We have a confession to make: we’re crap at coding.
There, we said it.
But you know what? We get by just fine designing custom content – in fact, we can’t remember the last piece of code we wrote. And it’s all thanks to shortcodes.
What are shortcodes?
Shortcodes are short pieces of code that execute more complex code in one line. They make life a hell of a lot easier because you don’t have to write out the lengthy executed code yourself.
You just add the shortcode and poof! Magic happens.
Like we said, magic.
Most people want a shortcode plugin to solve a specific design problem they have, such as embedding tweets in articles, embedding a button in a blog post, or creating content for multiple customer personas on one page using tabs like these:
The best WordPress shortcode plugins enable you to do these things and more, with shortcodes for things like tabs, toggles, accordions, notes, boxes, buttons and pull quotes.
Below are the shortcode plugins we recommend most, based on our own user experience.
Let’s get on with it then.
Best shortcode plugins (multi-purpose)
A multi-purpose shortcode plugin brings a suite of features to your WordPress site.
Here’s what we recommend:
Shortcodes Ultimate (link)
With this free plugin you get 50+ shortcodes that are:
- Perfectly styled
This is our preferred shortcode plugin for most elements. It’s what we use on our own blog. We’ve tried it out on plenty of other themes and it always works.
There are some interesting features, like the animated text below:
And useful features, like the button below:
Shortcodes by Angie Makes (link)
Shortcodes by Angie Makes brings a suite of functionality to your site. We recommend this plugin for making pricing boxes like this:
- 30GB storage
- 512MB Ram
- 10 databases
- 1,000 Emails
- 25GB Bandwidth
There are also shortcodes for buttons, columns and tables, accordions, tabs, and content toggles, as well as social icons and share buttons.
You can also make good looking notification boxes like this one.
We like the way all these shortcodes are styled and they’re fully responsive. The plugin isn’t updated as regularly as the other two, but it’s been kept up to date with every major WP update so far.
Meks Flexible Shortcodes (link)
With this free plugin, you get access to a similar suite of functions as with Shortcodes Ultimate, but the content toggles and progress bars are a little nicer.
We like using this plugin for progress bars like this:
And content toggles like this:
All the shortcodes in this plugin are:
- Perfectly styled
Woo Shortcodes Kit (link)
If you have a commerce store built on WooCommerce, the best WordPress shortcode plugin is Woo Shortcodes Kit.
This plugin adds 60+ shortcodes to your WooCommerce site, enabling you to jazz up your content and improve user experience.
Best shortcode plugins (specialised)
A specialised shortcode plugin brings specific design functionality to your site.
Here’s what we recommend:
Shortcode Variables (link)
What does it do? Lets you make custom shortcodes.
This plugin gives you a simple but powerful function: the ability to create your own shortcodes, so you can use the same snippet of text or HTML throughout your site using a shortcode you create.
The benefit is that when you update the shortcode, the content in that shortcode changes across your site, saving you time.
What does it do? Beautiful, responsive tables.
If you want to make responsive tables, TablePress is the plugin for you. You can embed tables into posts, pages, or text widgets with a simple shortcode and customise table appearance easily.
Latest Post Shortcode (link)
What does it do? Latest posts.
This is probably the simplest shortcode plugin of the bunch. It enables you to insert your latest posts on the sidebar of your blog, or anywhere on your site, in an orderly way.
You can use hooks to define custom content and there’s also a feature for making the list a slider – without the need for an additional plugin to style it.
Modern Events Calendar Lite (link)
What does it do? Calendars and events shortcodes.
This is easily the best free events calendar shortcode plugin we’ve tested. The predesigned templates are spot on and customisable in the back end.
You can set single or recurring events and style them up without any coding knowledge. This plugin also has Woocommerce and Elementor compatibility.
Grid Shortcodes (link)
What does it do? Divides post content into columns.
Ever wanted to change the layout of the text in your posts? Now you can. Grid Shortcodes enables you to create columns in your posts so you can display content in different ways.
WP Google Maps (link)
What does it do? Customisable Google Maps shortcodes.
There are loads of Google Maps shortcode plugins available. Our pick of the bunch is WP Google Maps because it’s easy to use, feature-rich and the Lite version is completely free.
The free version has 9 themes and enables you to create as many map markers as you need by typing in the address. Choose roadmap, terrain, satellite or hybrid default terrain, and add functionality for Street View if you like.
What does it do? Sports data shortcodes.
SportsPress is the most specialised plugin on our list. It enables you to create pages and posts that display sports data in interesting ways, with support for things like league tables and match results.
The plugin is free to use and is useful for creating a configurable team, club, or league website without the need for any custom code.
Shortcode plugins are a great way to jazz up your content.
Even if you have a WordPress theme with lots of custom content functionality, there’s a good chance using an additional plugin will enhance your options even further.
If you search ‘shortcodes’ in your WordPress backend, you’ll be given a huge number of plugin recommendations. We’ve picked what works for us and our clients.
If you use an awesome plugin that isn’t listed, share your recommendation by leaving a comment below and we’ll consider adding it to this post (after testing it).