WordPress Plugins I Use

by Mike Nichols

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A constant question on the DIYthemes Forums, and I one that I often get, is what plugins are recommended for a Thesis site. This article lists the plugins I use on my sites and tells why I use them.

Though I can’t claim to have tried every plugin available for a given purpose, I’ve investigated most of them, and have settled on the ones listed here. They all play nice with Thesis, obviously. Note that I’ve labeled most of them “Nice to have,” which is not damning them with faint praise, but means that if you want a particular feature, this is the plugin I recommend.

Akismet comes with your WordPress installation. It keeps spam off your blog, period. Essential

cformsII — For your contact page and other forms, I believe that cformsII can’t be beat. It’s highly configurable, you can change the styling of the forms using css, and custom work is saved when the plugin is upgraded. Click on the “Contact” button in the button bar to see it in action. Highly recommended

CommentLuv — Shows the last post of commenters, rewarding your readers and encouraging more comments. It’s easy to set up and use. Check out this comment in Anxiety, Panic & Health to see it in action. Nice to have

CyStats — Provides very detailed real-time statistics for your blog from the Admin panel. See more information about CyStats in the article Statistics Plugins and Services I Use. If you’re interested in your stats and can have only one plugin, this is the one to get. Highly recommended

Dagon Design Sitemap Generator — Generates a fully customizable sitemap based on categories. I use it in Anxiety, Panic & Health in the “Categories” tab of the nav bar. Not used on this site because all of the articles are pages, which don’t have categories. Nice to have

Google Analytics for WordPress — Not really an SEO plugin, its sole purpose is to assist in using Google Analytics on your site. It does things like blocking the administrator from being counted in statistics, something that would have to be coded otherwise. Nice to have

Google XML Sitemaps — The only SEO plugin I use, since Thesis does the rest. Generates a sitemap just for Google ‘bots, which can then be told to use it in Google Webmaster Tools. Highly recommended

My Tag Cloud — Is somewhat inaccurately named, because it creates a widget that lists tags, rather being a tag cloud (which I dislike). I use it in the sidebar on Anxiety, Panic & Health, and in the footer on this site. Nice to have

Similar Posts — Puts a list of related posts at the bottom of your posts, encouraging readers to dig deeper into your site. I like this one the best of all the ones I tried: simple but effective, and you don’t have to enter special tags at the ends of posts. It’s the one I use on Anxiety, Panic & Health, since most of the content is posts. However, I use Simple Tags for this site (see below). Nice to have

Simple Tags — A complete tagging system that allows tagging of pages as well as posts. The plugin has a lot of features that are not available elsewhere, such as editing tags. It also will put a “related posts” list at the end of pages that includes tagged pages, something that no other plugin will do. This is the plugin I use on this site for related posts, as well as for tagging pages. Nice to have

Sociable — Puts a configurable list of social media sites at the end of your post or page. I’ve tried and used several similar ones, but I like this one best because it only shows sites I have selected. Nice to have

Subscribe to Comments — Adds a checkbox to the end of posts that lets your readers be notified when a new comment is made. Lots of my readers use this. Nice to have

Thesis OpenHook — Thesis-specific plugin that lets you edit your custom files, and simplifies the modification of your site. You can simply drop code copied from the Forum into one of the OpenHook hook areas, and it will work without your having to touch the custom files. Nice to have if you need it

WordPress.com Stats — Shows a graph of your real-time site stats on your Admin page, along with an overview of a number of important metrics. Not as accurate as CyStats, but shows you the trends at a glance. For more information about WordPress.com Stats, see the article Statistics Plugins and Services I Use. Nice to have

WP-DBManager – This plugin performs a number of important WordPress database functions, such as management, optimization, repair, and queries. Most importantly for me, it emails me a backup of my sites’ database daily. Highly recommended

WP Twitip ID — Allows your commenters to add their Twitter id and have it displayed in their comments. See it at work on Anxiety, Panic & Health.- Nice to have

YAFootnotes — I write a lot of footnoted articles on Anxiety, Panic & Health, and this plugin allows me to work in the accepted manner of researchers, scientists and other writers while creating the text. It then presents the footnote list in the style of printed publications, unlike every other footnote plugin I know of. See it at work in this article — check out the footnotes in the text and the footnote list at the end. Nice to have if you need it

As always, your comments are welcome! I’d be particularly interested in hearing about the plugins you use and why. Remember you can email me directly using the “Contact” button in the button bar.

©2009 Michael L Nichols. All rights reserved.

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