Seven of Your Favorite, Most Indispensable WordPress Plugins

For the past few years, it seems as though at least a couple of times a month I’ll come across new “Top x WordPress Plugins” posts, where one user takes the time to enumerate a few of their most-loved blogs.

But who cares what they think, right? I wanted to know what you thought, so I turned to the hive mind which is Twitter (Hey, follow me!), and asked what you considered the most indispensable WordPress plugins. I threw in the criterion that the plugin be not spam-related — yes, I know you love Akismet; I do too! — and this is what you said. 

@girliegeek (Twitter) was the first to reply, recommending the WPhone plugin. I don’t administer my blog on the go via a mobile device, so I can’t attest to how this plugin works, but the theory seems sound enough: provide a stripped-down, mobile-friendly version of the admin panel for users of mobile devices. If you don’t have an iPhone (and are unable to use the WordPress app for it) but are still interested in administering your blog on the go, give WPhone a look.

@MillerMosaicLLC (Twitter) sent in the second recommendation, All in One SEO Pack (the tweet no longer seems to be available). This is another plugin I’ve never used, though I understand it is the only plugin you would ever need to optimize your WordPress blog for search engines, as it allows you comprehensive control over titles, descriptions, and more.

@gibbomeister followed with the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin, which I have used and can definitely recommend. This plugin makes upgrading your WordPress blogs incredibly easy, though it will no longer be necessary on WordPress 2.7 (or newer)-powered sites, as built-in upgrading is now a core feature. Honorable mention: OpenHook.

@lisaboyd (Twitter) shared a plugin I honestly keep forgetting about: WP-DBManager. This plugin, in addition to making database backups a cinch, also allows you to execute queries against your database directly from your WordPress administration panel. This is especially useful if you do not have access to phpMyAdmin or a shell database manager.

@keener (Twitter) was the next to reply, and his recommendation was for the only plugin cool enough to have compatibility built directly into the world’s most fantabulous WordPress theme. What plugin could be so ineffably awesome? Subscribe to Comments! Why should your users have to mess with subscribing to comment feeds to get notice of replies? And why should you have to use a third-party comment management system to provide conversation tracking features to your users? Simply install Subscribe to Comments, and your users will be able to subscribe to a post’s comments with a single click. This is a very useful plugin, especially if community involvement is important to you and your site. Honorable mention: FeedSmith.

@oktoberfive (account seems to no longer be active) followed with a recommendation for the site-speeder-upper plugin, WP Super Cache. Going a step beyond simply caching code, this plugin creates static HTML files which it serves as appropriate, which results in a huge savings in time and server usage. This plugin touts itself as being able to make your site “Digg-proof,” and it may very well do just that — I don’t know, I’ve never had something receive more than a handful of Diggs, I’m sure. If you run a high-traffic site or simply want to squeeze every ounce of speed out of your server, give WP Super Cache a whirl and see what it does for you. Honorable mention: Scissors.

@kristarella (Twitter) seconded the recommendation for Subscribe to Comments, but she also mentioned another gem, the Google XML Sitemaps generator plugin. This plugin simplifies the task of making Google (and now other major search engines as well) aware of your content by creating a pure sitemap of your site’s content, including categories, archives, and so on. This plugin is indispensable if you’re wanting even more control over how search engines interact with your site. @mikenichols0 (Twitter) seconded the Google XML Sitemaps plugin recommendation.

Bonus: And now for my recommendation and for the reason I didn’t want anyone else recommending an anti-spam plugin: Raven’s Antispam. As far as I am concerned, this plugin is the final word in fighting automated comment spam. It just works. I love its simplicity, too; if you have JavaScript enabled, you can comment and there are no form fields to fill out, no images to identify, nothing at all! On the off chance that JavaScript is disabled, you need to copy a piece of text into a form field. Simple, and much more usable than image recognition. You’ll still need another layer of protection to block against trackback spam as Raven’s Antispam doesn’t defend against that sort of spam, but for what it does do, it does exceptionally well.

And there you have it: my top plugin plus seven of your favorite, most indispensable plugins — two of which so amazing that they were recommended by different people — as well as a couple of honorable mentions for your consideration.

Do you consider another plugin to be something you can’t blog without? Feel free to share it below in the comments below. It is always exciting to hear about plugins that may not have registered on my radar yet.

15 thoughts on “Seven of Your Favorite, Most Indispensable WordPress Plugins

  1. Don Campbell says:
    I write about WordPress Websites and Local Search for small businesses.

    Great list Rick! It’s cool how to you tap into the Twitter community to get people’s input.

    I also really like the WPTouch plug-in – automatically formats your blog to be viewed on the iPhone.

    • Rick Beckman says:
      Student of the sciences, the religions, the science fictions, and the fantasies… But mostly I’m just trying to find my groove in this big, crazy world.

      It is a dream of mine that Thesis will one day have an out-of-the-box “slim” version for viewing on mobile browsers, iPhone included. I hope that day comes, but until then — PLUGINS!

  2. kristarella says:
    Kristen Symonds, aka kristarella, works as a Happiness Engineer for Automattic. She is a WordPress fanatic with a love for photography, craft, SciFi and Fantasy, board games, and more. …

    Very nice.

    I’m going to check out WPhone. I don’t need much on-the-go blog stuff, but I’m going away for a week and it might be handy to keep tabs on things, moderate comments if I need to.

    You know what else Raven’s antispam does? It gives you a page which says “Woops… blah blah blah… go back and try again, but first copy your comment so that it doesn’t get lost.” and gives you the comment text. I know because it caught me the other day (not sure why). It was pretty friendly though.

    One thing that is too cool about Google XML Sitemaps is that you can add other pages for it to crawl. So I could tell it to crawl my pixelpost blog (when it existed) along with my WordPress blog. Nifty!

    I was thinking earlier today after mentioning Subscribe to Comments that I would make a request in the Thesis forum for a comments RSS option anyway. If you don’t want to use this plugin (although I don’t know why you wouldn’t!) RSS is the next best thing, and perhaps not everyone wants to use email for subscribing. I have a new found respect for the versatility of RSS!

      • kristarella says:
        Kristen Symonds, aka kristarella, works as a Happiness Engineer for Automattic. She is a WordPress fanatic with a love for photography, craft, SciFi and Fantasy, board games, and more. …

        kahi, it’s possible that I commented too quickly on one post and then another because I had them open in different tabs.

      • Rick Beckman says:
        Student of the sciences, the religions, the science fictions, and the fantasies… But mostly I’m just trying to find my groove in this big, crazy world.

        An honor to have the author of one my favorite plugins pay my blog a visit! Thanks for stopping by!

    • Rick Beckman says:
      Student of the sciences, the religions, the science fictions, and the fantasies… But mostly I’m just trying to find my groove in this big, crazy world.

      Sorry ’bout the antispam catching you. I’m very pleased with how usable its error message is — the ability to copy/save your comment is definitely dripping with WIN.

    • Rick Beckman says:
      Student of the sciences, the religions, the science fictions, and the fantasies… But mostly I’m just trying to find my groove in this big, crazy world.

      I’ve not heard of that one; I’m still working on a contact page for here, so I may have to check that out!

  3. BrokenDoll says:

    Great list you have put together. A few of them I had been looking for and could not remember the names. Love your site.

    • Rick Beckman says:
      Student of the sciences, the religions, the science fictions, and the fantasies… But mostly I’m just trying to find my groove in this big, crazy world.

      Glad I could help get you reacquainted with some of these plugins. :D

  4. Joi says:

    I’m going to check out RA today. Spam’s pretty much kicking my backside on a few of my blogs, and it sounds like it’s what I need.

    One of my biggest plugin crushes recently has been YARPP, Yet Another Related Post Plugin. It’s great and hasn’t let me down yet. It pulls up perfectly relevent articles and keeps visitors sticking around longer.

    However, it has company in the crush zone now with your Thesis OpenHook Plugin. I’m using it on one of my blogs and will use it on all as soon as I upgrade all of them to the newest version of Thesis. I’ve been dragging my feet, but now I have an excellent reason to upgrade.

    OpenHook allows me a ton of options I’d been hunting for – such as seamlessly putting the nav bar below the header, getting rid of the comment links on the index, customizing the footer, etc. It’s SO much easier than going through the file manager or php. Hate php.

    Thanks for the list and your plugin!

    • Rick Beckman says:
      Student of the sciences, the religions, the science fictions, and the fantasies… But mostly I’m just trying to find my groove in this big, crazy world.

      I hope Raven’s Antispam is able to turn the tide on spam at your blog; it’s been a wonder-worker for me.

      I’ve been looking for a decent related posts plugin, so will check out the one you mentioned.

      Oh, and thanks for the nice words regarding OpenHook! It’s so awesome knowing it’s making a lot of lives that much easier!

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