Update: Be sure to visit PluginsPress.com, where I am now posting reviews of WordPress plugins.
I’ve been using the WordPress blogging script for a little over a year now, having migrated from ExpressionEngine in the summer of 2008. (Apologies to the general reader; this post is directed toward fellow web bloggers.) A few weeks ago, I reevaluated the types of plugins used at Agabus.com, eliminating a few, but keeping the majority. I’ve also found a few others I’d like to now recommend.
My first review of plugins can be found here. As I wrote there, increased functionality generates traffic; overdoing it, however, bogs things down. Here are some recommended plugins:
1. Contact Form 7 (link) — Posting your e-mail on your blog opens you to spam attacks. Having a contact form eliminates that concern. As of this writing, Contact Form 7 is the third “most popular” plugin at WordPress.org. The reason is quite simple: the plugin is easy to use. Multiple forms can be created and manipulated to suit any webmaster’s needs. The “Really Simple CAPTCHA” plugin integrates with Contact Form 7 for added protection.
2. WP-Forum (link) — If you are looking for an integrated solution, WP-Forum is it. Simply install, choose your theme (more than one is offered), and set up categories and forums. Registered users to your blog are already members: this is a plugin, not a workaround. Though I am a fan of phpBB, if you want a blog/forum, go with WP-Forum. Note: Be sure to get plugin directly from author; the version at WordPress.org does not seem up-to-date.
3. Lester Chan’s Plugins (link) — Lester offers a series of simple plugins that greatly increase a blog’s functionality. Among his offerings, WP-Ban (ban annoying visitors, spammers, etc.), WP-Print (add a “print this” function) and WP-Email (offer a localized “share this” function) among others.
4. Organize Series (link) — Got a few posts on the same subject? Organize them into a series. This works within the post interface, allowing you to join several posts together in a series. This one isn’t based on associating articles from particular tags, but on creating an actual series. This plugin generates page views as visitors bounce from post to post.
5. Similar Posts (link) — There are lots of “related posts” plugins. I’ve tried a few and found this one to work best. Like other “related posts” plugins, this one draws from data in tags, headlines, etc. I’m typically pleased with the results, though I am also careful to tag my posts appropriately (few tags, meaningful tags). This plugin works “out of the box,” requiring no modifications to your theme (unless you want to customize it further). Posts can be featured at the bottom of a post, sidebar, and several other ways. Requires Post-Plugin Library from same author.
Also, Random Posts, Recent Comments, etc. (visit website).
6. Old Post Promoter (link) — This plugin draws one post periodically, according to admin’s preferences, to post onto the home page in the first or second position. Talk about a way to generate traffic. I give this plugin 5 stars. Very simple to use “out of the box.” It’s a wonderful way to resurrect old posts.
7. FD Footnotes (link) — If you write scholastic posts, you need footnotes. I’ve tried a lot of other plugins, but this one is the simplest and easiest to implement. Footnotes are posted at the bottom with anchors. At Agabus.com, I probably should work adjust my CSS settings, as the spacing between lines is augmented, but it’s really not visually upsetting, and seems to work well with most other themes. I’ve stuck with this one because it’s never been buggy.
8. Link Library (link) — Create your own link directory with Link Library, which draws links from the built-in link system in your WordPress installation. Simply install, activate, create a page and post code. Highly configurable. Requires little effort to generate a full page. It has its limitations: no user submit function, no link-share function, no multiple pages function (which becomes an issue if you have tons of links), no search function. That said, adding those functions has proven to be a bear for most other plugin developers. I prefer at this point to keep it simple.
Note about WordPress Link Directory — This plugin is so fraught with problems — currently the author’s website is listed as “unsafe” by Internet security companies — I had to remove it from Agabus.com. Does everything a link directory should do within a WordPress installation, but buggy as heck. I will wait for a stable version.
9. Page Links To (link) — This plugin lets you create a page that actually links elsewhere. I find this useful to promote my other websites, giving those sites the prominence of a page. The Page Links To plugin creates a field at the bottom of a post, where you can supply the link and action attributes. Very simple, unobtrusive.
10. WordPress Automatic Upgrade (link) — You’d think that now that WordPress has automatic upgrade built in, you wouldn’t need this plugin, but I’ve never gotten the built-in upgrade function to work (perhaps it’s how my server is set up, I don’t know). The old WordPress Automatic Upgrade works. That’s all I have to say about that.
11. Events (link) — I’m a performing folk singer, and I use the Events plugin at GospelDays.com. This plugin adds an “events” panel in the admin section, wherein you can enter dates, addresses, links, etc. Doesn’t integrate with iCal or Google Calendar, though.
12. Register Plus (link) — This plugin lets you collect more data at registration, and allows you to post agreement and licensing notices, etc. Let’s users choose their own passwords (I like this a lot).
13. WordPress Download Monitor (link) — This plugin allows you to share files (mp3s, programs, etc.) through your WordPress installation. I use it to share mp3s of my music (see GospelDays.com). Among the many download managers, this one stands out.
14. Subscribe to Comments (link) — It mystifies me how this is not a built-in function. This is the older plugin, but it works fine.
There are a lot of other great plugins, but most WordPress bloggers know about them (Akismet, WordPress.com Stats, etc.). I’ve found these to be particularly useful.
To see a list of all plugins used at Agabus.com, keep reading (courtesy Lester Chan’s WP-PluginsUsed plugin):
- Review: Lester ‘GaMerZ’ Chan’s WordPress plugins
- WordPress 2.7 improves the admin experience
- Ten WordPress plugins to increase the functionality of your blog
- Top 4 WordPress Forums Plugins | SeanBluestone.com
- New link directory at Agabus.com