10 plugins that let you do more with WordPress content

WordPress is one of the most popular pieces of free software on the planet, and with good reason – it makes it very easy to get a basic website or… More »

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WordPress is one of the most popular pieces of free software on the planet, and with good reason – it makes it very easy to get a basic website or blog up and running. But the fun doesn’t stop there. WordPress can be used as a serious Content Management System, just like Drupal and other heavyweights, and can power complex web applications as well as simple sites. However, a fully-fledged CMS has features to manage content that WordPress doesn’t have out of the box – which is why WordPress has an excellent plugin system so that almost any functionality you can imagine can be added to a WordPress project.

In this post, aimed at new to intermediate WordPress developers, I look at 10 plugins that can aid a WordPress project to become a ‘grown-up’ CMS. The plugins are mainly about making the WordPress admin console a nicer place to work, so that content can be organised, managed and manipulated and displayed to the user in more efficient and flexible ways. I’ve put them in alphabetical order below.

Advanced Custom Fields

Hugely powerful, ACF allows you to associate custom fields with posts, pages or other content, and display them appropriately with shortcodes or function calls in your templates. Whole sites have been built using almost nothing but this plugin, and its applications are almost limitless. When you need to display a small piece of content in the front end, and wish to edit it separately in the back end, but a widget or widget area is not appropriate, ACF may let you do what you need. The Pro version adds some genuinely useful features, in particular the ability to set up global custom fields and edit them in a dedicated options page.

Get it here (free and commercial versions available)

Advanced Responsive Video Embedder

WordPress is getting a lot better at handling embedded video, but I still find that this plugin gives me more control over how videos are placed, whether they play in a lightbox when clicked, how they react when the site is viewed on a phone, etc.

Get it here (free and commercial versions available)

Category Order and Taxonomy Terms Order

The name says it all. If you need to display your categories or custom taxonomies in a particular order, this plugin will let you drag and drop them into the right order.

Get it here (free)

Duplicate Post

How many times have you needed a lot of posts or pages, fast, in order to test parts of your layout when developing a theme? This plugin adds a ‘clone’ option on the main post editing page, so that you can quickly create 10, 20 or more posts, all with the same content, and see how your layout handles them.

Get it here (free)

Easy Columns

If you’re creating your own theme rather than using a commercial one that comes with some kind of theme builder, this is a slick, lightweight solution to having multi-column content. It works its magic using shortcodes, and the visual editor has a new button that lets you choose what column arrangement you need.

Get it here (free)

Image Widget

Totally indispensible, this plugin lets you add widgets containing nothing but an image from the media library. It can be linkable or not, have a title or not, you can choose the size and alignment, etc. Great if you need to put a banner advertisement into a sidebar but don’t want the hassle and overhead of a full-blown ad management plugin.

Get it here (free)

MCE Table Buttons

Sometimes you need a table in a post or page. You could switch to HTML view and simply enter the tags, but this plugin makes it easy to manage tables in the visual editing view, but giving you new buttons to add and edit tables, rows, cells, etc. You can add classes and attributes.

Get it here (free)

Simple Page Ordering

Does what it says on the tin. Drag and drop your pages into the order you want, instead of having to edit each page and set a numerical order. Page ordering is less necessary than it used to be, now that WordPress has custom menus, but it can be very helpful to administrators and content managers if pages are listed in a logical order in the admin console.

Get it here (free)

Widget Logic

You may have two or three pages that use the same widgetised sidebar, but there’s a widget you only want to display on one of the pages. Enter Widget Logic. Use a simple PHP conditional expression to specify when the widget should be displayed and when it should be hidden. When you’re creating a theme, this plugin can help you avoid having to create umpteen widget areas instead of just two or three.

Get it here (free)

ZigWidgetClass

I’m ending this list with a ZigPress-developed plugin, and one that proves useful to me and to many people time and time again. It simply allows you to add extra CSS class names to any instance of any widget, so that you can more easily target them in your theme’s CSS. This can be useful in many situations – how about hiding a widget when the site is viewed on a phone? ZigWidgetClass lets you do that by adding a class to that widget and then using a media query in your CSS to hide that class when the screen is narrow. I’m sure you can think of even more uses.

Get it here (free)

And here are two that didn’t quite make the list…

They didn’t make the list purely because what they do is probably a less common requirement than those above.

Multiple Post Thumbnails

Sometimes your page layouts may have more than one image position – perhaps a small logo and a larger screenshot that are always present but cannot be positioned in the main content editor box. This plugin lets you have a series of featured images, which have their own meta box in the page editor, and you can then add them to your theme templates with a simple function call.

Get it here (free)

WP Better Attachments

Another ‘meta box in the back end, function call in the front end’ plugin, this time allowing you to associate a number of downloadable attachments to a post or page, and make them available in your theme templates with a simple function call. Great for a resources directory.

Get it here (free)

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Have I missed any plugins that you think are essential in making WordPress content management easier? Tell us your favourites in the comments.

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Posted by News Monkey