In this post, we recap the best WordPress plugins that were added or updated within the last 6 months on the WordPress Plugin Directory.
1. Icons Factory
Plugin Description: The IconsFactory plugin is a fully free design editor to create, stylize and animate icons, stickers, post images and other scalable graphics. You can use this visual content anywhere on your site and beyond without special licensing.
- Really cool way to add fully customizable animated icons to your website.
- UI is very easy to understand and produces a shortcode to embed your icon.
- Built-in icon choices are limited, but you can upload your own SVGs.
- Downside: icons cannot be linked.
2. Lazy Load Optimizer
Plugin Description: Lazy loading images to speed up sites page load speed. Compatible with WooCommerce. This plugin uses lazysizes, the most popular, high performance and SEO friendly lazy loader for images.
- Offers settings to tweak the load times granularly, but the default settings work well.
- Can improve page load speed significantly if you have an image heavy site.
- Lazy Load Optimizer Online Demo
3. Automatic YouTube Gallery
Plugin Description: Create responsive, modern & dynamic video galleries by simply mapping a YouTube USERNAME, CHANNEL, PLAYLIST, SEARCH TERM or a custom list of YouTube URLs.
- Simple way to add a dynamically updating YouTube Channel gallery to your website.
- You’ll need to create a YouTube API key to connect WordPress, but it’s a pretty simple process that the plugin’s instructions will step you through.
- Gallery is embedded with a shortcode with lots of options – all you need is your YouTube Channel ID (hint: try the iThemes YouTube channel: UCYSDQEcxAppePTn5E7iNpFg)
- Shortcode creation button available for classic editor, or use the very cool Gutenberg block.
- Pro version available with additional features: Automatic YouTube Gallery Pro.
4. Controlled Admin Access
Plugin Description: Give a temporary limited admin access to themes designers, plugins developers and support agents. The plugin is simple and clean, it helps the administrator to create a user with a temporary access and choose which pages in your admin area which you don’t want the user to access.
- If you’ve ever created an admin login for plugin or theme support and then forget to delete the account later, this plugin is for you.
- Create admin users with limited access and see all the controlled users you’ve created at a glance.
- Turn off areas of the admin you don’t want the new user to access and automatically disable the account after 1 or 3 days, or not at all.
- The iThemes Security Pro plugin has similar functionality with the Temporary Privilege Escalation feature.
5. Enable Media Replace
Plugin Description: A free, lightweight and easy to use plugin that allows you to seamlessly replace an image or file in your Media Library by uploading a new file in its place. No more deleting, renaming and re-uploading files!
- This plugin was originally featured in 2017 and made the Best Of list. It’s still one that’s in my base theme and plugin stack.
- Allows a media file to be replaced with a new one directly from the media library without changing anything else.
- Works with all media in the library, including images, PDFs, video and audio.
6. WP SmartCrop
Plugin Description: WP SmartCrop allows you to set the ‘focal point’ of any image, right from the media library, then crops your images to match your css rules (no more squished aspect ratios), keeping that focal point, not only in view, but as near as possible to a ‘rule of thirds’ position in the image. The results are powerful, composed photos at any screen size, with any constraints.
- Perhaps the best tool for solving the image cropping dilemma I’ve seen to date.
- Simply set the focal point and the plugin handles the rest.
- Regenerates custom image sizes so that the focal point is visible no matter the size or aspect of the image.
- Additional options and some CSS tricks are available in the demos here.
Plugin Description: Stencil is the fastest way to create incredible visuals and increase your engagement on social media, blog posts, emails and presentations. Create images faster and easier than you ever imagined.
- Brings the power of the Stencil image editor into WordPress seamlessly.
- Access to an enormous library of Creative Commons Zero images that are free to use with no attribution.
- Add text, quotes, image filters, etc. all within an intuitive interface.
- Requires a Stencil account to use. There’s currently a $49 lifetime AppSumo deal for Stencil right now.
8. Force Refresh
Plugin Description: Force Refresh is the best plugin for requesting browsers to refresh their page. Perfect for single-page applications or pages that bring in feeds, this simple plugin will allow you to force a page refresh for users currently visiting any page of your site.
- Allows you to force a refresh on browsers viewing your whole site or a single page.
- Helpful if you just made a content update that needs to be seen by everyone currently viewing your website (or maybe people who have an older version of a page open in a long-forgotten browser tab).
- Refresh from Tools > Force Refresh, add a refresh link to your admin menu, or refresh individual pages from a metabox on those pages.
- Refreshes take about 20-30 second to activate for website users.
Plugin Description: Let’s say you’ve just logged in and you’re on the dashboard. You want to get to a child page of your about page called “mission”, but you can’t remember if it’s on page 2 or 5. With Jarvis it’s simple. Open Jarvis and start typing “mission” and your page will show up immediately.
- One of the most effective WordPress Admin assistants I’ve seen.
- Activate with a “/” and type what you’re looking for to see a list of matches appear.
- Might just make you feel like Tony Stark while you’re working on your site.
10. Radio Buttons for Taxonomies Our Favorite Simple But Useful Plugin
Plugin Description: Replace the default taxonomy boxes with a custom metabox that uses radio buttons… effectively limiting each post to a single term in that taxonomy.
- Generally, it’s a best SEO practice to have each post in a single category.
- This plugin turns the checkboxes on a hierarchical taxonomy like categories into radio buttons so that only one can be selected.
- Set which taxonomies are affected at Settings > Radio Buttons for Taxonomies
11. Recipe Card Blocks by WPZOOM Our Favorite Gutenberg Block Plugin
Plugin Description: Inspired by our popular food blog theme Foodica, Recipe Card Blocks by WPZOOM is our newest plugin that adds beautiful blocks to the new Gutenberg editor to help you create recipe cards easily in your posts.
- Everything you need for a recipe blog including appropriate schema.
- Great example of how Gutenberg blocks will change how people work with content.
- This can replace the need for a custom post type and content template.
12. Shortcode Variables
Plugin Description: Do you want to use the same snippet of text or HTML throughout your site but only have to change the value in one location? If so, this plugin maybe just what you need.
- A powerful way to create shortcodes for repeated snippets sitewide without having to get your hands dirty with PHP.
- Use the integrated classic editor to create snippets visually or in code.
- Support shortcode parameters (see plugin description for details).
- Premiun version with more features and premade shortcodes available for £5 per year per site.
13. Search Engine Insights for Google Search Console
Plugin Description: Search Engine Insights adds your website to Google Search Console and helps you verify site ownership. Search Engine Insights will help you understand your site’s search engine traffic and performance, by displaying key stats in a widget, on your WordPress dashboard.
- Created by Alin Marcu, the original developer of Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress (GADWP), my favorite GA add on for the dashboard.
- Adds a wealth of insights to your WordPress dashboard about traffic performance and search terms used to access your content.