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  1. Akismet
    Comes as standard with all WordPress platform downloads, and checks reader comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam. Those comments that do are automatically filtered into a “spam” folder.
  2. Child Theme Configurator
    I used this to help create a child theme so I could make design and layout tweaks without losing them the next time the theme author made an update. The plugin can, and should, be deactivated as soon as the child theme’s made.
  3. Jetpack
    Mostly for quick stats, and for giving commentators the option of subscribing to the comment thread.
  4. MailChimp for WordPress
    Makes it easy to insert a subscription form on any page of your site.
  5. WP Super Cache
    Stores a static version of every page for a set time, meaning less strain on your web hosting resources, helping to prevent your site from going down after a sudden flood of visitors. I’ve tried quite a few others cache plugins. This one seems like the strongest.
  6. Yoast SEO
    A great help for tweaking page titles and meta descriptions. Also sorts the sitemap and lets you block certain tags or category pages from appearing in search results. Much better than the competing All in One SEO plugin that I used for quite a few years.

Last updated in November 2017.

Remember, every plugin you actiavte will add to your site’s load time.

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May 12, 2010

Comments

Good collection of plugins there David, some of which I already use. Being fairly new to WordPress I may have to try out a couple of the others and see how I get on with them, thanks.

Brilliant timing! Just about to start turning my website into more of a blog with wordpress and these will come in handy. Starting my own business from today after many years on staff. David Cameron isn’t the only one with a life-changing career move, although I hope my spending cuts don’t have to run quite so deep! Thanks.

Great list. I use most of these or a variation on them. Another one that works behind the scenes but I find essential is Redirection (http://urbangiraffe.com/plugins/redirection/) which fixes 301 errors. I’ve especially needed it when using a real em dash in a headline out of habit, then having the resulting link not work — but it’s already out there. Rename your link to one that’ll work, and go into Redirection to tell it to send anyone arriving from the broken link to the good link.

I probably just find it essential because I mess up my links so much. :)

Hi Shaun, I tried accessing your site, but got an “unable to connect” message. I remember seeing a few others complain about the cforms plugin, so I avoided the last few updates to keep my settings intact. Actually, your blog’s working fine now. Good to see what aids your WordPress installation, too, and nice work with creating your own plugin (too advanced for my web skills).

Paul, good luck with the testing. I’ve changed my preferred plugins quite a few times during the past years, and these are the ones that’ve stayed with me (mostly).

Rob, I’m sure you won’t regret it (turning your site into more of a blog), although blogs do need a lot of time to get the most from them — you might regret that part.

Jon, glad to be of help.

Amy, you’re definitely not alone in needing to change URLs after publishing. I’ve bit the bullet more than once and just done away with the incorrect one, but your redirect suggestion looks like a useful idea (rather than jump into the htaccess file).

This is a shameless plugin plug, but you’re one of my favorite blogs and I’ve never been able to give anything back before. The WordPress plugin I use most is the WordPress Editorial Calendar. I wrote it because I almost always schedule posts in advance and WordPress just didn’t have the support I needed. It gives you a simple calendar where you can manage all of your posts.

I hope it helps.

Hello David, I like to read your blog. Thanks for sharing good info. I just got turned on to Woopra for site traffic monitoring. It allows you to view real time data about people who visit your site. Google analytics has nothing on this… I can guarantee that you will get addicted to their services. Seriously. They have a plugin that you download for WordPress and an application that graphs all of this info. Oh yeah, it’s free too. http://www.woopra.com

Thanks for that link Josh. I will check it out for myself. Did not want to go the sitemeter route :)

Nice to get an insight into what you are using David. Much better than those “10 Awesome WordPress Plugins” posts you see doing the rounds. It is much more helpful when someone can personally vouch the effectiveness of something they actually use.
I might take a look into using some of these on my site. Cheers!

Hi David: I can’t blog without TinyMCE Advanced for one reason: it has a “do not remove blank spaces” feature on the admin page that forces WP to not delete hard returns that I sometimes want in a post. I wasn’t the only one annoyed with how it deleted empty paragraph tags and break tags, obviously, and was glad to see the TinyMCE team add that to their editor tool.

Oh, TinyMCE Advanced is a very popular rich text editor that is used in many CMS systems. It adds a lot of great text editing features including tools to help clean up HTML messes that are so easy to make. Take it for a spin…

This has nothing to do with the plugins, but it does have to do with WordPress: I’m finding myself wanting one of those WordPress button pins.

Oh yeah, and I also love the new layout. My first time seeing it since I’m always reading your entries from my RSS reader!

Thanks David (and commenters),

I am a total newbie to wordpress and still getting used to it but love learning something new so I am excited to be in the wp world.

I had been looking for a different stats plugin because I was feeling like I needed a PhD to decipher the information and when you only have a few moments to check on stats that wasn’t very helpful. I will try out what you mentioned and have bookmarked your other recommendations for a time in the future when perhaps I am getting more traffic and want to add to my site.

Cheers,
Chris

David, I really like the idea of adding the extra field in the blog comment thread to allow commentators to include their Twitter ID for display but like you, I’m anxious about getting too overloaded with plug-ins.

Any chance you’ve come across a “how to” on modifying your theme code to include that functionality without the use of a plugin?

I used cforms in the past as well, but it’s suddenly stopped working for me. Any time you try and send a message it just sits there with “Please wait” and nothing ever happens. I’ve now disabled it and am on the look out for something better.

Useful post though, interesting to know what popular blogs out there use. With All in One SEO Pack, did it change your existing blog entry headings and the like?

I use this one:
Page Links To
Allows you to point WordPress pages or posts to a URL of your choosing. Good for setting up navigational links to non-WP sections of your site or to off-site resources.

David: not sure what you use on the back-end, but I highly recommend WP DB backup and Ozh Admin Menu.

The first is a configurable backup system (I’ve set it up to send a weekly backup to gmail on one of my sites) and the other converts the menu of the admin system into a much quicker drop down one.

Hello David,

I was supprised you had so many plugins, but they are a few of the best.

One plugin I find I cant live without is Contact form 7 this for me is far the best contact form plugin. Important plugins I alos like secure wordpress and WP security scan a must use I feel.

Great post David, take care

Mali

Wow, nice new blog design David. It’s so different from what it used to be.

Keep up the great work.

Thanks for the WordPress plugin recommendations, it’s nice to actually see you using some of them, the Twitter ID for example. I shall be using that on the new version of my website soon.

P.S: Love your stunning work.

I love using wordpress. A good google analytics wordpress plugin is called “Google Analyticator.” Your most important stats show up in your wordpress dashboard. I will check into wp stats.

Good post David!

David,

Great list. Thanks for posting. Here are a few I like.

Advanced Most Recent Posts- This plug in allows Thumbnail images to show in the most recent posts list. I have found it to encourage people to visit more pages.

Page Links To – I use this to direct some Page Buttons to different places on my site. This can also be used if you are running something like X-Cart and want a button on the WordPress side to direct people to the online store.

NextGEN Gallery – Used to manage a lot of pictures. Really simple to add Galleries to a post or page.

-Dan

Hello David,

I love your website, so much information on how to come up with elegant designs. I’m a student currently on my second semester and I just started my first blog on WordPress. This was a great help to me as I’m always looking for different plugins. I’m also thinking of buying your book since I’m going for graphic design as my major. Anyway, thanks again, great help.

Im using quite a few of the above, but will certainly look at the others, the Facebook one in particular.

There are so many plugins for WordPress, especially to someone relatively new to it like myself, that its difficult to know where to start!

Thanks for the comments, folks. I’m back in blogging action after a short hiatus, and it was good to read your contributions.

Rob, I’ve not seen a tutorial for adding the Twitter field without a plugin, but if you come across one, please do share it. You’re right not to want to overload with plugins, although I’ve found that my small selection doesn’t prove a drawback with hosting resources.

Ian, I’m unsure what the All in One SEO did for existing headings/titles etc., mainly because I’ve had it installed for so long, and wasn’t clued-in enough to check at the time. It’s quite useful, though.

Doug, seems like you’re having WP issues that I’ve not encountered (with para breaks, etc.).

Ricardo, should you go ahead and buy a copy, it’d be great to know what you think once you’ve finished reading. Thanks for the compliment.

Scott, you’re right — there are a ton of unnecessary plugins out there, and so many I’ve tried for less than a day before ditching. Good luck with your own WP blog.

Dan, I like the idea of thumbnails showing alongside “recent posts.” Not for this blog — given that I recently removed the “recent” list — but for Logo Design Love. Thanks for the suggestion.

Paul, do you know if the Google Analyticator plugin needs many resources to work? I’m often curious just how much the WP Stats plugin draws upon page load times (I’ve really no idea), and I guess anything to do with Google Analytics will prove more of a drain. Sounds good, though. Worth looking into.

Laura, you’re very welcome. At the time of writing, these are the plugins you can actually see working here:

Related Posts
Page Numbers
Twitip ID
Facebook Like Widget
cforms II
Highlight Author Comments
Subscribe To Comments

All excellent, too.

Tjeerd, I generate backups through my web hosts, and not through a WP plugin, but I’ve often wondered if it’s easier to switch over. Much appreciated.

Josh, Zach, I’ll definitely look into Woopra and the Editorial Calendar, thanks guys.

I hate cforms, it’s really a pain to create forms. For simple forms I use Contact Form 7, and for more complex ones, ideally Gravity Forms but it’s not free.
For page navigation, WP Page Navi.
Also, I think your caching plugin is outdated? You should be using Hyper Cache + db cache reloaded or W3 Total Cache

I’ve just updated the post mentioning a new plugin — the TweetMeme Button. Not sure why I hadn’t tested it before, but we’ll see how it goes. So far so good (except over on LDL where I can’t get the button to sit on the same line as the Facebook Like Widget. Still, looks helpful.

Thanks for the list David, I was glad to see that I have a lot of those already. I think I might get some of those SEO plugins going though, and maybe switch to Feedburner too. Postpost is something I’ve been looking for too, so that’s great.

“Google Analytics is great, but it’s too much for getting a quick look at where site visitors are coming from.”

I recently added WordPress Google Analytics Reports, which puts some of your GA data into the dashboard. So far it’s proven reasonably useful (though I use WP stats as well).

Liking the design refresh by the way. I’ve just given my blog a bit of a sprucing up and have gone similarly minimal. Would love any feedback there (more posts is the first thing I need to focus on I think).

No worries, Hank. Thanks for the analytics recommendation. One to test. I like the redesign of your blog. The grass-blades (was it?) served you well, I’m sure, but I know what it’s like wanting to ring the changes. The copyright text in the footer looks a little out, but perhaps that’s intentional (I’m using FF on a Mac).

Hi David,
I recently published my own blog using my own PHP files, mostly because I wanted to have complete control over the look and feel of my website (i.e., my own header and footer). I was under the mistaken impression that a WordPress blog would necessitate taking the visitor to another site (i.e., WordPress). However, when I discovered your site, I found out that you in fact use WordPress!
Did you have to do a lot of programming (or hire a programmer) to seamlessly incorporate the WordPress blog into your site?
Do you have any recommendations regarding this subject?
Cheers,
Paul

Hello Paul, a WordPress site can look however you want it to. The coding for my theme was minimal (given the minimal design). I set it myself, and my web skills are far from a competent. My very first custom theme was created using the tutorials at wpdesigner.com. That site has since changed hands, however, so I’m unsure if the guide is still there.

Hi David,

Thanks so much for the post! I’m using almost all of these plugins now.

I noticed you also have a Twitter plugin similar to the Facebook Like Widget. What is that one called?

Thanks,
Arielle

David have you checked out Jetpack yet? It’s from WordPress and is an official addon for Hosted WordPress sites now.

It brings powerful plugins/tools from WordPress.com blogs – including Stats and Comments, amongst lots of other powerful tools.

I’ve not added Jetpack, David, which means I’ve got that ever-present prompt on my plugins page. It’s probably worth it just to get rid of that alone.

And yes, Oliver makes a lot of sense talking about those share buttons. I’m pretty sure his thoughts are why I ditched them.

Hey David

I think using W3 Total Cache will be a better option now as it has loads of other options along with catching and minifying. Next, Yoast’s SEO will be a better alternate for All In One SEO as it also has few more and important options like the inbuilt Sitemap generator.
For the Stats and Subscribe to posts/comments, the official Jetpack is a good idea too as it has improved integration.
And yes, what was the reason for removing all sharing buttons? Increase in loading times or anything else?

Seems like this post needs a newer update. Thanks for looking through my comment!

Hi David,

I assume you’re using a WP.org version? I’ve read about pros and cons of both .com and .org versions but I’m still not sure which one to use for my website as a freelance designer. I’m guessing “.org”

Thanks!

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