My Favorite WordPress Plugins

There are many reviews and articles about WordPress plugins, here is the list of plugins I’m using. I use the WordPress plugins on this page for several websites and most of them longer than a year. I will keep this list up2date and I will remove WordPress plugins I’m not using anymore. Subscribe to the comments for this page, I will post updates for important changes. All listed plugins are available from the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Wordpress PluginsWordPress Plugins you should always use

  • Subscribe to Comments Reloaded – Comment subscription is a required feature if you accept comments on your site. This plugin allows also subscriptions without posting a comment.
  • Redirection – Even if you site is new you need to redirect articles from time to time. With this redirection plugin is this job very easy. Redirect 404 error’s or point expired articles to a new URL using a 301 header.
  • Widget Logic – Do you use widgets in your blog’s sidebar? Than is this small plugin for you. Enable/disable widgets for (single) categories or just for pages or blog posts. Use the conditional tags you know from your WordPress themes inside all your widgets.
  • Broken Link Checker – While the redirection plugin is able to detect 404 errors on your site, will this plugin detect all other broken links. An easy to use interface makes it possible to handle thousands of links.
  • WordPress SEO – We know that WordPress is missing important SEO features, this plugin written by Joost de Valk will solve most of the problems. Rewrite page titles, create XML sitemaps and analyze your articles.
  • WP Super Cache – A WordPress site is a PHP/MySQL application, that will say that each page view will use a lot of resources. The solution is a website cache plugin, WP Super cache has many options and support Content delivery networks (CDN) out of the box.
  • Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – Like most other “related posts” plugins will this show a specific numbers of posts below your current post. I think YARPP is more relevant and I like the way how you can create your own template for your related posts. The related posts widget is maybe a good addition for your sidebar.
  • Akismet – If you accept comments for your Blog posts, enable it otherwise you’ll get a lot of comment Spam!

Great plugins for different tasks

  • wp-comment-master – The wordpress comments system is very powerful except for the comment form validation. With this plugin, your visitor will stay on the page while posting a comment. To get this working your comment form need to use the default naming conventions for IDs and CSS pseudo classes.
  • WordPress.com Popular Posts – If you use the WordPress statistics plugin (included in the WordPress Jetpack) you should use the widget (plugin). Place the widget at the top of the sidebar and raise the number of page-views per visitor.
  • BackWPup – The Backup plugin is very flexible in the way you can choose your storage location: Amazon, Rackspace, FTP and Dropbox are only a view of them. You can create as many backup tasks as you want and you can choose which files and database table you like to include.
  • WP-PostRatings – There are many star rating plugins and most of them are less flexible or offering too much features. This one offers the important features and it’s your choice how to integrate the star ratings in your site. You can create your own star images and include them without to change the plugin’s code.
  • Clicky by Yoast – If you don’t like to use Google Analytics for your blog statistics, Clicky is a great alternative. They offer a free version for a single site. This plugin will include the tracking code and shows also a simple report for your current statistics.
  • Shadowbox JS – (read my comment below) A kind of lightbox with optional gallery feature for all your images. I’m using this plugin for several years now and it works as it should. Just install and enable the plugin, there are no configurations required.
  • WP-SWFObject – If you need to add Flash content to your blog, use this plugin. Each flash movie is added using a WordPress short-code and in the settings page you can choose which JS library is used.
  • WP Bannerize(read my comment below) Use this plugin to create and track banners used in your website. You can create banners from images or past your banner code. You can group banners for a random impressions or to show multiple banners with a single placement. You can add banner via a sidebar widget, using WordPress short-codes or right in your WordPress theme.
  • IntenseDebate – If you’re looking for a full featured comment system you should try IntenseDebate. IntenseDebate is currently the only system which is free and almost fully customizable. The comment system is like WordPress from the company Automatic.
  • Livefyre Realtime Comments – Livefyre is also a REAL TIME comment system and offers some unique social features. If your site is has a lot of activity on Twitter and/or Facebook you should try this one too. The
  • WP-PageNavi – If you like to have some pagination below each archive or search result page, you should try this plugin. You can customize it a lot and it works great with the style from you WordPress theme.
  • Revision Control – Every time that a blog post or page is saved, a revision record is created. This is a great feature but it will blow up your database size. This plugin offers some great tools to limit the number of revisions created for each post. Beside this, you can delete single records with the post edit dialog. There is one bad point using this plugin: It you like to remove all older records which are above the limit, you need to update each post or page. Maybe they will add some batch function in a future version.
  • Gallery – The native gallery feature works for simple situations, but if you need more you should check this plugin.

Plugins for the experienced user

  • Advanced Custom Fields – If you use WordPress as content management system you need to use custom post types as well. Using the ACF plugin its possible to add additional fields to your post type. You can use these custom fields in your theme where ever you like.
  • Custom Post Type UI – Adding post types was never so easy, this UI makes it possible to add custom post types and taxonomies without to write any code.
  • WP-Syntax – This Web Development Blog is the host of many PHP and jQuery tutorials. Using the WP Syntax plugin it’s possible to post any code inside articles and comments. The plugin is using the Geshi script and is easy to use. If you post code, don’t use the visual editor mode.
  • Relevanssi – A Better Search – The default search function from WordPress is not the best one, search results are not very relevant and often you visitors can’t find what they are looking for. This plugin will change it, the script will create his own search index, reports recent search queries and has much more options than the default search function.
  • WP Mail SMTP – By default all email messages are send with PHP’s mail function. This works but isn’t the best way to keep your blog’s mail messages out of the SPAM box by your visitors. This simple plugin will offer you the options to choose how you blog will send the mail messages. Our advice is to send your mail message by using an external SMTP service like SendGrid.
  • WordPress Flash Uploader – I like the media manager in WordPress a lot and I use the default media manager for most of my WordPress sites. This alternative tool is very useful if you like to choose the target image location. It’s not just an upload function the script is also able to synchronize the uploaded files with data from the media database.
  • Codestyling Localization – If you need to translate your WordPress website, use this plugin. You can use this translation plugin for all the plugins, themes and also the WordPress core system. Forget PoEdit and translate all your text within the WordPress back-end.

If you know some great WordPress plugin, please post a comment and don’t forget to tell us why you like it.

Comments

  1. This is a pretty thorough list. There are quite a few plugins on here I haven’t used yet but I’ll be sure to check them out. I wrote a similar post a while back but it wasn’t as thorough.

  2. Hi Jon,
    thanks for your comment.
    It’s funny, after I “collected” all the plugins I’m using in different sites I was very surprised how many WordPress plugins I’m using :)
    Do you use any plugins which are not on this list and might be useful for other readers?

  3. The plugin “WP Bannerize” is marked as “delete” because I don’t use it anymore. It’s not a bad plugin, but I think it’s too much overhead to have a plugin just for showing a few banners (like I do). I’m using the pure HTML and the text widget instead.

    I added also a new plugin called “Revision Control”. I installed this plugin for several sites because the wp_posts table becomes very huge after a while. Be careful if you try some other “revision” plugins, one plugin I tried removed all my revisions during the plugin initialization.

    Be careful with the “Advanced Custom Fields” plugin, I had some conflicts with TinyMCE using the version 3.0.x. I went back to version 2.1 and everything is fine for WordPress 3.2.1 (don’t try the new version of ACF with WP 3.3 beta BTW).

  4. Since a few weeks I re-installed the plugin “BackWPup” on several sites. I removed the plugin before because I tried the “ManageWP” for several weeks. Several weeks ago they announced the prices and the smallest “paid” package doesn’t include a backup function.

  5. I devoted the Shadowbox JS plugin because it’s removed from the WordPress repository. It doesn’t stopped working but it’s time to try something new. I installed on several sites the plugin WP jQuery Lightbox, because it looks good and it doesn’t require an update on my images (just install and you’re done).

    Custom fields, post types and taxonomies
    Last week I found the plugin Types – Custom Fields and Custom Post Types Management, which is able all three WordPress features in a single plugin. The function for custom fields has less features than the “Advanced Custom Fields” plugin, but enough for most sites I know.

    WordPress caching
    I’m using WP Super cache for most of my sites, because it’s very easy to use. A few weeks ago I tried (again) W3 Total Cache. Compared to WP Super Cache, the plugin has much more settings and I think it’s a great tool for the advanced user.

    And at last but not least… If you’re looking for a great affiliate link cloaking plugin, you should read my review about the ThirstyAffiliates plugin. It’s a premium plugin, but it’s a much better solution than all others I have tried.

  6. I’m just getting started with WordPress. This post helps. Thank you.

  7. WordPress works very strange with images if you need to use them inside a gallery. You need to upload every image inside an article to include them automatically or you need to “tweak” the gallery shortcode. This is not very effective and for sure not user-friendly for the common blog author. To solve these problems you should try the gallery plugin (listed above in the middle section). This plugin will create a new post for each gallery with the images your like to include. The plugin will use also some gallery feature, so no additional lightbox plugin is required.

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