Last few weeks have been extremely busy, but on a positive note, I’ve been doing a lot of WordPress development and experimenting.  Also, just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend Word Camp Chicago 2011.  Met a lot of great people, made a few contacts, and learned a ton about WordPress!

This post will be mostly about WordPress plugins I’ve been using lately and/or recently discovered and want to share with everyone.

Below are mandatory plugins I put on every WordPress site I do and for good reason, they are phenomenal plugins.

  1. All-In-One Favicon – Easy way to add favicons to your site and admin backend!
  2. All-In-One SEO – Allows you to easily set meta tags for description and keywords for your entire website but also allow you to override the global meta tags on a per page basis.
  3. Broken Link Checker – You can set it to scan your site every X hours and it will email you a list of any broken links found on your site regardless if it’s content you wrote or  links from visitor’s comments.  An excellent tool since broken links can hurt your SEO.
  4. Google Analytics – Yes it’s easy to just pop this into the template, but it’s even easier to just install the plugin and pop in your site’s Google Analytics ID.  In addition, this tool is necessary if you want to use Google Analytics Dashboard.
  5. Google XML SiteMaps – I love this plugin.  This plugin creates a sitemap in your root directory.  For example you can find the sitemap under www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml.  You can view the sitemap in Internet Explorer.  I wasn’t able to view it under Chrome or Firefox.  (This is the rare occasion that IE does something right while other browsers didn’t.)  In addition, whenever you make a change to your site, it updates the sitemap and automatically notifies Bing, Yahoo, Google, and Ask.com that changes have been made and to come and re-index your site.  A must have for SEO!
  6. Hide Admin Panels – Whenever I make a site for clients, I install this plugin because seeing all the menu options can be quite intimidating.  In addition, why show them options that they won’t use or give them more arsenal to break the site?
  7. Tiny MCE Advance – Another favorite plugin among favorites.  I run into this weird glitch, you know, the one where you press the enter key to create line breaks in the WYSIWYG editor but when you save the page, Tiny MCE removes the line breaks and replaces it with a space.  That’s because WordPress sometimes filter out link breaks in post…  In addition, if by any chance you want to have the option to change font styles, you can turn it on with this plugin.
  8. Better WP Security – A must have!  This plugin adds a layer of protection to your WordPress site.  You can setup 3 strikes you’re out type of mechanisms, hide your wp-admin, and even set a period of time when the wp-admin is online.

The following are plugins I used often, but arn’t always necessary on every site.

  1. Next Gen Gallery – If you need to have a picture gallery on your site, this is the plugin to use!  Easy picture uploading, arranging, and management.  Using short codes, you can insert pictures galleries very easily within your site.
  2. Contact From 7 / Really Simple CAPTCHA Plugin Combo – I group these 2 plugins together because I don’t remember the last time I created a contact form that didn’t have some sort of SPAM blocking mechanism in the form of CAPTCHA.  If you need a form, this is the one to go.  I’ve also heard Gravity Forms is much easier to use (not that Contact Form 7 is terribly hard to use), but its a premium plugin.
  3. WP-Super Cache – If your site is slow for whatever reason, why not cache it?  This plugin allows you to cache your website very easily.  Note that caching can cause quirks with other plugins (such as Shopp) so test thoroughly.  Also, if you are going to make changes to your site, remember to turn of your caching, and re-cache else you’re changes was be made live.
  4. Google Analytics Dashboard – This allows you to see your Google Analytics stats on the WordPress dashboard as well as seeing charts on the page section.  Pretty nifty plugin to make it easier for clients since they can get to everything on their site just by logging into their WP admin.  You’ll need to install the Google Analytics plugin to use this plugin.
  5. Viper’s Video Quicktags – Need to add a video from an external source such as Youtube, Google Video, Vimeo, Flicker, etc.. to your site?  No problem with this tool!
  6. WordPress Importer – If you need to import or export out your WordPress database which is sometimes necessary for backup purposes or migration purposes, this plugin, which is created by the same company that created WordPress is the tool to use!

The following are notable mentions as I havn’t tried them out yet or currently in the process of developing a site that is utilizing it and it’s showing positive results.

  1. BuddyPress – Adds social networking capabilities such as chat, members, make connections, create profiles and groups.
  2. MEE News Premium- Allows you to send newsletters from within WordPress.  Like the name, this one is a premium plugin.
  3. Shopp – eCommerce plugin for WordPress.  Seems very promising.  Another worthy mention would be Cart66.  Both are premium plugins.
  4. Gravity Forms – A click and drag form generator for Word Press.  This one is a premium plugin.
  5. S2 Membership – Allows you create membership areas to your site.
  6. Backup Buddy – Heard tons of good things about this plugin and I’m in the process of getting it.  This is a one click backup or import tool.  Backing up WordPress installations is a pain, but this solution makes the pain go away.  In addition, I was thinking of using this plugin as a possible migration tool.

What are your plugins you like?