WordPress is known for being one of the most powerful open-source blogging platforms today. Not only does it work great for blogs–it also functions as a regular content management system, which also makes WordPress one of the most popular platforms.
One of the reasons that makes WordPress so popular is the free plugin community. Plugins are downloadable add-ons that enhance WordPress’s functionality.
We’ve discussed WordPress plugins before, and now we are ready to share even more WordPress plugins with you. So what are these essential plugins?
1. Theme Switch and Preview
Theme Switch and Preview is great for developers testing new themes on their own or their clients’ sites. It allows you to view new themes as an admin, with your regular site still up and running. If you need to allow your clients to view the theme as well, it also offers an option to allow visitors to view the test theme via a passcode.
2. Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is the easiest form generator I’ve found so far. Far more useful than just contact forms, you can create any kind of form that’s emailed to you as soon as it’s filled out. It’s also fully customizable on the backend, which allows you to change how the email that’s sent to you is structured as well.
3. Multi-level Navigation
For sites that require a dropdown menu, Multi-level Navigation Plugin is great for saving time. It works dynamically by pulling your parent/child pages and even allows complete control over what goes in your menu, including allowing blog categories and archives.
The plugin is in completely valid CSS and only uses JS on older Internet Explorer browsers. The only drawback to this plugin, is that they have a messy CSS section you have to use in the plugin’s settings. Luckily, they produce a link to a quick generator, so you can easily copy and paste the new code.
4. Feed Statistics
Feed Statistics is an extremely useful plugin for tracking RSS subscribers, clicks on posts and even which feed each user is subscribing too, such as comments or individual post feeds.
You can choose to display your feed stats anywhere on your blog or with a widget, or choose to keep it completely in the backend for your eyes only.
5. HITS- IE6 PNGFix
Fix your PNGs in IE6 quickly and easily with HITS- IE6 PNGFix. While this works as soon as it’s installed, it actually allows you two switch to different PNG fixes to best fit your situation. The default PNG fix is DD_belatedPNG.
Everyone knows the best form of marketing is by word of mouth. Encourage them to share your articles or pages with the ShareThis plugin.
ShareThis allows your readers to submit your links to social media sites or by email. It also remembers your social media login info if you have an account with them. It will post your post’s title and shortened URL to the user’s account.
Twitterposts automatically sends out a tweet from your Twitter account as soon as you publish a new post. While settings can be changed, the default sends out a “New Post” + the title of the post + a shortened URL to it.
This plugin is especially helpful if you have multiple social media accounts, like Facebook and LinkedIn, connected to your Twitter account as this will update all of them. This saves you a lot of time, plus some readers may prefer to “subscribe” to your blog’s updates by Twitter instead of using RSS feeds.
8. WordPress Automatic Upgrade
WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin is essential to have because we’ve all heard the horror stories of people upgrading their blogs to find them broken and/or gone.
This plugin takes you through several simple steps that download, backup and install new versions of WordPress. It also checks to see if your database needs to be upgraded.
9. WordPress Related Posts
One of the best related posts plugins I’ve found, WordPress Related Posts gives you lots of great customizable options and is easy to style. It even includes the option to have a short summary of the recommended post.
Related posts is a great plugin for readers to find similar, but older, posts to the one they just read. This ensures all of your content is still being seen and used, plus it offers more information to the reader.
10. WPtouch iPhone Theme
WPtouch iPhone Theme is probably the most usual “visual” plugin I’ve found. It works on almost all touch screen smartphones, not just the iPhone.
Basically, it speeds up the loading time and increases readability by replacing your blog’s theme with a clean mobile theme. This can be easily turned off and the full site loaded by pressing a button in the footer of the mobile theme.
This plugin is also useful for sharing, as it adds some social media sharing options as well.
So Many Plugins!
While there are many more great plugins, many are site or theme specific, or for visual purposes only.
I’m usually not a huge fan of installing a lot of plugins, as it often speeds up your site just to add some of the functionalities yourself versus installing a boggy plugin. However, these plugins are very useful and not very boggy to the site at all, and some plugins, like the mobile theme, actually speed up your site while others work exclusively in the backend.
Have you found a plugin you consider essential for every WordPress blog? What is it and what does it do?
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