The WordPress repository is packed to the rafters with interesting and useful plugins, but the problem with it being so large is it’s just so hard to discover new and original ones to help you get the most from your site. Sure, there’s always the dependable big names, and if you’ve got an idea of what you’re looking for then the search option will get you sorted quickly, but for the most part there’s not much in the way of discovery to be had without a lot of tedious clicking. Fear not though, for we’ve taken care of the “tedious clicking” part to bring you another selection of lesser-known plugins that we find helps keep us running smoothly. Keep an eye out in future too, as we’ll be looking at bringing regular new updates on whatever interesting plugins we’ve discovered so you can find some hidden gems.
The WP Updates Notifier
Keeping your installed plugins is a tedious business, but it’s something that needs to be done regularly, as recent discoveries of vulnerabilities in some popular WordPress plugins caused by a misunderstanding in the Codex have shown. Bugs, issues and vulnerabilities are facts of web development; no matter how well-made a plugin is it’s going to need to be updated sometime, if just to remain compatible with newer WordPress releases. With the WP Updates Notifier plugin, you can have email notifications sent to you as soon as one of your installed plugins is updated; no need to keep checking your Dashboard. It’s a simple way of staying fully up-to-date with patches for a safer website.
→ Visit the The WP Updates Notifier page
Autoptimize Your Site
In a perfect world, everytime we make a website we’d carefully test everything bit by bit, exposing anything that causes a small delay and removing or modifying it for maximum efficiency. The truth of the matter though, is that often its an incredibly time-consuming job for a very small reward. Thankfully, the Autoptimize plugin can help you get the most from your site. As the name suggests, it automates the optimization process, performing multiple useful checks and changes that will make for a lightweight page. It concatenates all scripts and styles, minifies and compresses them, adds expires headers, caches them, and moves styles to the page head and scripts to the footer. It also minifies the HTML code itself, making your page really lightweight. It’s surprisingly effective, and saves you a lot of poking about in your files.
→ Visit the Autoptimize Your Site page
One of the queries we see a lot in our forums are users who are interested in changing the default "Older Posts" and "Newer Posts" pagination; for example, changing the basic “Older Posts” pagination option with numbered pages. This kind of change is very useful if you’re running a large amount of posts on your site, since the last thing you want is users backtracking through endless pages trying to find something specific. This plugin will help you swap out your pagination for something more robust for large or complex sites.
→ Visit the WP-PageNavi page
Generally there are better way to add content into columns than using tables, but sometimes your content just has to be added in a table layout; this plugin will help you do this in a convenient yet stylish way.
→ Visit the TablePress page
Menu Social Icons
As you might expect, we often have users on our forum who are looking at adding social icons to their website’s menu; social media is an important part of a site’s online reach and one good article or product can drive interest across the web. One of the most common ways to add these elements is with the basics; custom HTML and CSS code, along with a lot of elbow grease. But if you don’t fancy getting your hands dirty, or aren’t comfortable with making these kinds of changes, then this plugin is a useful alternative. Very easy to use, this plugin changes any social website links in your WordPress menus to use icons taken from the Font Awesome set, so you know you’ll be getting quality icons.
No configuration is necessary; you can just add links to any of the supported social sites under the Appearance > Menus in your WordPress backend, and it will take care of the rest.
→ Visit the Menu Social Icons page
Simple Comment Editing
Comments are an important resource for community-minded sites; if you’re running a blog, news or magazine site then it’s great to have a way for users to communicate and share their thoughts on your latest story. However, it can be very frustrating for commenters if they post a concise reply to your story, and then realize afterwards that they’ve made a typo that they’ll never get to fix. This is easily fixed for logged-in users, but if you’re allowing anonymous comments then things are not so easy. However, by installing and enabling this plugin, anonymous users will have the ability to edit and/or delete their comments for a defined period of time (i.e. 5 minutes after publishing the comment), so you can maintain control and curate comments as normal without fear of users modifying their content later, but at the same time they still have the power to correct their mistakes if they’re quick!
→ Visit the Simple Comment Editing page
So there we have it; another set of interesting alternatives to the more common plugins you can see whenever you visit the WordPress repository. We hope you give these plugins a try, and do keep an eye out for our future articles, where we’ll dig up some more interesting plugins that will improve the frontend and backend experience for you and your visitors.