The best free WordPress plugins for January 2015

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January 06, 2015
The best free WordPress plugins for January 2015.
Ah, January. The new year is a great time to evaluate your life, and your choices. This year, why don’t you ask yourself if you’re using the right plugins for your WordPress sites? Maybe there are some new plugins you could look at. Maybe those plugins are right here…

Single Background

If you ever wanted the ability to specify a different background color or image for any single image or post, then Single Background is what you’ve been looking for. It’s all done with a simple shortcode, and that’s it. I can see it being useful for websites that feature a variety of products or services, each of which might have its own individualized branding.

Portfolio Post

We all build portfolios. Why then, should we not have a basic plugin that creates a “Portfolio” post type? There are others, but this one stands out for its simplicity. It’s a new post type, with a new category taxonomy. No frills, nothing fancy, just something you can build on. There’s no reason you couldn’t edit the plugin itself to make something perfectly suited to your own project. There’s also no reason you should build this functionality into the theme itself. Best to keep presentation and functionality separate, or has CSS taught us nothing at all?

Idea Factory

idea_factory Idea Factory’s creators made it for the same reason that all brilliant plugins are made: the existing plugins didn’t solve their particular problem. Essentially, Idea Factory could transform your WordPress installation into the next “digg.com”. It allows logged-in users to submit “ideas” (in the form of a custom post type) from the front end of your site. They can be set to await moderation, or be published automatically. Once published, all registered users on your site can vote on each idea. It’s designed to be mobile-friendly, but you can override the basic CSS (and a number of other things) to make the design all yours… or just fit in with whatever theme you’re using.

HTML Entifier

If you’re like me, you like to have HTML that is as valid as you can practically achieve. Install this plugin, and it will automatically convert symbols typed into your posts (such as smart quotes) into their HTML counterparts. That way, they’ll always be visible no matter what antiquated browser your users might be stuck with. Note: Old posts will have to be re-saved.

Verbatim

verbatim Sometimes, users like to quote stuff you write. Once Verbatim is installed, any user that selects text on your website will be able to link directly to that text. Not to the page, to the text they selected. Once they’ve selected a phrase or sentence, two buttons will pop up. One allows them to save the link and post it where they like. The other sends the quote directly to Twitter. The plugin has a bug, and doesn’t always override the theme’s CSS as it should in this case, but it can still be a useful tool.

Watchman

watchman Watchman is a plugin designed to keep a closer eye on the revisions of your content. It doesn’t replace the revision system already used in WordPress, but extends it to include custom post types, post authors, dates, taxonomies, and comments too. Get your revisions for every conceivable thing here!

FlatFolio — Portfolio & Gallery

flatfolio Yup, it’s another portfolio plugin, but this one has a few more features. When it comes right down to it, portfolio plugins are some of the most convenient tools to have in our arsenal. Some of us aren’t developers by trade, so it can be useful to have some pre-made ways to show off our skills. FlatFolio is one more such solution. It’s freemium, but the free version isn’t bad at all. It comes with that flat style we’ve all come to know (and mostly love, for now), customizable CSS, and its own custom post type. On the front end, projects are displayed in a flat-style (as the name suggests) portfolio grid, with multiple available formats for images, video, and audio.

Jekyll Exporter

Going back to developer-friendly plugins, this one’s for people who are migrating away from WordPress. If you’ve ever wanted to take your content out if WP and import it into a Jekyll site, this is the way to do it. Jekyll Exporter will convert all of your blog’s content, settings, and metadata to Markdown and YAML files. These files can then, theoretically, be dropped straight into a Jekyll installation. As I understand it, you’d still need to convert your theme yourself if you want to keep the same design, but this simplifies a lot of the content-moving process.

Easy Footnotes

easy_footnotes For those of you who need this sort of thing, Easy Footnotes is a good way to automatically insert clarification into your posts with a shortcode, and nothing more. Just use the [note][/note] code wherever you like. The plugin will automatically insert a number wherever the code is left. Hover over that number, and the note itself will be shown in a jQuery powered tooltip. All footnotes will also be automatically displayed at the bottom of the post.

a3 Lazy Load

a3-lazy-load I had a little trouble testing this one, but if it works as advertised, it’s definitely worth a look. Essentially, it delays the loading of things like images and, well… mostly images, until they are actually needed. Not only does this improve site performance, but it could potentially save bandwidth on mobile devices. Why did I have trouble testing this? Because there’s only one image on my testing site, and my Internet is fast. Check it out, see if it works for you.

Expire Sticky Posts

This plugin does exactly what it says. Have a sticky post for something like, say, a month-long promotion? Want that post to not be sticky anymore after the month is up? Just set the expiry date on your post editing screen; then forget about it. You’re golden.

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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