With new WordPress plugins being added to the WordPress Repository every day and over forty-thousand plugins already on it, it’s understandable if you’ve not been able to dig up all the interesting releases or useful creations it has to offer. Even if you decided to test ten plugins a day you’d still be at it ten years from now, and that’s without all the new plugins being added! Thankfully, we here again with another set of useful but relatively obscure plugins that will enhance your online experience, whether it’s improving site security or providing a twist on the user experience. If you want to find a few more cool plugins, why not check out our earlier entries in this series? Discover plugins to help you with duplicating content, importing widgets and more in the first article, and auto-optimizing and updating your site in the second.
Anyway, let’s not stand on ceremony; time to take a look at the batch of plugins available this time around!
Subscribe to Comments
Internet arguments are serious business! Alright, so in the grand scheme of things comment sections might not be the be-all and end-all, but they can be a great way to connect with your audience and build ties with your community by letting them discuss or critique your posts. However, sometimes you’ll find that comment threads die out not because there’s no comments, but because the gap between replies is a bit long. With the advent of social media and automatic notifications when someone replies to you, users are becoming more accustomed to rapid replies that can leave traditional comment sections behind. With the Subscribe to Comments plugin you can allow commenters on your site to be emailed whenever new comments or replies are added to a particular post, meaning you get more comments and your community gets more cohesive. It’s such a simple feature, but one that is often overlooked by administrators since they already receive such notifications. As an alternative you can also use the Subscribe To Comments Reloaded plugin; they’re both easy to use so give them a try and find the one you like!
Your site’s security is more important than ever; in the past year we’ve seen several vulnerabilities popping up in both WordPress and in its plugins that could be dangerous if left unchecked. Unfortunately, such vulnerabilities are a fact of development; creating something as robust and complex as WordPress means that there will inevitably be occasions where bugs or other issues lead to security risks, some big, some small. Keeping your plugins, themes and WordPress itself updated is one way of making your site safer, but for an extra layer of security consider using the Plugin Vulnerabilities plugin.
When installed and activated this plugin will automatically check your other installed plugins for any documented vulnerabilities and create a warning message on the plugin lists to advise; you can even have it email you whenever a new vulnerability is documented and discovered in one of your used plugins. This is very useful for protecting your site from attacks; most of the time any issues are rapidly patched out in plugin updates, but sometimes fixes can take more time to prepare, or the plugin authors have abandoned the project and aren’t available to create a patch. With advance knowledge of issues you can disable plugins as soon as the vulnerability is discovered for enhanced protection. Despite these features, it’s still a good idea to not rely entirely on this plugin for vulnerability checks since the database of vulnerabilities it looks for is still human-maintained and won’t necessarily be updated the instant a new issue is found, so make a point of checking in with your trusted WordPress news sources every so often too just in case something new has come to light that hasn’t been added to the Plugin Vulnerabilities database.
As a website owner you likely want to provide the best site-experience for your users, which means avoiding obtrusive advertising and pressurizing marketing practices. However, this doesn’t mean you should forego self-promotion; a well-placed call-to-action provided at just the right time can lead to huge improvements in conversions. With the Quickiebar plugin you can add an attractive, unobtrusive and easily-customizable conversion bar to the top or bottom of your site to help guide users to what they’re looking for. Flexible options let you add buttons to link to your product pages, newsletter sign-ups, or encourage registration so users can enjoy the full benefits of your site. What’s more, it’s got several predefined styles and Font Awesome support so you can get started quickly. The bar is fully-responsive too, so no worrying that your call-to-action is missing a large chunk of your potential audience. If you’re not too familiar with creating this kind of bar for your site then this plugin is a great alternative.
Technically this plugin doesn’t really count as an obscure plugin, but its functionality is something we’ve often put to use in our personal projects and its really worth looking at if you want to create flexible, diverse content for your site. When activated, an additional field is added to the bottom of each widget’s option, Widget Logic, which allows you to decide on which pages, posts or other areas of your site that particular widget will appear on. What really impresses here is the flexibility; Widget Logic allows the use of both Conditional Tags or standard PHP code to filter elements; make your frontpage distinct from other pages, or add unique links, category lists and more to relevant pages to help users find content they enjoy.
This plugin is very often used alongside langauge/translation plugins like WPML to display different widgets on a page depending on the language – you can get an idea of how this works in this blog article on multilingual widgets. The only real issue with this powerful plugin is that you really need to have some basic knowledge of Conditional Tags and PHP to get the most from it; if you’re a beginner who isn’t comfortable with this yet then you might consider using our own simple Widget Rules plugin, which also allows for widgets to be assigned to particular pages; it doesn’t have the complete flexibility offered by Widget Logic, but it’s intuitive and easy to get started with if you need to separate your content.
If you’ve a passion for visuals and like to use images to tell your stories, then this plugin may be just the kind of thing you need. When activated it allows users to browse your posts and pages, but instead of doing it through the traditional featured image/title/text preview layout it instead takes images from all your posts and displays them in random order in an image wall; as users scroll through this wall more images are loaded for a neverending wall of images, each telling its own little story. When an image is clicked, the user is redirected to the post containing the image. It’s a very specific kind of plugin, but for photographers, artists, or anybody who puts a lot of stock in visual storytelling this layout can be a beautiful way for your audience to connect with your work.
Using the plugin is a breeze too; the image wall is based on a shortcode which may be added into a text widget or page/post content instantly. There’s also a lot of attributes that can be added to the shortcode for fine-control of several features such as image size, data sources, border designs and colors etc…
And that’s all for this time! We hope you’ve found something interesting in this little list, and make sure to give a few of these plugins a try as they can really make your site even more user-friendly, safe or visually-interesting with minimal effort. Also, if you’ve found an obscure plugin that you couldn’t live without, let us know about it in the comments!