One of the things I love about WordPress as a blogging platform is how Plugins extend its functionality hundred fold. Just like how Firefox becomes more than a browser with its 1000′s of available extensions.
Searching for a good WordPress plugin in the WP Plugin directory can be like finding a needle in the proverbial haystack. When I started out blogging, I just started finding the good plugins by asking the authors of blogs I frequented. Some talk about what they use and some bloggers would gladly tell you if you asked them nicely.
If you wonder what I use here in ShanKrila, you don’t have to anymore. Here is a list of WordPress plugins that I have found and started using them in the months years of blogging. Plus, my wife Shriya provides WordPress services through KarShanMedia.com. And we have collected a huge number of plugins that she uses in her different projects. I have tried to categorize it based on its utility.
This will be a continuously updated page so that it’ll serve as a reference for myself as well as to anyone else running a self-hosted WordPress blog.
I recommend bookmarking this page and checking back for updates. Also, I’d appreciate if you shared this article with your friends in your social network of choice.
Last Updated: July 1 2011
WordPress 3.2 release is imminent. So, I will note where the WordPress plugins are compatible with 3.2.
Best Admin WordPress Plugins
- 404 Notifier
Allows the blog administrator to track 404 pages generated by the blog. You can choose to email it or even receivei as a RSS feed. Very useful when you are moving blogs or changing categories to avoid 404 errors.
- Ask Apache Google 404
AskApache Google 404 is a sweet and simple plugin that takes over the handling of any HTTP Errors that your blog has from time to time.So this plugin uses some AJAX code, Google Search API’S, and a few tricks to display a very helpful and Search-Engine Optimized Error Page.
- Shortcode Exec-PHP
Makes it easy to add PHP code snippets to your posts through the use of shortcodes. Re-use PHP code in many posts and pages. Offers one place to manage PHP code with syntax highlighting.
- WordPress Database Backup
Every WordPress blog must be backed up with this plugin. You do not want to lose your hard work. Ever. Easy to configure and use. Schedule backups to run every night and email it to you. You could also backup anytime you need and download it.
- Contact Form 7
Adds a simple drop in form for users to contact you. You can create multiple forms easily with advanced layouts and spam protection. If you would like to store your form results in the database, check out the Contact Form 7 to Database Extension plugin. This makes it the best WordPress feedback plugin.
Adds phpMyAdmin interface right in your WP Admin panel. Manage MYSQL database with ease and speed without having to worry about command line and ssh access. You can even install this as a PHP script without WordPress for your other non-WordPress projects.
Best Ad Management WordPress Plugins
- Ad Injection
One of the best ad management WordPress plugins there is. It may seem like a bit convoluted but once you start adding ads and setting it up to show in various places of your site, you’d never want to go back. You don’t have to edit your WordPress theme files anymore.
Just plug in your ad code from multiple ad networks and forget about it. Very convenient. It even makes A/B testing very easy by randomizing ads that appear in a single space.
- Who Sees Ads
Another powerful ad management plugin like the previous one but with a control panel where you can set things like how old a post has to be to display ads, etc. I am still torn between the two but I have to use them both to find out which one I like better.
This plugin recently stopped working for me. But, a very useful plugin nonetheless if it was updated.
Best Slideshow WordPress Plugins
- NextGEN Gallery
Hands down the best plugin there is for creating galleries and slideshows. With the many advanced options like albums and galleries, the options are limitless.
- Smooth Slider
For those looking for a simpler plugin with an image slider capability this is a great plugin to try.
- jQuery Colorbox
Adds a lightbox/colorbox effect to thumbnails. If you have a gallery in a post, you can create a slideshow!
Best Comments WordPress Plugins
This is what I use in all our WordPress blogs now. Externally hosted comment system takes the pain out of managing comments by yourself. Intense Debate is a similar platform.
- AJAX Comments
Lets you post comments quickly without leaving or refreshing the page.
- Highlight Author Comments
Automatically applies a distinctive style to comments by post’s author.
- Live Comment Preview
Lets your commentators see what they type as they type. A huge help for avoiding and correcting typos.
- Show Top Commentators
Encourages feedback and comments by rewarding your top commentators with a link to their blog.
- Subscribe to Comments
Essential for any blog to allow your readers to easily follow comments they are interested in. Readers can opt in to get notification of new comments in the blog post by email. You can add a small opt in button at the bottom of the comment form.
Learn how to Integrate Twitter into WordPress comments and discover your readers in Twitter.
Best WordPress Performance Plugins
- W3 Total Cache
This is by far the best performance WordPress plugin you can find. It enables page cache, database cache, minify, CDN WordPress integration, etc supercharging your WordPress site to serve more pages with less resources.
- WP Super Cache
For those who don’t need a robust solution like W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache offers a simpler interface with substantial performance boost. Try this on and see your WordPress pages speed up.
Speeds up your blog by caching posts and pages to serve them faster. A lot of options to fine tune to your needs. Check out this modified version as well that claims huge speed increase.
Best Post WordPress Plugins
- In Series
Making a series of posts is very easy now. Have some common posts, create a new series by connecting them together. Check out our Firefox Extensions Series for a sample.
- Simple Tags
Adds plenty of options to extending WordPress tag management
- SRG Clean Archives – Displays archive listings in a clean uniform way in a collapsible menu style. Either look at current month or look at all posts in your archive.
- What Would Seth Godin Do – This weirdly named plugin is simply awesome. It just detects new readers and displays a custom message. You can configure it and format it in HTML and choose to make it appear at the top or bottom of a post.
- Yet Another Related Posts PluginI like this better than the other Related Posts plugin because this brings up posts based on tags or categories of WordPress 2.3. If you consistently tag posts like I do, you might see better results with this one.
- WP Social Bookmark Menu (aka Sexy Bookmarks)
Adds a CSS sprite based social bookmark buttons that pop out as you hover over them as seen here in this blog.
Best RSS Feeds Plugins
- Ozh Better Feeds
It gives you plenty of options to manage your feeds including adding footer notes and Related posts to every feed item. If you find your blog posts being scraped by someone else, add a permalink signature so you get due credit.
- FeedBurner FeedSmith
Detects all your possible feeds in your blog and redirects to your FeedBurner feed address. No need to update your WordPress template code with your FeedBurner address every time you change your theme.
Best SEO WordPress Plugins
- All in One SEO Pack
Fastest way to get your blog optimized for SEO. Offers plenty of excellent options. A must have from the get go.
- Dean’s Permalink Migration
If you are changing your site wide Permalink structure, use this plugin to make it transparent. It’s transparent even to Google and doesn’t hurt your PageRank.
- Google XML Sitemaps
Generates a sitemaps.org compatible sitemap of your WordPress blog. Supported by Ask.com, Yahoo, MSN Search & Google.
- Homepage Excerpts
If you display full posts in your Homepage, you could be getting bad karma from Google for having duplicate content in your home page as well as the single post pages. But, a lot of readers prefer not to click through an excerpt to read a full post. This plugin helps strike a balance by making a customizable number of posts as full and the rest of it as an excerpt in the home page without tweaking your template.
Best WordPress Stats Plugins
- Google Analytics for WordPress
This is the one I use. You can authenticate to Google and select your site right from the plugin settings page. Choose if you want this loaded in the header or footer. You are done. There are advanced settings too if you want to track downloads, etc.
A great stats plugin that saves IP, timestamp, visited URI, referring URI and browser information. It shows unique hits, page views for the month as well last 24 hours in a graph. A very nice utility for local stats addicts.
- Mint Analytics
If you use the Mint web analytics program, this plugin makes it easy to include the tracking code and birdfeeder code in your blog. Minty is a similar plugin for Mint.
- Google Analyticator
- WordPress Stats
Tracks views, pageviews, referrers and clicks with the WordPress.com stats. It shows what people clicked on as well as search terms. You need a WordPress.com API key (free) to activate this.
Best Styling WordPress Plugins
- WP CSS Live Editor
If you are crossing over from Drupal, you may already know about this utility. It lets you edit CSS live on your browser, view changes and save it to a file. Very useful for those who like to tweak live. You could also use Firebug but this is nicer.
More to come…
Best WordPress Ecommerce Plugins
Best WordPress Newsletter Plugins
Best WordPress Social Media Plugins
Best Premium WordPress Plugins
Best WordPress Video Plugins
Best WordPress CMS Plugins
Plugin Usage Tips
- Make sure you backup your WordPress files, if a plugin requires you to modify a template file.
- While upgrading a plugin, most times it is best to delete or atleast rename the current plugin folder/file and then upload the new plugin code.
- Take the time atleast once a month to update your plugins to the newest versions.
- Don’t let your WordPress blog get bloated and uninstall plugins that you don’t need or use anymore.
I have done my best to make sure the links are correct but it is the nature of the web that they do change at times. Please report any broken links through comments or by Contact Us form.
I would love to find new and better WordPress plugins. Also, I would love to hear if you’d like a listing of Top WordPress Themes like free wordpress themes, wordpress magazine theme or Adsense optimized WordPress Themes.
Feel free to sound off in the comments if you know or have found a plugin that does a better job than the one listed here.
Help make this list a great reference for all the WordPress bloggers out there. If you are a blogger with an iPad, check out the best iPad apps for blogging.
Check out the top 10 WordPress 2.9 features here.