Plugins Spotlight: Menus, Child Pages and Security

by Tony Gamble

One of the most beautiful parts of the WordPress machine is its use of plugins to extend the functionality of your site. No longer are websites simple digital calling cards. People have come to expect a lot out of their Web experience. Facebook feeds, Twitter streams, Lightbox galleries and more have become the norm. This week we’ll take a look at a few plugins that I’ve found particularly useful.

Nav Menu Rolesscreenshot-1

This plugin gives you the ability to hide specific menu items, displaying them only for users who have logged into the site. It adds checkboxes to each item in a menu (under Appearance -> Menus) that allow you to restrict the menu item’s visibility based on a user’s role (Admin, Editor, Subscriber, etc.) or simply whether or not they’re logged in. It doesn’t protect the content to which the menu item links, only the visibility of the link itself. Returning the link’s visibility to ‘everyone’ is not very intuitive, however. You must select ‘By Role’ and then leave all roles unchecked. Still, it’s a great little plugin that gets the job done with little overhead.

Child Pages ShortcodeScreen Shot 2014-11-05 at 11.30.59 AM

One of the great features of WordPress is the ability to organize your Pages by hierarchy. This means you can have many child Pages branching off from a single parent Page. A great way to populate that parent Page is with the Child Pages Shortcode. This plugin displays a neatly organized list of every child Page, along with an excerpt. Simply enter the shortcode [child_pages] anywhere on the parent Page and the rest is handled for you. There are a few customizations available, such as declaring the width or ID of another parent Page, but out of the box this plugin does a beautiful job.

Wordfence Security

You’ve spent countless hours built a beautiful and engaging website, but there are plenty of baddies out there that can take it down in a heartbeat. That’s why you need a plugin like Wordfence. This gem operates in the background, keeping a watchful eye on traffic to and from your site and notifying you of potential problems like outdated plugins or themes, or worse. It can even speed up your website with its own built-in Falcon Engine, a caching feature that serves up pre-built pages to your users. Add to that advanced features like scanning files on your server for infections and you’ve got yourself a robust security suite, and it’s all for free! Of course, there are some additional premium features that are well worth the annual subscription fee, but out of the box this plugin will keep your site fast and secure.

That’s just a few of the over 34 thousand plugins available to a self-hosted WordPress website. What plugins are you using? Have a favourite one you’d like to give a shoutout to? Let me know in the comments below.

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