Posted 10 February 2007, by Aaron
I am officially a WordPress ‘noob’. My site has been live for eight whole days and I’ve a staggering two previous posts under my belt. “Steady on there,” I hear you say. Well that’s not the half of it – I’ve already got 10 plugins installed. And activated!
The WordPress Plugin Database can be a daunting place for the uninitiated. There are hundreds of the little PHP scripts just waiting to be bolted on to your site, and it can be a mystery what half of them do. Even if you know exactly what you need a plugin for, often there can be dozens of them doing seemingly the same thing.
So where does the newbie start? I personally just jumped in, spent hour upon hour of searching, experimentation and trial and error. To help save you the hassle I have gone through, I am listing below my top 10 WordPress plugins one week in.
As a WordPress noob, I didn’t know what a ‘ping’ was, or what it did. Now I do – WordPress automatically notifies popular Update Services that you’ve updated your blog by sending a ping each time you create a post.
PingFix enhances the built-in ping functionality by pinging only when publishing new posts, not when editing older posts. This prevents excessive pinging which many Update Services may interpret as spam.
FeedList is a simple little script that allows you to insert any RSS stream anywhere into your site. For instance, you can include your del.icio.us bookmarks, your Diggs, or even the BBC News in your site. This can be used as part of your template (in your sidebar) or placed directly into a blog posting.
8. Another WordPress Meta Plugin
For some reason the standard WordPress install puts no meta data (keywords and descriptions) in your HTML headings. No good if you want people to be able to find your site through search engines.
The rather imaginatively titled Another WordPress Meta Plugin allows you to specify keywords and descriptions for every blog post or page. For category pages keywords are made up of all the keywords from every individual post on that page, after removing the duplicates. This should ensure a unique set of keywords for every page.
7. Ultimate Google Analytics
If you love stats, and who doesn’t, then you’ll love Google Analytics. It crunches numbers like you’ve never seen numbers crunched before. There are pie-charts, bar-charts, and funky little maps that tell you how many people from Azerbaijan are visiting your site. Best of all, it’s free!
The Ultimate Google Analytics plugin automatically inserts the tiny bit of code that allows Google to count all your visitors and create all those lovely charts. It also allows tracking of outgoing links and downloads, which some of the other Google Analytics plugins don’t.
6. Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form
I love it when I get an email from a complete stranger. I really do. That’s what the Internet is all about – connecting with people. I don’t like it so much when that complete stranger then sends dozens of emails trying to sell me pharmaceuticals of a dubious nature.
The Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form allows you to effortlessly slip a contact form into your site to enable those strangers to get in touch, whilst preventing those pesky spammers from peddling their wares. It offers 16 individual abuse countermeasures and is also customisable, so you can make it fit in with your site’s ‘look and feel’.
Don’t you hate it when you try to print a web-page and the first page comes out blank, the second page only displays the navigation column, and then the main content comes out but is so wide that the last word on every line doesn’t fit on the sheet? You can guarantee your readers will hate it when it happens to them on your site.
The WP-Print plugin enables you to insert a link to a printer-friendly version for each of all your blog entries and pages, with all navigation and styling stripped down.
4. Google Sitemap Generator
More search engine goodness here. XML-Sitemaps were invented by Google in 2005 as an easy way for webmasters to inform Google of pages on their site that can be indexed. In November 2006, Yahoo! and Microsoft also decided to support the XML-Sitemap format, making it a pretty important standard.
The Google Sitemap Generator creates and keeps updated the all important XML file, and automatically pings Google and Yahoo! each time you add a new post.
As mentioned in this previous post, image management in WordPress sucks. No two ways about it.
ImageManager provides an interface for browsing and uploading image files, and integrates simple image editing capabilities such as crop, rotate and re-size. So say goodbye to the native WordPress upload tool.
2. Category Tagging
Categories are soooo 2005, man. Today it’s all about the tag.
WordPress’ categories can actually be used like tags simply by applying multiple categories (or tags) to each post. The Category Tagging plugin allows you to easily slip a tag cloud into your blog. It also offers a cool little hook that displays related posts containing the same tags as the post being read.
This is an excellent way to enable your visitors to browse deeper into your site in a relevant and useful way to them.
Today in this world of Web 2.0, social networking is all the craze, and the way people search for and consume news and information increasingly revolves around social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us and Digg. A completely democratic system for delivering news where popular and reputable articles receive more ‘votes’, and consequently move to the top of the news roster.
Like young rock stars dream to be on Top of the Pops, young bloggers dream to be on the homepage of Digg. For this to happen you need to enable your readers to quickly vote for your post with the minimum of effort on their part.
See those cute little icons at the bottom of this post? They are links to various social bookmarking sites and they are powered by my number one plugin for a WordPress newbie, Sociable. This plugin supports an amazing 61 individual sites and is an essential plugin for all WordPress users, new or not.