According to WordPress, you can download over 50,000 plugins from the repository. One of the best things about WordPress, in fact, is how far you can extend its functionality through additional plugins. They're easy to add to your site and (usually) simple to configure.
WordPress plugins can help you optimize your WordPress site for search engines, collect crucial data about your traffic, capture and quarantine spam comments, and so much more. In this article, we've collected various plugins that provide some functionality you may not have even considered adding to your WordPress site. They're the plugins you probably didn't even know you needed:
- Show Plugin Menu Items on Activation
- Device Mockups
- SS Scroll to Up
- Step by Step
- Contact Form 7 PayPal Add-on
- AfterShip WooCommerce Tracking
- Broken Link Checker
- Download Monitor
Show Plugin Menu Items on Activation
Once you install a new plugin, have you ever hunted in vain to find the plugin's settings menu? Some have their own entries in the Dashboard sidebar menu, some get shoved into submenus in Settings, others are integrated into the WordPress customizer … where on earth are you supposed to go next to adjust your settings and configure your new plugin's options?
Show Plugin Menu Items on Activation solves that problem. When you add and activate a new plugin, you'll get a quick pointer that lets you know if a few, many, or no menu items were added by the plugin. If they were added, Show Plugin Menu Items will point out where they're located. These admin pointers might be a ridiculously simple notion, but they can certainly save a flustered, time-pressed, and less tech-savvy site owner a not insignificant amount of frustration.
Device Mockups from Sixteenbit lets you create mockups of various devices – a laptop, for example, or a smartphone – overlaid with any kind of image and text you like. You can create unique mockups out of your own screenshot images and a few shortcodes.
This one would be super helpful for WordPress theme and plugin developers, we think, but we can imagine lots of other niches and scenarios in which non-technical types might find a purpose for Device Mockups too. It works especially well with screenshots, and comes equipped with template images for a wide range of devices, including iPhone 5, iPad, iMac, Macbook, Galaxy S3, Nexus 7 and Surface (including both portrait and landscape orientations, if applicable).
For the right kind of content, Footnotes would be a truly helpful plugin, we think. It gives you a simple, elegant way to add footnotes to your blog posts. Sure, you could code footnotes yourself in the HTML editor, but that's a time-intensive, multi-step process. Footnotes helps you add credibility, further context, and impressive style to your posts in an easy-to-configure-and-use plugin.
SS Scroll to Up
SS Scroll to Up is a super-lightweight, unobtrusive plugin that does one thing: lets you add a little up-arrow on your content pages that allows your users to quickly scroll back up to the top. Some WordPress themes, like our popular MH Magazine theme, come with back to top buttons out of the box. But if your WordPress theme doesn't have this, then a plugin like this can do the trick.
This WordPress plugin could be especially helpful if you're regularly publishing long-form content or long pages full of images. It also works in the Dashboard's admin area. Therefore, if you're composing or formatting that long post or page full of images, you can take advantage of it to get back to the top of the page quickly. It might seem like a one-trick pony, but when that's the trick you need the pony to do, it's a great one to have on hand.
Step by Step
Kyle Brown's Step by Step plugin helps you more easily create one of the most powerful and user-valuable kinds of content around: the tutorial. For anything you can teach in a step-by-step how-to article, the Step by Step plugin can help you craft an attractive, dynamic page to demonstrate each step in your process around it.
Recipes, technical instruction, dance steps, work systems – if it can be explained in steps, you can use this plugin to present it in a clear and helpful manner. The plugin works by creating a new custom post type called a “guide”. Then you simply set out each step individually, adding images if you like, to assemble the process instructions in sequence. You might like the default formatting, or you may want to play with it a bit, but either way, you'll appreciate the presentation assistance.
Contact Form 7 PayPal Add-on
Contact Form 7 PayPal Add-on can turn your Contact Form 7 contact form into an ecommerce solution. It won't take care of all your needs if you're looking to build a full-fledged store, but if you have just a few individual products, you can set up a form to go with each, import a PayPal button into the form with this plugin, and let your customers check out right from the product page.
It's fairly straightforward to set up and configure this plugin. You just need to plug in your PayPal merchant ID, and set the item name, price, and SKU/ID. The Contact Form 7 PayPal Add-on plugin supports 18 languages and 25 different currencies.
AfterShip WooCommerce Tracking
The AfterShip WooCommerce Tracking plugin inserts a tracking button on your user's customer order history page. It integrates with over 360 global couriers, including big names like DHL, UPS, FedEx and more. You can personalize its display by adding logos, Instagram photos and more. The plugin offers both free and premium levels of access; premium will set you back only $10 a month, and gives you access to features such as automatic customer notifications.
Broken Link Checker
Broken Link Checker serves a fairly important SEO purpose. It monitors your site for any broken outgoing links, notifies you when they're found (by email or Dashboard), and can even render them in different styling on your pages. It can also help prevent search engines from following broken links. Broken links are a source of significant frustration for your users, so anything that helps you identify and fix them promptly is a good thing, indeed.
Download Monitor can make your life considerably easier if you offer anything for download on your site. Ebooks, white papers, images — anything that you allow users to download, for instance in exchange for signing up for your email subscriber list — can be tracked with Download Monitor. This plugin will track how many downloads you get, but it also makes it easier to upload the files and format the links, by treating downloads similarly to posts and pages.
Conclusion: Must-have plugins for your WordPress website
Of course, you want to be conservative in adding plugins to your WordPress site. Every plugin you activate requires a bit more of your site's resources to operate, and can even slow down your site. Make sure you need the plugins you have, and only activate the ones you actually use. Did we mention your favorite must-have plugin? If not, share it in the comments below!