WordPress is one of the most popular and versatile blogging platforms out there. It also doubles as a handy content management system that is perfect for many different uses – which is why I’ve used it for client websites I’ve built, why I run this website on it, and why I’m using it for a fourth website I’m building currently.
One of the benefits of using WordPress is that you can find a plugin out there for almost anything that you can imagine. The purposes vary, but they generally fall into a few broad categories:
- Improving website/blog usability
- Better search engine optimization (SEO)
- Speeding up the back-end administrative use
- Importing photos, analytical data, etc.
Since I use it so often, I thought I would prepare a list of the top plug-ins that I use and install on the websites I build in WordPress.
What Visitors Will See
1. Secure and Accessible Contact Form
This plug-in is what I use on the contact forms on my WordPress-run websites. Once installed, you can create an accessible and usable form that has plenty of anti-spam and security features built in. You can also style it to look however you want it to, which is one of the nicer touches built into it.
Here is an example of the contact form as I used it on Etgar 36′s website:
This plug-in is used to overlay images on the current page, which is a nicer way of displaying full-size images that are linked from thumbnails. You can also group images together into an album, making it easier for your visitors to browse through multiple images on the same page. Here is an example of Lightbox in use in my portfolio on this website:
This plug-in is one of the most popular WordPress plug-ins out there, and for good reason. If you have a lot of blog postings, it adds a nice, paginated navigation to the bottom of each page, allowing your visitors to browse through your postings easier. Here is an example of it in use on this website:
3. Similar Posts
This plug-in displays a highly-configurable list of posts that are similar in content to the current post that your visits are reading. The similarity can be based on any combination of word usage in the content, title, or tags, and you can have it display anywhere you want, although common practice seems to be to have them display at the end of your post’s content. You can see it in action on my website in this image:
What Visitors Won’t See
This plug-in can make things much easier for website/blog administrators to update their page/post data (things such as the date, title, categories, and more) without actually loading each page/post individually. This is a definite time-saver, so I make sure that I install it on every WordPress website I build. You can see how it functions in this image:
2. Admin Drop-Down Menu
This plug-in transforms the regular WordPress menus into drop-down menus instead, saving the website/blog administrator time from clicking and waiting. See the before the after images below:
Without the plug-in
With the plug-in
What Do You Use?
If you’re a designer or web developer, do you work with WordPress yourself? If so, are there are any plug-ins that you include in your standard installation that others should include as well?