If you are a developer for a WordPress site, you probably have been frustrated by your sites' themes and plugins limitations. Sometimes it can feel stifling, when a theme won't let you put an image gallery where you need it to be or when a plugin won't let you change a bit of the CSS.
The people who develop WordPress plugins feel your pain. After all, they are all WordPress developers themselves. As such, they have come up with some solutions to the most common problems WordPress devs encounter. These are ten of the best WordPress plugins for developers.
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WordPress is designed to make web design and site building simple and intuitive for people who don't know what they are doing. But that means it can make a lot of assumptions about formatting that mess up the coding you'll have spent hours working on. Luckily, Scott Reilly realised this was a real problem for professional developers who work on WordPress sites, so he created this plugin. It keeps WordPress from automatically HTML encoding text, and it prevents other plugins from formatting or modifying your code. It preserves the whitespace and prevents shortcodes from being processed.
Naturally enough, since this plugin is designed to preserve complex coding, the plugin author didn't bother to make this plugin compatible with the visual editor. Be sure, then, not to use the visual editor in conjunction with this plugin. It can cause some unintended conflicts in the coding.
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This is self-described as "a plugin which helps WordPress developers develop". If you are a WordPress developer, this plugin is an essential bit of kit because it pulls together loads of other developer plugins automatically. It helps you stay on top of WordPress development best practice, and it gets all the basic tools and plugins right onto your site.
Think of it like a toolbox that contains all the fundamental tools you need to do most DIY tasks.
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Have you ever tried to customise plugins or themes that just doesn't want to be customised the way you want it to be? Sometimes they can be so perfect, except for the one important element that they just won't let you change. If only there were a way to override that limitation. Well, this plugin does just that. It simply lets you customise the CSS, hence the name. It is a lightweight plugin that layers over your themes and plugins, so you can make all the changes to the CSS that you want, but that the original themes and plugins won't allow you to do automatically.
You can also add your own CSS, if you want to do more than just tweak your themes and plugins.
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As a dev, you've got enough on your plate. But that won't keep the boss man from asking you to incorporate on-site SEO into your work. If you want a complete solution that will optimise your site for the search engines, try out this plugin. It includes everything you need, including XML sitemap support, Google Analytics, advanced canonical URLs, automatically generated meta tags, the ability to avoid duplicate content and much, much more.
It's the only plugin to integrate SEO for e-Commerce sites, and it is as user-friendly or as customisable as you need it to be. That means that beginners can use it out-of-the-box, and experts can finesse and fine tune it as they see fit. That's how it can be a one-size-fits-all solution for WordPress developers of all kinds.
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The internet has shifted. In the early days, the 1980s, the internet was all message boards and text on plain backgrounds. There were a few grainy images, but for the most part, it was all text. Today, it is much more a visual landscape. Every site needs loads of images in many different contexts to keep visitors' interest, but many WordPress sites don't offer site owners the flexibility they need when it comes to image galleries.
That's where this plugin comes in. It makes it easy for a dev to create and place an image gallery anywhere on the site they want. You can add image galleries to any post, custom post type and page, and you can reorder the images just by dragging and dropping. It supports fancyBox and prettyPhoto, so you can easily add your preferred lightbox, too.
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Even if you're both a dev and an SEO wizard, you will need a tool to help you generate a sitemap. After all, sitemaps help search engine crawlers more easily navigate and understand your website, so it is critical, then, that your sitemap should be completely up-to-date and as easy to navigate as possible. If you have a WordPress site, though, you'll know how hard it is to manually update and optimise your sitemap. Luckily, this plugin will do all that hard work for you automatically.
Please note that, at the moment, this plugin doesn't support the multisite feature of WordPress 3.0. The plugin will "remain inactive" as long as you use the feature, but you can try out the Beta version of the plugin, which is compatible with the multisite feature, if you need both.
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According to the authors of this plugin, it is "the only WordPress Performance Optimization (WPO) framework; designed to improve user experience and page speed." You know what caching is and why it's important, but you may not know why sites like MattCutts.com and SmashingMagazine.com and hosts like Go Daddy and Dream Host trust and recommend this plugin. In a word: total flexibility. It's features are too numerous to detail here, but suffice it to say that if you need something – anything – cached on your WordPress site, you need this plugin.
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Have you ever wished you could just store a back up of your entire website in a Dropbox folder without really having to do anything? Sure, it might be a crazy specific wish, but now that it's in your head, you know you want it. With this plugin, you just set how often you want it to update the back up of your website, and it automatically updates it, saving it in your Dropbox. It's so simple, it's genius, really.
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Anyone who has looked into on-site marketing, even a little, knows about the effectiveness of pop ups. They may be mildly irritating, but they do push users in certain directions, scooping up email addresses and boosting conversion rates as they do so. Unfortunately, they can be a pain to code. This plugin takes all the hassle out of creating pop ups, so you can add the effective element to your site quickly and easily. Just decide what you want it to do and what you want it to look like, and you're ready to go. You can even track who sees your pop up and how effective it is, so you can optimise your messages and calls to action.
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This plugin seems like a total waste, right? WordPress has already got levels of administrative access that you can set however you like. But when you think about it, those levels can be frustratingly rigid. If you want more flexible controls, so different members can have different levels of access, security and privileges, then you need this plugin. You can also add new roles and modify the access granted to existing ones.
And just think of how useful it would be when you manage a site with a client. That in itself should be enough to convince you.
These ten WordPress plugins can help you create the site you want, letting you put image galleries wherever you want, helping you preserve their complex coding, integrating SEO best practices into your site and much more. Whatever you need to do on your site, these plugins can help you do it. All you have to do is download them and start using them. But then, you hardly needed to be told that, did you?
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