Very few people have more affection towards WordPress than I.
It’s functionality is truly a testament to everything web development should be. Bar none.
Nothing beats WordPress when you’re designing and developing a brand new site.
Of all the built in features of WordPress, perhaps what truly makes it stand out over other CMS options is the ability to completely transform the way your site looks and behaves by taking advantage of the enormous plugin library.
As it stands today (late October 2014) the Plugin library currently consists of 34,080 plugins.
Enter the problem.
With literally tens of thousands of plugins to chose from often time’s it’s tough to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Even well rated plugins can get buried in the myriad of options, or perhaps they simply aren’t part of WordPress.org’s Plugin Directory.
Sure you’ve seen tons of posts mentioning Contact Form 7, Jetpack, and W3 Total Cache.
Let’s delve into some lesser known options that can truly transform your WordPress experience.
The Top (Secret) WordPress Plugins Of 2014
Without further ado, here are my top 5 favorite and lesser known WordPress plugins.
This list contains a mix of paid and freemium tools. The paid tools are well worth the investment, and if you’re a budget marketer the free tools will provide you with enormous value at literally no cost. Take advantage of it!
1. Kraken.io (Paid)
Kraken is an image optimizer that is truly a beast.
Despite being named after a terror-eliciting destruction-causing sea monster this lightweight plugin actually causes no harm to the quality of the images on your site while reducing the file by huge percentages.
Any SEO and / or web developer knows the importance of well optimized image sizes. Fast page speed is an important part of good SEO, and more importantly part of good user experience.
Unoptimized images are often times one of the biggest culprits for slow page speed.
I decided to upload a random head shot from my computer to show you the power of the mighty plugin.
I know what you’re thinking. “Oh Ben why did you post the exact same picture twice?”
Perfect! That’s exactly what I want you think.
The image on the right has been fully optimized by Kraken, whereas the image on the left the original version.
Don’t be shy now. Click on the before and after and compare the full sized images.
Do you notice any difference?
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes here. Let’s take a sneak peek into how Kraken integrates into the WordPress Media Library.
Pretty freakin’ sweet eh?
For those of you on mobile devices, or those who just love redundant data that’s a 59.39% savings in image size with lossy compression.
The image on the right weighs in at 397.2kb, whereas the image on the left weighs in at 978.11kb.
This accounts for a total savings of 580.92kb. That’s half a megabyte less your web browser has to attempt to load before it’s able to view the exact same content with no loss in quality.
The current average page size is 1,728kb, of which roughly 1,000 kb are made up of images.
Let’s get some perspective on this.
The average website is roughly 1,728kb or almost 2mb of data. The amount of kb that was stripped from that left image is enough to account for over 1/3rd of the page size of the average page on the internet.
Let’s not forget to mention that set up is a breeze. Simply enter your API credentials under Settings – Media and choose your compression type.
Here’s exactly where you need to enter your API credentials in the initial setup.To find your API credentials in the Kraken dashboard simply login to your account and click on “My Account” to go to the account overview, and then click on “API Credentials” on the left hand sidebar. From there on out it’s just a matter of copy and paste.
As you can see my API status says my credentials are valid even though the fields are blank. These fields were photoshopped out for obvious reasons.
So what’s this bad boy going to cost you?
There’s a Micro Plan starting at just $5 per month with a quota of 500mb worth of images.
If you’ve got some less modest optimization needs the 2gb plan is only $9 per month. For those with image heavy sites plans go all the way up to a 60gb quota.
If you’re not ready to drop your cold hard cash on this plugin quite yet. Try to web interface and optimize some images on your hard drive, you’ll truly be blown away.
I made a super rad video talking about this plugin so please have a watch. It’s my first public YouTube appearance be nice 😉
2. Bulk Comments Management (Free)
Bulk Comments Management is one of those handy tools that make you say, “darnnit why wasn’t this built into WordPress’ functionality?”
If you’re anything like me, you might’ve woken up with the dreaded influx of blog comment spam in biblical proportions.
While it might feel like the 10 plagues of Egypt have combined forces with ninja assassin warriors and unleashed the fury of Satan’s army upon your blog…. FEAR NOT.
This plugin will allow you to delete thousands of comments in the click of a button.
Let’s see how it looks.
Have 60,049 backlogged comments on a blog hit by a wave of comment spam?
Nuke EM ALL. One click. That’s all it takes.
Many bloggers would argue this is a heavy handed approach to cleaning up the problem. I would agree with them.
Odds are if your blog has grown enough to receive legitimate user comments you probably already have some sort of 3rd party commenting system, or anti-spam mechanism in place.
This plugin is for people who’ve just discovered the value of a service like Akismet, and are trying to clean up a big spammy mess.
As long as spam still ranks websites this sort of thing is sure to persist. Google will never truly win the war on the spam.
If you haven’t already expect to adopt a strict commenting policy sooner or later.
get this plugin
3. Duplicator (Free)
You’re going to find yourself in at least one of these predicaments sooner or later.
Scenario 1: Your site gets hacked.
Secenario 2: You’re going to finally feel like you’re confident with your PHP skills. You decide to edit your theme’s functions.php file, then suddenly your entire site is completely toast.
Don’t fret, it’s happened to the best of us.
Scenario 3: You just got a new web host and you want to switch your WordPress site from one host to another.
Perhaps you pondered to yourself, “Why can’t this just be as easy and copying and pasting like it was with the older pure HTML sites?”
Drum roll please…..
There is a solution that makes it just as easy!
This plugin is literally the best thing since those Popcorners chips JetBlue gives you mid-flight.
Creating your backup is a simple 1-2-3 process.
Just name your backup archive and click “Next”.
After checking your system for any compatibility issues Duplicator will create a back up and present you with an installation file to download to your hard drive.
In order to restore your site simply upload the installation file, and the archive zip to wherever you’d like to install WordPress.
Visit the install file’s web address, create a new database name, and user in MYSQL.
Enter your new database credentials and complete the set up to restore your site.
Note: There’s an alternate plugin known as Backup Buddy that has quite a few more features, however it will cost you anywhere from $80 to a few hundred dollars a year depending on which license you buy.
The main advantage BackupBuddy has over Duplicator is that it allows you to schedule and automate WordPress site backups and store it to the cloud or locally.
get this plugin
Auto TOS isn’t just something you wish you could do to salad.
It’s also a way to write a crap load of BOOOOOOORING legal mumbo jumbo that nobody really cares about, but you’ve sorta got to put it there anyway because you know laws and stuff.
Privacy Policies and Terms Of Service pages are often overlooked by many business owners.
It’s often necessary to have these pages on your site, especially when you are gathering data on your site visitors or placing tracking cookies in their web browsers.
In today’s web, most sites fit this criteria.
It’s much better to take precautions than find yourself in the midst of a legal scuffle.
You simply fill in the fields below and you’re done. Just add the shortcode to your designated legal pages and be on your way.
5. Main WP (Free and Paid Versions)
Ever wished that you could just upload all your WordPress plugins from a single dashboard instead of logging in to each site individually?
Wish no more my friend.
Main WP allows you to manage an unlimited number of sites from a central dashboard.
Main WP is installed as a plugin on your choice domain, and then the Child plugin need to be installed on each individual site you want to manage.
After both plugins are installed simply add the child site in the central dashboard and now you’ve got 100% control.
MainWP allows you to keep track of recent posts, along with plugin and theme upgrades.
MainWP has a number of extremely useful extensions both paid and free including an Uptime Monitor (free), and Sucuri Security Scanner (free).
Paid extensions include Wordfence Security ($19.99), Click Heatmaps Extensions ($19.99), Cloner ($19.99), and Client Reports ($19.99) amongst many more that deliver tremendously powerful new features to MainWP.
If you’ve got more than 5 WordPress sites that you manage, you simply can not afford not to use this plugin considering the amount of time it’ll save you in the long term.
get this plugin
6. Bonus Plugin
[sociallocker id=”366″]Congratulations! You’ve unlocked the bonus content ;).
Just for that I’d like to personally thank you for helping to spread the word about this blog.
Our #6 plugin might be very familiar to some of you who’ve visited my home page.
LayderSlider WP – (Paid)
LayerSlider is a next level slider plugin that gives you an insane degree of flexibility with no code.
As a matter of fact, that’s the plugin that powers this slider on the home page of www.benweiser.dev
Unlike many other Sliders that skimp on features. Layer Slider does not disappointment.
Need a responsive slider? Check. Want to make parallax sliders with drag and drop simplicity? Check. Want to embed YouTube videos within the slides? Check. Want to stop animating the slides if the mouse hovers over the slider? Check.
Now more fidgeting around with sliders that require an image to be an exact size, or distort your images beyond recognition. LayerSlider is a plugin that works for you, not one you have to work with.
Visit my home page and see exactly the sort of thing you can produce with LayerSlider with literally zero knowledge of code. Best of all you’ll have control over nearly every variable.
get this plugin
Stayed tuned for 5 more of best little known WordPress plugins in the next post.
Is there something I should have included in this list but missed? Comment below and let me know.