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WordPress Plugins for Add-ons, Tools & Extras

Posted by Mr WordPress on 24 08 2015. in WordPress

WordPress Plugins for Add-ons, Tools & Extras

There are loads of WordPress plugins out there that do almost anything you will need for your website. But sometimes there are too many to choose from and the temptation to install lots of WordPress plugins can significantly slow down your website and even compromise your website security. We help find the ones you need and you can safely ignore the rest.


Let’s Sell Some Advertising Placements

Monetise your website… AdRotate is a premium WordPress plugin with a fully functional but cut down free version. I have used this plugin in tons of websites and it is pretty solid, easy to configure and works well. You can set adverts to display as single ads, dynamic ads (like a slideshow), or a group of ads showing multiple ads in a block  – like a 4×4 grid of 150×150 pixel size ads in a sidebar. You can display your ad groups in widgets, shortcodes, or placing them directly in the theme PHP files to further customise placement. The simple widget option works great and with many themes being widget-focused


Learn To Love Shortcodes

If you do fancy yourself as a bit of a geek and want to tinker under the hood of the theme, but would rather not get your hands too dirty – just a little CSS tweaking, adding an ad widget or menu somewhere it wasn’t before, then you should learn to love themes and plugins that utilise shortcodes.

Shortcodes are great, as nice as a visual composer is, shortcodes are a super simple and robust solution to displaying content blocks and even whole pages of content exactly where you want it.


I Want to Use Different Languages

Not everyone in the world speaks the same language, and despite the proliferation of English throughout the internet, there is a real need for localisation. Multi-lingual websites are some of the most common requests from clients and prospective clients – particularly working in Southeast Asia and the difficulties of languages with are only just finding support by the major platforms.

In my eyes, there is only one option for a plugin – WPML – which stands for WordPress Multi Language, it does what it says on the tin. Read our guide to setting up Khmer language in the WPML WordPress plugin.

Translation in WordPress is managed by .po files so that themes and plugins can include their own translations for their interfaces, which are loaded centrally along with all the custom content translations before being rendered for the viewer. It works pretty well and there are no major issues beyond the usual lack of inter-relationship between individual plugins and themes – since some will include translations, some will have support for translation, and some won’t have factored it in at all. Often you will find snippets of English text in odd places when viewing a website in another language, unless the author is careful in translating each and every string, it can be fiddly, but it works robustly.

I’ve tried out qTranslate, and used to use it on websites when the Cambodian language, Khmer, could be hacked into this particular plugin but not others. Since WPML now supports all the languages I need, it’s my first choice and does the job well.

I will make one huge recommendation regarding multi lingual websites and translation though, and that is to only do things in another language if your company has ready access to an individual that natively speaks that language – you will need to ask for random words to be translated or checked and it is not something that is easily done as a one-off through a translation agency, particularly for less common languages). If your company doesn’t have anyone on the payroll that speaks the language that is written on your website – then who on earth are speakers of that language going to talk to when they phone you up with interest in your products or services? My point being, it is not usually wise to put a language on your website that you don’t speak, I think that’s fairly logical myself.


Show Different Widgets Per Page

You can control your widgets using the Widget Logic and Visual Widget Logic plugins in the free WordPress plugin repository, just search for them through the admin Dashboard to install. The first one mentioned, Widget Logic, requires a bit of a programmer’s experience to understand, so is not for everyone – it uses WordPress conditional tags and PHP code to control each individual widget.

The visual composer option is much more user friendly, and recommended to try first, I have found it often doesn’t work for everything though and the no-frills Widget Logic plugin has the flexibility needed when custom taxonomy and content types come into play. One great feature of the Visual Widget Logic plugin is that it allows you to show or hide a widget based on post content length – this is quite an improvement since it has always been a trick to balance widgets for both long scrolling pages with no ability to utilise the sidebar space vs short pages with long extended sidebars.


Customisation – Simple Custom CMS

You have to know a bit of CSS for this to be any use to you, but it’s a great little plugin for overriding themes with your own styles, and keeping this separate from the theme files without needing to create child themes and dig around the directory structure – which frankly is either too complex or time consuming to be worthwhile unless you are building a completely bespoke website. The plugin simply adds a new page in the Appearance admin menu for you to enter your CSS styles, combine this with Firebug to inspect the elements on the frontend and you can quickly and easily tweak your site to your liking – or find a CSS wizard to help you.

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