10 WordPress Plugins that will Actually Increase Your Productivity

I’ve been on a bit of a productivity kick recently, trying to get my life organized. I’ve been reading books like “Getting Things Done” and trying to sort myself out with Remember the Milk. Not got anywhere so far….. To celebrate my almost-productive-life I thought I’d take a look for some WordPress plugins that increase your productivity. I started where I always do with a showcase and looked to Google. I searched for “WordPress productivity plugins” and came up with lists that included Google Analytics and SEO Plugins. Wtf? How do they increase your productivity?

I wanted to find plugins that will ACTUALLY increase your productivity. There are some tasks in WordPress that take time and that could be sped up. I want to tell you about plugins that solve a problem and make your WordPress life easier. I’ve found 10. Here they are.

EG Attachments

The Problem

You’ve got a whole list of files that you want to display on a page. Normally you’d have to upload the file, type the link out and insert the link. Recently I’ve been working on a site with a large amount of content that has exactly this problem.

Eg Attachments showing filesThe Plugin

EG Attachments is such a handy plugin for solving this problem. All you have to do is upload the files you want to display to the page you want to display them on. Then you can add a shortcode which will insert a list of files for you. And it even displays them in a pretty attractive way. You can show the file type icon, filter the files however you want and even tweak to add Nofollow. It’s a really simple plugin which solves an annoying problem in an elegant way.

Markdown Quicktags

The Problem

You write a lot of your posts and pages in HTML. All that HTML means a whole lot of extra keystrokes, and a whole lot of room for error.

The Plugin

Markdown Quicktags turns your HTML editor into a Markdown editor. Markdown is a lightweight markup language developed by John Gruber and Aaron Schwartz. It simplifies your markup process by letting you write in plain text format which is converted into valid HTML. Okay, so to get to grips with this you also need to learn Markdown but it’s probably the easiest programming language you could find. # produces a <h1> tag, ## a <h2> tag, **to make bold**, ![Alt Text](imageurl) for images… you get the idea. You can check out the syntax here. 

Search and Replace

The Problem

You want to replace a word or a piece of code or a string somewhere in your WordPress installation. You’re all prepared to start doing it manually even though you know it will take hours.

The Plugin

Search and Replace is a plugin from Frank Bültge of WP Engineer (you know, those guys who always have awesome technical tips). It’s a simple search plugin which searches your database for a string and then replaces it with whatever you want. You can search in ID, post-content, GUID, titel, excerpt, meta-data, comments, comment-author, comment-e-mail, comment-url, tags/categories and categories-description. It’s a great time saver that makes your database searchable in an instant.

Broken Link Checker

The Problem

You’ve got broken links, you know you’ve got them, they’re somewhere, lurking inside your WordPress website. You know it’s time to clean them up but you just cannot be bothered.

 The Plugin

Broken Link Checker looks for broken links. A friend of mine works at a well known English University. They have their own in-house CMS and she used to spend hours checking the website for broken links. With WordPress and a plugin like this you can avoid all of that tedium, leaving more time for you to do whatever it is that you do. The Broken Link Checker plugin searches for broken links and then tells you where they are, leaving you to be able to sort them quickly and efficiently.

WP-Smush.it

The Problem

You use a lot of images on your posts and pages, which means that you’ve got to spend a lot of time resizing images to optimize them for your website. Even if you use Photoshop’s batch automation this can still be annoying.

The Plugin

WP-Smush.it runs every image that you upload through Yahoo’s Smush.it service. It strips meta-data from JPEGs, optimizes JPEG compression, converting some GIFs to PNG and stripping unused colors from indexed images. This can be a real time saver if you have an image-heavy blog. The only caveat that comes with it is that you should make sure that you are comfortable with Yahoo’s TOS which gives Yahoo and its affiliates rights to use your images. I’m not 100% comfortable with it, which is why I don’t use it, but you might not care in which case it’s a great plugin.

Network Switch Button

The Problem

You’re a network admin on a WordPress Multisite installation and you’re a little bit frustrated that ever since WordPress 3.1 your network admin button has been hidden in a dropdown menu.

The Plugin

Sometimes an extra click isn’t a big deal, but there are time that an extra click can be a massive annoyance. If you’re a network admin on a big WordPress Multisite network you’re going to be hopping back and forward between screens all the time. That’s when that extra click wastes you time. We encountered the problem at Edublogs when the guys in charge there found that the new dropdown got in their way. That’s why we developed the network switch plugin. It’s a simple plugin but it saves you quite a bit of time.

Syntax Highlighter Evolved

The Problem

You put some HTML in <code> tags and it gets all screwed up when you publish it. One of the most super-annoying things about WordPress.

The Plugin

The Syntax Highligher Evolved Plugin might not be an obvious choice for a list of productivity plugins, but I’ve got my reasons. I have spent a long time getting frustrated because my code won’t display properly. Using a plugin like this saves a lot of annoyance and a lot of time. Last week I was ranting on Twitter about getting HTML to display properly but this plugin solved my problems. That left me to get back to the job in hand, the problem solved and completely forgotten.

Faster Image Insert

The Problem

You have 30+ images to insert into a post and there’s nothing that you hate more than loading that thickbox. It makes life so slloooowww.

The Plugin

Faster Image Insert gets rid of your reliance on the media uploader thickbox and inserts the uploader into a meta box beneath your text input area. It also gives you more control over your images themselves. You can mass edit them, adding titles, alt text and other information, and insert more than one image at once. It’s not a perfect solution to dealing with posts with a lot of images, but it’s certainly a big improvement.

CMS Page Tree View

The Problem

You’ve got loads of pages and clicking through them all of the time is getting you down. You want a quick and easy way to access your pages.

The Plugin

CMS Page Tree View takes all of your pages and displays them in an attractive tree view – much like you’d see in a traditional CMS. If you’re using a lot of posts, pages and custom post types a plugin like this is a must. And it’s not just about browsing your pages – you can drag and drop your pages to re-order them, view pages, edit pages and delete pages. It’s a great time saver for content heavy websites.

Scripts n Styles

The Problem

You’ve got CSS or  scripts that you want to add to various pages but you don’t want to put it in your theme functions  or style.css.

The Plugin

The Scripts n Styles plugin lets you add scripts and styles to WordPress posts and pages. You can add global pieces of code on the settings page or each individual page can have its own piece of code attached to it. The plugin only gives permission to admin users to insert pieces of code. CSS is inserted in your <head> tags, and you can choose whether to insert your scripts in the <head> tags or in the <body> tags. If you’ve got a script or a piece of CSS that you just want to attach to one page this is a great way to do it.

What plugins help to keep you productive? Is there anything that I’ve missed out?

Comments (20)

  1. Since you mention a Search & Replace plugin, I thought it might be helpful to also mention a tool, which although not a plugin, is a terrific thing from the people at Interconnect/IT for dealing with database search and replace.

    http://interconnectit.com/124/search-and-replace-for-wordpress-databases/

    This tool allows you to do a search and replace across your database, but has the added advantage of working with serialized data. There are many places in your database where WordPress or a plugin stores serialized strings. Simply replacing a word can often create a problem if it changes the serialized string length. This tool accounts for this, and handles it beautifully. It is particularly useful if you need to change the primary domain name in a multisite installation.

  2. Useful list – many I’d never seen before. An alternative on the CMS view for pages that I always use and like a lot is Pagemash. Its advantage is an attractive, easy-to-use interface, its disadvantage is that it’s a separate admin page – it doesn’t alter your usual page admin area. But I can live with that.

  3. I wanted to comment not on the plug-in list [which is great by-the-way], but on your reading of Getting Things Done.

    Based on my experience as a creative, I’ve never been able to implement and fully embrace the GTD lifestyle. Instead, I started following the ideas in the book “Making Ideas Happen”, by Scott Belsky. he’s the founder of Behance. I found this to be much more helpful than GTD.

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