Two years ago I found WordPress and it changed my life. Just kidding, my life wasn’t changed so drastically, but my web-life, if I’m allowed to call it so, was changed. I did my web-sites with Joomla and seriously thought it was the best CMS ever. I saw many shortcomings, but believed they were unavoidable. Suddenly a friend of mine showed me WordPress and I really wasn’t impressed when I first saw it. It took time to start really understanding its features. And as soon as I got them nothing could keep me on Joomla anymore. In this article I would like to tell you about some WordPress plug-ins which made my life in the Internet a lot easier. Hope you’ll like them even more than I did!
Automated Keywords Generator (download link)
There’s a big and popular plug-in called All in One SEO Pack… it’s huge, pretty much complex and it must optimize your blog/web-site, at least so they say. To make it even better you also can control your titles, descriptions & keywords for each and every page and of course it means much for your web-site’s SEO. What’s also farseeing is that All in One Seo Pack assigns canonical URLs of every page and it might be also very helpful. The only “minus” I found is that you should install it in the very beginning when your web-presence is fresh and empty. It works anyway, but well… if your web-site already runs I’d prefer installing Automated Keywords Generator. It works exactly the same as SEO Pack, but 100% automatically: it adds the titels, descriptions and keywords (URLs too, but I prefer to set them manually), works with the canonical URL’s etc. You install it, activate it and that’s it, you have nothing more to do, there are no settings. I didn’t notice any differences between what SEO Pack does and what Automated Keywords Generator has to offer. The only moment you should take into account is that it creates descriptions and keywords automatically and it means they can be not like you want them to have. Well, it’s not perfect, but if you have a really big web-site, you probably have no time to set all the descriptions and keywords manually. For example I have a web-site with about 10-20 new articles daily and I would go crazy if I had to write all this META-info by hand. So it’s not 100% perfect, but still very good and it saves you the whole lot of time.
Configurable Tag Cloud (download link)
The standard WP tag-cloud is something that should never exist on the face of the Earth. It’s primitive and nonsensical, but we have a lot of other solutions to replace it. I don’t like all these tag-clouds with animation, they are too chaotic for me, I would like to have a normal tag-cloud, but with a lot of features and settings (the standard one has NO settings at all). So eventually I chose Configurable Tag Cloud and that’s what convinced me to use it:
- You can set the font size for the tag with the biggest number of posts and the tag with the lowest one. The size of all the tags with the posts’ number in between will be set dynamically.
- You can set the color for both largest and smallest tags and the tags in between will get a color dynamically, so you can adjust the cloud and make it fit.
- You can show the posts number after every tag. Nice feature.
- There are many kind of sorting your tags (by posts number, by first letter etc).
Custom sidebars (download link)
A very useful plug-in to customize your sidebars and all the areas for widgets. In other words you can show different sidebars on different pages. It takes a little time to sort it out, at first sight Custom Sidebars can look tricky, but when you’re there you’ll be surprised how better your web-site can look with it.
GD Star Rating (download link)
A super thing! There are many rating plug-ins out there (you know, when any user on your web-site can rate any post and there’s also a widget with the summary rating you can place somewhere), but this one is far better than others I’ve seen. The main feature is you can rate the posts not only on the basis of “1 – 10 stars” or “thumb up – thumb down” method, you also can rate it by as many criterias as you want. For example if you have a blog about games, you can allow your users to rate your posts by “game play”, “graphics”, “story” etc. That would make your web-site way more interesting and interactive. GD Star Rating can be considered to be not too easy to comprehend, but you won’t be sorry when you’ll see the result.
jQuery Colorbox (download link)
This plug-in opens the pictures as beautiful pop-ups when somebody clicks on the previews. It has about ten templates with different styles and many useful settings inside. Can really fit for any web-site.
Related Posts Thumbnails (download link)
Everything’s simple with it – you install this plug-in and can show some “related posts” after every post on your blog or web-site. You actually can see that in action in this post below :) Great thing to inform your visitors about some other articles that can be interesting for them. More than that – you can show the “related posts” sorted by category. Sorting by tags worked not so good for me, so I preferred to sort them only by category.
Smart Youtube PRO (download link)
Good solution to show the YouTube videos on your blog or web-site. Really simple, but at the same time has some cool settings to customize the clips.
Social Share Buttons (download link)
This one adds a line of share-buttons for several social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and so on. Fits great for the web-sites in Russian, because there are also the icons of Russian networks like Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki. The buttons look nice and there’s no need to change something or adjust the code. You can also activate a Facebook “Like” button. By the way I use this plug-in on this web-site too, just enter a post and you’ll see how Social Share Buttons look like.
uLogin (download link)
I use this plug-in to let my visitors log in with their Facebook, Twitter and Vkontakte login data. It’s pretty much convenient, because there’s no need for them to get registered on my web-site to leave me a comment or two. It makes everything easier.
WP-PageNavi (download link)
If you have a blog you probably saw the pages menu standing in every page’s bottom, like “1, 2, 3… last page” so everyone could navigate through the pages. WP-PageNavi helps to manage this menu and make it look really good and organized.
WP Count Down (download link)
A beautiful counter you can use to count days, minutes and second till an event. Can look very cool.
WP Maintenance Mode (download link)
This feature should really be a part of initial WordPress, but it isn’t, so we must install it separately. WP Maintenance Mode makes exactly what says its name – you can close your web-site for maintenance with it. While it’s closed everybody will see only a maintenance message (it can say whatever you want) and you’ll see the web-site as it is. A great plug-in if you must make a big update or improvement but don’t want anyone to see it till it’s 100% ready.