The Best Plugins (2/10)


Wel­come to my new “How To Blog” series! In this series, I’ll try to put my knowl­edge to good use and shed some light on the basic of blog­ging. You will learn how to set up a self-hosted blog, what are the must-have plu­g­ins, how to attract read­ers, how to mon­e­tize your blog etc. I’ll pub­lish a new “How To Blog” post every Saturday.

One of the rea­son I fell in love with Word­Press was because of the thou­sands of plu­g­ins avail­able to help me enhance my blog, cus­tomize it, tweak it or do basi­cally any­thing I wanted.

For those who use other blog­ging plat­form… don’t click away! Some of these plu­g­ins were adpated for Blog­ger etc. And any­way, maybe it will decide you to switch to Word­Press! (just teas­ing you…)

So, what’s a plugin?

A Plu­gin is a group of php func­tions that can extend the func­tion­al­ity present in Word­Press. These func­tions may all be defined in one php file, or maybe spread among more than one file. (source: Word­Press Codex)

Installing a plu­gin is very easy. You have two ways of doing that:

  • Man­u­ally: down­load the plu­gin from its loca­tion (usu­ally from the page of the plu­gin cre­ator or from a plu­gin library). Save it on your desk­top. It will very often be zipped, so you need to unzip it, still on your desk­top. Then, you will need to use FTP to upload to the “wp-content/plugins” direc­tory on your web­server. The plu­gin will then appears on your “plu­g­ins” list in the Word­Press admin inter­face. Now, you need to acti­vate it: click on “enable” and… voilà!
  • With Oneclick: Oneclick is a plu­gin and a Fire­fox exten­sion that allows you to install plu­g­ins with just… yeah, one click. Note that you must first install the plu­gin via reg­u­lar FTP. Once this is down, you just need to “right click” on the down­load link of the plu­gin you want and about two sec­onds later, you will be redi­rect on the “plu­g­ins” page of your Word­Press admin where, magic, the plu­gin will be listed. This is extremely cool!

Don’t for­get that some­times, plu­g­ins authors put their plu­gin files in dif­fer­ent fold­ers. For exam­ple, if you down­load the “mycool­plu­gin” and unzip it, you will see a file named “mycool­plu­gin”. But the actual plu­gin files could be in a sub­file named “mycool­plug­i­n­ac­tu­alph­p­files”. If you don’t see the plu­gin even though you fol­lowed all the upload­ing steps, dou­ble check that.

In my first few months as a Word­Press user, I was a vic­tim of the well-known “download’em all” syn­drom — that’s how you end of with 50 plu­g­ins, half of them being bro­ken or not in use. Took me a while to down­size my impres­sive plu­gin list and keep all the best, but I think I got it now. Here are my all-time favorite:

Akismet: this plu­gin is bun­dled with Word­Press by default. It’s a pow­er­ful auto­matic spam killer, and it’s one of the best.

All In One SEO Pack: this plu­gin saved my life. As some of you know, I’m pretty SEO chal­lenged and can’t be both­ered to tweak my blog for it. This plu­gin does the job for me: pretty perma­links, key­words, descrip­tion for search engines… SEO for dum­mies like me!

Com­mentluv: this plu­gin is a great way to say thanks to your reader, and if you have ever com­mented on my blog, you have most likely seen it in action. Com­mentluv check the feed of the com­ment author and scrape the last post they wrote and dis­plays it under their com­ment. Smart, eh?

Coun­ter­ize: this plu­gin is for the stats addicts… and aren’t we all! I tested a lot of stats plu­g­ins before I set­tled for that one and I found it very accu­rate and easy to read.

Extended Live Archives: archives are a very impor­tant aspect of a blog. When new read­ers visit, they like to check old posts as well and we have to make their life easy. I hate archives by months or by year because read­ers don’t really know where to start — I like when archives show at least old posts’ titles. ELA saved my life: it shows archives by date, by cat­e­gory and also dis­plays the posts’ title. You can see it in action on this blog: archives.

Flick­rRSS: who doesn’t have pic­tures to show? Flick­rRSS dis­plays your pic­tures way in a nice styl­ish way… and you can cus­tomize the CSS. You can see the plu­gin in action on this blog, check out the side­bar bottom.

Flu­ency Admin: for those who switched to Word­Press 2.5 but aren’t big fan of the new admin inter­face, Flu­ency Admin is your solu­tion. This is the most prac­ti­cal and styl­ish admin I have seen in a while… Because it’s very new, there are still a few bugs (mostly some unsup­ported wid­gets like Sim­ple Tag) but there’s a work around.

Lep­rakhauns Word Count: a sim­ple plu­gin that adds a word count to your “write post” page. It works with­out reload­ing the page.

Main­te­nance Mode: this plu­gin adds a splash page to your blog that lets vis­i­tors know your blog is down for main­te­nance. Mean­while, as an admin, you have full access and can play with your blog CSS and php.

One Click: the famous plu­gin I was men­tion­ing ear­lier… to try it is to adopt it. Who likes to FTP files anyway??

Pop­u­lar­ity Con­test: this plu­gin will help deter­mi­nate which ones of your posts are the most pop­u­lar (using perma­links view, num­ber of com­ments, num­bers of ping backs etc.). You can keep the data for your­self or dis­play it. The “most wanted” sec­tion you see in my side­bar is made with this plugin.

Sim­i­lar Posts: this plu­gin will dis­play a list of posts related or sim­i­lar to the cur­rent post. You can para­me­ter the plu­gin. I use this one on my blog, see it in action below each post!

Was­sup: another one for stats addict… Was­sup dis­play all kind of vis­i­tor stats (real time) in a ded­i­cated page in the admin inter­face. Very interesting!

Data­base Backup: you know it, always back up your blog reg­u­larly… this plu­gin does a great job of back­ing up your data and you can even sched­ule reg­u­lar back-ups.

So, where to find other great plu­g­ins like these ones? The offi­cial Word­Press Plu­g­ins Direc­tory is a good start. I also like the Word­Press Plu­gin Data­base. Look also for list of “must have” plu­g­ins in your favorite blogs (like mine!). So far, one of the most exhaus­tive I found was at Mash­able, who teaches you to be a Word­Press God with this amaz­ing list of 300+ Tools For Run­ning Word­Press. I must admit I haven’t tested them all… And finally, don’t for­get to be curi­ous about the blogs you read reg­u­larly: which kind of plu­g­ins do they have? How do they dis­play…? What’s the cool… I see here? Don’t hes­i­tate to con­tact the blog admin­is­tra­tor who will usu­ally be happy to tell you how he/ she did it!

See you next week for part III of the How To Blog series!


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. So far, it’s clear but I do not think am ready to switch to Word­Press yet.

    And yes, from the look of this blog, I can say with cer­tainty you are geeky — and that’s a compliment. :)

    Celines last great read…Tran­quil Tuesday

  2. Zhu,

    I also detest the archives that only show month and year (like in blog­ger). That is why I am look­ing for new plu­g­ins for my blog, but until today I had no suc­cess :-( .

    Another great tip; thanks, ma belle :happy: ”


    Max Coutin­hos last great read…Even­tu­al­i­ties

  3. Pingback: Tweak Your Blog | Correr Es Mi Destino

  4. Nice arti­cle Zhu!

    Great site as well. Well-managed and informative.

    Just curi­ous which plug-in you use to man­age pic­tures on your blog pages? (I am not talk­ing about Flick­rRSS!) I use the same (OPTIONS) theme on my blog and am look­ing for such a plu­gin to show photo/galleries on a page.

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