10 Excellent WordPress Plugins to Make Your Site Better

WordPress is a great CMS (Content Management System) for building any type of website.  Web designers all over the world galaxy love WordPress for its simplicity in setting up, ease in customizing design, and for how simple it is for anyone to make updates to content.

What makes WordPress even better is the great variety of high-quality plugins that add all sorts of increased functionality to your website.  WordPress.org hosts a great database of thousands of plugins you can install with one click on your own site.  Most plugins are created for free by awesome coders helping make the world a better place.  They deserve serious thanks.  (So if you are a coder who has created a free WordPress plugin – THANKS!)

In my use of WordPress to create websites that connect my clients and their markets I’ve come across a few that are indispensable.  These plugins can be added to your site whether you are a professional developer or hobby blogger.  These plugins stand out to me because they:

  • Are easy to add to the site
  • Have customizable options
  • Integrate seamlessly with the WP admin panel
  • Are easy to add custom design to
  • Are easy for clients to understand and use (when needed)

(see this article about what makes a good plugin in general)

So, while not an exhaustive list, here are some of my favorite plugins:

Akismet

wordpress spam pluginSomehow the evil spam robots of the universe have even figured out how to leave spam comments on blogs.  This can get annoying if you are constantly being bombarded with comments that aren’t real.  Akismet is the fastest way to shut off the spam-flow.  After installation I’ve never seen a spam comment get into the system.  Nice!

Google Analytics

Okay, I honestly don’t use a plugin to add Google Analytics to my sites, I do it by adding code by hand.  The point is that you need Google Analytics on your site no matter how you get it there.  Analytics gives you an incredible amount of information about visitors to your site – where in the galaxy world they came from, what they were looking for, what they looked at while on your site, and much, much more.  If you aren’t getting in-depth reports on your website traffic you need to reconsider what you are even doing with your website.

Google XML Sitemaps

Ongoogle wordpress plugine key to ranking well in search engines is to make your website easy for them to crawl and index.  This plugin creates a sitemap for search engines to see what content you have on your site, then submits it to the search engines for you! How much easier can that get?

WP sIFR

The bane of website typography for designers is the fact that we’re limited to using a very small number of fonts for editable text.  sIFR is a solution that uses Flash-based fonts to dynamically replace certain text.  This increases the number of fonts you can use like, a hundred-fold.  Looks way better and stays indexable by search engines.  This plugin makes the process of adding this great functionality to your site painless.

Lightbox 2

Images opening in their own lightbox window on top of the current page is way cooler than them opening on their own blank page.  Now adding this feature is a three step process: add the Lightbox 2 plugin, add your images, tell them to open (individually or as a group) with Lightbox.

Sociable

submit to social media pluginOne of the best ways to spread the word about your blog or website is to let other people do it for you.  Sociable automatically includes a widget at the bottom of your chosen posts and pages for people to share your site via social media.  You can choose from over 99 different media sites – add as many or as few as you’d like and make sharing easy on your readers.

Twitter for WP

twitter for wordpress pluginEveryone from movie stars to soccer moms is using Twitter these days, and if you’re using it it should be included on your site.  Some Twitter widgets and plugins are big bulky things that look ugly and take up too much space.  Enter Twitter for WP – super clean, simple and small.  You can easily style your tweets to match the rest of your site and then everyone can know what you are doing!

WP List Cal

Lots of people want calendars on their site to list upcoming events, shows, or sales.  However, it can be frustrating for users to see a big blank monthly calendar staring them in the face, where they then must click on each day to see what’s happening.  WP List Cal just displays a beautiful list of your upcoming events, and adding new events is as easy as pie.  Which I think means its really easy.

WP Polls

wordpress polls pluginAdding polls to your site is a great way to get visitors to start interacting with your site – and to find out what they think!  WP Polls makes adding polls to your site a snap. You can insert the polls into your blog posts, onto pages, or have the newest ones show up in the sidebar.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

Keep visitors on your site longer by referring them to other posts that they might enjoy.  YARPP uses an algorithm developed by Martians that displays a list of recommended similar posts to the one your visitor is currently reading.  Giving readers more of what they want, and giving you more reads – everybody wins!

So, there you go – my favorite WordPress plugins.  Are you a WordPress user?  What’s your favorite WordPress plugin?

Susan Lagsdin

former Executive Director of Write On The River

Brad’s design work is creative and impeccable — and best of all, he listens well and asks all the right questions, with no assumptions about his clients’ experience.

Emma Otheguy

Children's Author

Brad effectively translated my half-formed ideas into a beautiful website, and he gave me lots of choices and allowed plenty of feedback. He also did a great job making the web design flexible enough to evolve with my needs.

James Townsend

James Townsend, Author and Co-Owner of The Human Condition

Brad’s creative insight is easily accessible through constant communication and feedback. He’s concerned about your vision, and it shows in the final product. He has a consistent devotion to making your vision a reality.

Justen Forge

Author

EVERY project he works on is the most important project to him, and that’s how he makes you feel through his accessibility, responsiveness, communication and professionalism.

Kirk Douponce

Owner of DogEared Design

Apt Design is a pleasure to work with. They always meet or beat their deadlines with consistent creativity.

Rolf Boone

Blogger

Brad provided very clear and understandable (for those of us who are tech challenged) directions on the process, explaining the steps he would take to build and design the site, as well as the input he wanted from me, and the training involved once the site was complete. Brad, who has a sharp eye for design, ran with it and produced a great site. He does good work.

Carol Scibelli

Humor Writer & Speaker

I chose Apt Design because Brad’s websites stood out from all the others I saw. The bonus was that besides his talent he is also a joy to work with.

Dr. Robert Rosenthal

Author

It was a pleasure to work with Brad at Apt Design. On the design front, his concepts were spot on, so we never got started on false trails. And he easily and accurately incorporated my feedback in a comfortable back-and-forth dialogue that resulted in a strong final product. I remain extremely pleased with the result.

I had a terrific experience working with Brad. He was at all times flexible, patient, and responsive. Above all, Brad is a terrific person and working with him was a pleasure.

Robert Howard

Author

Brad came up with a powerful visual look and graphic design that tied together the various “chapters” in my story. What’s more, he is a pleasure to work with—a great listener and highly collaborative!

Jennifer Skiff

Best-selling Author

Hiring Brad Fitzgerald to create my website was the greatest gift I gave to myself in 2013. He is a pleasure to work with!

After scouring dozens of author websites I contacted Brad – because his designs are clean and tight, and he is easy to work with. From inspecting his initial concept drafts, it was clear that selecting Brad was the right move.

I really can’t recommend Brad highly enough. He’s come through for us time after time, and always delivers outstanding work. His sites are beautiful and functional works of art. Brad has designed the websites for some of our biggest authors. You know he’ll deliver an amazing site, right on schedule.

His ability to grasp an organization’s goals and translate them into images is pitch-perfect. With his upbeat attitude and timely delivery, he is a real pleasure to work with.

Brad is a complete professional and a pleasure to work with — he’s intuitive, creative, responsive and reliable.

Brad made the process of developing my web site not only painless, but positively enjoyable. His enthusiastic, “can-do” attitude permeated every discussion we had. I would recommend him to any writer looking to develop a web site!

Traci Mann

Author, Professor of Psychology

Brad is an incredible designer. My book’s website is exactly what I wanted, even though I couldn’t even begin to articulate what I wanted before talking to Brad. Not only is the website wonderful, but he finished it faster than he promised, and he was great to work with. I am so glad I hired Brad for this project. I am absolutely delighted with the results.

Ona Russell

Author and Speaker

As an author, I wanted something that would showcase my books, but do so by telling a kind of story. And that is exactly what Brad accomplished. The finished product is beautiful, evocative and efficient, just like a great novel.