In this post, we round up the latest cool and useful (oh, and free!) WordPress plugins now available on the WordPress Plugin Directory. This month’s WordPress Plugin Roundup includes everything from a way to add tickers and countdowns to media library organization.

Trouble finding newly-added plugins? With the redesign of the WordPress Plugin Directory came a change in the search algorithm. The goal was prioritizing better, more reliable plugins, but this also made finding newer plugins more difficult. Hint: Copy the plugin name and byline from the plugin page and paste that into the plugin search. Works (almost) every time!

1. Sticky Tax

The Sticky Tax plugin enables posts to be made “sticky” within a specific category or tag. Ideal for cornerstone content or important stories, Sticky Tax lets blogs maintain chronological post archives, while keeping the most important content at the top of the list.

Nathan’s Notes:

    • Adds a metabox to each post that allows you to set the post as sticky only in the categories that you select.
    • A nice plugin from Liquid Web, one of our recommended WordPress hosting providers.

2. Add Search to Menu

add search to menu plugin

The Add Search to Menu plugin allows you to add search form in your site navigation bar that enables users to search your site easily. You can use various plugin settings in the admin area to customize the search form and search results.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Simply activate and choose which menus should have search appended.
  • Several nice options for how the search should look.
  • Options for using Google Custom Search Engine and displaying on mobile.
  • Note: will not work with iThemes Builder themes.

3. Simple Responsive Lightbox – Popup Lightbox for WordPress

simple responsive lightbox popup plugin

The Simple Responsive Lightbox – Popup Lightbox for WordPress plugin is a plugin for a flexible, easy to use Lightbox to display various images on your website.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Most of the features of this plugin are crippled in the free version. But what does work is a beautiful lightbox for galleries and images with links set to media file.
  • If you need this to do or not do something besides the default, you’re out of luck unless you get the pro version. But this might be a perfect plugin for you as is.
  • Pro version starts at $19/yr.

4. Remove Query Strings

The Remove Query Strings plugin a simple plugin that automatically removes query strings from static resources on your WordPress website. By activating the plugin and refreshing your website on the frontend, and then checking its source code (clear any caches), you will be able to see that query strings have been removed from source URLs.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • The real-world impact of removing query strings is debatable, but the most popular speed testing sites still use it as a factor.
  • If you are getting an “F” for your query string score in a tool like Pingdom, simply activating this plugin should handle the issue.
  • I’m seeing my Pingdom score go up 4-8 points just by adding this plugin. But again, I don’t see any real speed difference in the sites.

5. FSM Backend Category Organizer

The FSM Backend Category Organizer plugin allows you to group and organize the categories on the post editing page, making it easier to sort through them.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Enhances the standard WordPress category metabox with tabs that show the subcategories of categories you select on the settings page.
  • May be a little easier to work with when you position the metabox in the wider area of the page under the visual editor.
  • Helpful on sites with lots of categories but doesn’t support custom post types.

6. Shortcodes in Menus

TheShortcodes in Menus plugin allows you to add shortcodes in WordPress navigation menus so that you can generate links dynamically. It also allows you to add full-fledged HTML sections to navigation menus.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • This is quite an inventive plugin that opens up a lot of possibilities.
  • Define a shortcode in functions.php to display or combine with a plugin like Widget Shortcode to create shortcodes out of widgets.
  • Example shortcode for logged in users first name.

7. Counter Number

With the Counter Number plugin, you can add a countdown to your website with icons. The design layout is based on latest CSS animation and support on all major browsers. Easily upload counter number statistics. Easily update their records like title, counter stats and icons.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Really nice drag and drop interface for adding counters with icons.
  • Font Awesome icons are included.
  • Fully responsive and fully customizable with font, size, and color.

8. Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd

coming soon page plugin

With the Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd plugin, you can create a simple Coming Soon Page or Maintenance Mode Page. Work on your site in private while visitors see a “Coming Soon” or “Maintenance Mode” page.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Simple to use with enough options to make it very useful.
  • Customize text, colors, images and backgrounds.
  • Maintenance mode adds a 503 in the header so search engines know that your site is temporarily down for maintenance.

9. Ticker Pro

Use the Ticker Pro plugin is probably the simplest and lightweight ticker plugin for WordPress.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • If you need a ticker to display information on a page, this one is very easy to set up and use. Very few settings. Just add your text and go.
  • Display using shortcode [ticker-pro tickertitle='Notice:'] – tickertitle is optional.

10. Media Library Organizer

Use the Media Library Organizer plugin is a simple, effective WordPress plugin that allows you to categorize and search images, video and other media in your WordPress Media Library.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • A very handy plugin if your site has lots of media files.
  • Remembers user preferences on sorting and sort order.

11. Smush Image Compression and Optimization

Use the Smush Image Compression and Optimization plugin allows you to resize, optimize and compress all of your images with the incredibly powerful and 100% free WordPress image smusher, brought to you by WPMU DEV.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Probably the best image optimizer for WordPress.
  • Image compression is offloaded to the WPMU servers so your site isn’t affected.
  • Recently directory smushing has been added to handle images outside the media library too … pretty sweet.

Watch the Webinar: WordPress Plugin Roundup
– September 2017

This post is based on the September 2017 Plugin Roundup webinar 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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