36 Essential Plugins that add features to your WordPress site

Last time we focused on Maintenance & Security and this time we’ll highlight some awesome plugins that add features to your website.

General Management

These plugins all add features to the admin/backend.

WP Editor – This plugin replaces the default theme and plugin editors.  It gives you line numbers, let’s you search the files and has a file browser that lets you go all the way into the files.

Edit Flow – Managing workflow on a multi-author blog can be a pain but EditFlow is really the answer.  Editorial calendar, custom post type statuses,  editorial comments, and user groups? Managing becomes a breeze!

Post & Page Creation/Updating

TinyMCE Advanced  – This lets you add, remove or re-arrange the buttons on the WordPress TinyMCE editor.  This also adds support for creating tables too among many other things.

WP Edit – Another option for taking control of the content editor in WordPress.  In addition to helping you format your content better, easily access all shortcodes available and put them in your content, create tables, create columns in your content with ease!

TablePress – Let’s be honest, creating tables in WordPress is a bit of a pain.  TablePress takes away that pain by allowing easy creation of tables  (no code) and let’s you see a visual representation of them as well!  Add in table sorting and pagination (by adding another library) and you are all set with Tables!

Custom Post Types, Taxonomies & Custom Fields

Custom Post Type UI – This plugin can do so much relating to Custom Post Types and taxonomies that it might be all you need!  However, there isn’t much there as far as displaying the custom post types and taxonomies.

Types + Views – Types is Free and allows you to create custom post types, fields, and taxonomy. For easy display you’ll need Views, which is not free.  However, Views is wonderful at making the display of the items you create with Types a breeze!   They also have great docs and tutorials to help you figure out what you want to do.

Advanced Custom Fields – This is a great solution to more control over your custom fields.  If you think it, you probably can do it with this plugin. Visually create your fields and so much more.

Pods – Combines easily creation of Post Types, taxonomies and custom fields and the display of them and it is FREE.  The docs are a work in progress but the support is top notch!  Easily better support than received by some premium plugins.


Black Studio TinyMCE Widget –  Adds a new widget type that allows you to insert rich text and media objects in your sidebars with no hassle.

Widget Logic – Gives every widget an extra control field called “Widget logic” that lets you control the pages that the widget will appear on.  Accepts WordPress conditional tags (or any other PHP).


Gravity Forms – It is no secret that we love Gravity Forms.   You can create forms in minutes and then figure in the add-ons and you have so much control – create a custom user registration form, accept payments via paypal or stripe, and so much more.  However, one complaint is that is isn’t super easy to control the design/styling.  Headway offers some control of your gravity forms styling and we even have a gravity forms block to make adding a form anywhere a breeze!

Formidable Pro – This is a hidden gem: has a lot of options/power to create what you need, is super affordable, and offers a way to control the design/style of the form right in the options.  You can also create a custom registration form and even a page to let a user edit their profile, accept payments via paypal and stripe and so much more.  The documentation is great and the support has been great as well.  Note: There is a free version in the WordPress repository but it does have limited features.

Ninja Forms – You may not want to have to pay for a great form or maybe you don’t need a lot of options mentioned above.  If so, take a look at Ninja Forms.  It is free but the add-ons are mostly, if not all, paid.  I found that to get all of the features I needed it would be more expensive if I went the NinjaForms route but you may not, so give it a look!


WooCommerce – WooCommerce is the leader in all things WordPress e-commerce because it packs a lot of features,  works for physical products as well as digital, is customizable, has great docs and a big market of add-ons.

Jigoshop – Many forget or don’t know that WooCommerce is a fork of Jigoshop so if you feel like WooCommerce has more features than you need, give Jigoshop a look.

iThemes Exchange – We love this plugin as we feel it takes most of the complication out of managing an E-Commerce site but it does have less features as compared to WooCommerce.  That said, it is always being updated and it is also free so you should really check it out as it may just be the solution for you or your client!

Easy Digital Downloads – The leader in digital download management for WordPress.    Supports discount codes and a number of different gateways.  It also has a pretty decent market for add-ons including one for software licensing.  In fact, Headway’s backend is built on EDD!

Calendars/Event Management

All-in-One Event Calendar – Offers many views, upcoming events widget, color-coded categories, recurrence and more!

The Events Calendar – Similar features to All-In-One.  No shortcodes are available as it is intended to work out of the box.   We recently worked with the team here to improve compatibility with Headway and it went great!

Multi-lingual Sites

WPML – Easily the WordPress standard for multi-lingual sites but it is complex and may take some time for you to fully grasp how it works and it also is not free.

Polylang – A free option but has less features that WPML and we’re still working on making sure Headway and it play nice together.

Social Integration

Twittercard – Easily display your tweet timeline on your site.

WordTwit – WordPress to Twitter publishing.

Instagram Feed – Supports multiple feeds and it is responsive!

(Note: We also wanted to include a WordPress to Facebook publishing plugin but we haven’t round a reliable one just yet)


Audio Theme Framework – This plugin is a must-have for musician websites: discography, gig management, videos!  If you just need gigs, this plugin may be overkill though and you should check out GigPress.

Download Monitor – If you don’t need an e-commerce solution, but want to offer downloads, this plugin does that job very well!

Easy FancyBox – Easily add lightbox support to your WordPress site.  From our testing, Headway is compatible.  In the Settings (Found in WordPress » Settings» Media) you can choose which items the lightbox is activated on.  Currently supports, images, inline content, pdf, videos and more!

JetPack – Offers a LOT of features: contact forms, carousels, mobile theme, social network integration, social sharing and oh so much more.  Many feel that JetPack is too bloated but you’ll have to decide for yourself!

Nav Menu Roles – Adds options to your menu management where you can make menu items visible by different conditions: roles, logged in/logged out and more.

OpenHook – Built for Thesis, but it also has supports for Headway.  If you are a Headway 2 user, you remember EasyHooks?

WP Responsive Menu – Easily change your menu into a responsive sliding menu.  There are other similar plugins but we’ve found that this one works best with Headway.

WP Page Navi – Create better looking pagination with this plugin and Headway’s pagination will be removed if this plugin is detected!

WP Ultimate Recipe – If you want to create a recipe site, definitely check this out.  It takes the complexity out of setting everything up.

WP Job Manager – Easily add a job board to your site with this lightweight plugin.  It was recently taken over by Automattic after the developer (Mike Jolley) joined Automattic through the acquisition of WooThemes.




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One Response

  1. The necessity of plugins is must for making a site via wordpress platform . In this case everyone wants to use the best plugins but to identify the best plugins is really tough before using . One can also identify the best plugins seeing the features of those plugins . In this case this post shared here is very much useful .

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