A couple of years ago I posted an article on my author blog with recommendations for WordPress plugins that have made my life easier. When I looked back on it the other day, I realized that my opinions have changed in some cases. Here are most of the plugins I currently use on all or most of my sites…and why.
Akismet: the plugin that makes having a blog possible in this decade. Akismet is a comment spam filter that is more than 99% accurate (in my experience).
WordPress DB Backup: the plugin that emails you a backup of your site. You can set what all it backs up and how often it does so.
WP Super Cache: the plugin that optimizes your site’s loading speed, clearing cached pages.
WordPress SEO by Yoast: the plugin that makes SEO (search engine optimization) easy. It prompts you to choose keywords for each page and post then tells you, not only how well you score on the keywords, but how to improve until you score higher.
Google Analytics for WP: Access accurate analytics from your dashboard.
Ultimate Maintenance Mode: Sometimes you need to do some major work on your site and don’t want visitors poking around while you’re in the midst of it. A plugin like this one puts up a sign of your choice inviting people to return later. As a logged-in administrator, you can move around your site with everything visible to you, and disable the plugin when you’re ready to return your site to “live” position.
Redirection: If you do any rearranging or retitling of an older site, you will probably need a plugin like this. Capture the current URL and have it automatically redirect to your new one.
Simple Social Icons: a great pack of clean media icons with a customizable hover color. See the header for this plugin in action.
Click to Tweet by Todaymade: It annoys me that this plugin is only available in visual mode, but it is so handy to be able to create quick click-to-tweets on the fly that I’m forcing myself to dip into visual to use it.
Jetpack is a terrific bundle of plugins that allows blog subscriptions, sharing buttons for posts/pages, a simple contact form you can place anywhere, allows likes, a variety of widgets, a clean commenting system, and more.
Blubrry Powerpress I love this one for embedding an audio player for quick clips.
Slideshow: This plugin can be configured for a bunch of different slideshows in various shapes and sizes. One example is my book widget in the sidebar.
Polldaddy Polls and Rating: Perfect for when you want to create polls for your readers.
Fast Secure Contact Form: While Jetpack comes with a fine basic contact form, you may want more. This plugin gives you programmable options and allows different forms for different uses throughout your site.
Testimonial Master: The newest addition to my site, this plugin allows a rotating “quotes” area from text you supply yourself. (A lot of random quote plugins come loaded with their own quotes, I found during my search.)
WP Calendar: This is a very clean calendar plugin if you don’t want clickable events. I use it for a group blog site, so everyone can see upcoming posting dates for each author.
My Book Table: A great plugin if you are an author but don’t want to sell books from your site, even though you know you need a page per book. This plugin allows you to set up your affiliate accounts once and have them appended to every book you add. To see it in action, check my Raspberries and Vinegar page.
Woo Commerce is great if you’re an author and DO want to sell books from your own site. It integrates a shopping cart, can be set to calculate shipping, and links up to assorted payment options.
Genesis Favicon Uploader: Yep, To Write a Story is finally rocking its own favicon. I have an aversion to FTP programs so kept putting off uploading one. This plugin made it a snap. (Don’t know what a favicon is? It’s the tiny square image that shows in the browser bar on each tab you have open. If there’s no favicon, it’s an empty box.)
Genesis Easy Columns: Sometimes you want all or parts of a page in columns. This plugin makes it simple to create 2-6 columns on any page.
Genesis Single Post Navigation: This plugin shows as the double arrows on the side of each post on this site. They allow you to arrow through the posts, including comments, without needing to return to the blog home page in between.
Social Author Bio: As I mentioned above, I’m webmaster for and participant in a group blog at Inspy Romance. This plugin helped make a tidy author page. Each author accesses their own bio in their profile and, when they change it there, it changes site wide. Love it!
Reveal IDs: the perfect counterpart to the above plugin, allowing the administrator to see each blogger’s identification numbers to create a page like above.
Display Authors Widget: There are dozens of ways to add a list of authors to a sidebar, but this one gave the simplest solution: a basic list that ties in with the social author bio plugin. Simple and elegant!
There you have it: my favorite WordPress plugins. What are some you feel you couldn’t live without? Maybe I’ll find some new favorites to meet needs I didn’t even know I had!