10 great WordPress plugins for designers

WordPress is both the world's most popular blogging platform and the widest used CMS. 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 WordPress 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 some 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. WPPARSE Lazy Load

Load images quickly and save server bandwidth

Load images quickly and save server bandwidth

Lazy loading means that you only download things when you need them. This saves server bandwidth and means your users start seeing content as quickly as possible. This plugin enables you to implement the technique on your WordPress site. 

02. Akismet

Spam-proof your comments section

Spam-proof your comments section

If you have comments enabled and you don't take action against spam, it won't be long before you're overrun. The Akismet plugin helps you out by comparing each comment against its database and removing the ones that look like spam. You can review what's been done and reinstate genuine comments if you need to. 

03. Google Analyticator

WordPress plugins

Enable Google Analytics on your WordPress dashboard with the Google Analyticor plugin

If you want your WordPress blog to become more popular, you need to start thinking about promotion. If you know the keywords that visitors are using you can use those in your post. The Google Analyticator plugin adds the JavaScript code necessary to enable Google Analytics on your WordPress dashboard. After you enable this plugin, go to the settings page, input your Google Analytics UID, then authenticate your Google Analytics account with Google Analyticator.

Integrate Instagram into your website with this WordPress plugin

Integrate Instagram into your website with this WordPress plugin

As social media has exploded, the need to integrate feeds into your website has increased. This is a great example of a really simple integration of the Instagram service. Decide whether to import images from a specific user, or based on particular hashtag, and the plugin will do the rest.

You can choose whether to display a grid of thumbnails or a slideshow of images, and there are options to customise the background, colour themes, borders and slideshow pacing. But it's the relative lack of configuration options that gives this plugin its appeal.

05. The Events Calendar

Quickly add events to your calendar with the Events Calendar plugin

Quickly add events to your calendar with the Events Calendar plugin

There are loads of different event plugins available for WordPress, but one of the best (and most popular) is The Events Calendar. This module extends the WordPress post types with a new Event class, allowing you to quickly create events and adding functionality such as the ability to render a list, calendar view, search events and integrate maps. If you're running a club or society, or designing a WordPress-powered website for a client that regularly runs events, this plugin will save you a huge amount of time.

06. Pricing Table Builder

Pricing Table Builder 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.

07. 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 plugin supports multiple or single tracks as well as 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.

08. WPTouch

best WordPress plugins

Serve a different WP theme to users of different mobile devices

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.

09. JetPack

Blogging plugin JetPack's features are wide and varied

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.

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

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 to display your images. You can choose from free and pro versions of the plugin.

This is an updated and extended version of an article that was previously published on Creative Bloq. Keep adding your suggestions in the comments below!

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