12 Surprisingly Useful WordPress Plugins You Don’t Know About

12 Surprisingly Useful WordPress Plugins You Don’t Know About

A swag of new WordPress plugins gets released every single day and whilst many are rehashes, integrations with external services, don’t work or simply add to the ever growing list of contact form generators, every now and then there are some gems.

Tested and approved, here’s 12 WordPress plugins that you don’t know about and therefore don’t even know that you need.

Device Mockups
Device Mockups, so out of left-field it’s brilliant!

The WordPress plugin repository continues to grow at a remarkable pace but quantity does not mean quality.

There’s a lot of duplication, contact form builders seem to be ever popular and there were no less than 3 news ticker plugins released in the last 3 weeks, plenty of plugins that throw errors and warnings or simply don’t work.

But dig deep enough and there are some surprisingly useful plugins that address long-term irritations, provide out-of-box functionality that makes perfect sense once you think about or that just does something better than anything previously.

Trawling through the thousands of recent plugin releases, I’ve come up with these 12, all released since May 1st and are pretty much unknown judging by the number of downloads. My favorite of the batch is Device Mockups, it’s so left-field it’s brilliant, but there’s something for everyone in the list.

  • Swifty Page Manager (Swifty Plugins)

    “Makes creating and managing your pages easy.”

    Based on the CMS Tree Page View plugin, it adds its own menu option to the Pages menu that provides a tree-view of pages, allowing pages to be moved in the hierarchy by simply dragging and dropping.

    Highlighting a page displays a toolbar that provides access to number of actions including edit, update attributes (status, template), publish, delete and view. New pages can also be created.

    Good documentation.

    This plugin will benefit anyone who manages a site that has a decent hierarchy of pages.

  • Device Mockups (mrdink)

    “Shortcodes for responsive device mockups.”

    This is one of those plugins whose existence you couldn’t possibly conceive of, and yet is ingeniously useful.

    Through the use of shortcodes, it actually allows you to create the image above by placing content you specify on a background image of the device.

    Simple to create, it works best with screenshot images and has images for iPhone 5, iPad, iMac, Macbook, Galaxy S3, Nexus 7 and Surface (portrait and landscape where applicable).

    Product shots will never be the same. Brilliant!

  • Widgets as Shortcodes (OTWthemes)

    “Use WordPress default widgets as shortcodes.”

    Simple is often powerful and no better example than this plugin that makes all the default WordPress widgets (pages, calendar, archive, meta, search, text, categories, recent posts, recent comments, rss and tag cloud) available as shortcodes for including in posts and pages.

    Even better, are the configuration panels for each shortcode that pop open when you select the widget from the icon-activated menu in the visual editor, making the insertion of a shortcode ridiculously easy.

  • Super Excerpts (Hassan Akhtar)

    “Automatically inserts excerpts on selected parts of your site and allows you to change things like excerpt length and read more link.”

    This low key plugin is absolutely what you need for themes, such as the default themes, that insist on ignoring excerpts in favor of the full content post, everything up to the tag or some arbitrary number of words.

    Whilst the plugin will let you set your own arbitrary word count (don’t!) and replace the “read more” text, its real benefit is in letting you decide on which post listings you’d like to use your carefully crafted excerpts (hint: all of them).

    All this is controlled by a pleasing config screen, curiously located in the Plugins menu (why not in Settings?).

  • footnotes (media competence institute)

    “time to bring footnotes to your website!”

    Truth is, I didn’t know it was that time until I stumbled across this plugin and then I was even more bemused to see that there are a plethora of footnote plugins.

    But this plugin got the nod because it seems comprehensive, easy to use and it has a cool photo on plugin repository page.

    Simply place your reference with the right mark-up (there are several options plus a button on the visual editor) next to the appropriate text and the plugin handles everything for you.

    Global configuration is easily managed through an option on the Settings menu but why the different styling of the menu title?

    The easiest way to Wikipedia-ize your posts.

  • SS Scroll To Up (Sobshomoy Soft)

    “Cool scroll to up plugin for page scroll.”

    Another simple and useful plugin. Not unique but it does what it says on the tin – provides that up arrow in the bottom right-hand corner to allow a visitor to scroll back up to the very top of the page.

    Essential if your site has plenty of longer content. As a bonus, it also works in the admin interface.

  • Buooy Sticky Header (Buooy)

    “This plugin provides you with an sticky header that contains your post title and share buttons!”

    Speaking of long content, if your posts go over a screen length then you’ll be interested in this plugin.

    After the page has been scrolled a certain number of (configurable) pixels, the sticky header appears with the site title and the social share buttons. Scroll back and it disappears.

    A great tool, not just for providing easy access to the the social share buttons but also for keeping your site name visible at all times.

  • Step by Step (Kyle Brown)

    “Create step-by-step instructions with images and display them on your post or pages in minutes.”

    If you find yourself regularly creating step-by-step instructions (and I imagine there’s plenty of WordPress blogs that do just that), then this plugin is going to help immensely.

    Powered by a new custom post type (called guide), it allows the steps to be added one-by-one (including an image) to create a full set of instructions.

    You’ll likely want to change the default formatting a bit but an indispensable plugin for this type of content.

  • GB Search and Replace (GB-plugins)

    “Easy to use Search and Replace tool for all your website content. Makes your content management simple and fun.”

    Not sure about the fun claim but this certainly is an easy-to-use search and replace tool for your website content.

    The image above is taken from the config screen: choose the search and replace and the content types to be actioned and away you go.

    The plugin’s support forum has one happy user and one unhappy user. I had no problems but it may be advisable to test first before installing as obviously this is a high-impact plugin.

    Otherwise, looks like a very useful tool.

  • GoogleGraph (jvrtanoski)

    “Add simple but effective geo-chart, bar-charts or line graphs in their blogs using Google’s Chart .js library.”

    A plugin that does exactly what it says on the tin. Generate geocharts (map-based), line graphs, column graphs, bar charts and pie charts by using the provided shortcodes.

    Data is specified in JSON format in the content of the shortcodes. I found that any additional whitespace in the data caused big problems, so don’t cut and paste from the examples given on the WordPress repository!

  • dxw Security (dxw)

    “Displays a security rating against each of the plugins you have installed.”

    Another arrow in your security quiver, this plugin will display the rating for any plugin you have installed that DXW has reviewed.

    The downside is that the pool of rated plugins is small and some you might think would be in there are not (BuddyPress and BBPress, for example) but even if this plugin finds just one plugin with an issue then it will have been worth installing.

    Curiously, it doesn’t have a rating for its own plugin.

  • One Click Comments (Asaf Cohen)

    “Allows authors and moderators to change comment status directly from the email notification.”

    This plugin definitely scratches an itch. And despite its compatibility being 3.4.2, it seems to work fine on 3.9.1

    Simply approve, spam or trash that comment directly by clicking on the link in the email rather than having to log in first. Probably only a good idea if access to the email account is the same as access to the website.

    Very handy if you have plenty of comments on your site.

An eclectic mix, I think you’ll agree.

Now over to you. Have you seen a recently released plugin that’s worthy of spruiking?