Podcast Episode

478 – Should These Plugins Be in Core WordPress?

In today’s episode we look at some plugins that actually would be nice if they were part of WordPress core, because they give some extra value to the way the CMS works.

Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today's episode, we are going to talk all about plugins. We're going to have a whole list of plugins that may make your WordPress site just a little bit better right here on Your Website Engineer podcast, episode number 478. Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler and like always, I'm excited to be here with you today because we're going to be talking about somebody or everybody in WordPress, their favorite thing about WordPress, or it might not be everyone's favorite thing, but the majority of people, when you ask, what's your favorite thing about WordPress, is the plugins.

People are always excited about the WordPress plugins and adding them to their site, and so today we're going to go ahead and talk about them because there's too many plugins to actually think about or even talk about on the WordPress repository. I'm pulling up a list right now just to see how many plugins are actually there. It shows that there are 55,562 plugins and I try to highlight one every week and that that's been going on for probably the last 400 episodes or so. And so I've done 400 of the 55,000 free plugins in the WordPress repository. And so today I just want to spend a little bit of time just talking about how we can add these plugins.

There's a whole list of them we'll talk about. And if we add these, it's going to add just a little bit more extra functionality to our WordPress site. And almost some of them feel like they should have just been built in and they should just be there already. But that's not the case and it's something that we should add if we need this functionality in our website. So that's kind of what I want to talk about today and it's just a big list of plugins. You can find everything in the show notes for episode number 478 if you're interested in finding links directly to the plugins. And all of these are found on the WordPress repository. So you can just search from there if you need them or want to install them.

So let's go ahead and dive right into the list here. The first one is, I wish there would be a way to solve this in a better way. I guess that's the way to say it, but in WordPress and WooCommerce support every day, there's people that come and say that my website is not sending email messages. And this is mainly a server related issue. It's because the server has not enabled the ability to send email messages and non-shared hosting. This a lot of the time doesn't happen. And so if you don't have emails or emails can't be sent through your hosting provider, then your contact forms, you're not going to receive those. If you're getting new emails, those aren't going to come out. Any kind of communication from your website that WordPress is trying to send out is not going to go out on your behalf.

So there is a plugin called Easy WP SMTP and that's the first plugin on the list today and it basically will allow you to send all of your outgoing emails from an SMTP server. So this prevents your emails from going into the junk and spam folders of recipients and it prevents it from not actually sending. And so this is a free plugin and basically what you can do is you can use some sort of SMTP server to send these out and the easiest one is using a Gmail SMTP server. So if you have a Gmail account, you can go and use that server to send out the messages for your site. So it's pretty simple to set up. But that is the first one. I wish there was a way that we could tackle that inside of WordPress that doesn't rely on a host, but I don't know the best way to do it other than installing a plugin like Easy WP SMTP.

Another one that just really kind of feels like it fits into WordPress is one called User Role Editor. And I've talked about this one in the past, but it is a very popular plugin but allows you to create new accounts on your website and it allows you to create them in a very customized fashion. So by default, WordPress comes with an admin who has rights to do everything. There are, let's see, subscribers, they're the lowest level. They only have access to see, they can subscribe, but they don't have a lot of access. There's contributor, there's author, there's a handful of them that are built in. But then other plugins add additional roles as well. So there's like a shop manager or a customer. Those are two that are built in by WooCommerce.

And sometimes you need the ability to add or change or give somebody permission to do things but not all permission on your website. And so the best way to do this is to use a plugin like User Role Editor. And you can go in and you can give specific privileges for whatever you're looking for. So maybe you need somebody that you're going to manage the shop. Maybe there's some somebody that works for you that is going to manage the new orders and ship them out and whatnot. Well we want to make sure that they don't have any access they don't need, so we can go in into the shop version and we can go into, we can see all of the permissions that the shop user role has. And if there's something that you don't like, you can duplicate them and then you can make the modifications and the adjustments and then assign that user to that new user role.

And so for an example, I created one called affiliates for my wife's website. And so that basically has the same roles as a customer, but it's called affiliate. So then I can use an affiliate plug in to make sure that all of those people that are marked as affiliate actually get the coupon code and can be used as an affiliate. So that's one example that you can do that. So it makes it super handy to continue to create new roles and can make modifications. And this is the only way I know how to do it inside the WordPress dashboard. Otherwise you have to add some custom code to add a new role, a different role inside of WordPress. So that is the second one.

And the third one is a plugin called Ultimate Add-ons for Gutenberg. There's some other ones that are out there, but basically these are some Gutenberg type plugins. There's one called Guten Block, that's the newest one that's out there on the block, if you will. And it basically is a plugin that adds more blocks to your WordPress site. So blocks are on posts and pages when you go and you can add like a heading block or block quote block or image block. These ones with the ultimate addons for Gutenberg or Guten Block, they add new things. And so maybe they have a call to action block or they have a post carousel block or a price list block. These plugins give these types of features. And we're not going to be able to add this to WordPress core to have all of these different blocks because it's overkill for a lot of sites. So if you're interested in adding some of these, then I recommend checking out those two plugins, Guten Block and Gutenberg Blocks.

Okay. There is one if you have a huge site for, and it has tons of different media. If you had to organize that a little bit, whether maybe you put all the PDFs that are uploaded into one place, or maybe you put them show note images in another place, maybe you just want to kind of organize that media library. There's something called File Bird and this is a plugin that will allow you to do just that. You can upload these media images or PDFs or whatever directly to your media library like you normally do, but then the plugin File Bird is the one that allows you to create folders. You can rename folders, and then you can move things in and out of folders.

And so if you wanted to make it much easier to kind of organize and find where things are, this plugin will let you do that. It doesn't affect the location paths so you can move files all around and the URL will stay exactly the same. So that's really nice. So if you have a post from the past but you want to update your, you don't want to work on your media library and file things into different folders and whatnot, it's not going to break other posts or pages that are already using the images in those posts or pages. So that is really cool. So that is, I don't know, number three or four.

The next one that's on my list is Edit Flow. And this is a plugin that if your content management strategy involves coordinating multiple content authors or collaborations, maybe it's like a magazine website or you've just got a lot of articles that are going around, there is a plugin called Edit Flow and it adds a new column to your all post page and then you can see the different quote unquote statuses that these are in. So maybe they are in pitch status when they're trying to make this a new article or maybe they've been assigned to somebody or they're in progress. So you can collaborate with an editorial team and create content in WordPress and you can see at a quick glance from your all post page what's been assigned and what's been worked on and whatnot; And so that is the plugin called Edit Flow.

I've got another plugin called Easy Table Contents. And this is, or Easy Table Of Contents, excuse me. And this allows you to automatically insert a table of contents into a different post type. So you can do this in posts or pages or blocks or whatnot and it basically will allow you to, kind of makes it like an outline if you will. If you have really long articles where it's some sort of reference site, this easy table of contents plugin will do a very good job and it lays things out and it just makes it easier to navigate from the post. You basically create the H1 H2 H3 tags, etc. And then the plugin itself will create links to those different items. And so you click on one of the items and it's going to scroll you down the page to the exact same place or to the right place. And so that's Easy Table Of Contents.

There's another plug in here on my list that's called Pods and it is a plugin for custom content types and fields. And so the cool part is about this is it's used for maybe like a section of your site that's about the team or something that has, you need specific information for the different posts, but you want it formatted exactly the same way. This plugin allows you to create pods for custom post types or taxonomies or settings, and you can grab all this information that you need and then display it perfectly on a post or a page; and so there's one called Pods. I think this one works really, really well. It goes beyond posts and pages. You can put content in different places. And then there's one called custom fields and this is allowing you to add custom fields to a post or page. It just makes it easier for people to pop in information.

A great example is the 'about the team' page. If you wanted to have each individual person on your team, if you wanted to have specific information about them, then this is when you would use advanced custom fields. And with advanced custom fields, you can go in and you can add, like, email address, or phone number, or social profiles, and things like that. And then whoever is filling out the form, whoever is building out that page, all they have to do is paste in the information for their email address, their phone number, their ... whatever. Their location, where they work ... you know, put all that information into custom fields, and then those will display on the website exactly the same way for every single person. That's one of the things I love custom fields for, and I use them quite often.

Another plugin that may be or may not be put into WordPress, or ... A very helpful plugin is called a YARPP. It is a Yet Another Related Post Plugin, is what it's called. It basically helps to boost user engagement, and expand the functionality of the WordPress site by automatically displaying related pages, posts, and custom post types to users. It will introduce your readers to other relevant content across your site. You can configure this and set it up to include or exclude related content by category. You can set parameters in the relatedness algorithm for relevancy and whatnot. So, it works fine in Multisite, and it only fetches results from within that site, and it does not display a post from sites across your network as well.

It is a good plugin, and it's just a one that's ... There are some settings to it. But if you just turn it on, you're going to start keeping people on your site longer, because it'll show related posts right underneath your regular posts.

There is a plugin called Post Table with Search and Sort. It's a free plugin from the team over at Barn2. It automatically organizes your posts into sortable and filterable tables, making it easier for your audience to find what they need. This could be one if you've got a site with just hundreds and hundreds of posts ... you could list them all in a post, and you could use the search, which will ... Basically, think of an Excel table, where it's got the title of the post on the left, and then it's got a preview of the content, the date that it was published, the author, the categories. It's got all of this in a big table. You can show up to ... all the items in your library, or just the top 10, or the most recent 10, or whatnot.

But then there's a short field where you can type in texts, and it'll sort, and it'll show you. It's kind of like your search page, or listing out all your posts in reverse chronological order. So, the newest one’s at top. It's like that, but it's all in a table view. So, if you needed something along those lines. And this is filterable, so you can sort, and you can rearrange them, you can switch the order from the newest post at the top to the oldest post to the top, or whatever. That is the plugin Post Table with Search and Sort.

If you ever need translations, TranslatePress is a good one. This one allows you to translate multilingual site. There's one called Loco Translate as well, and that's a good one, too. That will allow you to translate certain strings within your website. The great thing about these translation plugins ... and the reason that they're not put into WordPress is because most people don't have to translate. Most of the plugins, if you choose a different language, it's going to pull in WooCommerce, or it's going to pull in WordPress core, and that WordPress core is going to have the right language for you. But for these extra plugins that you install that maybe don't have the translated files and created yet for all the languages. These translate plugins work perfectly for that.

And another thing about using a translation plugin is it also allows you to change texts in English from one language to ... or from one word to another. If you wanted to say ... instead of saying "add to cart," if you wanted to say "add to basket," and you couldn't figure it out how to do that inside of the plugin that you're using, you can use a translation plugin, and you can translate those strings into whatever you want. That makes it a little easier than trying to grab some code and trying to figure out how to do it. You can just translate the text, even if it's from English to English.

The Broken Link Checker, I think, should be in WordPress itself. But it is a plugin that you have to add. I've got those running on all my sites, and it basically just ... once a week or so, I go in and see whatever's come up. I think I get an email once a week that says that it's found different broken links on your website, engineer.com. Then I just go in and I ... and most of them are links from people linking to their website in the comment section. Those are where most of them break. But I've also had it when I've recommended plugins before. Now, the plugins are no longer on the WordPress repository, so I have to go in and fix those broken links.

It makes it really easy. You can go in, and you can even edit the link from within the dashboard, or you can just say 'unlink,' and then that way the text is just regular texts on your website, and it doesn't have a link.

There's a plugin called Better Search and Replace, and this is a good one if you have to replace a lot of texts across your site. Maybe you misspelled a word, or there's different contacts. I think I used to use this in the past before I could use a reusable block to say how many plugins are in the WordPress repository. Back when I started, it was probably back at 20,000 or 15,000. And then as the number kept getting bigger, I would just do a Better Search and Replace. Then I would change that number for 15,000, to 20,000, to 25,000, to 30,000.

But now that I have a reusable block, I can go in and I can just make an adjustment to the reusable block. And then that text is changed everywhere on the website. You may find the need for a better search and replace tool, and that is the plugin that I recommend.

And then the last one ... and this one, it doesn't have to necessarily be on every website. This one is a very good one when you're just getting started. But it's called FakerPress, and I've talked about this one before too. It adds a dummy content to your site so you can test things. It'll allow you to add posts, or custom post types, or metadata, feature images, users, tags, categorize comments using different settings, options, and filters. You basically can just set a bunch of things, hit go, and then your site has tons of content on there. And then you can see what do the comments look like, and how do I need to do ... like, what kind of customization and styling do I need here? Or what are the tags look like?

It's really great for just getting a bunch of dummy content to your website. It's basically a perfect plugin for when you are setting up a new site, and you're trying to get the information in there quickly, so then you can style the different ... maybe the posts. You want to make sure that the font is the right size, and where images go, and all that kind of stuff. You can do that with the data that that is automatically generated from FakerPress.

So, that's a list. I'm sure that I could do a list of 10 or so every single week from now until the end of the year of different plugins that you might find helpful on your website. But these are ones that I found today that I think will just add some extra functionality, and almost make your WordPress experience that much better, because you just feel like there's something that should have already been installed in WordPress.

All of these are fairly small plugins, if you will. They don't take up a lot of space. And a lot of times, they don't even run most of the time. The Better Search Replace, that's just there if you need it. The broken tools, or the broken link editor ... like, that one that checks ... I go in it and use it once a week or whatever. It's not running all the time. It just runs this check every once in a while, and then notifies you when there are broken links on your website.

Those are the ones that I want to share. Next week, I've got more great WordPress stuff, and we'll talk about it then. Take care, and bye, bye.