.
We sincerely hope you enjoy our free plugins, whether or not you ever fancy giving our free trial at WPMU DEV a run.
Over to you 🙂
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for accuracy and relevancy. [Originally Published: September 2018 / Revised: March 2022]
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