I find it somewhat fitting that I’m writing about WordPress plugins for my 400th post. Though I started out on Blogger, I switched to the self-hosted version of WordPress to take advantage of the thousands of available plugins. If you visit the WordPress plugin directory you’ll see what I mean. Go ahead, think of a feature you’d like to add to you site, and search for it. More than likely, you’ll find a plugin that does what you’re looking to do.
Over the years I’ve done plenty of similar searches and tried out tons of plugins. Very few have stuck around. In fact, my list of active plugins is a mere 31. Do I use all of them all of the time? No. But the ones below get plenty of mileage.
1. Widget Logic by Alan Trewartha [link] This is my new favorite plugin as it gives every widget an extra control field called “Widget logic” that lets you control the pages and posts that the widget will appear on. The text field lets you use WP’s conditional tags, or any general PHP code. There is also an option to add a wordpress ‘widget_content’ filter which lets you tweak standard widgets to suit your theme without editing plugins and core code.
2. WPtouch Pro by Dale Mugford & Duane Storey (BraveNewCode) [link] WPtouch Pro ($$) automatically transforms your WordPress blog into an iPhone/iPad application-style theme, complete with ajax loading articles and effects (when viewed from iPhone, iPod touch, Android, Palm Pre, Samsung touch and BlackBerry Storm/Torch mobile devices). The admin panel allows you to customize its appearance in order to deliver a fast, stylish, and user-friendly version of your site to mobile visitors (and without modifying any code or changing your regular desktop theme. For more check out WPtouch Pro Rocks! and watch BNC’s demo of version 2.0.
3. W3 Total Cache by Frederick Townes [link] Make your site load faster with the most complete WordPress performance framework. Basically, W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your site by improving your server performance, caching every aspect of your site, reducing the download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration. The admin panel can be a little intimidating which is why I recommend following this guide.
4. WordPress SEO by Joost de Valk [link] WordPress SEO is used to improve your site’s SEO. While WordPress SEO plugin goes the extra mile to take care of all the technical optimization, it’s really intended to help you write better content (so the SEO works). The plugin forces you to choose a focus keyword when you’re writing your articles, and then makes sure you use that focus keyword everywhere. It’s more than just a writing tutor. WordPress SEO will let you configure meta robots settings, set the correct canonical link on each post and page, set breadcrumb appearance, clean up permalinks, generate XML sitemaps, enhance RSS feeds, edit robots.txt and .htaccess files, clean up your header, and more. So, whether you want to go with WordPress SEO 100% you need to at least try it. And when you do be sure to head over to Joost’s how-to article for configuration.
5. Jetpack by WordPress.com [link] Jetpack is basically a Swiss Army Plugin with features that include: WordPress.com Stats, a simple, concise stats plugin with no additional load on your server (previously provided by WordPress.com Stats); email subscriptions for your blog’s posts and your post’s comments; WP.me URL shortener; hovercard popups for your commenters via Gravatar; shortcodes to embed media from sites like YouTube, Digg, and Vimeo; a means to include mathematical expressions in posts; a recent tweets widget (previously provided by Wickett Twitter Widget); easy sharing of posts via email or social networks (previously provided by Sharedaddy); After the Deadline, an artificial intelligence based spell, style, and grammar checker (previously provided by the After the Deadline); and more in the works. It’s a sweet plugin that you’d be foolish not to install.
6. WordTwit Pro by Dale Mugford & Duane Storey (BraveNewCode) [link] WordTwit Pro ($$) lets you schedule and publish tweets about your posts to Twitter account/s automatically. Easily add or remove hashtags to your outgoing tweets with a click or choose from a pool of your most recent hashtags. Once published you can use the Tweet Log to reveal previously published and scheduled tweets. If need be, you can also use the plugin to retweet and re-schedule your tweets.
7. Sharebar by Monjurul Dolon [link] You know those floating social sharebars that appear on sites like Digg and Mashable? With Sharebar you can add your own dynamic and fully customizable floating vertical box to a blog post that contains links/buttons to popular social networking sites. If the page is resized below 1000px (default), the vertical bar disappears and a horizontal sharebar appears under the post title. The only downside to Sharebar is that it hasn’t been updated in a while and it can’t be minified. If you’re looking for a floating social bar with support check out CevherShare by WPUsta. It is identical to Sharebar. BTW, if you want to see Sharebar in action just look to the left.
8. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin by Mitcho [link] YARPP gives you a list of posts and/or pages related to the current entry, introducing the reader to other relevant content on your site. Key features include: An advanced and versatile algorithm that figures out the best posts to recommend; a templating system that lets you configure how your posts are displayed; related posts in RSS feeds; disallowing certain tags or categories; and total control over posts and pages.
9. WP-DB Manager by Lester ‘GaMerZ’ Chan [link] Allows you to optimize, repair, backup, and restore your database as well as delete database backups, drop/empty tables, and run selected queries. Sure you could probably do this from your host’s control panel, but this is way easier. Besides the plugin also supports automatic scheduling of backing up, optimizing and repairing of database. Eat that control panel!
10. Smart Youtube by Vladimir Prelovac [link] Smart Youtube is a plugin that allows you to easily insert YouTube videos/playlists in your post, comments and in RSS feed. Most recently Prelovac added support for Vimeo, Metacafe, Liveleak, and Facebook videos (NICE!). Smart Youtube also supports high quality videos, works on the iPhone/iPad, produces xHTML valid code (unlike YouTube embed code), allows you to view videos in fullscreen, supports YouTube playlists (normal/HD) as well as the new Youtube IFRAME embed code.
Whether you’re just starting your WordPress-powered site or you’ve been at it for a while you will benefit from every one of my top 10 WordPress plugins. They’ve helped make blogging easier for me and the experience better for visitors (like you). Still not sold? Then I give you my “stick my head up a bull’s a$$” guarantee!
Got thoughts on my top 10 wordPress plugins? Feel free to share your thoughts below or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. So what didn’t make the list? Stay tuned for my list of Honorable Mentions: Best WordPress Plugins for 2011