For over a year now I’ve been utilizing WordPress as the code base for the web sites that I build. Why? Because it is simply amazing, full featured and doesn’t add additional costs to my clients’ sites, actually, it reduces the cost of building a site. It’s even better with the recent release of WordPress ‘Thelonious’ (v3.0) and the feature additions it has included. The other great thing about WordPress is the large number of excellent plugins available, both free of charge and commercial based.
I always have a few WordPress plugins incorporated into my website designs. Why wouldn’t I? They save me time, which equates to my clients’ money, and often provides solutions that are more robust or integrated than I would have the time to code myself. Suppose my feelings follow along the train of thought of why re-invent the wheel, though, one can perhaps build a better mousetrap (if one has the time and stomach for it).
Some plugins that I use are really just no brainers, like Akismet for spam control. Others, like W3 Cache and Automatic WordPress Backup, add functionality or process management that is necessary on every website. This article will lay out the plugins I use fairly often and recommend you take a look at when you have a need that they meet. There is no way that I’m familiar with every plugin or every function that someone has dreamt up, but these will handle much of what you need. I’ll try to manage this post to keep it current as the tides change, so, check back periodically.
WordPress Plugins I Use
- Auto Thickbox (Denis de Bernardy): This plugin adds a very configurable method for displaying a full-size image in a polished, isolated window within your post when a user clicks on the image.
- Automatic WordPress Backups (Dan Coulter): This awesome plugin handles data and file backups utilizing the very inexpensive Amazon Web Simple Storage Services (S3) resource.
- Akismet (Automattic): This is a comment spam checker that is included (though not activated) with every install of WordPress. It’s definitely worth utilizing.
- All in One SEO Pack (Michael Torbert): A great tool that adds SEO fields to each post and page such that you can define an SEO title, description… as you build the content.
- Broken Link Checker (Janis Elsts): A great way to audit the links on your web site to ensure they continue to direct visitors to viable pages.
- Digg Digg (Yong Mook Kim): Adds social vote buttons (e.g., Digg, Reddit, Yahoo Buzz, TweetMeme…) to your posts, making it much easier for you to build inbound links and get more exposure.
- Google Analytics for WordPress (Joost de Valk): This plugin makes it simple to add Google Analytics with extra search engines and automatic clickout and download tracking to your WordPress blog. I’ve started using this in place of specifying the Google Analytics tracking codes within a theme’s setting.
- Google XML Sitemaps (Arne Brachhold): This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap that will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing… better index your site.
- Ozh Admin Drop Down Menu (Ozh): This plugin helps out with the managing of the many menus within the WordPress Admin console by placing them along the top of the screen where they are easily accessed.
- Page Security by Contexture (404 link removed) (Contexture Intl, Matt VanAndel, Jerrol Krause): This plugin does a great job at managing page security for sites that want to restrict access to posts and pages. It allows for the creation of groups of users by name or type. RSS feeds also are included in the security. I selected this over the “User Access Manager” plugin as I felt it did a better job at allowing one to build custom restriction groups. This said, “User Access Manager” also is worth a look.
- NO LONGER RECOMMENDED as it hasn’t been kept up-to-date and has a rather serious defect. Remove Stopwords from Slug (Alberto Varela): A great little configurable plugin that removes the small, unnecessary, no SEO value words from your Page and Post URLs.
- Robots Meta (Joost de Valk): This plugin adds robot meta fields to your pages and posts so that you can specify the indexing actions of search robots on a given piece of site content.
- Smart Youtube (Vladimir Prelovac): This is the plugin that I’ve chosen to use to embed YouTube videos into my Posts. It works great!
- Twitter Tools (Alex King): This little gem adds the ability to auto-generate a tweet from a blog Post when it is published, relieving you of the overhead of having to manually do this. If you’re so inclined, you also can have it generate Posts based upon your tweets.
- W3 Total Cache (Frederick Townes): This highly rated plugin turns on and manages the caching features built into WordPress in an effort to increase the performance of your web site.
- WEBphysiology Portfolio (WEBphysiology): I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this plugin if you need a detailed, list-based portfolio entry. Why? Well, first, because we are the authors. Yes, we finally bit the bullet and packaged up a plugin to share with everyone. The other reason is that it does a great job supporting the intended use. This said, one’s imagination can envision other uses, like using it to support a company’s officer’s page. Styling the list can be handled via the editable styling attributes or by utilizing one’s own CSS file. Check it out and let us know what you think.
- WP Greet Box (Thaya Kareeson): This plugin will present a link within your blog Post allowing a visitor to subscribe to your feed. It is well integrated (aka, non-intrusive) within the UI and is personalized based upon where the user has navigated from.
- Yet Another Related Post (mitcho): This plugin will build a list of other related Posts that a reader may want to check out and add this to the bottom of a Post or feed.
- Yoast Breadcrumbs (Joost de Valk): If you are working with a WordPress theme that hasn’t included a breadcrumb then you should check out this plugin. Breadcrumbs not only assist your visitors site navigation experience, it also can help with SEO.