Five good WordPress plugins you may not know about

This is a quick review of five WordPress plugins that I find useful and that are not very well known. Three are still in beta. The other two have been around longer, but I was not able to find them in the repository of Their downloads are hosted at their authors’ sites.

As a bonus, I added a mini how-to: How to make a “mini child theme” for WordPress by using one of the plugins.

The five plugins

1. Easy Contact

Home: By: Scott Allan Wallick Version reviewed: 0.1.2 β

The first two contact forms I tried in WordPress confused me to no end, and I uninstalled them. Then I found Easy Contact. It is easy to set up and does all I need.

You can see it in action here: — Please, feel free to try it; just put [TEST] somewhere in the subject line — unless, of course, you want to send a non-test message. :-)

The options page of Easy Contact.

NOTE. Easy Contact and Extended Options, the other plugin by Scott Wallick in this review, do something I find annoying: upon deactivation, they remove their settings from the database. In my opinion, plugins should not remove their settings without asking. Removing settings should be an option.

2. Extended Options

Home: By: Scott Allan Wallick Version reviewed: 0.1.1 β

I use Extended Options to add the footer links of Sometimes I also use it to display a notice in the header, when I try things that may disturb visitors. It has many other options, and some may seem esoteric to you (some do to me), but you can just set the ones you want and leave the rest alone. Have a look at the screenshot:

Extended Options.

3. Less

Home: NOT FOUND By: Bennett McElwee Version reviewed: 1.1

Less is a very simple plugin. You just activate it; there is nothing to set up. What it does? It removes the anchor part from “More” links. What does that mean?

Normally, when you click a More link in WordPress, you land where the More anchor is:

With Less you see the post page from the top:

To quote its author, Bennett McElwee:

This is more intuitive. (Your intuition may vary.) After I click a (more…) link, I often find myself scrolling up to make sure that I am where I think I am, and I’m not missing anything.

4. MiniPosts2

Home: NOT FOUND By: Morgan Doocy and e (sic) Version reviewed: 0.6.6

“Mini posts” or “asides” are posts displayed less prominently than your other posts. There are themes with built-in support for asides —Tarski and K2 are two—, but not many. In most themes you need either extra code or a plugin. uses MiniPosts2, and I am happy with it, except for one thing:

To have a post displayed as a minipost, you tick a checkbox in its write/edit page. I think that automatically selecting all posts from a category —say, “Asides”— makes more sense (also, it helps compatibility with other implementations) and would be an improvement, at least as an alternative option.

The options page of MiniPosts2. I have no idea why its manager displays each post three times. Maybe it’s just a bug.

5. TypePad AntiSpam

Home: By: Matt Mullenweg, Six Apart Ltd. Version reviewed: 1.02

This is the WordPress plugin for the antispam service of Six Apart, the makers of Movable Type. It is compatible with the Akismet API, and currently in beta. It was suggested to me by a friend as an alternative to Akismet and I installed it out of curiosity. I cannot say if it is better or worse than Akismet (the amount of spam that hits is not enough to tell) but so far it does its job.

Two features distinguishing TypePad AntiSpam from Akismet are:

  1. It is fully open-source.
  2. It is free to use even if you are making mad paper from your site. According to the TypePad AntiSpam FAQ: “TypePad Antispam is free, and will always be free, regardless of the number of comments your blog receives.” (I am curious to see whether this proves sustainable when the service goes out of beta or if it becomes more popular.)

TypePad AntiSpam, Configuration page

How to make a “mini child theme”

Making possible valid applications unintended in the original design is not rare in good software. The trick in the mini how-to that follows is an instance of this.

Suppose that you use the theme Thematic in your site. You wouldn’t change anything in it, but there is a problem: Many of your visitors have small screens and you receive complaints that the header takes too much space.

You open Firebug in Firefox to see what you can do. You quickly make three CSS rules to reduce the height of the header:

#blog-title         { padding-top: 6px; }
#blog-description   { padding-top: 3px; }
#blog-description   { padding-bottom: 24px; }

“Now”, you think to yourself, “how to apply this permanently? That tutorial at is great, but making a child theme just for three tiny rules seems a bit too much. There must be another way!”

There is!

1. Mini child themes. Quick how-to

Enclose your three CSS rules in HTML style tags like this:

<style type="text/css">
#blog-title         { padding-top: 6px; }
#blog-description   { padding-top: 3px; }
#blog-description   { padding-bottom: 24px; }

Install the Extended Options plugin, activate it, and go to its Options page. Scroll down to the “Content Add-In Options”, enable the “Meta Add-In”, and paste the five lines of code into the text area:

Scroll a bit more and click “Save Changes”. You are ready. Your “mini child theme” has been activated.

Let us recall what Thematic looked like before:

Now Thematic after the “mini child theme” was added:

Super, isn’t it? :-) (The trick, that is, not what I did to the header of Thematic!)

2. How does this work?

It is simple:

The Cascading Style Sheet of Thematic is loaded by a link within the head element of every HTML page. Extended Options inserts the CSS code within the same element (head) but after the link to the style sheet of Thematic:

<head profile="">
    <title> | Blah blah</title>
    <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />
    <meta name="description" content="Blah blah" />
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"
        href="" />
    <style type="text/css">
    #blog-title         { padding-top: 6px; }
    #blog-description   { padding-top: 3px; }
    #blog-description   { padding-bottom: 24px; }

So, in the cascading order, the internal style sheet comes after the external style sheet. When declarations conflict, the internal stylesheet wins, and the header of Thematic is resized.

3. Why is this technique called a “mini” child theme?

Actually, I shouldn’t call it a “theme” at all, since it is not a theme. I call it that because:

  1. it gives the same practical result as a child theme, but
  2. it is only sensible for small amounts of CSS code, that is, mini-size code.


Unlike external style sheets, which are saved as files in the browser’s cache, the code in internal stylesheets is re-downloaded every time a page is viewed. The five lines above are just 169 bytes (and can be made less by removing spaces and using shorthand properties), which can be considered a negligible addition to the size of a page. For anything much larger, internal stylesheets are not a good idea, and a method based on external style sheets should be used instead.

Thanks for reading!



Easy Contact | Extended Options | Less | MiniPosts2 | TypePad AntiSpam

How to make a “child theme” for WordPress. A pictorial introduction for beginners
If you are new to Cascading Style Sheets and WordPress child themes, this article answers some basic questions and provides a list of links to good tools and resources.
Thematic by Ian Stewart, the WordPress theme used in the “mini child theme” example.
An early review and early feedback on TypePad AntiSpam by TechCrunch. — See also this detailed review by Mark Ghosh of Weblog Tools Collection:

Responses (4)

Pingbacks (3)

  1. […] Well balanced design, meticulously styled. The spacious header is very easy to resize by means of a child theme (and maybe easier by means of a “mini child theme”). […]

  2. […] Read more here: Five good WordPress plugins you may not know about – […]

  3. […] more: Five good WordPress plugins you may not know about – Comments0 Leave a Reply Click here to cancel […]

Comments (1)

  1. Gautham says:

    The minipost theme is really a good one. I always knew there was something missing in my blog.


Write a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *