WordPress is one of the best content management systems (CMS) on the planet – and with good reason. It is easy to install on most hosting platforms, easy to configure and has a great community of plugin developers that help add functionality to your managed websites and blogs. Some of these plugins are ideal for bloggers or small business owners running their own websites, while other plugins are feature-rich and powerful, designed specifically for WordPress developers and programmers. We take a look at some of the WordPress plugins designed specifically for developers and coders inside this article.
A brief caveat before we begin: this list is by no means a comprehensive list – there are, no doubt, excellent plugins that were not included in this list that deserve to be. Nor are the items listed here in any particular order of importance.
Editor’s Note: We covered the Best WordPress Themes for 2021 in a separate article.
WordPress Developer Plugin #1: Show IDs by 99 Robots
Developers will frequently need to reference IDs for posts, categories, pages, and a host of other items in WordPress. Unfortunately WordPress, in an effort to make the admin panel easier to navigate (and, presumably, prettier to look at), removed the ID numbers from view. This leads to a bit of complication when trying to pull in custom content through ID tags and can lead to a little extra leg-work for a programmer.
Fortunately, there are several plugins that easily fix this. Show IDs by 99 Robots is one such plugin every web developer or CMS coder should have in their toolbox. It is lightweight – the install file is only 46kb in size – and installs with ease; just upload the zip file and “Activate” it through the WordPress Plugins menu.
Another nice feature is that there is no configuration page or settings – you can use Show IDs straight out of the box. Show IDs reveals ID tags for the following items:
- link categories
- custom taxonomies
- custom post types
You can download this nifty WordPress developer tool by searching for it under the Plugins tab or from the Show IDs WordPress.org plugin repository page.
WordPress Developer Plugin #2: Smush by WPMU DEV
Page load times are a pivotal part of not only user experience (how easily users interact with your site) but also how Google ranks your website – the search giant takes your average page load times into account as a ranking and reliability factor. With that in mind, savvy CMS developers will look for a way to squelch anything that might cause pages to load slowly or eat up valuable resources. That is where image optimization and image compression comes into play.
There are a number of WordPress plugins that handle image compression, but one of the most widely used and trust is Smush by WPMU DEV – a name well-known in the WordPress community. The plugin has over a million active installations and is frequently updated.
Smush optimizes image files including .PNG, .GIF, and .JPEG either one at a time or in bulk, up to 50 images at once. Other features of Smush include:
- Lossless compression – Does not affect image quality.
- Bulk compression – Up to fifty files at once.
- Image resizing – Ability to set max height and width of images.
- Incorrect Image Detection – Locates images that may be slowing down your page speed.
- Automated Optimization – Automatically “smushes” attachments as they are uploaded.
- Multisite Support – Works on WordPress Multisites.
You can view a full list of features and download the install file at the Smush WordPress Repository page.
WordPress Developer Plugin #3: Query Monitor
When developing a website through a CMS like WordPress, it is important to be able to track down any errors and bugs as quickly as possible. Having the ability to inspect theme template files, API calls, database queries, PHP issues, and problems with your hooks and actions is vital. Manually tracking errors in code or site functionality is painful; a smart CMS web dev will have a way to automate that process as much as possible.
A quick look on the WordPress plugin repository will reveal a gem – Query Monitor, the self-proclaimed “Developer Tool Panel for WordPress.” With over 100,000 active installations and a five-star rating at the time of this writing, that moniker (self-administered or not) is well-earned. The plugin is updated on a regular basis as well, which is great as they seem to keep up with WordPress Core updates fairly well.
As the plugins listing on WordPress notes, Query Monitor allows for debugging of:
- Database queries
- PHP Errors
- Hooks and actions
- Block editor blocks
- Scripts and stylesheets
- HTTP API Calls
- Ajax Calls
- REST API Calls
- Rewrite rules, query strings, and query vars
You can see a full list of debugging options and plugin features by visiting the Query Monitor WordPress Repository listing.
WordPress Developer Plugin #4: UpdraftPlus by Updraftplus.com
While WordPress is a great tool to quickly create websites ranging from simple one-pagers to complex, fully-functional stores, the content management system does have its flaws and limitations. WordPress – most because of usually outdated plugins users fail to update – is prone to vulnerabilities such as hacking, malware, and even bad themes. All of those can cause site crashes, downtime, and loss of data.
Because of these vulnerabilities, it is important to have a good backup system in place. There are several great plugins for this and with choices like Jetpack and BackWPup, it is hard to go wrong. In fact, Jetpack nearly made the list, but we went, instead, with UpdraftPlus. The backup and restoration plugin for WordPress has over 3 million active installations and gets frequent updates, which is super important for a plugin of this nature.
UpdraftPlus lets you backup your website files to several cloud storage options, including:
- Google Drive
- Amazon S3
- Rackspace Cloud
- Microsoft Azure and OneDrive
- Google Cloud Storage
and a host of other cloud options. You can configure these backups for manual or automated schedules and opt-in for more advanced features (website migrators, multiple backup destinations, database encryption, and more) as well.
A full list of features and information is available at the UpdraftPlus WordPress repository listing.
WordPress Developer Plugin #5: Redirection
Not all website errors are created equally. Not every error causes a website to completely crash or renders the site useless. Sometimes a website error comes down to a simple broken link or 404 error. While it is easy enough to create redirects in code, sometimes it is nice to have a simpler place to do it, such as your WordPress admin panel.
What’s more, a good broken link/404 redirection plugin should have the capability to actually find and track broken links within your website. That way you can fix them before they drive away users, deplete website trust and authority, and damage your website’s search engine optimization (SEO).
Redirection is a redirect manager plugin used by over 2 million WordPress sites. It gives you a lot of control over the parameters of your redirects and lets you create conditional redirects based off of factors such as login status, type of browser, where the user was referred from, cookie settings, HTTP headers, IP addresses, domain server, and page error type – to name but a few. There is even support for regular expressions (REGEX) in the event that you wish to pattern match a group of URLs.
Redirect WordPress plugin has other features too, such as the ability to add HTTP headers, logging, permalink migration, and even Apache and NGINX support.
To learn more, you can check out the Redirect WordPress Plugin repository listing.