I have been designing WordPress sites for two years now. In the beginning I found I spent most of my time finding the right plugins to do what I need. There are thousands of WordPress themes and thousands of WordPress plugins to choose from. So when you find what works, stick with it. So here is my list of 12+ WordPress plugins I have found most useful. I hope you find them useful as well, and please feel free to add any additional ones you know of.
WordPress Multilingual (WPML)
In the United States we still see the world as English-speaking but everywhere else a website is created in more than once language. Now the WordPress core application is available in several languages, but that doesn’t help if you want to have your site in multiple languages. For that, you need WordPress Multilingual (WPML). This plugin is invaluable. It enables you to create mirror sites in the languages you choose and translate everything from Blog Title and Description to widgets and of course page/post content. It supports navigation between the languages as a widget. You can even have WPML translate your text (for a fee). Here is an example of a site using this plugin: Example.
Category Page Icons
So the latest version of WordPress supports post thumbnails, and that is great, but what if you want to have thumbnails for your list of categories or pages, you need this plugin. Just install the Category Page Icons plugin and upload your thumbnails or “icons” to the specified folder. Then all you have to is assign which graphic to which category/page. Here is this plugin in use: Example — scroll down to the right sidebar where it says “archive.”
This plugin is not news. If you have built a site in WordPress and wanted to have an image gallery, chances are you came across NextGEN Gallery plugin. I have tried all the gallery plugins and can attest that this one, by far, is the best. Easy to install and activate, this plugin allows you to show your images as a series of thumbnails or a slidehow. Here is an example that uses various levels of the plugin: Example.
NextGEN Smooth Gallery
There are lots of plugins that let you link Facebook to your blog or link your blog to Facebook. But what if you want to push your posts from your blog to Facebook? For that you need FT-Facepress II. Depending on your hosting, you may have to adjust some server setting to get it working but no worries, the plugin has good support.
Twitter Tools and Twitter Friendly Links
If you want to promote your blog posts to Twitter you want to use the Twitter Tools plugin. This plugin is very easy to set up. Also, combined with Twitter Tools, the Twitter Friendly Links plugin will create links that can easily post to Twitter.
Tired of boring tag clouds, try the WP-Cumulus plugin and you will have an interactive tag cloud. This tag cloud will inspire more interaction with your blog. See and example here: Example — scroll down on the right sidebar.
Yet Another Related Post Plugin
Any good Web designer knows that cross linking is an important part of SEO but it can be time intensive to add these links yourself. So here is a solution: this plugin generates links to related posts based on post content and keywords. Here is an example: Example — see the bottom of the post on the left.
WordPress is a great tool but it has limitations when it comes to content layout. Whether you want to align content into columns or if you need a full data sheet, a table is the only way to do it simply.
WP-Table Reloaded creates tables with customizable CSS and various configuration options and you can easily insert them into your content.
Your Planet Today Widget
Your Planet Today Widget is a simple bell and whistle you can add to a site: a sidebar widget with an interactive map. You can set the map to any location based on coordinates and with the scale feature it is a great way to communicate location. Here is an example in the right scrollbar: Example.
WordPress is open source, hence free, and the above listed plugins are also free. But sometimes there are things worth spending money on. The Gravity Forms plugin is one of them. I have tried the different free form plugins that are out there but this one is elegant, easy to use and lots of features. The interface is all drag and drop ajax. The forms and completely customizable. But the real beauty of it is that it writes the form submissions to a database that can be exported as a CSV file. Imagine a quote form where all the inquires were saved to a database and then can be exported to Excel. Then it would be easy to keep track of who actually placed orders after receiving the quote and who could be followed up on. A marketers dream. Here is an example of the form in use: Example.
Eliza Alys Young is an independent creative professional with 15 years experience in digital media. She has a background in art, graphic design and photography and uses them all in her business: Design Intense. Eliza has designed several hundred websites, as well as taught web design. After eight years living in the Dominican Republic, she is back in Florida, designing for clients and writing her blog: Amor y Sabor (Love & Flavor).
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