15 WordPress Interface & Navigation Plugins

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So you’ve got your WordPress site set up, your theme installed, and you’re almost ready to go. But there are some interface and navigation changes that you feel would improve the place for your visitors — problem is, you don’t have the time to handcode them or you don’t have the know-how. But that’s not a problem with WordPress : for almost any need, there’s a plugin available. Here are 15 great plugins for augmenting your interface and navigation.

Below there’s a list of the most popular and commonly used interface and navigation WordPress plugins available.

1. Global Translator

Global Translator is a plugin that adds automatic translation to your blog via the Google Translate API. Thanks to Google Translate, the Global Translator plugin provides one-click translation of 48 languages on your site.

2. WPtouch

WPtouch is a simple way to have WordPress serve a mobile-friendly website without requiring you to create and code a mobile design for your blog.

WPtouch works with smartphones like the iPhone, Android devices, the Palm Pre, Samsung Touch and more, and uses an iPhone app-esque design.

3. Carousel Gallery

Carousel Gallery uses jQuery to modify the WordPress built-in gallery function. It takes the static galleries WordPress generates and turns them into a jQuery carousel that can be flipped around.

4. jQuery Lightbox for Native Galleries

If you’d prefer to keep the static thumbnail gallery view that WordPress provides but would prefer that the full-size images would pop up in a lightbox, jQuery Lightbox for Native Galleries is the plugin that will make it happen. A lightbox is when you click on an image thumbnail and the full image is shown as an overlay on the page.

5. GD Star Rating

GD Star Rating adds functionality to your blog that allows users to rate all kinds of content, including posts and pages themselves and the comments left on them. The plugin comes with widgets for showing off the most highly rated content.

6. Dave’s WordPress Live Search

Dave’s WordPress Live Search adds Google-esque live search to your blog that shifts as you type in the search box — it queries the database with each keystroke. Note that this makes the plugin resource-intensive and it should be used with care, and probably not in high-load environments.

7. Multi-level Navigation Plugin

Multi-level Navigation is an easy way to add dropdown and flyout menus to your blog. When you need multi-level, hierarchical navigation, this plugin takes care of the job without requiring you to learn to code.

This style of navigation is particularly useful in situations when there are more multi-level navigation options than would comfortably fit within the design and remain scannable.

8. UI Labs

Shake up the WordPress backend interface with John O’Nolan’s collection of UI experiments, UI Labs. It is frequently updated with new experiments and currently features color-coded post statuses so you can easily see which posts are drafts, published, stickied, pending and so on in the backend.

More recently, it has included the option to use a more traditional admin bar as opposed to the cluttered one introduced in WordPress 3.2.

9. WordPress Sphinx Search Plugin

WordPress has notoriously bad search even after all these years, and it is widely known that plugins are required to make search more useful to users. WordPress Sphinx Search uses the open source Sphinx Search Engine to make your WordPress search more relevant.

10. Admin Trim Interface

Speaking of clutter in the admin interface, here’s a plugin that helps you get rid of even more of it. From the WordPress logo at the top to the footer at the bottom, Admin Trim Interface allows you to select elements that should be removed.

11. Search Everything

Another of WordPress search’s flaws is that it only includes a limited subset of content in its range. Search Everything is a plugin that expands that range to many more items: pages, tags, custom taxonomies, categories, comments — you can even enable the searching of drafts if for some reason you want that. It also brings search highlighting to the table.

12. Breadcrumb NavXT

Breadcrumb NavXT is a great way to generate breadcrumbs on your WordPress blog and can be customized to generate plugins using structures much as how permalinks are handled. Breadcrumbs are a navigational element that shows the hierarchical trail between the current page and the homepage of a site.

13. WP-PageNavi

Many people find WordPress’ default pagination to be insufficient, with only the option of “Older posts” and “Newer posts” not providing enough control and precision to the user. WP-PageNavi adds numeric pagination to WordPress, allowing users to select a page of blog posts by number.

14. WP-dTree

Before we looked at a plugin for easily creating hover flyout navigation menus, but if you think a tree format with collapsible levels would suit your blog better, WP-dTree easily adds tree navigation to your site.

15. Ajax Contact Form

Ajax Contact Form adds a contact form to your site so that you don’t need to publicize your email address and risk opening it up to a torrent of spammers.

Ajax Contact Form uses AJAX technologies to create a form that responds to the user with validation and eliminates the need for page refreshes on message submission.

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