Shortcode plugins are doubly important if you regularly change themes or plan to in the future. Using a plugin for shortcodes is the only way to ensure that your post and page formatting doesn’t break when changing to another WordPress theme. Meanwhile, avoid themes offering hundreds of shortcodes – once you fall for them, a lot of work reformatting your content is in order should you change to another theme later on.
The Benefit of Shortcodes
Adding shortcodes to your WordPress blog is easy – simply choose one of the suitable plugins listed below and follow the instructions once installed.
They’re effective as they allow blog owners to enhance the visual style and features of their blog without any technical know-how and without losing hours scouring WordPress looking for a plugin that might not even work.
Using a simple tag or shortcode in the format of [shortcode]text[/shortcode] (or similar) additional functions can be added to your blog, providing a layer of polish and in some cases extra features.
How Shortcodes Work
The mechanics of shortcodes is simple.
Essentially they are PHP code snippets that are interpreted in a more usable form. Rather than having a PHP code snippet such as <?php function(argument) ?> pasted into your template, shortcodes allow you to use the less complicated [function][/function] instead. In the background, WordPress is still using <?php function(argument) ?>, but shortcodes make the function more user-friendly.
Better still, shortcodes can be placed in widgets and in the body of a post, meaning that there is no need to tweak the single.php or any other WordPress template file.
Capable of giving your website a massive stylistic makeover is Shortcodes Ultimate, a plugin that packs a punch. From image carousels, sliders and galleries to incorporating tweets and RSS feeds, this plugin includes a vast array of excellent enhancements for your WordPress blog.
Columns, tables can be added, documents and Google Maps embedded; even bullet point enhancements can be added to your site with simple pre-configured shortcodes, and the plugin developers are promising extra premium features in the near future. Additionally, you can make changes to the shortcodes using a built-in CSS editor – useful if something looks good but doesn’t quite match your blog.
To find our more, check the WordPress Plugins listing for Shortcodes Ultimate.
Offering a similar feature set to Shortcodes Ultimate, J Shortcodes keeps things just as simple while enabling you to pimp your blog without installing a new theme or tweaking the CSS.
Buttons, boxes, columns and more can be added, given colour and dimensions. While there aren’t as many shortcodes available as in Shortcodes Ultimate, you will however find that it offers the same advantage – to allow you to produce an amazing new look for your blog without any additional coding.
You can install J Shortcodes via the WordPress Plugins site.
Another plugin for adding custom shortcodes to your blog, Shortcoder uses the simple [sc:function] tag to add a pre-determined code box to your blog.
The plugin features an admin page where new shortcodes can be added; these can be assigned names which are then used in the shortcode tag. In addition, Shortcoder adds a button to the toolbar in your post editing page, meaning that you don’t even need to type the shortcode – simply select it from the displayed options and insert it into your post!
Head to the WordPress Plugins page to find out more about Shortcoder.
Do You Have a Shortcode Favourite?
These three examples are the cream of a very impressive selection of plugins, but what do you think? Are these shortcode plugins you have tried, or are there any others you would recommend?
Perhaps you don’t bother with shortcodes at all, preferring to code new features in the traditional manner.
Let us know!