5 WordPress Plugins I Never Blog Without

Filed as Editorial on April 27, 2009 9:21 pm

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Those of us who use WordPress know well the power of its plugin system. WordPress plugins can help you do everything from spell WordPress correctly to adding a full-fledged message board.

However, everyone has a collection of WordPress plugins that they feel are essential. They’re the plugins that, when you set up a new blog, you install right away, before even tinkering with the theme.

On that note, here’s my list of WordPress Plugins, other than those that come with the installation, that I instantly install and activate on every new version of WordPress before pushing it live.

5. WP Super Cache

This plugin really needs no introduction, everyone knows it and it is almost certainly on nearly every WordPress user’s “must-install” list.

On average days, WP Super Cache makes your site load faster and causes it to put less load on your server, on days of high traffic, it can actually keep your site from going down.

WP Super Cache is one of the few plugins that can literally save your site and save you money by allowing you to use cheaper hosting. That makes it a plugin that no WordPress user should do without for any length of time. The only real drawback to it is that it does cause compatibility problems with some other plugins, especially those that add dynamic elements, though most of them have been worked out.

4. Photo Dropper

Photo Dropper is a plugin I’ve talked about before on this site and one that is well worth repeating.

As every blogger knows, putting images in your post make them both more attractive and more likely to be read. The problem is that not ever blogger has the time, resources or knowledge to take high-quality images for their site. Fortunately though, there are many of artists and photographers willing to share their work under a Creative Commons License.

Photo Dropper makes it easy for bloggers to search for and embed CC-licensed images into their posts or pages. It works by adding a search box to the edit panel, which pulls up a list of appropriately-licensed images, and then lets you embed them into your post in a variety of sizes. Best of all, Photo Dropper adds the attribution line, making sure your use of the image is compliant with the terms of the license.

There is no easier way to get high-quality images for your WordPress blog.

3. Amazon S3 for WordPress or CDN Tools

If you use WP Super Cache on your site, then you’ve already done a great deal to ensure that your blog is speedy and your server is able to withstand the strain of a peak load. However, there is more that you can do.

By offloading your static files, including your JavaScript files, images, etc., to a content delivery network (CDN) you make it even faster for visitors by putting the bulk of the material visitors download on a server closer to them, no matter where they are in the world.

These networks work by duplicating the files in datacenters all over the world and letting visitors pull from the one closest to them, thus speeding up the download and taking still more load off of your main server.

The only major difference between the two plugins is that Amazon S3 uses the Amazon network, which includes CloudFront, and CDN Tools uses Mosso. Both are extremely cheap, usually cost just pennies a day for smaller sites, and will go to great lengths to speed your site up.

2. Widget Context

The addition of Widgets to WordPress not only made it easier to create sidebars on a site, but made it easier to instantly change the order as well as add and remove items. You can easily tinker and experiment with your sidebar(s) until you find a layout that works for you.

However, widgets, by default, come with a pretty serious limitation, they are always off or always on. While that may not be a problem for your navigation or your tag cloud, you might only want some widgets to show up on single post or only on pages.

Widget Context makes it easy to put your widgets into perspective and only have them show up on the pages that you want them to appear. This allows you to have you Digg buttons show up only on your posts and your list pages only show up on your index. This makes it easier to de-clutter your navigation bar, something that should make Lorelle very happy.

1. Post Templates

Most bloggers have a kind of post that they are going to repeat at least somewhat regularly. Whether it is a special series on the site, an entire category of posts that follow a pattern or even just a series of posts with the same categories and/or tags.

However, WordPress does not make it easy to repeat the same posts or to work from within some kind of template. This can make it easy to forget or omit critical parts of the post, or, even more annoying, require a lot of copy/paste work. Post Templates fixes that by letting users save a template of a post and then create a new post based up on it.

The beauty of post templates is that it can be as simple or as powerful as you need. You can use it to create a template for a recurring kind of post, complete with blanks that you fill in, or to just make sure that the categories and tags that go with a post are filled in when you create a new post. You can fill in as much or as little of the template as you want.

With post templates, you’ll never forget to categorize, tag, write a footer, format your headers or even add the “MORE” tag again. It makes it easy to set up a post once and then fill it in a thousand times into the future, being sure every one of them has all the needed parts.

Your Turn

Obviously, there are many more must-install plugins for WordPress, especially for podcasters and other kinds of bloggers with different needs. So what are some of yours?

So leave a comment with your list of must-have plugins to compare and build upon.

With so many great plugins out there, there are bound to be a few that we can’t live without. So what are yours?

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  1. By Tim Buchalka posted on April 27, 2009 at 10:14 pm
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    Hi,

    An excellent list of plugins here! Thanks, I twittered it…

    Check out my list of ten essential plugins for wordpress.

    My list includes a few different ones including WP auto tagger, WordPress backup (everyone needs a backup!) and the rss backlinks plugin.

    Hope this helps and keep up the great posts.

    Cheers

    Tim

    Reply

  2. By GoingLikeSixty posted on April 27, 2009 at 10:19 pm
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    Contextual Related Posts
    commentluv

    Reply

  3. By Jonathan Bailey posted on April 28, 2009 at 3:01 am
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    Tim: Good point on WP Backup. That is a HUGE omission on my list. Yes, you need to have that one too. I can’t beileve I forgot that, probably because it works so well you don’t even notice it :)

    Great list on your site, some neat stuff, might have to try Auto Tagger :)

    GoingLikeSixty: Commentluv is another good one but I run Disques so it wouldn’t work. I’ve had mixed luck with related posts on my sites. Might have to try that specific plugin though…

    Reply

  4. By Kevin Bachelder posted on April 29, 2009 at 12:27 am
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    Thanks for some very helpful suggestions. Always great to find ways to improve “the basics”.

    Reply

  5. By Heather posted on April 30, 2009 at 8:47 pm
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    After reading your list, I was going to reply with my must-haves, but I wanted to offer lengthy descriptions of each one, so I thought that I would follow your lead and write a blog post of my own.

    Here it is for anyone who would like to learn which plugins that I always install.

    Have WordPress Your Way With Plugins

    Reply

  6. By Vita posted on May 3, 2009 at 4:48 pm
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    Well… SpamTask to keep spam out I guess. Wouldn’t even think of blogging without a proper spam filter.

    Reply

  7. By Paulmeister posted on May 7, 2009 at 8:17 am
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    Nice plugin choice :) Don’t forget the related posts plugin and RSS feed plugin.

    A quick question for you…… at the end of your posts i see ”

    This post was written by
    Jonathan Bailey

    You can visit the Author Archive for a short bio, more posts, and other information about the author.”

    If this a plugin??? as i’m looking for this exact feature at http://www.mountainbikingnewzealand.co.nz

    Thanks.

    Reply

  8. By rob posted on May 8, 2009 at 10:24 am
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    Thanks for the valuable info. pagenavi plugin is a must as that is usefull for the users to easily navigate through the site.

    Reply

  9. By Mike Schinkel posted on May 8, 2009 at 1:27 pm
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    Nice list! Just thought I’d mention you forgot to include a like to the Post Template plugin! :-)

    Reply

  10. By Jonathan Bailey posted on May 9, 2009 at 12:28 am
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    Paul: I don’t know if that’s a plugin or not. I just write at this site and do not maintain the plugins or the theme. I’ll drop a line to the editor though.

    Rob: Another great plugin! I’ve used it before and definitely recommend it though it works best on WordPress installs that use a traditaional blog layout in my experience.

    Mike: Very sorry for that error. Thank you for the heads up. It shall be fixed in a minute. Good news is that Google does have it high up so I hope others found it that way at least.

    Reply

  11. By Joe posted on May 15, 2009 at 6:55 am
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    I’m running a few wordpress sites that accept registration. While I keep registration free, it is usually required to access some of the content.

    Recently I started to see a lot of people using mailinator to access the registered users content without really registering.

    So, I developed a plugin called no-disposable-emails (http://www.joeswebtools.com/wordpress-plugins/no-disposable-email/).

    That save me so much time of user database cleaning that I wouldn’t run wordpress without it.

    Reply

  12. By Kamal Hasa posted on June 14, 2009 at 1:56 pm
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    Post templates is indeed a nice plugin. But I really don’t see why a blogger can’t repeat the same kind of posts without a plugin. Is it tough or is it about the thought-flow :)

    Reply

  13. By Jerry Girl posted on September 14, 2009 at 10:25 am
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    I love Keywordluv, I use it on my main blog just to get a lot of interaction. I don’t mind giving them a link as long as the comment is not spammy. Heck I even use the do-follow plugin as well.

    Reply

  14. By ZoopMedia posted on September 14, 2009 at 11:12 am
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    These are some great plugins. Photodropper is a great one and WP-Super Cache is a life saver, especially if you get a decent amount of traffic.

    Reply

  15. By Jamie Allsop posted on September 18, 2009 at 2:42 pm
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    Thanks for sharing this great list of plugins with us. WP Super Cache is a really useful and helpful plugin.

    Reply

  16. By Ed posted on October 2, 2009 at 2:32 am
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    To those who included WP auto tagger in your list o plugins I just have to ask, how do you get it to work with 2.8.4? I’ve recently gotten caught up with some upgrades and now the blogs running 2.8.4 cannot use WP auto tagger. The plugin seems to load but just sits there. Questions on the plugin’s website have gone unanswered.

    Reply

  17. By Chitramala telugu posted on October 6, 2009 at 2:48 pm
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    Nice post, WP super cache is really useful plugin to control the traffic.

    could you please explain more about CDN tools?

    Reply

  18. By Henry Pena posted on June 11, 2010 at 4:13 pm
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    I’ve recently include CommentLuv and Sexy Bookmarks. Really cool plugins!

    Reply

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