Oh no, not another top ten plugins article!
Before you close this tab and remove WPMayor from your bookmarks, let me state the following – this is not another one of those articles.
Instead of writing a regular top ten piece, I decided to focus on plugins that you probably don’t know about. Despite being relatively unknown, each of these tools still managed to surprise me with both their usefulness and polish. If you work with WordPress on a daily basis, then do yourself a favor and set aside a few minutes to go through this list – I promise you’ll find something worth your time.
So, without further ado, here’s a list of my ten favorite – and little-known – WordPress plugins for 2017. For ease of reading, I divided them into four categories – security, optimization, content management, and developer-related plugins. Let’s start with security.
1. WP-SpamShield (Spam Control)
I always hated adding reCAPTCHA to my sites. I spent so much time promoting my pages and optimizing for conversions, only to frustrate my visitors with annoying CAPTCHAs and have them jump ship before converting. However, what other choice do you have if you want to filter spam?
WP-SpamShield is the answer I was looking for. With over 700 five-star reviews, I foresee this plugin will show incredible growth in the near future.
2. WPS Hide Login (Secure Login)
This is a very simple plugin that does only one thing, but it does it well.
No WordPress website is 100% immune to attacks from bots and hackers. Out of these attacks, brute-forcing attempts on your login page are the most common, and the obvious solution is to change the URL for said page. WPS Hide Login enables you to do just that – you get the option of setting any URL you want for your login page, and it completely disables the default address.
There are other great security plugins that include the same functionality, like iThemes Security or Wordfence. However, those are big plugins packing dozens upon dozens of features. Sometimes, you don’t want to install a large and resource-consuming tool – you just need a simple solution, and that is exactly what WPS Hide Login is.
3. Activity Log (Security Logs)
Even though this plugin is meant to be used to log general WordPress activity, it can also help you improve your site’s security by monitoring and identifying unwanted user actions (like unauthorized login attempts).
Basically, the plugin enables you to track almost any type of activity on your site. This is handy to see if someone is trying to hack you, but it’s also a great way to gain insight into the behavior of your users and teammates. If, for example, you run a multi-author blog, you can instruct the plugin to notify you whenever someone publishes a new post.
When I first installed this plugin, I was sure I wouldn’t see any activity since I set it up on a personal site with no other users. Then, lo and behold, not a day went by before I started seeing random login attempts. If that sounds scary to you, then you might want to give WPS Hide Login a chance.
Content Management Plugins
1. Popup Maker (Popup Management)
In the last few years, I’ve witnessed an explosion in the number of complex popup plugins. Most of the time, these promised to deliver advanced modals that can open under various complicated sets of circumstances. Frankly, I never liked this approach. Most of the time, I just need a simpler, faster, and more efficient solution (which, you may have noticed, is a recurring theme in this article).
Fortunately for me, simple and efficient is exactly how I’d describe Popup Maker. It lets you create simple modals that pop up when the visitor clicks on a button or after a time delay – pretty straightforward stuff. The plugin is very intuitive, and it enables you to add any type of content to your popups.
2. Elementor Page Builder (Page Building)
Sometimes a free WordPress plugin surprises you with more features than you expected. Elementor did just that for me – it comes with a wide array of options to help you design your WordPress website, including some advanced functionality that wouldn’t be out of place in premium page building plugins.
Elementor is a front end page builder that enables you to create page layouts, sections, columns, and widgets. The plugin includes 30 pre-designed templates that can be set up with a single click and customized at your leisure.
Furthermore, this page builder is extremely developer-friendly, and thanks to its public API, anyone can extend the plugin’s capabilities to suit their needs. Finally. Elementor’s interface is very easy to use, and the whole plugin feels fast and intuitive.
3. Featured Image Admin Thumb (Featured Image Management)
Content-heavy websites are hard to manage, and sifting through endless pages trying to locate a single post is as close to finding a needle in a haystack as it gets.
The Featured Image Admin Thumb plugin really helped me in that regard by adding post and page thumbnails to my WordPress dashboard. Since I always invest time in creating a unique featured image for each post, it’s been much easier for me to locate specific pieces within my library of content.
As if that wasn’t enough, the plugin also enables you to change featured images – or add them to posts that don’t already have one – right from your dashboard.
1. Autoptimize (Caching)
I used to hate every caching plugin. I won’t name names, but I found most of them to be unintuitive, incompatible with other plugins, and impossible to deactivate without leaving a ton of code behind. When WP-Rocket came out, I rejoiced, because it was the first easy-to-use caching plugin that really worked. Autoptimize is not as useful as WP-Rocket (yet), but it’s definitely the best free alternative these days.
The best part is, it will take you almost no time to learn the ropes of this plugin. After installing it, you only have to deal with a single screen to optimize both your scripts and styles. Furthermore, the plugin enables you to specify header expiration parameters, as well as move scripts to your footer.
2. Optimize Images Resizing (Storage Optimization)
Every time you upload an image to the WordPress media library the platform automatically creates several variations of it, using multiple sizes. With some premium themes, you might even get up to 15 different image sizes per upload. It goes without saying that this is an extreme waste of resources.
This collection of (mostly) unused images bloats up your site for no good reason. However, Optimize Images Resizing offers an excellent solution to this problem. Using this plugin, images will only be resized when they need to be, as opposed to when they’re uploaded. In case you were wondering, the plugin also works retroactively, so it will remove all your previously generated variations upon installation (as long as they’re not in use, vitally). This will help you free up hosting space and it doesn’t have any adverse effect on your site’s performance.
Finally, Optimize Images Resizing is super easy to use – you only need to click a single button to start scanning and optimizing your images after installing it!
1. Loco Translate (Translation)
Nowadays, there are approximately 309 million WordPress sites around and, according to my calculations, 48.2% of them (roughly 150 million) are not in English. If you’re a WordPress developer and you fall into the latter category, you can use Loco Translate to translate your plugins and themes from one language to another, all without leaving the WordPress dashboard.
That means you don’t need to resort to using third-party software, like Poedit. All translations take place within the themes or plugins themselves, and you can export your work as MO and PO files. Overall, this plugin is a great fit for developers that want to offer a custom WordPress experience to their non-English speaking clients.
2. User Switching (User Management)
When you create an advanced website, there are lots of things that need to be tested. If it’s a membership website, for example, you want to make sure each user only sees the content they are allowed to.
The User Switching plugin lets you quickly jump between different WordPress user accounts, which enables you to streamline your testing process. Presuming you have full access to your website, you can switch between any types of accounts you want. Furthermore, the plugin is also compatible with other platforms, such as BuddyPress and bbPress.
I hope you found this list to be helpful and unique and, more importantly, that it succeeded in introducing you to some outstanding plugins you may not have heard about before.
For this article, I chose to focus on the four topics that matter the most to me, so that I could find plugins I feel passionate about. Before wrapping up, here are my picks again, in no particular order:
- Security plugins: WP-SPamShield, WPS Hide Login, and Activity Log.
- Content management plugins: Popup Maker, Elementor Page Builder, and Featured Image Admin Thumb.
- Optimization plugins: Autoptimize and Optimize Images Resizing.
- Developer plugins: Loco Translate and User Switching.
If you know of any other useful (and little-known) plugins that fall into these (or other) categories, please tell us about them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.