WordPress Plugin Roundup – March 2020

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Every month Nathan Ingram looks over the last 30 days on the WordPress Plugin Directory and makes a list of his favorite new additions. Here are his favorite plugins, his WooCommerce recommendation and his good/bad idea WordPress plugins.

Nathan told us last month that he was concerned about some of the ways Code Canyon is handling updates to certain plugins. This is an ongoing issue that we need to be aware of with at least one plugin. It isn’t typical of Code Canyon to allow developers to limit automatic updates, but at least in this circumstance it is happening and it may be an issue in the future with other WordPress plugins.

1. WP Health

Quickly checks WordPress installation and shows a snapshot of the site showing if it is up to date, secure and healthy. See the snapshot through the tools in the admin bar. Premium features include broken image monitor, page speed graph, broken link monitoring.

Health Plugin for WordPress sites

Nathan’s Notes

  • Formerly My WP Health Check
  • Plugin is about the same in the free version, but premium features are easily put into a care plan.
  • Premium features are dynamic and include areas that can add value to your client relationships.
  • An accessibility monitor, in Beta, but watch for this feature.

2. Contextual Related Posts

With this plugin you can easily add related posts to your WordPress site. It comes with caching, short-codes, widgets and custom post types. You can even choose which types of content will show up as “related” for your site.

Contextual related posts

Nathan’s Notes

  • One of the best related posts plugins I’ve seen in a while.
  • Lots of options to customize its behavior, including with thumbnails and without.
  • Available free add-on restrict related posts to the same category or tag.
  • Out of the box, it looks good, but you may want to tweak the CSS to make the output match your site.

3. Advanced Scheduled Posts

Allows you to set the date and time of expiration and the schedule which overwrites another post. Permalinks changes automatically and so does the slug.

Advanced Scheduled Posts Plugin

Nathan’s Notes

  • Schedule a post to expire at a certain date and time (reverts to draft).
  • Or, more interestingly, have a scheduled post overwrite an existing post (including swapping permalinks) when it is published.
  • However, for simple expiration, Post Expirator is a better option since it has more options for expiration (change taxonomy, etc.)

Simple But Useful Plugins

1. Change Admin Email

This plugin restores the functionality as it was before version 4.9 on single sites. This may be required on sites without email access or for testing purposes. Use this if you want to change or develop something on a WordPress site without having to go through the email confirmation loop.

Change Admin email WordPress plugin

Nathan’s Notes

  • Perfect tool for changing admin email on a site without email confirmation.
  • Just install and activate, nothing else to do.

2. WP Host Hide

Hiding Posts in WordPress

Nathan’s Notes

  • Simple way to hide a page or post from search results, category pages, etc.
  • Note: checking “Front Page” on blog post settings keeps the post from appearing on the main blog page.
  • Not exactly perfect English in the plugin, but easy enough to figure out.
  • Creates its own top level admin menu item.

2. Admin Bar Position

This plugin can change bottom to “Admin Bar.” It also can change Admin Bar position with “shift + up” or “shift + down.”

Plugin to move admin bar

Nathan’s Notes

  • Moves the Admin Bar to the bottom of the screen by default on the front end.
  • Toggles the position with easy key strokes.
  • Really handy if you’re dealing with positioning issues while creating a site.

This Month’s WooCommerce Add-on

WPC Variations Radio Buttons for WooCommerce

When it comes to choosing an option from variable products, customers now don’t have to click on each option or browse from the drop down list in order to attain product info. By adding radio buttons, all variations and all attributes will be shown at one screen only. Making decisions now is a task of much less effort now to your visitors.

Adding buttons to WooCommerce pages

Nathan’s Notes

  • Replaces the standard drop down for WooCommerce variations with a nicer dropdown (select2 or ddslick) or, even better, radio buttons.
  • Display image and price in the variation selection.
  • Select types can be set globally, then adjusted for each product if desired.
  • Adds its own top-level admin menu.

This Month’s Good Idea or Bad Idea

Kama WP Smiles

This WordPress plugin adds blocks with smiles to comment form in your theme and do HTML/visual editor in the admin panel. This code allows you to easily add smiles into comment or post content.

A plugin that replaces emoticons

Nathan’s Notes

  • Animated GIF smilies…what could go wrong?
  • And I don’t care what they say, a GIF is a G-raphic, not peanut butter.

Admin Custom Font

Admin Custom Font plugin allows you to replace default/factory in WordPress Admin Dashboard with hundreds of different Google Fonts. Visit Admin Dashboard > Settings > Admin Font to customize font type and styles.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Most admin styling plugins are atrocious. But this one might have promise
  • Select any Google Font for your wp-admin typography.
  • Also allows you to change the size and weight.

Light Admin Theme

This plugin will simplify your administration. There is a lot of default settings it hides and adds more whitespace.

Nathan’s notes:

  • While on the subject of admin themes…
  • Bring a little Apple into your WP-Admin.

Menu in Post

With Menu In Post, you can create shortcodes to display menus as hyperlinked lists or dropdowns in your posts and pages. Menus are easier to manage through the WordPress user interface (UI) than a list of links. You can update a menu in one place (Appearance > Menus) and it will be updated everywhere you have added a Menu In Post shortcode for it.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Really handy way to embed menus in a page or post.
  • Can display as a list or a dropdown.
  • Shortcode creator at Tools > Menu in Post Tools.

Phoenix Media Rename

This WordPress plugin is intended to boost SEO by updating image file names.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Fantastic solution for updating image file names for SEO purposes (many SEO pros agree that image file name matters, especially if alt text isn’t present).
  • Rename from the Media Library list in bulk or on images in the library individually.
  • Also adds a column for the page/post where the image is attached.

GainWP Google Analytics Integration for WordPress

The GAinWP Google Analytics Integration for WordPress plugin easily integrates Google Analytics tracking and dashboard reporting into your website in just minutes.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • This is an answer for those of you looking to escape the rewrite Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by ExactMetrics plugin.
  • Forked from the original code of the GADWP plugin.
  • If you replace GADWP, make sure you deauthorize it first to revoke the plugin’s access to your GA account (Google Analytics > General Settings > Clear Authorization).

Watch The Webinar: Plugin Roundup – March 2020

This post is from the recent Plugin Roundup – March 2020 webinar hosted by Nathan Ingram. In this webinar, Nathan demonstrates how to use each of these plugins so you can get a better idea of how they work. Check out the entire series of monthly WordPress Plugin Roundup posts here & register for the next Plugin Roundup webinar here.

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