It’s no secret that user experience is important.
As users land on your website, you have a split second to capture their attention. If you fail, they may leave and never return.
Therefore, it’s important to provide an engaging user experience to your visitors.
Specifically, your website and content need to be:
- Easy to understand
- Easy to learn
- Error free
Here I will showcase 15 different WordPress user experience plugins that will help you create a great user experience for your visitors.
Let’s take them one by one.
1. A3 lazy load
It’s been proven that long form, data driven content ranks higher in Google.
Even from a social sharing point of view, posts with images gets shared more often.
This means that we should create long form content backed with data and relevant images to rank higher and achieve higher social shares.
There is only one problem.
Posts with a large number of images are much bigger in size and take a long time to load.
Mobile load time is now officially becoming a ranking signal and users still perceive mobile data load times as slower when compared to desktop load times. To top it off, 40% users will abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
This is a conflicting situation where you need to please Google as well as your readers.
The A3 Lazy load plugin solves that problem by dynamically loading your images and other elements.
By default, all the images and other multimedia on your page are loaded simultaneously. This happens whether or not your user is actually viewing them.
The A3 lazy load plugin loads these resources only when the user is scrolling close to it. It’s also done via ajax in the background so your user experience is not affected in any way.
This way, the user gets a faster loading website and a better experience on your website.
The A3 Lazy Load Plugin loads the images as the user scrolls by, but it won’t make a big difference to your page load speed if your images are too big.
Image size is determined by 2 things, resolution and quality.
In simple terms, the resolution is the size of the image in pixels, and the quality determines how clear the image looks (broadly speaking).
Images are usually large in size compared to text and it’s important to squeeze every single byte from the image for a fast page speed.
The EWWW Image Optimizer Plugin compresses your images automatically to make the image size as small as possible.
The process is simple, just install the plugin and all the new images you upload will automatically be optimized.
You also have the option to optimize all the previous images that you had uploaded.
As you blog grows, there are bound to be some be some broken links on your blog.
Broken links, also know as 404’s do not affect your search engine rankings, but they do cause a bad user experience.
The broken link checker plugin takes care of this issue by analyzing your website for broken links and images.
You can receive the reports for the broken links via emails or in the WordPress dashboard directly.
You also get various search and filter options for the broken links so you can prioritize and fix them accordingly.
You can also fix the broken links directly from within the plugin. That’s a pretty neat feature as well.
The current WordPress pagination is pretty basic. You only get the option of viewing Older Posts and Newer Posts.
For larger websites it can become tiresome to browse old posts. Since you can only navigate a page at a time it can be very boring and cumbersome to reach the post that you are finally looking for.
The WP-Page Navi plugin improves the overall user experience on your blog by implementing a multi-page navigation on your blog.
The numbered navigation is similar to what you would see on an e-commerce website.
By making navigation easier, your users will easily find what they are looking for. This means a better experience for them.
Breadcrumb usually means pieces of bread, but the word is now also used to signify pieces of information that are connected together.
On the web, breadcrumb means a trail that shows where the visitors are with respect to the website’s architecture.
Breadcrumbs are added for multiple reasons. They show the user where they are, reinforcing that they are in the correct place on your blog. They are also used for navigation as the elements in the breadcrumb are usually clickable.
Breadcrumbs are a theme feature in WordPress and most themes have support for them.
The Breadcrumb NavXT plugin takes your breadcrumbs to a whole new level by allowing you to take full control over your breadcrumbs.
The default breadcrumb in WordPress usually is
Home -> Category ->Current page
The plugin allows you to customize breadcrumbs fully and adds options to generate breadcrumbs based on:
and much more.
You also configure these custom breadcrumbs with templates, which will help display the breadcrumbs in the way you desire.
Breadcrumb NavXT is also schema compatible and will help generate custom search results page in Google Search.
In short, the breadcrumb NavXT is a great plugin to customize your blog and enhance your user experience.
If you have used WordPress, you know what shortcodes are.
The ShortCodes Ultimate plugin makes 50 amazing shortcodes available inside your WordPress post area.
These shortcodes add a lot of interactivity to your posts. There are many kinds of shortcodes available, a few of them are:
- Accordions, spoilers, icons
- Vertical and horizontal tabs
- Multi-column layouts
- Image and video embeds
Using these shortcodes you can create well organized and interactive content on your blog.
To describe each of these in detail would take another blog post. To get an overview of what’s possible, look at the examples below.
During your WordPress use, a lot of times you will find better plugins that meet your requirements.
These plugins may include content builders, social shares, social lockers or even content enhancers as ShortCode Ultimate above.
When you change your plugins that enhance your posts, one problem is common.
You see, plugins usually use shortcodes to insert and style content inside your posts. When you remove the plugin, the shortcode inserted might still show up.
When a broken shortcode shows up inside a post, it makes you look sloppy and gives the users a less than ideal user experience.
The Hide Broken Shortcodes fixes these issues for you.
Shortcodes can be of 2 types, self-enclosing and content enclosing.
Self-enclosing plugins do not have any content between them, but they add some other elements to the page, like forms.
When the plugin encounters a broken shortcode of this variety, it will show nothing in its place.
On the other hand, a content enclosing shortcode means that the shortcode wraps some content in itself, like text, audio or video.
When the plugin encounters a content enclosing plugin, then the content will be shown in the post, but the shortcode effects will not be applied.
The Hide Broken Shortcodes plugin is a very useful plugin, however if there was a feature present to report all posts with broken shortcodes, it would make it perfect.
Even without it, the Hide Broken Shortcode plugin is a useful plugin to enhance your blog’s UX.
Research has shown that long form content with over 2000 words in a post tends to rank higher.
Over the last few years, long form content is becoming mandatory to secure top rankings.
Understanding the trend, experts like Neil Patel are now writing content that is almost 4000 words per post.
Long form content is great, but it also can be overwhelming to your readers and they may bounce off your website.
A small and simple way to keep your readers expectation in check is by including a progress bar inside your posts.
The Scroll Progress Bar plugin does just that.
It enables a small progress bar on the top of your posts that moves as your readers progress throughout the post.
By informing users up front about how long the content is, your readers can make a choice about whether they want to read it right now, or bookmark and save it for later.
In any case, it makes for a better user experience.
Snowball is a one of a kind WordPress plugin that helps you create interactive and immersive content from right within WordPress.
Snowball allows you to embed quotes, images, HTML, tables etc.
Where the Snowball plugin really shines is that it allows you to create data visualizations from within the WordPress dashboard.
You can create a thematic map (Choropleth), a bar graph and even scatter plots.
The data needed to create these has to be entered inside your WordPress admin itself.
Here is an example screenshot from the plugin page itself.
Interactive content is getting extremely popular and Snowball is the perfect plugin to let you achieve that.
Comments from your readers are great.
If a reader commented on your post, that means that he/she (hopefully) read your content, found value and took their time to share their opinion.
Clearly, they are some of your most engaged visitors.
Unfortunately, WordPress has little functionality in the core to enhance the user experience of these readers.
That’s where Yoast Comment Hacks come in.
Created by the Yoast team, who are responsible for the very popular Yoast SEO Plugin, the Comment Hacks plugin adds nifty features in the WordPress core to better manage your comments and commenters.
The plugin adds several features, including:
- Cleaner email notifications about comments
- Force a minimum comment length to discourage spam like “great post”
- Redirect first-time commenters to another page. Here you can ask them to subscribe to your email list
- Adds a button in the admin toolbar to email all the commenters on a post at once. This can be useful to share updates or when factual information inside a post has changed
- Adds an option to email the commenter inside the admin besides the options to approve and disapprove the comment.
These options make your life as an admin easy and create a better user experience for your readers.
This plugin is particularly useful for blogs which have technical content or have jargon in them.
For a reader, it can be confusing to read content that has a lot of words that he/she is not familiar with.
Sure, you can add internal links to your other posts which explain those terms, but it’s not a great experience to click a lot of links and then reading those posts to get an answer they were looking for in the first post. This is especially true for technical terms that can be explained in just a few words.
The CM Tooltip Plugin provides you with a much more user-friendly solution by adding tooltip functionality to your posts.
By installing this plugin, you can define your terms inside the WordPress admin and those definitions will appear as tooltips when the user hovers over the terms.
You can also have the plugin create a glossary, which will contain the definitions of all the words that you have defined. You can also set the words in your posts to be linked to their respective glossary page.
This way, the reader can hover over a word and understand its meaning in short, or click it to be taken to the full explanation of the term.
Here is a small demo.
The plugin also has paid add-ons which will let you customize the look and feel of the tooltips and add several other features.
WordPress has a decent search functionality built in.
But, there is a lot that can be improved with it.
By default, WordPress would only index the content inside your posts or pages, nothing more. This can mean a lot of your readers might not find what they are looking for, especially when you implement tags and custom taxonomies to organize your content.
And what if the user is searching for some information that he found in a comment earlier? Sadly, comments are not even indexed by WordPress.
The Search Everything plugin changes that.
The plugin makes a lot of enhancement to the WordPress search functionality.
Once you install and configure the plugin, the plugin goes to work and starts indexing the following:
- All pages
- All posts
- All categories
- All tags
- All taxonomies
- All comments
- Attachment types
- Custom Fields
The plugin also has the functionality to hide specific posts and pages from your search results.
Obviously, using this plugin means that your readers get more relevant results when they search anything on your blog.
13. Search Meter
The Search Everything plugin improves the WordPress search, but it does not share an important metric about the search.
It does not share what users are actually searching for.
The Search Meter plugin helps capture that data.
Once installed, the Search Meter plugin starts recording what users are actually searching for on your blog.
You can manage this data over a day, week or a month.
The plugin also logs searches separately the searches which were unsuccessful.
An unsuccessful search means a search that did not return any results.
These searches are important as you can use this and create new content based on the searches.
This is also applicable for e-commerce websites. By understanding what kind of products users search for, you can fill that gap by introducing new products. I have personally been using this feature on my website Dressmyphone.
Here is a demo screenshot of how the plugin captures searches in the backend.
14. WP Hide Post
By default, whenever you publish a new post, it automatically shows up on your home page (if configured), archive page, category page, tags etc.
A lot of times, you might not want to display a newly published post on these pages.
The WP Hide Post plugin helps you achieve that by allowing you to set the visibility of your posts as you desire.
You can select the post to be hidden from you home page, category page, archive page, author page, search results and even your RSS feeds.
The plugin itself required minimal configuration and you can use it to improve the improve the user experience.
You obviously have heard about Buzzfeed. They are the undisputed king (or queen) of social and viral traffic.
On Buzzfeed posts, you might have noticed a cool feature where they capture their user’s reaction to the posts.
What if you could the same on your blog?
Now you can with the Feelback Reactions plugin.
The Feelback Reactions plugin helps you capture your users’ reaction to your content by placing multiple reaction based icons below your posts.
Think of it as Facebook Reactions for your posts.
You can customize the icons that show up under the reactions to match the color scheme on your blog as well.
Perhaps the most important part where this plugin really shines is analytics.
The analytics for this plugin is completely free and unleashes powerful data about how and when your users react to your content.
The analytics can answer questions like:
- Which is the most emotional post
- What devices encouraged which emotions
- Which emotions increase time on page
- How do reactions affect page views
and much more.
Here is an example of a analytics dashboard from the plugin page.
Clearly this data can be crucial to understanding your audience and create content that provides them with a better experience.
User experience is becoming more important with every passing day. With attention spans shrinking and Google counting user experience as a ranking factor, it is important as site owners to improve the user experience.
These plugins will help you understand your users well and help you to provide a superior user experience to them.