The WordPress CMS allows just about anyone to build a functional website, no programming experience required. This is in large part thanks to shortcodes, small code snippets marked by square brackets for placing page elements and adding additional functionality. Shortcodes allow users to sidestep coding and simply paste the appropriate shortcode where needed.
WordPress comes with a few built-in shortcodes and many WordPress themes offer libraries of custom shortcodes that you can use to make your website your own. However, issues may arise if you decide to change your theme — your pages might break, since you’ll lose access to shortcodes from your previous theme.
One solution? Try a shortcode plugin. These WordPress plugins let you add new shortcodes that won’t disappear as you change themes. Plus, most are free and simple to activate and use. In this post, we’ve compiled the best shortcode plugins available so you can build out your site without writing a line of HTML.
Shortcodes Ultimate is a handy free plugin for users who want a lot of options and each one easily available. It comes with a collection of 50 shortcodes for almost any page element you’ll need, including columns, accordions, carousels, sliders, and tables.
Shortcodes Ultimate makes it easy to customize shortcode attributes, too — find your desired shortcode in its sorted menu and insert one into your pages and posts. This plugin works with all themes and with the Gutenberg blocks editor. And, its download count of over 800,000 is a testament to its quality and value.
WP Shortcode is another shortcode plugin that lets you add sleek page elements like buttons, alerts, tabs, accordions, Google Maps embeds, and others to your site. Though this plugin offers fewer shortcodes than Shortcodes Ultimate — there are 24 options to pick from — it’s great for users who need some additional functionality without the complexity. Users can add basic customization parameters to their shortcodes as well.
Shortcoder is excellent for placing embedded content, like videos and display ads. With it installed, you’re no longer limited to placing embed code in widgets — you can create shortcodes for each embed item and paste them in the content editor. Shortcoder also allows you to disable a custom shortcode across your website, or limit its display on desktop or mobile devices.
Meks, a premium WordPress theme and plugin developer, offers its own shortcodes tool for placing custom page elements. Flexible Shortcodes adds a panel to your WordPress interface allowing you to insert shortcodes in your editor without friction. There are 12 shortcodes available, all of which can be styled to your preference.
Ecommerce site owners should consider this next plugin for a bit of extra convenience. Woo Shortcodes Kit is a shortcode library designed for use with the popular WooCommerce plugin. It packs dozens of shortcodes to improve your shoppers’ experience on your shopping, checkout, account, and thank you pages.
Woo Shortcodes Kit also lets you enable functions to restrict content and send alerts to users. Lastly, the plugin’s interface blends nicely with the WooCommerce WordPress interface for minimal disruption to your workflow.
Properly aligning columns can be one of the most irksome tasks when building a WordPress site. Luckily, Column Shortcodes provides a dedicated solution. With this plugin, just add one of the preset shortcodes to specify your column size, and Column Shortcodes handles the rest. You can place up to six columns on a page.
Column Shortcodes was built to work with most WordPress themes, and its native style settings can be overwritten with your theme style sheets or custom CSS. Notably, admins can also override the default padding to give content more breathing room.
While shortcodes may be falling out of favor to block editing, they still have their place in the administrator’s tool belt. Sometimes it’s hard to construct a page exactly how you want without them, and some admins might just prefer the shortcodes approach overall.
Either way, a shortcodes WordPress plugin can extend functionality for minimal cost and almost no learning curve. In addition, you’ll save time and effort if you ever decide to switch up your WordPress theme.
Originally published Jan 12, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated January 12 2021