I was considering starting this blog post with an apology for it being a bit geeky…but actually that’s not something that I should apologise for – I should celebrate it. So, in true geek style, I thought I would share what I think are the best core WordPress plugins as we start 2013. Oh – before I start, I should probably say that I’m not associated with any of the providers of these plugins, so they’re not paying me to promote them.
Image gallery plugins
Most websites that we (Kiri and I) have worked on have required some kind of image gallery. When I wrote my previous photography website (in the days before Kiri), I wrote the gallery functionality from scratch in PHP, but it didn’t have a particularly usable admin interface as I knew I’d be the only one uploading to it. However, we needed something more user-friendly for sites that other people would be updating. WordPress does have its own native gallery, but I think it is no co-incidence that if you perform a search for “gallery” within wordpress.org, the top result is the NextGEN gallery plugin. The flexibility that it provides in the admin interface is great, with the ability to organise images into albums and galleries, update the thumbnails etc. I’ve made a few tweaks to the CSS and navigation between pictures on a couple of our sites, but think it’s great in its raw form too.
Not all websites require a search functionality – in fact there’s an argument for leaving out the option to search, which allows visitors to use their favourite search engines, whether that be Google, Bing or Lycos (ah, flashback to the late 90s!). Now I’m aware that WordPress again has native search functionality, but in line with the inner workings of WordPress, the results are sorted by date. In this day and age, we’re used to search results being returned with the most relevant links up at the top – step up Relevansii. Once again, it’s got a lovely admin interface and it’s very easy to integrate.
Social media “sharing” plugins
In a world where social media is king, you want to be sharing your content with the world. Actually, scrub that. You want your visitors to be sharing your content with the world. It’s got to be easy for them to share your words of wisdom with all of their friends on Facebook, Twitter and Friends Reunited (wow, I really am having a throw-back day here). There are loads of companies begging to help you with that so you don’t have to add individual buttons to your site. Most have catchy names like addthis or sharethis – doing what they say on the tin. Something else that does what it says on the tin is sexy bookmarks. Sadly, since I started using this plugin several years ago, they’ve renamed it to “Shareaholic“, but it will always be sexy to me. You get to choose which social media sites you feature and which bits of your site you want shareable, and you’re sorted. Boom.
Cookie compliance plugin
Before Askimet started charging for businesses to use their plugin, I probably would have recommended them (and I guess I would still recommend them for personal blogs), but actually, I’m quite happy with the in-built WordPress SPAM handling. I can’t really explain why in any better way than a blog post at oneextrapixel.com does…so I won’t!
And there you have it – my favourite WordPress plugins. I’m now going to go and do something ungeeky like…ummm…ummm…you know what, who am I kidding? I’m off to gizmodo.co.uk to check out the latest gadget offerings from CES!