I’ve been working with WordPress for a few years now. Here’s a list of the Plug-ins I’ve come to count on, and why.
Official Description: “Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam. It keeps your site protected from spam even while you sleep. ”
Review: Works as advertised. It’s a pay-for service (free for personal blogs), but few other spam counter-measures work as effectively.
Search Engine Optimization
Official Description: “Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog.”
Review: This is a highly configurable SEO Plug-in which works wonders. It provides the ability to populate keywords, meta-descriptions, page title, and more right on your post or page edit screen. Thus plug-in doesn’t do much by itself. If you want to reap the benefits of SEO, you have to do a little extra work for each post/page.
Media Library Management
Official Description: “Enable replacing media files by uploading a new file in the “Edit Media” section of the WordPress Media Library.”
Review: This is a very simple, yet essential part of my wordpress toolbox. With this plug-in you can easily update images assets in your media library. You can choose to simply replace the file and keep the old filename, or replace the file, use the new filename, and update all filename references throughout your site.
Google Analytics for WordPress
Review: Very simple to set up. It adds the WordPress tracking code to your website, and also adds a small widget to your dashboard allowing you to see a 30 day snapshot of your Analytics.
Turn off page comments
Official Description: “This plug-in un-checks the “allow comments” and “allow trackbacks/pingbacks” checkboxes by default for new pages while leaving the default behavior for posts alone.”
Review: I’m proud to say that my friend Joe Melberg of Techism wrote this plug-in. When activated, this plug-in automatically turns off the page comments for any new page created (by default, Comments are enabled). You want this plug-in installed and active before you start building out your new WordPress Website. Otherwise, you have a lot of “unchecking” to do.
Front-End Media Viewer
Additional Post and Page Editor Visual Editor Controls.
Official Description: “Enables advanced features and plugins in TinyMCE, the visual editor in WordPress.”
Review: TinyMCE Advanced adds a slew of very useful visual editor controls for your post/page editor. In addition to the stock editor controls such as bold, italics, justification, etc., it adds many many more like: tables, special characters, Deleted Text (strike), Anchors, Horizontal Rules, Show Hidden Characters, etc. Your WP users will wonder why they can’t do certain things with WordPress’s stock text controls. So add this before you train them. (As administrator, you can control which additional features will be available to your users, so you still have a lot of control.)
Slideshow and banner management
Official Description: “Create SlideDecks on your WordPress blogging platform and insert them into templates and posts. Get started creating SlideDecks from the new SlideDeck menu in the left hand navigation.”
Review: I really don’t like SlideDeck. It’s not easy to configure or skin. However, it’s the best banner management plug-in around, currently. It’s a pay-for plug-in, so support is good. I really wish SlideDeck would give you the option to choose from many of the different transitions that are available for JQuery. Crossfade would be a very welcome addition. Unfortunately, you have only one tired transition available: Slide. As a paid plug-in, SlideDeck would greatly benefit its user base by adding a skins library!!! Developing your own skins from scratch can take a few hours. All that aside, I still can’t live without it. But I’ll probably jump ship as soon as something better comes along.
9) WP Minify
Official Description: “This plugin uses the Minify engine to combine and compress JS and CSS files to improve page load time.”
Review: Does what it says by removing linebreaks and spaces in your CSS and JS files when they’re served up. I recommend only activating this plug-in when you’re ready to launch, not when you’re still in development, as it can play havoc. Test after activating.
10) WP Super Cache
Caches pages and posts for faster serving
Official Description: “Very fast caching plug-in for WordPress”
Review: This plug-in creates a cache of your posts and pages to minimize database requests and speed up serve-time. It makes a big difference. Early versions of this plug-in would show old content even after a page was updated. These issues seem to have been fixed in the current version. WP Super Cache is highly configurable and easy to get up and running.
The plug-ins listed above are part of my standard toolkit. If you have any suggestions for plug-ins you’ve come to rely on, please post them in the comments. If you have any suggestions for even better plug-ins that provide the functionality discussed above, I would love to hear about them.
What plug-ins do you rely on?