If you use WordPress (and really…why wouldn’t you?), then you know that plugins are what add all of that special functionality to your site. And you also know that there are about a billion plugins out there, and finding just what you need and want can be a challenging game of trial and error.
I certainly don’t claim to be an expert in WordPress (yet! 😀 ), but I do love tweaking and fiddling with my blog, and I’ve come across some incredibly helpful plugins that I want to tell you about. Here are my favorites (just click on the headings to go to that plugin page):
I don’t know how it does it, but this little plugin makes the headache of spam comments a thing of the past, which is good because in my experience, WordPress blogs attract spammers like flies to honey. I’m not sure why that is, but my first couple of days on WordPress, I had over 400 spam comments. But because of Askimet, I didn’t have to do a single thing, because it zapped them all.
I’ve been on WordPress now since the middle of December ’11, and Askimet has saved me from the headache of 11,250 spam comments. I think I average about 140 spam comments per day. Can you imagine how my time would be eaten up if I had to sort through all of those? Fortunately, I don’t!
If you’re a DIY blogger, you absolutely MUST have a DIY Projects Gallery on your site. People LOVE project galleries. They love to be able to see all of your projects in one place, and not have to search through all of your posts to find what you’ve created. Remember, internet surfers have incredibly short attention spans. If they don’t find something interesting in a matter of seconds, they’ll move on.
On my old website, I created a my DIY Projects Gallery manually. It was a complete headache!
Every time I did a project, I would have to use my photo editing program to create a thumbnail picture, then would make a button using a template I created to include the name of the project. Then I would add it to my HTML page, and upload the page. I had to go through that process any time I created a new project.
Now, Category Thumbnail List does all of that for me. It’s completely automated!
Now just a word of warning…to get the thumbnails to look just like you want them, you’ll need to know how to tweak your CSS. But once you get everything set just the way you want it, you can just let the plugin do its magic and never have to worry about your DIY Projects Gallery again! This is also what I use for the Inspiration Files Gallery and the Weekly Wrapup posts.
Yes, this one actually costs money, but if you accept advertising on your blog, it’s worth every single penny…and more. OIO Publisher completely automates the selling of advertising space, keeps up with when the ads are expiring, and sends out renewal notices. It’s amazing, and will free up your time for what’s really important for making your blog a success…writing blog posts and working on projects, of course!
This is a plugin…not
One of the main concerns I hear from Blogger users regarding their fears of switching to WordPress is that they’ll lose their permalinks. Heck, that was my biggest fear! Well, banish the thought. If you move your blog from Blogger to WordPress, Permalink Finder will ensure that your visitors won’t get a 404 page if they try to access your new blog with an old URL. Here’s what the plugin page says about it:
The Permalink Finder Plugin detects when WordPress cannot find a permalink. Before it generates the 404 error it tries to locate any posts with similar words. It does this by searching through the database trying to find any of the word values from the bad link. It takes the best match and then, rather than issuing a 404 error it sends back a redirect to the correct page. Users will see the page that they are looking for, and search engine spiders will see the 301 redirect and update their databases so that the page appears correctly in searches.
The bottom line is that if your old URL structure looked something like this:
And the new URL structure looks something like this:
Your readers will still be taken to the correct page even if they use the old URL.
With the use of smart phones on the rise, it’s imperative that your blog be user-friendly for those who like to browse your site on the go. When I switched over to WordPress, one of the biggest complaints I got was that my new site was slow and confusing on a smart phone. So I finally decided to do something about it. WP Touch completely streamlined the look of my site on mobile devices, making it easy on the eyes and simple to find the latest posts.
There’s a free version of WP Touch, and then there’s a version that costs money called WP Touch Pro that offers more customization. Both are simple to use, and I had my mobile site up and running in about fifteen minutes.
So those are my (current) top five WordPress plugins! I’m sure there are thousands more out there that I have yet to discover, and among them I’m sure there are several gems that I would love to have on my blog.
So what are your favorites? Do you use any of these that I’ve mentioned?