WordPress Plugin Faves
I’ve recommended WordPress plugins before, but that was almost three years ago. Since then I’ve experimented with many plugins, and it’s about time that I update my list. Of the original 15 plugins that I recommended, 6 have survived. I currently have 12 active plugins and I list them below according to their design values of delight, navigation, promotion, comment administration, and enhancements.
- IMG Mouseover
Allows you to have image mouseovers. I’m not sure that my image mouseovers delight you guys, but I sure love them. I like that they add an element of surprise. A mouseover can be used to show a different image such as a “before and after” sequence, show hidden messages, or even show hidden arrows. If you use the Pinterest mouseover plugin, you can’t use this one — there’s only a single mouseover event for each element. Here are some examples of how I use mouseovers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.
- Shadowbox JS
- RSS Footer
A simple plugin that let’s you add extra content to articles in your RSS feed. I use this plugin whenever I want to surprise my RSS subscribers with exclusive content, such as an unexpected download. This makes RSS subscriptions FUN.
- Thumbnail for Excerpts
Adds thumbnails to excerpts. By default, WordPress archives show full posts, making it tedious to sift through pages of blog archives. This is especially annoying when you’re going through a blog that does not have have a search widget; you’re forced to go through the archives page by page, scanning over full posts to find a specific entry. Anyway, even if you select excerpts only for your archives, WordPress does not automatically include a thumbnail image — and we all know important images are as visual indicators that poke our memory. This plugin helps users by creating thumbnails for your archive excerpts. Plus, it’s easy to configure the size of the thumbnail to match your design. (example)
Adds advanced paging navigation. By default, WordPress only has page by page navigation. It doesn’t have advanced pagination that would allow you to jump multiple pages back into the past in one click. Pet peeve: Sometimes, I find a new blog and I want to jump back to their first post and start reading from there. BUT, if they don’t have advanced page (or date) navigation, going back in time means hitting the “previous” button over and over. It’s like reading a book, but you can’t go to the middle or the end of the book without starting at the beginning and flipping through every page. Make it easy for your readers to browse your blog.
- Smart Archives Reloaded
An elegant and easy way to present your posts, grouped by year and month. If you want an archive page that shows every single one of your posts — no matter how many — organized by year and month, this is the plugin. It gives your readers access to every post, all the way back to the beginning of time. This plugin also solves the problem of navigating to a blog’s very first post. (example)
- Easing Slider
Easing Slider is an image slider that uses the jQuery Easing Plugin. A single column blog is great for focusing the entire page on your content. However, the down side is that there’s no sidebar navigation to showcase older content — content may become stagnant. A slider offers some relief. You can load the slider with images and links to other posts that your readers may have missed. Easing Slider is simple to use. Highly recommended.
Ad management program that rotates images. With AdRotate, you can use images to link to sponsor ads or to link to your favorite old posts. For example, I use Ad Rotate in 3 places: (1) to insert product promotions between posts on the main page, (2) to rotate images in my Oldies but Goodies widget, and (3) to insert a fresh product promo at the bottom of every blog post. It makes your site dynamic.
Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not. Everyone who has comments turned on should have Akismet turned on.
When you reply to a reader comment while logged in as an administrator, this plugin will send a corresponding email to your commenter, notifying a reply. A pal asked me if there was a way to respond to a visitor’s comment on the blog and have the response emailed to the commenter automatically. So I found this plugin, set it up on my blog as an experiment, and it works! Note that you can customize the HTML and CSS to get the look you want. Check out the image below to see what my responses look like in the emails that get sent.
Executes php code in posts. When you’re trying to create a complex HTML document within a blog post with the WordPress editor, it can get hairy and scary. It’s easier to create the HTML as a separate file and either copy and paste the contents into the WordPress editor, or using Exec-PHP, you can have WordPress grab the file and insert it into your post. This is an advanced plugin that requires a little knowledge of PHP. (example)
- WP Super Cache
Serves WordPress files as static pages — helps deliver pages faster. Every WordPress installation should have this installed and turned on or else you will suffer sloooooooooooooow page loads. By the way, slow page loads affect your Google Page Rank if you care about that stuff.
I hope this was helpful to you. If you have a favorite plugin, please share the wealth. By the way, always back up blog before you install anything!