Earlier this year we visited some of the essential WordPress plugins every publisher should use. But with thousands of add-ons available for your publishing platform, the features we selected were just the tip of the iceberg. This time around we’re taking a closer look at plugins that improve the layout and appearance of your site, making for a better front end experience.
With that in mind, note that these plugins don’t always make a visible difference, or at least not in the eye-catching way you might expect. Some are layout features, while others have an eye towards additional content. But without further ado, here are the WordPress plugins you should be using.
You’ll find slideshow galleries on plenty of content sites, ranging from those with a pop culture lean to those with a business-to-business focus. Whatever the aim of your blog, though, a slideshow is an easy way to illustrate a point, provide a chronological progression, or just condense and refine what would otherwise be a crowded, image-heavy page. If you typically employ text-heavy posts, mix up your content offerings with a slideshow.
A staple of longer-form magazine articles, pull quotes highlight interesting excerpts from the piece you’ve published. They’re a great way to entice readers to keep moving through a post and gives them a glimpse of what the content ahead holds. This works especially well for those 1,500+ word articles that don’t have an end in sight. Simple Pull Quote makes it easy to turn selected text into an image on the page, saving you plenty of time on image editing.
There are a variety of WordPress plugins that provide related content modules on your site, one of which is nrelate Related Content. The add-on crawls your pages and provides links to similar articles that you have published. You also have options for how to display the related links, including text, thumbnails, and combinations of both.
You don’t have to limit your related content links to pages that you’ve published, either. If you’re seeking additional monetization options, you can upgrade your nrelate plugin to also display links to sponsored articles, which will in turn generate ad revenue. If a related content feature appeals to you, also check out YARRP, which serves a similar purpose.
While WordPress pages are fairly accessible on mobile devices, there are ways to improve your layout without extensive reformatting. Enter WPtouch, a paid plugin that converts your page into a responsive design compatible with both iOS and Android platforms. With a variety of themes to choose from, you can keep your pages’ branding and style intact while providing a better mobile interface.
Whether sites go down, URLs change, or content is pulled off existing pages, broken links happen. But once you’ve published dozens of posts, it’s virtually impossible to keep track of what links are still active. Broken Link Checker is the solution to this problem. It lists all of the malfunctioning links on all of your pages, giving you the option to correct or replace the URL, remove the link, or under certain circumstances, simply ignore the problem. It’s a simple answer to an otherwise labor-intensive process.
This is one of the WordPress plugins that may not seem to have a visible impact on your site, or at least on individual reader-facing pages. However, it gives you the ability to see the entire layout of your pages from top to bottom, which can help you refine the way your pages are organized. While your goal should ultimately be to make your site easier for readers navigate, having a well-planned and descriptive sitemap can also improve your SEO value.
Contact Form 7, one of many contact form plugins, is a simple, straightforward approach to gathering information from your readers. It gives you the flexibility to create whatever fields you deem necessary, from names and email addresses to comments and attachments. If you need an easy way to build up a customer database or business proposals, this form is the way to go. You can also use it in conjunction with anti-spam plugins such as Captcha and Akismet to help keep unwanted information out of your inbox.
In addition to the plugins listed above, there are thousands of other WordPress add-ons, many of which can bolster your content offerings. Depending on the needs of your page, you can host video, add live chats, provide maps, and more.