Top Ten WordPress plugins — Part One
Did you know that something like 72 million websites use WordPress to handle their content? Even large sites have come to rely on it to deliver their web offerings, partly because of the broad range of plug-ins that add extra power to this already excellent platform. Whether it’s running your blog or your whole site, WordPress gives you more if you choose the right add-ons, and I’d like to share my Top Ten with you.
At ENNclick we not only use WordPress to deliver our blog and our entire site, we also regularly come across many client companies who use it.
In this two-part blog I’ll highlight what I like about each of my Top Ten WordPress plugins. One little word of warning. Multiple plugins + a fussy theme can lead to all sorts of interesting incompatibilities. I operate the last-in, first-out principle if a plugin just refuses to play nice or causes anything else to go haywire. So whilst these Top Ten all work for me and in combination on the ENNclick site, this may not be the case with a different or custom theme.
So without further ado (and in no particular order), here are my first five:
1. Sharebar – make your blog more social
If you’re going to the trouble of blogging, you need to make it easy for visitors to share or like what they read on your site. Sharebar offers a really slick little plugin which lets you provide a dynamic range of social site functionality including, but not limited to the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. It’s the customisation which makes this so useful. If a new service, such as Google+ comes along, it’s possible to be up and running with the new option in short order.
Alternatively, if you don’t like the graphics or defaults already included you can use the plugin to create the bar the way you want it – either as a floating or fixed horizontal, or as a vertical either above or below your blog entries. You can see it in action now with our own Sharebar to the left following you as you scroll down the page.
2. RSS Footer – say more about who you are
I like RSS Footer because it’s an excellent way to enhance the value of our RSS feed and potentially encourage people to visit our site — we use it as a branding opportunity to tell people who we are and where we’re located.
RSS Footer has actually been superceded by being reversed into the WordPress SEO plugin. However, if you’re not wanting all the bells and whistles on offer in WordPress SEO then this will suffice. Quite simply RSS Footer allows you to append additional information into your site’s RSS feed, either above or below each entry. You can also link back from each RSS entry to other web pages. You can see, at the bottom of the image to the right, what we did with our footer.
3. WP Post Footer Library – stop repeating yourself
A footer plugin of a different kind here. Have you ever had that situation where you find yourself constantly copying and pasting the same standard information into the bottom of each new post from a previous post?
You could, if you wanted to, delve into the guts of your Editor and your theme’s associated page templates to hard-code a footer, but this can get a little hairy if you’re not confident about what you’re doing. Added to this, hard-wiring a piece of regular content into your page lacks flexibility should you ever want to change it.
Take, for example, a scenario where there are multiple authors and each would like their own custom footer content… like their bio perhaps. With the WP Post Footer you can create multiple footers and simply select the one that’s required on the post page.
But caveat emptor must be the guiding advice as this plugin, whilst working perfectly on this site, did not work on another site I manage. You just have to test it with your setup and see if it plays nice with your other plugins and themes.
Whilst not as flexible, this alternative footer solution also has some merit if WP Post Footer refuses to play ball for your particular WP theme.
4. WP Super Cache – speed up delivery of blog pages
Unfortunately the web is a busy place these days and web pages have become increasingly complex. When a web page was comprised of a single html document, it didn’t take very long to load. But most modern sites are a complex construction of multiple elements of content. This adds up to a significant overhead in terms of the time it can take to both deliver those bits of content, and to pull it all together into something presentable in the user’s web browser.
WP Super Cache tries to claw back some of the downsides to database-driven websites which are made up of a patchwork of content pieces. This plugin generates static html files from your blog’s database. After this html file is created your webserver will then cough up that pre-cooked html file instead of running a database query and constructing the page on the fly each and every time someone requests it. This is a big time-saver and should, for most people, make your website feel that much faster to load.
5. Twitter Widget Pro – good things come to those who tweet
If you’re already tweeting, good for you! (If you’re not, promise me you’ll think about it, especially if you have customers or a reputation you’d like to protect.) This plugin makes it easy to add your company’s tweets to your blog. It handily provides a drag and drop widget which you can then add to your (hopefully widget-friendly) theme as a sidebar element.
Once added, Twitter Widget Pro allows you to feature fresh content on your site in the form of your tweets (or the Twitter streams from anyone you choose to feature). It’s a great way to add a little bit of personality to a website that might otherwise seem unloved, especially if you only add a new blog once in a blue moon.
Q. What are your favourite WordPress plugins? I’m always looking for good ones to join my Top Ten – leave a comment below.
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