The best WordPress plugins
Not having a list of favourite plugins on a WordPress-related blog is like not having a cute picture of your cat on your personal blog. Also, plugin developers deserve as much credit as possible! (I’m sure they appreciate donations, too ;-)
So, with thanks to all these generous developers, here’s my run-down. I’ve highlighted the ones that I include by default with the majority of my WP installations.
- WP-DBManager by Lester ‘GaMerZ’ Chan
- Excellent database management facilities, including essential scheduled backups.
- Smart Archives Reloaded by scribu
- Some archive display options aching to be rolled into the WP core.
- My Page Order by froman118
- Again, something this will hopefully / probably end up built into WP soon.
- Use Google Libraries by Jason Penney
- Exec-PHP by Sören Weber
- If you need to do PHP in your posts and pages…
- Executable PHP Widget by Otto
- If you only need PHP in widgets…
- Widget Logic by Alan Trewartha
- Nifty way of altering widget placement through conditional PHP.
- Search Regex by John Godley
- Powerful searching of all site content (for the backend, very useful for admin purposes sometimes).
- WP-Options-Manager by Marc Schieferdecker
- Not for the faint-hearted, but if you want to clear out crud from old plugins and the like, this plugin will help. Be careful though!
- WP-Optimize by Ruhani Rabin
- A useful little tidying-up plugin.
- Theme Test Drive by Vladimir Prelovac
- Essential for trying out changes or entirely new themes on a live site.
Anti-spam & security
- Akismet by Matt Mullenweg
- Comes with WordPress. Just activate & enter a WordPress.com API key. A good part of an anti-spam arsenal.
- SI CAPTCHA by Mike Challis
- A good CAPTCHA plugin, for comment and/or registration form. CAPTCHAs are those images of squiggly letters you’re asked to type out. They provide a certain amount of protection, but are regularly broken by bots and low-paid humans.
- WP-reCAPTCHA by
- This is genius in theory, and pretty good in practice. It’s a CAPTCHA system that uses doubtful words from projects that are digitizing written works. Spam gets stopped, and OCR efforts are helped. Like all CAPTCHAs, it’s not water-tight, but making this part of your anti-spam arsenal does some good as well as stopping some bad.
- WordPress Exploit Scanner by Donncha O Caoimh
- This saved my skin when my host’s server got compromised with one of those
eval()PHP injections. Doesn’t fix things, but seems pretty thorough at checking for changes in your WP files.
- cforms by Oliver Seidel
- The forms motherlode. Incredily flexible and powerful, but you pay the price with forced manual upgrades and occasional tricksiness.
- Contact Form 7 by Takayuki Miyoshi
- If you just need a contact form, this is a leaner bet than cforms.
Search & SEO
- Google Sitemaps Generator by Arne Brachold
- I don’t think a site would die without an XML sitemap. Then again, I wouldn’t die without one of my arms—but I would miss it.
- WordPress Advanced Search by Alex Günsche
- The best plugin I’ve found for extending WP’s very poor search capabilities.
- All-in-One SEO Pack by hallsofmontezuma
- Gives you precise control over titles, keywords, description and so on. Of course you need to know how to use these well, but this plugin at least gets the technical bits out the way.
- SEO Slugs by Andrei Mikrukov
- Helps remove extraneous words from auto-generated slugs, keeping permalinks shorter and improving SEO.
- Robots Meta by Joost de Valk
- All-in-One SEO handles this stuff, but if you don’t need that plugin, this one will help control which pages get indexed.
Blogging & content extras
- More corporate than your usual plugin source, but this is a great little all-in-one thingy that lets people email or post something from your site to a blog or social network.
- Add to Any
- I’m starting to prefer this to ShareThis—there are pros and cons to each.
- Do Follow by Denis de Bernardy
- I’m not a fan of WP’s habit of flagging links in comments so that search bots don’t follow them. The theory is that this renders the point of comment spam pointless and discourages it. However, I’m not sure the mindless nature of spamming will be that deterred; plus, I want to stop spam being published, not to make it impotent. And I want legit links to be part of the search engine calculus. This plugin makes comment links followable.
- Google Syntax Highlighter by Peter Ryan
- Neat formatting for code snippets.
- Now Reading Reloaded by Ben Gunnink
- A fantastic plugin for keeping track of your reading, including ratings and reviews. We’re grateful for Ben for following in the wake of Rob Miller‘s path-beating work.
- Subscribe2 by MattyRob, Skippy, RavanH
- The best plugin for email notifications of new content.
- qTranslate by Qian Qin
- Doing a multi-lingual site? This plugin’s a must.
- Quotes Collection by Srini G
- Good quotes manager.
- Simple Tags by Amaury Balmer
- WP’s built-in tagging is OK these days, but if you need more features, this is the best tagging turbo-charger.
- WP-Polls by Lester ‘GaMerZ’ Chan
- GigPress by Derek Hogue
- An excellent way for bands and other performers to show where they’re playing / have played. A good balance between features and ease of use.
CMS functionality & user management
- pageMash by Joel Starnes
- A much slicker option for managing page ordering than My Page Order, this also acts well as a replacement for paging through loads of pages in the default WP Edit Pages screen.
- Page Tree by Måns Jonasson
- If you’re happy with My Page Order, but want something that does the tree thing like pageMash, but simpler, this is it. Really helpful if you’ve lots of pages.
- Lock Pages by me!
- I know, I’m biased. But I created this plugin because I think it’s essential for many CMS-type WP installations. It allows admins to “lock” certain pages, preventing other users from moving them around, renaming the slugs, deleting them, or otherwise messing up key permalinks.
- WordPress Download Monitor by Mike Jolley
- Excellent download management and tracking plugin.
- Members by Justin Tadlock
- This plugin is in its early days, but it already feels very solid. It basically lets you completely customize the roles & capabilities of your WP system. Very powerful and very useful.
- Cimy User Extra Fields by Marco Cimmino
- Good for extending user profiles with custom fields.
- User Photo by Weston Ruter
- You should probably try to use gravatars where possible; if not, this will help for author profile photos.
- Viper’s Video Quicktags by Viper007Bond
- Fully-featured video embedding. (Though WP 2.9′s oEmbed support might make this obselete.)
- Simple Image Link by BlogWell
- Really flexible widget to add images with links to your sidebar. Most useful in conjunction with the “Media Library URL column” hack.
- FancyBox for WordPress by Jose Pardilla
- A slick, simple image zoom.
- Audio Player by Martin Laine
- I’ve generally avoided any plugins that aren’t keeping up with WordPress. But this is a great little MP3 player, which sadly isn’t up-to-date. However, it highlights the wonders of open source to find someone’s done a patched version that makes it work with 2.7+.
- NextGEN Gallery by Alex Rabe
- Seems to be the best image gallery management plugin out there.
- Shopp by Jon Davis
- OK, you have to pay, but not much. Kind of fair enough for a directly commercial plugin. And OK, I’ve not used it extensively. But a look at the competition made me plump straight for this one, even though it’s in its infancy. It needs to mature a little before being great, but it’s already good, with a well-thought-out foundation, reasonable support forums, and, frankly, not much competition.