Web designFeature

11 great WordPress plugins for designers

We present 11 great WordPress plugins, for adding filtering, pricing tables and more to your site.

WordPress is both the world’s most popular blogging platform and the widest used Content Management System (CMS). And one of the reasons it's so popular is that it happily supports templating and plugins, making it highly flexible and customisable to suit different website needs.

This flexibility, alongside the platform’s huge popularity, means there are thousands of free plugins available on the web.

That's the good news. The bad news is that sorting the wheat from the chaff can be a real challenge. So below we’ve chosen 10 of the best WordPress plugins to add functionality to your website - and as the icing on the cake, are all available free of charge!

01. WebKite

WebKite makes it easy to add filters and sorts to your content - the same kind of filtering functionality as seen on Yelp, Kayak, and Amazon.com. The free WordPress plugin allows you to embed that content on your WordPress site. There's a great example of an interactive restaurant menu built using WebKite here.

02. Manual Image Crop

best WordPress plugins
This WordPress plugin makes the whole cropping process really intuitive and simple

This great WordPress plugin allows you to manually crop all the image sizes registered in your WordPress theme. Clicking on the Crop link next to any image in your media library brings up the lightbox style interface, and you're ready to go.

03. Easy Pricing Tables

Easy Pricing Tables for WordPress makes it easy to create and publish beautiful pricing tables on your WordPress site. This plugin works with any WordPress theme you have installed. After installing the plugin and creating your first pricing table, you can publish your table anywhere on your site using a shortcode.

04. SlideDeck

best WordPress plugins
SlideDeck 2 Lite is a quick and easy way to create slideshows

SlideDeck enables you to create customised slideshows that are displayed in a content slider on your WordPress site. Each slide can be filled with text, images, video, social media stream feeds and syndicated content.

Content supported includes Twitter feeds, YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr and more. The slides are presented through a template system, referred to by SlideDeck as a “lens”, which can be configured to match your site design. The premium version of the plugin adds more lenses, but the free version does allow you to develop your own.

05. HTML5 jQuery Audio Player

best WordPress plugins
Create a customised audio player that sits within your WordPress site

A brilliant WordPress plugin for creating a customised audio player that sits within your site, this supports multiple or single tracks, complete with playlists and is inserted into your standard content with the familiar shortcode system.

Based on HTML5, it works across all modern browsers. The Lite version is free, and there's also a pro version with extra features.

06. WPTouch

best WordPress plugins
Serve a different WordPress theme to users of different mobile devices with this handy plugin

If you're looking for a mobile skin solution, WPTouch is one of the best WordPress plugins for your needs.

It allows you to serve a different theme to users on mobile device such as an iPhone or Android phone, providing a user-friendly and small-screen-optimised version of your content instead of forcing mobile users to navigate a desktop-orientated design.

Installation is very simple, and the plugin can be configured to match your overall design aesthetic relatively easily. This is a great quick-fix solution if you don’t want to get into designing your own mobile theme.

07. JetPack

Blogging plugin JetPack's features are wide and varied

JetPack brings some of the functionality of WordPress hosted blogs to self-hosted WordPress installations.

The features are wide and varied and include cloud-hosted stats for your site, email subscription to your site, a built-in URL shortener service, social-network-based commenting, inline spelling and grammar checking and an enhanced gallery system.

08. NextGen Gallery

Create image galleries for your WordPress site with the NextGen Gallery plugin

NextGen Gallery is one of the most feature-rich WordPress plugins for creating image galleries, and that alone makes it our personal favourite.

This plugin offers a great deal of flexibility in creating gallery content, including the ability to watermark images, create slideshows, organise content into albums and use different themes for display of your images. You can choose from free and pro versions of the plugin.

09. WP e-Commerce

best WordPress plugins
Use WP e-commerce to start earning money from your WordPress site

WP e-Commerce turns your WordPress website into a fully featured ecommerce store, complete with built-in connection to (and integration with) many major Payment Service Providers (PSPs).

The system enables you to upload products into different categories and offers customers a shopping cart system to allow them to build an order. It handles calculation of shipping, payment capture and all the email confirmations associated with buying and selling on the web.

The plugin is free, and while you can buy additional upgrades to the system, it’s open source just like WordPress - so it’s perfectly possible to extend the cart’s functionality yourself. It's for these reasons that many champion it as the best WordPress plugin for ecommerce.

10. BuddyPress

best WordPress plugins
BuddyPress: the best WordPress plugin for social features?

BuddyPress is a social media platform in a box. Building on top of the WordPress system, it allows you to register, maintain a list of friends, @message other users, create groups of common interests and host your own forums.

BuddyPress itself is also extensible, allowing you to further extend functionality to include document upload, integration with other social media streams, create membership-only websites and much more.

If you’re looking for a user-led or project-based system that encourages collaboration and interaction between visitors to your site, BuddyPress is an ideal solution and one of, if not the, best WordPress plugins for social networking.

11. Vimeography

Best WordPress plugins
If you upload to Vimeo and have a WordPress site, Vimeography is a must-have download

If you’re a film-maker or someone who handles video on a regular basis, you’ll know it can be tricky to display your film content beautifully without resorting to manual hacks around embedding content. Vimeo users can take advantage of the Vimeography WordPress plugin to create and display fantastic-looking galleries of video content - all orientated around displaying nicely within your WordPress site. Multiple galleries of content can be created, and are inserted into posts or pages using the standard WordPress shortcode system.

Vimeography is arguably the best WordPress plugin for video, although note that only supports content from Vimeo. And that's not likely to change soon because the developer believes Vimeo is the best platform to displaying portfolio-quality content (ie without advertising or unnecessary platform branding).

Words: Sam Hampton-Smith

This is an updated and extended version of an article that was previously published on Creative Bloq.

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