15 WordPress Plugins You Never Knew You Needed

There are literally thousands upon thousands of plugins and add-ons available to WordPress users (55,000 and counting, in fact), covering essential functions like SEO, security, analytics and customer support to name just a handful. These plugins can be installed in seconds and immediately give your WordPress blog, corporate website or online store a boost. Some are comprehensive, offering a multitude of features and functions, whereas some are more elementary, providing a more focused or specialized solution. Some are free, while others come at a cost. Whatever your needs, it’s likely there’ll be a plugin that can do the job.

But while we’re sure you’ve already considered your most fundamental requirements when it comes to plugins (see the aforementioned examples), what about some of the more niche concerns? With the myriad options available, there are plugins that cover elements you’d have never even thought about. Some of these might be throwaway and generally ineffective, but there are plenty of overlooked plugins that could make a real difference to your website or blog — you just don’t know it yet.

So, here’s our run-through of 15 oft-ignored WordPress plugins that you never knew you needed!

1. Herd Effect

Whether or not you approve of this ever-so-slightly deceitful plugin (many wouldn’t, since you’re effectively misleading your audience), Herd Effect is a handy tool when it comes to boosting conversion by creating a sense of demand and urgency. The concept? Herd Effect enables you to post fictitious notifications for things like purchases and signups, making your store seem busier and your products seem more in-demand than they actually are. If your conscience simply won’t stomach it, fear not: you can publish genuine notifications based on actual user behavior, too.

2. MyCred

If you’re running an e-commerce store on WordPress, you’ll know that customer engagement and loyalty aren’t to be taken for granted. And one of the best ways to give them a boost is through a reward-based loyalty program like MyCred — in fact, the buying decisions of more than two thirds of US consumers are influenced by these types of programs, so you’re missing a trick if you’re not already using one. With MyCred, you can award points for specific actions like making a purchase, and then allow your customers to turn those points into discounts, coupons or cash rewards!

3. Cloudways

Have you thought about where (and how) to host your WordPress site? Well, you’ll need to, as choosing the right hosting solution is crucial to the speed, performance and security of your website (not to mention your ability to ‘scale up’ as your traffic grows). For this, we’d recommend a cloud hosting solution (principally because the aforementioned benefits are well-covered) and Cloudways is a great option — it’s one of the fastest WordPress hosting providers, and with the WordPress Migrator plugin you can seamlessly migrate your website to Cloudways from any other hosting provider.

4. Counter Number

If numbers are your thing, then Counter Number (we know, they could’ve spent a bit more time coming up with a better name) is a great way of displaying data in a fun, easily digestible way. You might want to tell your visitors how many happy customers you have, how many awards your company has won, how many team members you have around the world, or something more trivial like how many cups of coffee are consumed in your office every day! Either way, it’s a great way to show clout and it comes with fully customizable designs and a simple drag-and-drop creator.

5. Redirection

A pretty straightforward concept, but something website owners will often overlook, Redirection is a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin plugin that manages 301 redirects, keeps track of 404 errors and tidies up loose ends to avoid users dropping off due to broken links. Especially handy if you’re looking to migrate pages from an old website, Redirection includes custom ‘pass-through’ redirections (allowing you to pass a URL through to another website, page or file) as well as 404 error monitoring.

6. Smush

If your website is particularly image-heavy, then a tool like Smush is a bit of a no-brainer, since it resizes, compresses and optimizes the images on your site, cutting down on data overload without loss of quality. With lazy loading and a bulk “smushing” option (where you can optimize 50 images in one go), Smush will help your website load faster — which is important for a number of reasons, not least for SEO. It seems simple enough, but this user review illustrates how this factor can be easily overlooked: “I had no idea that my page load time was being dragged down by the images. The plugin nearly halved the time it took”.

7. Quiz Cat

A neat way of boosting engagement while encouraging interaction, a quiz could be a nifty addition to your WordPress site. Now, your quizzes don’t have to be about cats (although they absolutely can), but with Quiz Cat you can easily build trivia quizzes or personality tests with its HTML editor and a simple drag-and-drop interface. Admittedly it’s a nice-to-have rather than a necessity, but it can make your content a little more memorable and encourage your users to share their results on social media, potentially increasing your reach.

8. Step by Step

If some of your content would benefit from being displayed in step-by-step fashion (we’re mainly thinking tutorials, user guides and technical instructions, but that could extend to recipes or exercise programs) then the aptly-named Step by Step plugin is the ideal solution. You can create as many “steps” as you like, adding custom images and text to each, assembling your content in an easy-to-digest, sequential fashion, and making a potentially overwhelming and text-heavy content page far simpler to follow.


A simple yet effective add-on for online merchants running a store through WordPress (providing you’re also using the WooCommerce plugin), YITH lets your users create their own wishlists — a powerful and popular function utilized by many e-commerce websites. Great especially around the holiday season (since wishlists can be shared with friends and families), shoppers can save their favorite products and easily find them again at a later date. The plugin also has close to a million users, so it must be doing something right!

10. Download Monitor

Many sites offer downloadable content (this can be a great incentive to encourage a signup to your subscriber list, for example) and Download Monitor makes it easy to upload files and format links, whether you’re uploading e-books, white papers, case studies or even downloadable vouchers and coupons. Used on the websites of some of the leading businesses in the WordPress sphere, with Download Monitor you can easily add, edit and remove documents and track the number of downloads.

11. WebSub

This one is aimed squarely at bloggers using WordPress to publish their share-worthy content, and is a game changer when it comes to getting as many eyes as possible on your latest posts. With WebSub, you can automatically notify your subscribers as soon as new content has been posted on your blog, using hubs like Google Reader and Google Alerts to send your regular readers a nudge to come and check out what’s new. There’s minimal configuration required on the blogger’s part, so you can sit back and wait for your visitors to roll up.

12. bbPress

Creating a sense of “community” on your site is a great idea; it encourages your users (or customers) to interact and share information with one another, and it can get them talking about your products and services. What’s more, it’s a great way for you to get a better understanding of what your customers really think — honest and unfiltered. With bbPress, you can add a simple discussion forum to your site with no manual code tweaking; within the tool, you can segment discussion threads by category and moderate contributors who might be posting anything unseemly.

13. UberMenu

If your site includes reams of content or a vast collection of products, you want to help your visitors find them as easily as possible, right? To that end, UberMenu will help make your navigation menus as user-friendly, as intuitive and as visually engaging as possible. Not only are the layouts fully customizable (you can add rows, columns and sub-menus as needed) but they’re mobile responsive (touch-enabled) and come with an enhanced UI. What’s more, you can add dynamic content like images, icons, forms and maps directly into your menus.

14. Formidable Forms

Looking for a multi-purpose form builder? Though the name might sound unnecessarily intimidating, Formidable Forms enables advanced form creation, enabling you to build contact forms, polls, surveys, quizzes, calculators and registration forms (basically, anything that requires a user to enter information) and track the results in your WordPress dashboard. With a drag-and-drop builder and seamless integration with other third-party apps like WooCommerce, your forms will look great on any device and help you to capture more information from your customers.

15. Cornify

Remember we alluded in the intro to those plugins that were generally throwaway and a little bit pointless? Well, here’s Cornify, a plugin we can assure you has only been included here as a bit of fun. In what probably started as an April Fools prank, this nonsensical tool will cause unicorns (yes, unicorns) to appear on a user’s screen after a few seconds of inactivity. They dance, too. It’s certainly one way to grab attention, but probably don’t add this one to your must-install list.

Admit it. You didn’t know many of these criminally overlooked plugins existed before now, did you? Well, now you do. And while you may not find all of them useful (unicorns aren’t to everyone’s taste, after all), we’re sure you’ll be rushing to hit the ‘download’ button on at least some of these unique and surprisingly effective tools.

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

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