WordPress Plugins That Make Your Life Easier

Whether you’re a designer, a developer (or both), chances are you don’t have a lot of spare time. With that in mind, here are some of my favorite WordPress plugins that can help you get things done and move on to the next project.

CMS Dashboard

CMS Dashboard

This one’s installed on each WordPress site I create. It creates a simple, easy to understand menu of some common tasks. This is especially handy for helping your clients understand how to update their own website. I advise them to focus on what the CMS Dashboard plugin displays, and forget about the sometimes overwhelming menu on the left side of the WordPress Dashboard.

CMS Dashboard →

Display Widgets

Display Widgets

Ever need to display widgets only on specific pages of a site? This is a quick and easy way to do it. The plugin simply adds a dialog to the bottom of any widget you add to a sidebar that lets you pick and choose what pages, posts and categories you want to display it on. Ideal for smaller sites.

Display Widgets →

List Category Posts

List Category Posts

While you can create a page template in your WordPress theme to list posts from a specific category, List Category Posts will do the same thing using either a handy shortcode or widget. The nice thing about this plugin is that it will also allow you to create your own custom templates. So, how you display category listings on one page can be completely different on another.

List Category Posts →

Raw HTML Snippets

Raw HTML Snippets

WordPress will often filter out certain HTML tags within a page or post. If you need to place some specific HTML or Javascript inside, Raw HTML Snippets provides an easy means to do so. Just paste your code into a new "snippet", and the plugin will give you a shortcode to paste into your page or post. It then loads your code without any interference from WordPress. It’s also very handy for keeping clients separated from critical code.

Raw HTML Snippets →

SB Child List

SB Child List

Use a simple shortcode to display a list of child pages in an unordered list of links. There is also another shortcode included that allows you to display the parent within a child page. I often like to use this at the bottom of a post as a handy means of navigating through a set of content.

SB Child List →

Search and Replace

Search and Replace

Often times, when working on a new project, I need to use a temporary URL before the site launches. Once the domain name is pointed to the new WordPress installation, there may be a few outdated links still pointing to the temporary URL. While WordPress takes care of some of these issues automatically, there are some links it doesn’t update (especially in certain widgets). Search and Replace makes it easy to search for any references to the temporary URL and replace it with the new one. Of course, you could also use this to search and replace other items in your database, so be careful!

Search and Replace →

Smart WYSIWYG Blocks Of Content

Smart WYSIWYG Blocks Of Content

If your widgets will require things like images, formatted text, custom links and the ability to process shortcodes, Smart WYSIWYG Blocks of Content can be a real timesaver. This plugin creates a custom post type called "Smart Blocks". Add a new post, and, using the full WordPress WYSIWYG editor, add it as a widget on your sidebar. A simple way to add some unique widgets.

Smart WYSIWYG Blocks Of Content →

WP DBManager

WP DBManager

It’s the very definition of "set it and forget it". Install WP DBManager, customize your settings, and get a backup copy of your database emailed to you (and saved on the server) at whatever interval you’d like. Peace of mind made easy.

WP DBManager →

YouTube Shortcode

YouTube Shortcode

Need to quickly embed a YouTube video on your blog? This plugin creates a shortcode: [youtube_sc url=any_youtube_video_url]. All you need to do is past the URL of the video you want to embed.

YouTube Shortcode →

In Conclusion

While all of the functionality of all of these plugins can be duplicated by writing your own code, plugins do provide a very quick method of getting things done. And, in a hectic environment, saving time (and the occasional headache) is a very good thing.

So, what are your favorite time-saving plugins? Feel free to share them below.

Author: (15 Posts)

Eric Karkovack is a web designer with well over a decade of experience. You can visit his business site here. In July 2013, Eric released his first eBook: Your Guide to Becoming a Freelance Web Designer. He also has an opinion on just about every subject. You can follow his rants on Twitter @karks88.

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