Updated: June 29, 2015
Once you know how to install plugins, you’ll want to find some good ones. Before you go crazy (it’s easy to go crazy), I recommend you read my plugin tips. In short, plugins have a frustrating way of breaking sites so I aim to use as few as possible.
Below is a list of the plugins currently active on my site.
I’m keeping the list of plugins I’ve stopped using at the bottom of the page for reference. I noted the reason why I stopped using a specific plugin when applicable.
As of today, I have a whopping 7 plugins on my site. This changes from time to time, but I like to keep things super lightweight.
To combat spam
Antispam Bee is my current spam fighter. It’s worked quite well, although not nearly as effective as turning off comments more than 30 days old. Now THAT has virtually eliminated spam.
I used to use the following:
- Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (G.A.S.P.) is the plugin I talked about in my tutorial, How to Install a Plugin. It helps cut down on spam.
- Akismet is a good spam catcher as well. It’s automatically installed in new versions of WordPress but must still be activated. (Activation requires an API key from WordPress.com. Simply follow the prompts to get your key when you activate Akismet under Plugins–>Installed.)
For social sharing
Simple Social Icons allows you to add social media icons to your widgets in WordPress. It works great with Genesis.
For the backend
W3 Total Cache makes your site run faster and smoother by caching. Caching is basically keeping a copy of images and content that has already been seen so those things don’t have to be fetched from the server every time, which slows things down.
UpdraftPlus is the plugin I recommend to create automatic backups of your site. It’s free. Update: I recently deactivated this on my main site at the suggestion of my ALA.com host (Synthesis) who has a robust backup system in place.
Genesis is the theme I personally use. Genesis Simple Edits makes editing your byline (the bit of information like date and author name under your post titles) and your post footer (the bit of information like number of comments, categories, etc. at the end of your post) a cinch.
To build my email list (not using currently but may try again)
Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box is a slide-in box to grab the attention of potential subscribers. This plugin has worked for me, but I think I might try Scroll Triggered Boxes (similar name, different plugin, slightly better reviews).
WishList Member allows you to have a membership site right in WordPress. It was the first plugin I used to run The Useletter Archives. Update: I found the plugin to be cumbersome and I wasn’t impressed when a much-needed update required another payment. if I was, I would use MemberPress*
Comment Reply Notification allows people who leave a comment to be notified via email if anyone responds to their comment. Update: It hasn’t been updated in 2+ years so I opted for an up-to-date one (see above).
WordPress Ping Optimizer keeps your site from being marked as a ping spammer. What’s that? Have you ever published a post but found mistakes and had to update it? Well, every time you update a post after it’s published, your pinging services are notified. This plugin only pings them once when the post is published the first time. Update: WordPress now handles this on its own.
WP Smush.it reduces the file sizes of images you upload to your blog, thus making your site run faster. I’d also recommend resizing your images. I just manually compress my images now. And I wasn’t hearing good things about this plugin after a while.
Google XML Sitemaps creates an automatic sitemap which helps the “bots” index your site more efficiently. This helps with SEO. I wrote more about it in How to Maximize Your Sitemap. Update: Now I use Yoast’s SEO plugin for this.
WP Maintenance Mode is handy if I want to make design changes or do other maintenance without confusing anyone. Basically, I can work on my site as usual behind a screen that lets visitors know the site is undergoing a little maintenance and will be back to normal quickly. This is a nice thing if you have a demo site or a client site. I reinstall it only if I need to do some work and then delete it when it’s done.
FeedBlitz Member Mail puts a check box at the end of the comment form, so anyone who leaves a comment can also subscribe to receive posts via email by checking the box. It’s an easy way to build subscribers. Update: Now I use Mad Mimi for The Useletter and don’t send posts via email.
- FeedBlitz FeedSmart is for those who use FeedBlitz as a FeedBurner alternative.
- FeedBurner FeedSmith Extend does the same thing, only for FeedBurner. In other words, it keeps all your subscribers funneled through FeedBurner.
Editorial Calendar is a great way to keep track of your posts by scheduling them. I have used this plugin only a little bit but didn’t find I used it enough to warrant keeping it activated.
Genesis Simple Hooks is a plugin that is a bit more techy, but is a nice way to add elements to your blog layout (like banner ads under your header for example, or ads at the end of single posts, etc.). Update: There’s nothing wrong with this plugin, I just no longer needed it.
What are your favorite plugins?
*There are affiliate links in this post.