Shortcodes are placeholders you add to your WordPress posts and pages, which are then replaced by more content or code when that post or page goes live.
If you are new to shortcodes in WordPress then this article we published a while ago will get you up to speed. However, for a quick overview, here is a brief description:
A simple example of a shortcode would be a small string of text that is added to a post, and then when the post is published, the shortcode is replaced by an attractive and eye catching button. This button would then be used to generate more clicks than a regular text, link due to its more noticeable design.
However, shortcodes don’t end there and they can be used to insert any code or content into your posts. This could be advanced layouts, such as columns and rows; tables; sliders; tabs; media players; galleries, and a whole lot more.
In this post we will be taking a look at some of the best shortcode plugins for WordPress that will allow you to add large libraries of pre-built shortcodes to your website.
The Most Useful WordPress Shortcode Plugins
While there are many shortcodes plugins that can be used to insert a wide range of content into your posts, pages, and elsewhere, here is a shortlist of some of the best options for improving the look and feel of your content, without the need to change your WordPress theme or carry out any development work.
Most of these options are free, so if you like the sound of them, you can start testing them out on your site today.
Easy Bootstrap Shortcode is a great choice if you want to add custom layouts to your posts and pages to present your content in new and exciting ways. As the name suggests this content is all responsive, having been built on the Twitter Bootstrap framework.
The shortcodes can all be inserted into your content via the button that is added to the WordPress post editor, saving you from having to paste in, or remember the exact codes for what you are trying to add to your pages.
The plugins includes 500+ Font Awesome icon fonts which can be inserted into your content, as well as:
- Progress Bars
- Image Effects
Easy Bootstrap Shortcode also gives you the ability to easily insert shortcodes into widgets so that they can be displayed in your site’s sidebars and footers.
Shortcodes Ultimate is another free option that got a mention in our initial guide to WordPress shortcodes, but it’s a popular choice with lots of great page elements so it’s worth covering again.
Once installed on your site, the plugin adds a button to the post editor which allows you to preview and customize the shortcodes, before inserting them into your content. The elements included with Shortcodes Ultimate covers the following areas:
- Layout options, such as grids an columns
- Audio and video players
- Text decoration, including lists, highlights, and drop caps
- Buttons and interactive elements
Visual Composer is actually sold as a drag and drop page builder tool but it makes use of shortcodes to insert a range of simple to complex page layouts into your posts and pages. This can help you break free from the constraints of the WordPress blog post format.
As well as allowing you to build these layouts, the Visual Composer plugin also gives you access to over 45 professional content elements that can be inserted into your posts and custom layouts, simply by using the relevant shortcodes.
The content blocks that can be added to your posts and pages include:
- Tabs and Accordions
- Media Players
- Calls to Actions and Buttons
With so many content blocks to choose from, it’s worth taking Visual Composer for a free test drive to really see what it can do.
There is also a large number of add-ons available for this page builder plugin, some of which add even more shortcodes to its library.
If you find yourself adding the same pieces of content into your posts and pages on a regular basis, then creating your own shortcodes can save you a lot of time and effort.
Another benefit of using shortcodes to insert this repeated content is that if you ever need to make changes to it, you just need to edit the source once, and then each instance of that shortcode will be updated to reflect those changes.
The Reusable Text Blocks plugin is one option for adding your own pieces of reusable content to your site, which can then be inserted into posts and pages using custom shortcodes.
It’s a simple plugin to get started with and implement on your site. The pieces of content you want to reuse can be created using the WordPress post editor. This allows you to add formatting, images, and do anything else you can with a regular post.
Then once you’ve created one or more blocks of content, they can be inserted into your posts and pages by using the corresponding shortcode.
This free plugin can save you lots of time if you ever find yourself adding the same piece of text, images, buttons, or anything else to your posts multiple times.
If you want to insert a whole range of page elements into your content then shortcodes are the way to do so. You can even install multiple shortcodes plugins on the same site, providing they aren’t sharing the same codes, to give you even more options.
Just remember that if you do disable these plugins, any of the shortcodes you’ve added into your content will also be disabled, leaving you with a potentially large clean up job on your hands.
If you have any questions about these plugins or shortcodes in general, please leave a comment below.