A few plugins that might make things easier

Do you ever find yourself in confusion with a little frustration and annoyance that your WordPress does not perform some basic things that it really should? How about feeling unsure of where to go or what to do when you come up to the point of creating your website and you are now stuck? Finally at last, you realize you need a plugin, but the question is, what plugin do you use?

What Kind of Things are we Talking About?

You are probably wondering what things many of us experience when we find out a certain function we need, a function that we feel is a common one to have, is not already part of WordPress? Here is my list of what many of you might already be familiar with…

  • Disable Page Titles
  • Disable Widget Titles
  • Show Widgets on Select Pages
  • Adding Styles to Widgets
  • Adding Links to the Default WP Gallery (shortcode)
  • Disable the Emojis (annoying I know)
  • Get a better Content Editor where you can see the HTML source code with colour

The list I just presented are the most common frustrations. I can add more to it, but then they start to get into optional needs that will differ from user to user. So on that side note, let’s tackle the list I just wrote out and dig a little deeper into what they are and how to get them. These plugins are more of what I’ve added to my own personal list of “Favorites”, and are plugins that I use on all my theme demo websites, as well I use them during the development process of my themes. They are plugins that give you the option to try out if you wish.

*By the way, each plugin link on this page will open a new tab on your browser.

Disable Page Titles – Hide Title

In the years that I’ve been designing WordPress themes, there is one support question I get often…”How can I disable my page titles?” At first, I always thought this was an odd request, but then I began to realize a lot of people actually want this feature so they can use their own custom titles, like image based titles. Different styling of titles on a per-page-basis is another reason. So what can you use?

There is a plugin called Hide Title by Dojo Digital and Brandon Kraft. When installed, your page and post editors get a new setting added to the right column and allows you to hide the title.

Disable Widget Titles – Remove Widget Titles

This has got to be one of my most favorite. Over the years, I’ve been frustrated with the inability with WordPress to disable (turn off) widget titles. You would think this would be in the core by adding a checkbox on widgets, but apparently this still requires a plugin. Now you are wondering what plugin?

Remove Widget Titles is a plugin developed by Stephen Cronin. Instead of a checkbox on a widget, you simply add an exclamation mark at the beginning of your widget title. For example: !My Widget Title

One of the most common uses of removing a widget title is when you have a banner image  or a slider. By default, your widget title will show, so your only option is to leave the title field blank. This brings a new problem….what if you have a ton of widgets in that banner sidebar? When you are in your admin looking at all these widgets, how do you know what one is the one you need to edit? With this plugin, you can have the title show in the back-end, just not on the front-end.

Show Widgets on Select Pages – Display Widgets

Out of all the plugins on my list of favorites, this one has got to be at the top. My biggest frustration, and one that makes me scratch my head wondering why is this not part of WordPress, is the ability to show a widget on a specific page or post. By default, WordPress will show your widget on every page wherever that sidebar you published to exists. Not everyone wants to show widgets on every page and every post, so what do you do? You actually have a few options, one being Jetpack which includes a very functional “Widget Visibility” module (feature), but Jetpack is really overkill if you just need that one function, so we will talk about a plugin called “Display Widgets”.

Display Widgets is developed by Steph Wells. This is a plugin that has a lot of 5-star ratings, and for very good reason. On my theme demo websites, if I am not using Jetpack, I will be using this plugin. Even my setup tutorials will recommend and take you through the steps of using this plugin with my themes. I’ve also written a blog article about How to Display Widgets on Select Pages Only

Adding Styles to your Widgets – Widget CSS Classes

Another very popular choice of mine because when I make my themes, I can add custom styles to widgets. This allows the user to simply add a class to the widget before they publish it, adding an amazing custom style instead of the old boring default style that WordPress offers.

Widget CSS Classes by the developer Cindy, is a plugin that adds a small text field to the bottom of your widgets allowing you to type in a class. Once done, you can apply any styles your theme has built into it and change the way your widget will look on the front of your website. Some of my themes include custom widget styles.

Adding Links to your WordPress Gallery – WP Gallery Custom Links

That is a BIG heading, I know. But it represents many people who have searched for ways of adding custom links to the WordPress gallery shortcode (the thumbnails). Even I had a hard time looking for a solid easy solution that can achieve this mystery.

WP Gallery Custom Links is developed by Fourlightsweb. When you visit this plugin’s page, you will see why they have so many 5-star ratings. I won’t go into how this plugin is used, their documentation can do that, but generally when you create a WP gallery, you can add a custom link to each thumbnail you add to your gallery.

Disable the Emojis – Disable Emojis

Probably a controversial subject with the core WordPress developers, but this isn’t about them, it’s about your choice — the end users! I won’t go into a major discussion as to why this is such a heated topic as it seems to be throughout many WordPress news blogs. The problem is that people do not want to see a batch of javascript code loading in the page’s source. They wish there was a setting in the dashboard (admin) to disable this, but the likelihood that’ll be implemented is close to zero.

Now of course there will be people who are totally fine with the emojis script loading, especially for those who uses emojis, and that is perfectly OK. However, for the people who don’t want it, what do we do?

Disable Emojis is a plugin developed by Ryan Hellyer, a person who many have given thanks to.

A Better Content Editor

This part is really about two separate plugins that I use together on my theme demo sites and what I use when I develop my themes. I’m not sure how many people will think this is an issue, but I am one who strongly believes that if you are creating content, you should have a “quality” cotnent editor. The default editor in WordPress is…well I will say it…CRAPPY as HELL! That is putting it mildly of course. So what is the problem(s)?

Lets start by saying that if you are writing simply blog posts with just text and the odd inserted image, then it’s fine. But if you are someone who needs more features relating to content creation, or you need to switch to the “Text” view (HTML View) to see your source code (all of it), good luck with that. Dont’ get me started on the fact the editor also strips out things, adds empty <p> tags, or ones where you don’t want them, etc, etc. I remember on several occasions trying to convince the core developers to get a better editor in place, or at least make the Text view show all HTML source code. Rather than go on with a rant, let’s get to what I use to solve most if not all these and other editor related problems…

Content Editor – TinyMCE Advanced

TinyMCE Advanced by Andrew Ozz is not for everyone, but it does offer me more flexibilty when I create content for my theme demo sites and throughout theme development. It also offers settings to have WordPress stop removing some code when I am working in the editor.

 Content Editor to show HTML

This one is another plugin with a BIG long name, but for someone like me who works in HTML code most of the time, even with content creation, I like to be able to see “ALL” of my source code, not what WordPress thinks I should only see. Enter a plugin that compliments several editor plugins, such as the TinyMCE Advanced one, by showing all of your HTML source code. Not only that, it also colourizes your code so that it stands out better.

HTML Editor Syntax Highlighter is an awsome plugin by Peter Mukhortov. There are of course many other plugins that shows and colours your source code tags that you can try out. The important factor is that you have options. I should mention though, at the time of writing this article, I’ve noticed a possible issue with the “Beta” version of the upcoming WordPress 4.3 where the Text tab on the editor collapses. I’ve brought this to his attention, so here is crossing fingers he can find out why. Granted, to be fair, it could be on the WordPress 4.3 side and not his plugin, or it could be the plugin, or both. Remember, I experienced this on a beta version of WordPress, a version that is not officially out yet at this time.

Why are Some Basic Functions not in WordPress?

This is a question I often asked myself over the years, but I hate to answer this question by saying “I really don’t know”. That doesn’t help you much I know, but I can only guess that the reason why the core WordPress does not include these basic functions is because there are plugins available which allows for individuals to choose what they want to use. I suppose it also keeps WordPress as small as possible and less things to manage.

In Summary…

The list of plugins I discussed in this article are plugins that I have in my favorites list. However, what I choose as my favorites may not be yours, but at least you know there are always alternatives available to you. You may even have suggestions of other plugins that you may want to share to everyone. If so, feel free to let me know from my Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ pages.

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