There are so many good free WordPress plugins available that it’s sometimes difficult to keep on top of them all. At the same time, it’s best for security and speed, if you do not go over the top with them on your sites. Nevertheless, I keep coming across more and more that add useful features or functionality, so here’s the latest round-up.
Nearly all these plugins are well reviewed or well-rated with a good track record, and are up to date.
See also my previous article, Most Useful WordPress Plugins for 2013.
Fonts, Buttons and Icons
This group of plugins are great for enhancing your site’s use of fonts and icons.
- WP-Google Fonts – one of the best plugins to help you add the use of the ever-growing collections of fonts available from Google’s font directory. Say goodbye to Arial and hello to Open Sans, or something more inventive!
- WP-Cufon – don’t be limited to Google Fonts, this plugin enables you to use virtually any font. You’ll need to convert your fonts to the required format and upload them to a fonts directory.
- Symple Shortcodes – add boxes, buttons, highlights to your site easily with this plugin from WpExplorer. To use shortcodes in your sidebar widgets, you will also need the Shortcodes in Sidebar Widgets plugin.
Use Your Photos
- Soliloquy Lite – good responsive slider.
- Gallery Carousel without JetPack – this is very good full screen carousel that comes with the JetPack plugin (which some consider bloated), but now you can have it without having to install Jetpack or having to connect with WordPress.com.
- GrandFlagallery – good Photo Gallery, Video Gallery, Music Album & Banner Rotator plugin that can display thumbnails underneath the slider
- WP-Supersized – allows you to display a resizable full screen background slideshow on pages/posts of your choice.
- SS Image Shortcode – add animated images with captions everywhere. Also, you can create a gallery, just adding images with the shortcode. Note this is a relatively new plugin. FX Image Shortcode adds more options for a smalll fee.
- Alpine Photo Tiles – displays Tumblr, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest or Picasa images in a sidebar, post, or page from particular users, URLs or tags.
- No Right Click Images – disables the ‘save as’ option on a right click making it more difficult to download photos.
Add a Table
- TablePress – extremely well rated and user friendly plugin that helps you create attractive tables without any coding.
- Advanced WP Columns – simple way to add columns to a whole page or post, or sections within, without using shortcodes which may be preferable to some clients and those that do not like shortcodes.
Create a Child Theme or change the CSS
If you want to quickly create a child theme or change the CSS, and only want to change the stylesheet, try:
- Child Themify – quickly creates a Child Theme.
- My Custom CSS – useful for small CSS changes so you can update your theme without losing your code changes.
You can make changes to other files without creating a child version by using:
- Real Time Find and Replace – allows you to dynamically (i.e. at the time when a page is generated) replace code and text from themes and other plugins with code and text of your choosing before a page is delivered to a user’s browser, therefore no changes are needed to plugins or themes which means upgrades remain easy!
Site Coming Soon or Being Updated
These two plugins allow only logged in users to view your site, and display a holding page to everyone else:
- WP Maintenance Mode – nice plugin which displays a holding page whilst your site is created or updated, with some good quick options, or use your own CSS to style it.
- Ultimate Coming Soon Page – customisable look and feel with an email collector.
Simple e-commerce plugin
- eShop – describes itself as an ‘accessible’ shopping cart plugin, which is a good description – not too complicated but with enough features to add ecommerce to your site or to create a modest online shop.
Keep it Social
- NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster – automatically share your WordPress posts on your other social media. Good and large choice of networks. Takes a little configuration.
- ColorWP Twitter Widget – display your latest tweets on your site. As with other Twitter plugins, note that due to some recent restrictions from Twitter, you must now create a Widget in your Twitter profile (under Settings->Widgets), before the tweets are visible in your WordPress widget.
- Social Login – allow your visitors to comment and login with social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo etc.
Plugins for developers
- What the file? – adds an option to your toolbar showing what file and template parts are used to display the page you’re currently viewing so you can identify where to make changes
- Duplicator – well rated plugin to migrate/clone a site from one location to another location
- Better WP Security – good security plugin offering tweaks and techniques to improve your site’s security. One click activation, but worth a little extra configuration after that too, to add extra security
- Google Analytics for WordPress – for use with your Google Analytics tracking code, this improves the tracking of your site, giving you more data on its use
Easily Add a Favicon
- Custom Favicon – simple way to add a favicon and Apple Touch icon to your site. A Favicon is also known as also known as a shortcut icon, Web site icon, URL icon, or bookmark icon