When you want to add features, customize or make improvements to your website that requires a certain amount of coding, the easiest and most cost effective way to do that is by adding a plugin to your site. Plugins are tiny coded scripts or tools that are installed into WordPress in order to extend its’ functionality without having to recode or redesign the entire site. They usually take only a few minutes to install, configure and come in a number of different categories ranging from simple design elements to more advanced utility options.
Modern WordPress themes generally come with a huge number of integrated plugins that provide basic functionality such as image displays, widgets, form and page builders. If you want more advanced options like sliders or sitemaps, you might have to add additional premium type plugins in order to achieve this.
There are plugins that developers would agree are essential in order to maintain your WordPress and improve its performance while others are simply considered to be for aesthetic purposes, both are equally important to the design.
Plugins are sorted into categories based on their functionality and usability and like most things in life, there are some that are simply better, more popular and more practical than the others.
Here are 10 Popular WordPress plugins to give your website some extra attention.
“What separates design from art is that design is meant to be… functional.” ― Cameron Moll
Ubermenu ~ Mega Menu Creator
UberMenu Mega Menu plugin offers the ability to create mega menus which are becoming increasingly popular with designer’s everywhere. Mega menus allow snippets of information to be added to the sub menu and can include more than just text, they can include images and other features such as google maps and forms.
Considered to be one of the best and most popular mega menu creators, UberMenu is a user-friendly, highly customizable,”out of the box” WordPress plugin that is simple to use, but powerful enough to create highly customized and creative configurations.
Recently updated, UberMenu 2.0 is responsive, WordPress 3.8 ready and includes over twenty different horizontal and vertical presets for adding unique menus to your designs.
Slider Revolution ~ Animation Slider Effects
One of the most popular plugins on ThemeForest, Slider Revolution is used by designer’s and developers all over the world to create amazing slideshows with captions, animations, video and advanced transition effects. Slider Revolution allows designers to create captivating slideshows that can be used as the main promotional or marketing focus of a design. Images within the sliders can link to other websites, contain call to actions, videos and embed other media.
Moreover, you can add multiple sliders to your websites for adding different views and effects.
The reason Slider Revolution is so popular is because of its multi language compatibility, easy to use drag and drop editor and tons of additional features such as bullets, buttons, thumbnail navigation, mobile touch integration and variable formats and sizes.
When you want to add really cool sliders with layered captions, for a mere sixteen dollars, Slider Revolution is a great option.
Layer Slider ~ Amazing 3D animation
Along with Slider Revolution, Layer Slider is another popular slideshow creator that has amazing transitions and powerful 2D and 3D animation effects. In my opinion, neither is really that much better than the other, it is purely a matter of preference to the design and style that your decision should be made. Both offer amazing effects, captions and they both support a variety of media types including Youtube and Vimeo.
Highly responsive, with features such as a drag n’drop WYSIWYG slider builder, real-time previews, timeline view, Google fonts and transition builder for custom animations, along with thirteen ready made skins and over 200 preset 2D and 3D slide transitions, it is not hard to imagine why these types of sliders have become so popular in the WordPress community.
Many theme developers and designers use a combination of both sliders in order to create amazing designs and due to the fact they they are reasonably priced at fifteen and sixteen dollars, one might argue that utilizing the powerful effects of both is a really great idea.
Visual Composer – A must have tool
If there ever was a tool or plugin that I would suggest a WordPress designer have in his or her arsenal, Visual Composer would definitely be one of them. Visual Composer is an amazing drag and drop style plugin that allows you to create complex page layouts that can be viewed in real time.
This plugin can be used by any novice designer to craft beautiful page layouts without any programming knowledge whatsoever. Simply point and click to add columns, rows and other elements to build complex designs, there is no need to use shortcodes or write any code.
Once the layouts are created, you simply copy and paste them into each new page or modify them using a variety of custom post types and/or add additional elements.
This is truly an amazing and necessary tool for creating stunning websites with little or no effort.
CSS3 Responsive Web Pricing ~ Economical
When you need fancy pricing tables to spruce things us, CSS3 Responsive WordPress pricing table grid is the plugin that you will want to use. Create multiple designs with 2 different table variations and twenty predefined colours schemes. The plugin comes with a host of customizable options such as table rows, sizes, columns and expandable or animated pop up features.
CSS3 comes with an Intuitive Admin Panel with live configurations that allow you to view your table in less than five minutes. Once the table is created, you simply add the shortcode where you want it displayed. Like the slider, mega menu and composer plugins on this page, this plugin has become so popular, it is becoming a standard in some of the newer themes.
Create an unlimited amount of pricing tables each with its own unique design or copy the same table to each page design.
Never has there been a more flexible or cheaper way to create pricing tables, with this CSS3 plugin, the choices are endless.
Accept to Register – Website Protection
The plugin is easy to configure with a three step process and is a set it and forget it plugin. Simply create your pages and put the URL into the plugin and the rest is done for you. If everything could be this easy, life would not be a challenge.
An interesting concept and a great idea, this plugin is great for any website that has a huge number of user logins.
Viral Coupon ~ Social Media Discounts
Discount coupons go hand in hand with social media marketing and what better way to offer your customers a discount than by a simple like, share or tweet?
Encourage your customers with discounts that can be added to their product payments for simply sharing your social media. If the users likes or shares your link a coupon is automatically applied to their payment cart. Compatible with WooCommerce 2.0, this is a great addition to have for e-commerce websites.
This plugin is so versatile, you can customize the share to receive a discount message, as well as, customize the tweet for incorporating specific hashtags.
A great plugin for expanding your social media platforms and for offering client discounts at the same time, its a great idea and a win win situation for all.
Easy Translation Manager
With SEO support in each language, the Easy Translation Manager plugin is one of the easiest ways to convert your entire website into a multitude of international languages. While it is not an automatic translator itself, it is a high powered plugin that helps to manager other translators so they can be used more effectively. Translators are often difficult to work with and this plugin adds a more user friendly in which to do that by allowing you to translate pages, posts, post tags, categories, menus, plugins and themes.
The Easy Translation Manager is a great addition to your plugin utilities and comes with some really cool options including the ability to insert a widget in your sidebar, pages or posts, comes with 4 different flag sizes and offers 13 customizable features.
Saving time and money with a tool like this is essentially what plugins were created for.
Screets ~ Live Chat Support
WordPress live chat plugin is a simple solution for a client customer support system.
Chat live with your clients about issues or problems they may be having, allow multiple team members to deal with issues and chat inside the screen with other team members in order to discuss ways to deal with the issue.
Simply put the live chat feed somewhere on your website and users will see when there is someone available to answer their questions or concerns live. It is customer service support, in the moment, when you want to offer it. Now, that is a novel idea!
Features include color choices for the chat box,a really nice chat skin, chat logs and the ability for clients to send emails and support requests when the chat is offline.
Unfortunately, we live in a world whereby not everyone has good intentions and if you spend hours of your time working on a design, you should protect it from potential harm.
Every website needs a security plugin and Security Ninja is the top selling plugin on ThemeForest (CodeCanon) for this purpose. Check your site’s vulnerability with the industry’s best practices on security, all combined in this one amazing plugin! Security Ninja allows you to perform over 31 security tests including brute force attacks and offers you tips on how to improve potential risk.This plugin is so extensive, it even tests for timthumb vulnerability and prevents 0-day exploit attacks.
It does not even really matter if you know what the risk is, simply that you find a way to secure it.
This plugin comes with a few add ons such as secure login in measures to make it even more effective. Security Ninja is a great plugin and will help to secure your website quickly and easily.
When a plugin has proven to be a reliable and practical choice, it has a tendency to become a standard in newer themes.
The reason for this is simple, if a plugin works wells and offers a great feature, developers will spend the money to integrate them into new themes in order to offer the functionality rather than having to create the code themselves. This actually makes sense because it saves money and time in the design process.
The Revolution and Layered sliders are included (together and separately) in many of the newer responsive themes because of their ability to create powerful advanced animated slideshows. It would take an author several weeks to code this type of advanced feature.
Design Tip: If you begin to notice that a plugin is incorporated into a huge amount of themes, it is a pretty good indication that it is a good one, otherwise authors would not consider adding it to their own designs.
It is interesting to note that almost all of the plugins in this list have been incorporated into a variety of themes, clearly indicating that they are worth considering.
If you want to see what is new and exciting in plugins, please visit our new plugin collection here.