JavaScript for WordPress. Two women work on Javascript code at a dual monitor desktop

JavaScript for WordPress

As a WordPress user, you may have occasionally wished you could tweak your pages or posts beyond what your theme allows, without breaking it. Maybe you’ve wanted to add an interactive element to your site, for example, but WordPress strips out your coding when you save your changes.

Since adding code directly into a page or post is not exactly easy, this can be a frustrating barrier. However, there is a way to overcome it. JavaScript can be used within the WordPress platform to add dynamic elements to pages and posts, or across your entire website. 

In this article we’ll take a look at JavaScript, what it is, and how you can use it to enhance your WordPress digital experiences. We’ll also check out several plugins that can help you implement JavaScript on your website. Gather up all your amazing website ideas, and let’s get started! 

What Is JavaScript?

JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages. It can add a layer of dynamic functionality to a website. While most sites’ basic elements are put together with HTML and CSS, JavaScript brings a whole host of engaging options to the party. This could include anything from an interactive calculator to a real-time feed of information.

One of the benefits of JavaScript is that it’s typically deployed as client-side programming. This means the script is run from the visitor’s browser as they view the page. Once HTML and CSS deploy and create the structure of the page, JavaScript can run on top of the other elements to achieve some dynamic goal. 

What Does JavaScript Do?

So, we now know that JavaScript is primarily a client-side programming element that can alter a site’s existing HTML and CSS. But what else can it do? There are several useful things you can use JavaScript for, including:

Since JavaScript is run by the user’s browser, it can also gather data from that browser. This is essential when it comes to making fast and efficient websites that load images quickly and respond well to mobile devices. 

When Should You Add JavaScript to WordPress?

Adding JavaScript comes in handy when you want to add an element to your WordPress page that would otherwise bog down your server when deployed. This can include complex features, such as audio or video players. Also, if you use a lot of third-party applications, you might need to add a piece of JavaScript to your site to make them function. 

Since JavaScript is written into an HTML page, it’s up to the user’s browser to decide what to do with it. While JavaScript can be used on the server side, therefore, its real super power is in the client-side implementation.

Some other opportunities for JavaScript implementation include event-based actions. This is when you need something to happen on your site in response to a user’s actions, such as mouse clicks or a window resize.  

5 Top JavaScript WordPress Plugins

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what this programming language has to offer, let’s take a look at some WordPress JavaScript plugins that can help you deploy scripts safely on your website. Below, we’ll review six plugins for WordPress that offer a variety of different options and features. 

1. WP Code

This WordPress plugin is self-described as the easiest way to add code to your WordPress site. WP Code is brought to you by WPBeginner, and can help you integrate third-party APIs from social media platforms and more. All this is possible without the need to edit your WordPress theme directly. 

Key Features:

  • Provides a simple interface for one-stop header or footer script editing and insertion
  • Enables you to choose between inserting JS code in the header or footer
  • Lets you add Google Analytics to any theme
  • Makes it possible to work with multiple kinds of code, including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Price: This is a free plugin.

2. Simple Custom CSS and JS

The Simple Custom CSS and JS plugin is handy as a developer tool, and is most effective if upgraded to the pro version. It focuses primarily on appearance changes to your site. What’s more, it enables you to add custom CSS and custom JavaScript without modifying your WordPress theme or plugin files. With the ability to apply code changes to specific pages or URLs, you can test elements before making them live.

Key Features:

  • Includes a text editor with syntax highlighting
  • Lets you print your code out inline or in a separate file
  • Enables code placement in the header or footer of the site
  • Makes it possible to add as many codes as you want to the front-end or the admin sides
  • Preserves your changes when you change your theme

Price: This plugin is a free option.

3. Scripts to Footer

This powerhouse WordPress plugin moves your important scripts to your site’s footer. You may want to do this to reduce loading times, or clean up any bottlenecks to image loading if your theme runs a lot of scripts. It should be noted that that Scripts to Footer only works if you have plugins and a theme that uses wp_enqueue_scripts correctly.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to disable the plugin’s features on specific pages and posts directly, via the post/page edit screen metabox
  • Lets you disable the plugin on specific archive pages via the settings page
  • Makes it possible to choose which scripts to keep in the site’s header

Price: This plugin is 100% free. 

4. CSS & JavaScript Toolbox

Next up, CSS & JavaScript Toolbox offers a dashboard option for managing all of your site’s codes and snippets. A powerful tool for developers who want lots of control over their code, this toolbox enables you to create code blocks for use on your site. You can add and manage CSS, JavaScript, HTML, and PHP code that’s unique to your code blocks, and add them just about anywhere.

Key Features:

  • Lets you add CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and HTML to pages, posts, custom post types, tags, categories, URLs, and more 
  • Enables you to add front-end styles without modifying your theme files
  • Eliminates the need for extraneous custom plugins or hacks to add functionality
  • Helps you add third-party scripts for advertising and visitor tracking, or social media channels
  • Makes it possible to avoid using FTP, and manage all code additions and changes within your dashboard

Price: You can try the free plugin, or pick up a premium version for $29.

5. Scripts n Styles

Finally, Scripts n Styles enables you to add custom CSS and JavaScript directly into individual posts, pages, or any other registered custom post types. In the JavaScript realm, this plugin also comes with some built-in security features. This is helpful if you have many hands working in your WordPress site. 

Key Features:

  • Lets you add classes to the body tag and post container
  • Enables you to create scripts for the entire site through a global settings page
  • Adds new classes to the TinyMCE formats drop-down menu, for direct styling of posts and pages
  • Provides the option to restrict usage to specific user types

Price: There’s no cost for using this plugin.

Easily Adding JavaScript in WordPress (In 2 Steps)

One of the easiest ways to include JavaScript site-wide is to insert the code into your header or footer via a plugin. Let’s take a look at how this works, using Insert Headers and Footers as an example.

Step 1: Install and Activate the Plugin

The first step is to simply search for the plugin from your website’s Plugin tab, and then install it.

Once you have done that, you will see an Activate button. Your plugin is not fully functional until you complete the process by activating it.

Step 2: Insert JavaScript Code into Your Header or Footer

Once the plugin is activated, you’ll find a new item under your Settings menu in your WordPress dashboard, labeled Insert Headers and Footers.

This is where you can add all the scripts you want to run in either the header, the footer, or both. That includes tweaks to your theme, integration with third-party APIs, and CSS alterations.

It’s that simple! Don’t forget to save your changes when you’re done, and the plugin will automatically load your JavaScript code in the appropriate places.

Learn More Developer Tricks With WP Engine

Creating unique and custom changes to your WordPress site with JavaScript can seem intimidating at first. Once you know how to successfully implement this key programming language, however, you’ll have full control over your themes and integrations. 

As a WordPress website owner or developer, quality resources make all the difference in your work. At WP Engine, we have plans and solutions for all budgets. We’re here to bring you the best WordPress hosting and help you take your sites to new limits!

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