9 Useful WordPress Plugins You May Not Know About

WordPress is a truly revolutionary platform for web developers. With the help of over 20,000 free plugins, designing aesthetically pleasing and user friendly websites is easier than ever before. But with so many options out there, some will inevitably fly under the radar. Most of us are familiar with the basics and must-haves, but are there are plenty of lesser-known tools that can make the design process easier, and give your site some cool and unique features.

Here’s out list of 9 WordPress plugins that we think deserve more attention.

Manual Image Crop

It’s an incredibly simple concept: make your life easier by editing images right inside of the WordPress platform. This incredibly simple, yet power plugin allows to do just that. Crop any image in your media library with inside a straightforward lightbox style interface.

With the right tools, you can streamline your workflow and improve your efficiency. This plugin is just one small way to make your work easier.

Instagram Image Gallery

Instagram Image Gallery is a plugin that makes it easy to connect the world’s most used photo sharing app with your website. Its sleek and straightforward design allows you to import a specific user’s images in a gallery. You can also import images based on hashtags.

Let’s face it: social media is here to stay. But many companies lack the infrastructure to make the most out of it. Utilizing a tool like Instagram Image Gallery adds some coherence between a website and its various social media outlets. This kind of integration makes it easy for visitors to explore and share content across the various social media platforms that exist today. Not to mention-it’ll make a web master’s job much easier if content from their social media accounts is easily and seamlessly cross-posted to their main website.

W3 Total Cache

It’s a simple fact: faster loading websites provide a better user experience. And let’s face it: it’s pretty easy to go overboard with all the features a WordPress site can offer, this bogging down our pages with slow loading times. This can potentially turn away visitors, who may even be hesitant to visit your site in the future because it was such a pain the last time. Introducing W3 Total Cache, a background plugin that improves your site’s load time by using caching.  It also offers users the ability to store information in a cloud-based server, thus decreasing your server load and greatly reducing load time overall.

Remember, a successful WordPress site is more than just cool features and a killer aesthetic design. It’s also about efficacy and user experience.

Easy Pricing Tables

This plugin is great for designing product websites. Pricing tables can be a bit of a pain to do manually, so Fatcat Apps developed this simple pricing table creator. It’s easy to use and surprisingly versatile, allowing you to publish your created table anywhere on your site using a shortcode.

Buddy Press

Gone are the days of forums and BBcode. These days, the best way to create a community-driven website is by creating a social network. Unfortunately, doing so used to be either very time consuming or very expensive. Luckily for us designers, there’s now a powerful solution in the form of this WordPress plugin. Buddy Press is perhaps the easiest and most effective plugin for creating a stellar social network within a WordPress framework. What’s more, the system is completely free to use and fully expandable.

Buddy Press lets visitors to your site set up a profile, add contacts and friends, send messages, start groups and forum topics, and there’s even support for uploading pictures and other media. Simply put, it’s “social networking, in a box.”

An added bonus: integration with the “Big Three” social networks is totally doable if you have the technical know-how. Overall, this is a great plugin for creating community-driven websites.

Provide Support Live Chat

Live Chat kind of seems like one of those mystical web elements that’s simply beyond our technical know-how. But thanks to Provide Support’s Live Chat plugin, creating a robust and fully-functioning virtual chat assistance feature is finally within the grasp of average developers.

The best part about Provide Support is the plugin’s rich integration options, including the ability to add a live chat button and upload your own custom images for it. Unfortunately, the plugin isn’t free. But the company does offer a fully-functional trial version, so you have the chance to experiment and play around with it before making the decision to buy it. Alternatively, you could check out WP Live Chat Support, a free lightweight alternative.

Broken Link Checker

Nothing impairs user experience like broken links. If visitors can’t get to where they want to go, they’ll quickly abandon your site and may be hesitant to visit again. Find and correct broken links by running this plugin before launching your website or while setting up a blog.

WP e-Commerce

WP e-Commerce is a free, open-source tool to give your site a killer web store.

The system allows you to create categories and upload products into them, and comes complete with a built-in shopping cart system and support from major financial institutions. This is a far-cry from the simple Paypal-oriented shopping experience lower budget websites are often forced to implement. This is a fully functioning, professionally built e-Commerce platform that’s entirely free.

Zedity

Zedity is among the simplest, yet most powerful and intuitive design apps we’ve come across. Using a drag-and-drop interface, it allows you to position elements around a WP page without the hassle of doing it manually. Elements can even touch and overlap, something that would be very difficult to accomplish without the plugin. When you’re all done, Zedity generates an HTML5 code which can be pasted into your WP page editor.