11 free, must-have WordPress plugins, April 2014

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March 31, 2014
11 free, must-have WordPress plugins, April 2014.

thumbnailWelcome back, WDD readers! It’s time for this month’s round of WordPress plugin goodness.

As usual, we’ve got quite a variety of plugins, with a variety of potential use cases. Take note, though: some of these plugins are very new, and some might need a few more iterations before they're perfect; that said, they're all pretty awesome right now, so let's jump right in…

Bump This

Bump This adds a button when viewing a post that will allow users to “bump” the post. If enough people click that button, the “bumped” post will be moved to the top of the list of posts. This is a great way for your users to help you to put popular content where others will see it.

Some small issues: currently, only logged-in users can “bump” posts. Worse, one user can bump the same post over and over again by navigating away from the post, coming back, and just hitting the button again. That said, I’m interested to see where this idea goes once the plugin gets updated a couple of times.

bump_this

Video Capture

This plugin brings video capturing to your WordPress installation. Place a shortcode into any page or post, and users will be able to record short videos, up to three minutes in length.

Once the videos are recorded, you can access them from the WordPress admin panel. You can download or delete them... and, I imagine, embed them elsewhere.

The videos themselves are rather low-quality .flv files, and are stored on a third-party server. (Boy does that ring a few alarm bells!) Still, if you need a simple, free way to get webcam video from your users, and you’re okay with the terms and conditions, this plugin can do it well.

capture_this

LeadIn

LeadIn is one of the more polished plugins on this list, and incredibly useful. It integrates with a number of form plugins for WordPress, and anytime someone submits a form (ie. a contact form) on your website, they are added to a database of contacts.

The page view history for each contact is listed in their file, so you can see what parts of your website interested them most.

The plugin also comes with a simple, optional newsletter sign-up form that only appears when a user scrolls all the way to the bottom of any page on your site. Signing up, or simply closing the “pop-in” sign up form keeps the user from ever having to see it again.

lead_in

Gmail Comment Approval

Gmail Comment Approval takes a bit of set-up to make it work, but the end results are pretty awesome. Once the plugin is installed, your WordPress notification e-mails are DKIM signed, and you’ve registered your e-mail address with Google for doing this kind of thing, you can approve new comments on your WordPress site without ever leaving Gmail.

gmail_comments

Flaunt Your Clients - Free

While it was originally designed with photographers in mind, this plugin could be used for a variety of scenarios. Essentially, it creates a new custom post type designed to accommodate client stories and testimonials. These “client pages” can be sorted by category, linked to blog posts, and more.

Google Web Fonts Customizer (GWFC)

Not happy with the fonts in your pre-made theme? GWFC adds a section to the “theme customizer” in your admin panel. This will allow you to choose any font from Google Web Fonts for your headings, paragraph text, blockquotes, and for some unfathomable reason, list items.

Meet My Team

Ever seen one of those websites where they have pictures of their team members, and you can click on them to load more information in a lightbox-like modal window? I can tell you from experience that those can be a pain in the rear to make from scratch (though it is doable).

If you can’t make one from scratch, this plugin will provide you with a custom post type designed for displaying team members and their info. A shortcode displays the team members in a responsive grid on any page or post you like.

There aren’t any settings as such. Any visual changes you wish to make will need to be done via CSS. If you have to do that, might as well just roll your own. However, if all you need is a plug-and-play solution, this’ll do it!

meet-team

tinyfier-wp

tinyfier-wp optimizes your CSS, JS, and (if you want) HTML assets, removing all unnecessary data to make your site load faster. I tried it out, and well... it works. The code gets minified.

I didn’t see a huge increase in speed, probably because I’m using a basic WordPress install with the default theme as a test environment. Still, if counting bytes is your thing, give it a try.

WP Club Manager

Here’s one for the sports geeks. Simply put, WP Club Manager is designed for managing sports club websites. I’ll let their feature list tell the rest of the story:

  • Can be used for almost any team sport
  • Manage multiple teams
  • Player and staff profiles
  • Player ratings
  • Player stats for each season
  • Fixtures and results tables
  • League tables
  • Match reports
  • Sponsors
  • Fixture, results, player, table and sponsor widgets

Firefox OS Bookmark

Firefox OS Bookmark may be a newcomer to the market, but the reviews are glowing. If you want to register your WordPress-based site as a “hosted app” on their marketplace, this plugin will give you everything you need to pull that off.

Firefox-OS-Bookmark

Zethos for WordPress

A mobile app that has recently piqued my curiosity is Spritz. Basically, it makes speed reading easier by allowing you to focus on just one word at a time.

Zethos has re-created this functionality with JavaScript, allowing anyone to embed it in their web pages. This plugin embeds Zethos in every post, enabling readers to choose how they want to read your article.

The plugin needs work because, currently, there are no configuration options whatsoever. In addition, the Zethos embeds currently show up in posts in the main loop. If there is more than one post on a page, each instance of Zethos will “play” them all.

With time, though, I could see this plugin becoming a useful and fun addition to text-heavy blogs.

zolmeister

Featured image/thumbnail, WordPress image via Shutterstock.

Ezequiel Bruni

Ezequiel Bruni is a web/UX designer, blogger, and aspiring photographer living in Mexico. When he’s not up to his finely-chiselled ears in wire-frames and front-end code, or ranting about the same, he indulges in beer, pizza, fantasy novels, and stand-up comedy.

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