WordPress Plugins, Widgets and Must-Dos

Now that I have so many websites running on WordPress (I count 27, but I might be missing some), and have played around with so many plug-ins, widgets and features, I figured I’d write a little article all about my experience. Maybe it will save you a headache or two in your development.

This article does not tell you how to install WordPress, the basic setup, or how to choose a template.  Maybe I’ll cover these topics another day.

WordPress is a good platform for both blogs, and “traditional” websites. Many of our websites just happen to run on WordPress so people may post comments and so forth. I only have a few “blogs”, per se. Just keep in mind that different uses require different options.

Akismet
This is a comment spam filter, and it is amazing (I recently discovered 1,009 spam messages on this blog that I was completely unaware of). The only reason not to install this is if you plan on always turning off user comments. It is standard, and well worth the “hassle” of signing up for an account at WordPress.com to make it work properly.

All in One SEO Pack
If you are a hardcore SEO guru, maybe this isn’t your bag. But if you are a novice at such matters like myself, then this little SEO tool makes the process tolerable.  Hopefully 1,452,822 downloaders weren’t all wrong.

Google XML Sitemaps
Another bit of gospel from the search engines is that standard sitemaps are important. Who has the time to build these stupid things? Thankfully, this sitemap building plugin does it for you!

Submit Your Blog
I guess this is also something you should do for a bit of SEO juice, or just to be found better. Here’s a list of places you could submit to: Technorati, LoadedWeb, BlogCatalog, and, well … forget the list, there are a zillion other blog directories and aggregators out there!

WP-Polls
Want to add a poll to your WordPress post? Too easy with this little tool.

WordPress iPhone Application
If you have an iPhone and a WordPress blog, this tool is not to be missed.  I could not imagine writing long blog entries on my phone, but certainly updates and short entries while on the go. This application requires XML-RPC to be enabled in Settings, Writing.

RSS and Social Bookmarking
There are many different ways to add this to your site. A link directly to your feed page with an RSS image, perhaps? Hook it up to FeedBurner so you can track subscriptions? One cool utility is AddThis.

Twitter Integration
I fell in love with Tweetmeme Button because it very cleanly adds a little Tweet Counter and Retweet option to every one of your posts. One drawback is that it doesn’t promote YOUR twitter account in it, it promotes theirs. But for the novelty and convenience factor, this is A1.

I use the nifty, simple TwitterCounter Badge in a few places.

Of course, you can insert your Twitter posts nicely into your blog with a little snippet of code on the sidebar.

A good old-fashioned graphic linked to your Twitter page is still a nice touch.

PHP Code Integration
Want to run PHP code from within WordPress? You could spend 6 hours trying out a bunch of plug-ins or work-arounds (like I did), or you could download Exec-PHP which works flawlessly, and with little effort.

Make Your Blog Talk
Completely non-essential, but hours of fun. The Odiogo Listen Button plugin brings your blog to life!

Adding Community Features like Google Friend Connect
WordPress has it’s own built-in community of sorts – through comments. Is this good enough? The jury is out. Then there is Google Friend Connect, Yahoo!’s MyBlogLog, and even Twitter Remote.

I’m kind of impressed with MyBlogLog, though I cannot seem to get it working perfectly yet. Imagine that: Yahoo doing something right!

There are actually dozens of these widgets and people aggregators out there, so be sure not to put too many on, and slow your website down to a crawl!

Note: if you use the Google Friend Connect bar along the bottom of your blog, be sure to have enough space in your footer so that content doesn’t get cut off (behind the bar).

Feedback
I’m keen to keep this article updated. Did you find anything useful? Do you have anything useful that should be added? Please comment!