I run at least 5 WordPress powered websites, and every time I add a new site to that list, I have a checklist of plugins that I absolutely HAVE to get installed ASAP! Some of them are simply aesthetic plugins, making the dashboard look pretty or more functional, and others are workhorse plugins, absolutely necessary for the site to run smoothly.
I generally don’t recommend plugins, but everybody has to use them sooner or later. So I wanted to share with you the 7 plugins that I install every time I begin or upgrade a WordPress installation.
It should go without saying that if you use comments on your WordPress site, you MUST activate the Akismet plugin. Without it, I would have spent countless hours deleting spam comments, time that could have been spent much more efficiently. Darren Rowse says Akismet has saved him 46 days of work!
2. Subscribe to Comments
I remember the days before this plugin. If you commented on a blog, there was no way of knowing when someone replied to you, outside of hitting refresh all day or subscribing to the comment RSS feed. But when Subscribe to Comments was released, all of that changed. Now visitors could continue the conversation for days, no problem. I even have comment threads months old that are still somewhat active, all because of this plugin.
3. Google Sitemap Generator
I won’t go into too much detail on this post (I have a WordPress and SEO series planned for the near future), but suffice it to say that this plugin gets your site indexed by Google in no time. And you definitely want to be indexed by Google.
4. Absolute Comments
Lorelle made a great point about how unnecessarily difficult it is for the blog author to respond to comments, in her session at WordCamp Dallas, and she is right on the money. Absolute Comments lets you reply to comments from the Comment Management screen in the WordPress Admin panel. It’s a time saving Godsend! (now 2.5 compatible)
5. Admin Drop-Down Menu
If you hate, like I do, the fact that you had to click on a top-level link to get its sublinks in the WordPress Admin, then this plugin will be your best friend. It uses simple suckerfish dropdowns to display subnav links in the Admin UI for WordPress. It’s hard to explain, but believe me, it is worth your while to download and install this plugin. (now 2.5 compatible)
6. Feedburner Feedsmith
If you care anything about stats, you’ll want to be using Feedburner to track your feed subscription numbers. But in order to get an accurate count, you need to be forwarding all of your feeds to your feedburner account. Feedsmith does this for you. If anyone visits your site and finds their way to your WordPress generated feed url, it will automatically be forwarded to your Feedburner address. Genious!
7. cforms II
THE MOST FLEXIBLE contact form plugin available. I don’t much like the included styles, but the features make up for that 5 times over. Add fields, delete fields, multiple forms, too many features to name. This is the only contact form plugin you’ll ever need.
(if cforms II is too complicated for you, the Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form is a nice, more simple alternative).
With these 7 plugins, my blogs are optimized just the way I want them. Do you have any plugins that you can’t live without? Do you have a list of plugins you install every time you create a new WordPress site? Let me know which plugins you think are indispensable in the comments below!