You may have guessed by reading this that I run a blog. I chose to use WordPress as the back end of this blog because of the extensive range of plugins available making it’s potential extremely powerful. I thought I would put together this review of the plugins that I have found useful and use regularly. I have installed a large number of plugins and uninstalled a huge percentage of them because they didn’t meet my needs. Luckily these bad boys did and I just wanted to show my love for them by recommending them to you.
I just want to apologise now for the awful images from the plugin sites, plugins are all about working under the hood so I guess they don’t worry too much about the aesthetics.
Also, I’m always looking for futher ways to improve my blog with plugins so if you have any that you would like to recommend please write about it in the comments section and let everyone know. We will love you for it!
One downside to having a comment section on a blog is spam. It always amazes me that the spammers find little old me, but they do. Before launching D-Lists, I ran a personal blog that only attracted 100 visits a month, but even then I received spam. However, with WordPress there is a nearly full-proof way of cutting it out. Akismet is a fabulous plugin that somehow catches spam comments and marks them for you to approve or delete.
It’s really easy to setup, all you have to do is activate it (it comes pre-installed with new versions of WordPress) and sign-up for an Akismet account. Once you input your Akismet code, Voila!
I highly recommend that you setup Akismet because it does a great job at cutting out spam. Even when it does get a little too tight there is an option to approve the comments, which Akismet then learns from. It really is a super plugin if you have a comments section on your site.
Well everyone knows how important Search engine optimization is these days, and if you don’t you should! There are even full time job roles dedicated to it now! As you post you add extra pages and if you post regularly this can lead to a huge number of pages to manage with SEO in mind.
However, The All In One SEO Pack takes care of that right at the point of writing the post. This plugin creates options under your text box for title, description, keywords, duplicate content. All you have to do is fill in the given fields and it takes care of the rest.
The All In One SEO Pack is super easy to setup, …install, activate, use.
This plugin is a must for any blogger. If you want people to find your site with a search engine then you have to find a way to insert meta data into each post. The All In One SEO Pack is that way!
Forms are a very important method of obtaining information from your sites users. The only forms I currently use on this bolg are the comment forms and the contact form located in the footer. For my contact form I looked long and hard for a flexible form plugin that would allow me to style it how I wanted. The answer I found was cForms II.
cForms II is a super powerful form builder, but can still be used for simple tasks, like basic contact forms like mine.
Once it’s installed and activated it places a new tab in your toolbar. From here you can edit your form in any way you could possibly think.
If you are going to be using forms in your site you should be using cForms II to do so!
RSS feeds are becoming an ever more popular way to receive content and because of that they are becoming a must have feature of any blog.
My personal RSS tool of choice is feedburner. I use it to keep track of all of my subscriptions and each posts success. One problem with this, can be the feed URL given by feedburner is different from the feed URL wordpress produces. If you are not careful this could lead to feedburner missing the subscriptions to the wordpress feed URL.
With FD Feedburner plugin this is not a problem. This neat little plugin allows you to input your feedburner feed URL and then automatically redirects anyone looking for your wordpress feed URL to feedburner, meaning no one falls off the radar. Lovely stuff!
A very good way to ensure search engine spiders know about all of your sites pages is a sitemap. However, sitemaps can be time consuming to create and a nightmare to keep up to date if you post regularly. Once again though there is a plugin to help your woes.
Google (XML) sitemaps creates a sitemap for you and sends it to Google, Yahoo, Ask and MSN to ensure they know about it.
It really is amazing how powerful this plugin is. It works beautifully with default settings but there are a number of options to change and add to make it even better. This is a great plugin to ensure the search engines know all about your site!
Digg started a revolution. Every revolution has it’s followers, hence there is a huge number of social bookmarking sites out there that if used correctly can send a great amount of traffic to your site. One nice touch about social bookmarking is that it tends to be users and not you who makes your content popular. However, there are ways to make doing so easier for them.
Sociable is an extraordinary plugin that allows you to quickly add social links on your site that link your post data straight into the social sites, making it quick and easy for anyone to advertise your content to a potentially huge audience.
Sociable provides you with a stylesheet, however there is the option to disable this stylesheet giving you much more control over the look of the links. There is also the option to use your own images as the links.
Sociable is too easy and potentially too important not to use.
If I were to ask you what is the fastest growing social site in the web design community today. Would twitter be your answer? It would be mine, it seems to be popping up everywhere right now and you really should embrace that to enhance your sites profile. One strength with twitter is it’s amazing API that allows developers to create all number of mashup applications.
One such application is the twitter plugin for WordPress. This plugin allows you to automatically show your twitter updates on your blog. All you have to do is post to twitter and it will also be posted on your site, where you wish. Any links you post stay as clickable links and it even provides a link from your site to your twitter page giving users an easy way to follow you via twitter, which you can then use to get them back to your site.
What this plugin does, it does extremely well!
I use Google analytics to track my site statistics and if you do to you will know that you have to insert some custom google tracking code into every page you would like to track.
Ultimate Google Analytics plugin takes the pain out of this by doing it all for you, on every page you create. Brilliant.
All you have to do is give it your google account ID and tell it to do it it’s thing. So simple, why wouldn’t you do it?
With every update on your site a new piece of data is added to your database. I don’t need to tell you that over time that will turn into a great big database. What happens if God forbid there is a problem with your database and it somehow gets erased! That tragedy would be very difficult to overcome.
Not if you take the very wise decision to use the Database backup plugin. Once setup you can, as I do, tell it to email you at regular intervals, with a zipped copy of your database. This should mean that if the worst case scenario happens, you’re covered with a lovely backup.
Installing this plugin isn’t exciting but it just makes sense.
One problem I have on this blog, is persuading users to view more pages each time they visit the site. A popular method of suggesting related links to users, is to display popular posts as links. This comes as a pre-installed widget, I didn’t want to use the wordpress widgets because I didn’t feel they gave me enough flexibility and so looked for a plugin that could be used as a self standing popular posts area.
The nicely named Popular Posts was my answer. This plugin allows you to set the HTML markup that it outputs, which was a major reason I chose this option. There are a number of other options allowing you to produce content exactly how you want it to be produced.
I looked for a while to find the answer to my popular posts problem, and I’m very thankful that I found this, you will be to.
iPhones are extremely popular now and there is a huge number of people out there using them. iPhones allow you to browse the web using safari giving users the complete web experience. However, the nature of the device makes using some sites difficult. The very best websites around today have created iPhone optimized versions of their site, stripping them down and making the content easy to navigate. However, doing this takes time that some people just don’t have.
WPtouch plugin can solve that problem. This has to be my favourite WordPress plugin so far because the results amazed me.
It really is stupidly simple to setup. There are a few style options allowing you to slightly customize your sites look, however, it will still look very much like a WPtouch site. Content is key here though and making sure iPhone uses can easily get to it is why this plugin is a must if you do not have time or the knowledge to create your own iPhone customized site.