Another Seven Useful WordPress Plugins

As your blog grows you will find yourself thinking of many ideas to improve it. Before trying to tailor the code yourself, it is worth searching for a solution amongst the WordPress plugins. Here are another seven plugins that may be of use.

(This article was originally published at WebUpon.com on 28 February 2010.)

A few months ago my article Seven Useful WordPress Plugins described the plugins I had found useful for this website. Since then I have been exploring what is possible with the WordPress software and finding ways to squeeze more functionality from it.

For each of the ideas I came up with I found numerous solutions at the wordpress.org plugin site. The seven plugins described below are all used on my website, but I still feel my blog is only just beginning to reach its potential. With WordPress plugins we are just a few clicks away from some very useful features.

Collapsing Archives

Your WordPress blog archives can be set to display in a sidebar widget in monthly buckets. So, for each month that you post to your blog there will be a new line in the sidebar.

This is fine for the first few months, but after only two years that list will be 24 lines long and growing. Wouldn’t it be much better to show the current year’s posts in monthly buckets and those for previous years in yearly buckets.

With the Collapsing Archives plugin by Robert Felty you can do just that. The plugin is fully configurable and can be styled to your own tastes. Post counts can be displayed against years and months and individual post titles can also be shown. 

Contact Form 7

Once you have built up a readership for your blog you may like to provide a way for your readers to contact you. Comments can be left against each post but sometimes your readers may want to send you a private message.

It is never a good idea to display your email address on your blog for this purpose, so this is where the Contact Form 7 plugin by Takayuki Miyoshi is useful. You can set up multiple forms and generate a large number of fields to be populated, some of which you can mark as required. Once configured, just copy a short code into a page and your new contact form will be displayed.

Akismet

As your readership grows you will notice that not all the comments left against your posts are genuine. Spam affects blog comments as well as email. To combat this, a spam filter is a very useful tool.

The Akismet plugin by Matt Mullenweg is included with the WordPress core download. You will need to register for a wordpress.com API key, but once activated the plugin will filter comment spam into a spam folder and leave just your genuine comments on your posts. Akismet spam statistics are monitored and can be viewed from your dashboard.

WordTwit

So you have created a new post on your blog and want to tell the world it’s there. How do you do this? Twitter, of course. So you create a shortened URL to link back to the post, log on to your Twitter account, type in your 140 characters including the link and the job is complete.

But with the WordTwit plugin by Dale Mugford and Duane Storey all this can be done automatically. Just enter your Twitter account details into the settings, configure how you would like the tweet to look and, as each post is published, it is instantly tweeted.

FollowMe

Once you have your Twitter feed updated automatically, another useful feature would be a link from your blog pointing to that feed. Text in your links widget would serve this purpose but a big blue button that remains on the screen even when you scroll down the page would be even better.

The FollowMe plugin by WPBurn.com provides this button. Place the URL of your Twitter page into the settings and any reader who clicks on the button will be taken to your tweets. The colours and icons can be configured to your tastes.

WordPress Mobile Edition

There are many ways to access the internet but not all of these have the benefit of a large screen. In order to cater for your readers using mobile devices you need to display your blog to them using a different theme.

The WordPress Mobile Edition plugin by Crowd Favorite recognises the major mobile and touch screen browsers and comes with a clear, mobile-friendly Carrington theme. Any browser accessing your blog with a user agent matching those in the settings will be served with the mobile theme.

WordPress.com Stats

Statistics are always useful when presented in a clear way. Details about the source of your website traffic, search terms and page views can help you tailor your blog to the right audience.

The WordPress.com Stats plugin by Andy Skelton provides this information in a clear and friendly way, graphically and in tables. As with the Akismet plugin, WordPress.com Stats requires a wordpress.com API key.

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