Plugins are one of the many features that set WordPress apart from a lot of the other blogging systems out there. This post is in response to a question a friend of mine had on what plugins to use for his WordPress site. Well here is the list of my favorite plugins I use for bryansays.com. I’m not saying these are the best plugins in each category, they are just the ones I’m currently using and like the most. To see all fifteen plugins I regularly use, keep reading.
This is one of the default plugins you get with every WordPress install. This is by far the best plugin to guard against comment spam on your WordPress site. Its simple to install and easy to use. To enable the plugin, all you need to do is register for a free akismet API key from Akismet.com. Paste it in your Akismet configuration screen, and you are ready to have the power of the akismet community ready to help you block comment spam.
Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam
This is a relatively new plugin for me. Blubrry adds podcasting support to my blog. It features a media player, itunes integration, and more. I use it for my BryanSays & Friends Podcast that I recently started with my Buddy RJ at SpareKarma.com The plugin is great because it helps me create a separate RSS feed that is formatted for podcasts and itunes.
Disqus is a commenting system that adds another layer to the comments placed on your WordPress site. With disqus your site visitors have multiple ways to login to leave comments. They can login with their twitter, facebook, openid, or disqus profile. The other neat thing about disqus is it brings in comments about your blog posts that take place outside your site like twitter, friendfeed, digg, and youtube. I run multiple websites and another cool features is the ability to moderate the comments from all of my blogs on the main disqus website.
This plugin is for generating a special XML sitemap which helps the search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask.com to better crawl and index your site. There may be better Sitemap Generators out now but this does what I need. This plugin rebuilds your sitemap and notifies the mentioned search engines anytime new content is added to your blog.
If you’ve seen WordPress blog post URLs, you know how long they can be and not very memorable. Mine for instance, has the year, month, day and then a description which is great for search engines like google but not good for someone trying to type in that address. Also with the advent of twitter with its 140 character limit on posts, you need to have as short a URL as possible. There are URL shorteners like Bit.ly out there but you get a goofy looking link that is cryptic at best. Along comes Pretty link to save the day!
With Pretty link, you can create a very short URL for each post for twitter and all of the stats stay inside your site instead of an external site like bit.ly. Below is the screen used to create a pretty link. Pretty easy, no pun intended.
Below is the Pretty Link Stats page which shows the number of unique hits for each of your pretty links.
You are not limited to just internal links to your WordPress site with Pretty Link. You can make a link to any site. For instance, I created a link to the itunes page of my podcast from this long link:
This powerful contact form plugin is what I use on my contact page to create a contact form for anyone to send me questions about the site. Its fairly simple and straight forward to use and even has some theming capabilities to help match the forms to your theme using CSS or their own templates.
This social bookmarking plugin is used to display the social media icons under every post, to help visitors who want to re-post a link to social media sites like twitter, facebook, reddit, etc. I always like this plugin’s “mac dock effect” where icons would grow as the mouse is dragged across them. I might have to look for a new plugin though, since it seems the developer has stopped updating it. It’s only compatible up to WordPress version 2.5.1.
This plugin enables Google Analytics on your site and adds the necessary java script code to all of your pages and has the option to also track external links, mailto links, and links to downloads on your site. For those of you that doesn’t know, Google Analytics is used to track the traffic to your site and gives you statistics which helps determine what is working for your site and what is not.
This plugin creates an admin bar at the top of your site for logged in users (you) to see. It is based on the design of the admin bar located on the WordPress.com site. You basically get a shortcut to all of the major functions of the site that normally can only be reached by first going to the dashboard.
This plugin provides a clean look to your site designed for mobile browsers on the iPhone, Android and other phones. Below is the front page to my site on an iphone safari browser formatted using the Mobile Edition plugin.
WP Super Cache is a static caching plugin for WordPress. This plugin generates html pages for your content instead of relying on the server querying the content via SQL commands to the database. This plugin will save your site from crashing during heavy traffic such as when you site gets hit by digg or slashdot. The server only has to serve static html pages.
This is a great utility for maintaining your WordPress database(s) without having to get your hands dirty with MySQL. This utility has functions to optimize, repair, backup, and restore your wordpress databases. You automatically schedule backing up and optimizing of your database so its always in tip-top shape. You can also run SQL queries if you so desire.
PageNavi adds a more advanced paging navigation to your WordPress Blog. It allows you to customize the look and feel of the paging of your site.
Funny name, powerful plugin. This plugin returns a list of related entries at the end of your blog post. This is important for keeping visitors on your site and viewing your content. There are a couple of other plugins that do this function but this is my favorite. It seems to be the most customizable. You can see this plugin in action on my site. At the end of this post, you will see the heading “Possibly Related Posts” followed by thumbnails of similar stories. Now you don’t have to be this fancy but chances are visitors that like the story they are on are more inclined to what to read a similar story. This takes the guesswork away from the visitor. They don’t have to use search, the similar posts are already there.
This plugin has come a long way. It has a templating system that rivals WordPress’s own and a ton of options to customize the user experience. Definitely give this plugin a try.
Well I hope this post was informative in some way or another. If you have any other good plugins to recommend be sure to post them in the comments below.