Blogging with WordPress: my favourite plugins

(Last Updated 18.09.06) A few days ago I talked to a friend about the convenience of changing his site into a blog format. He liked the idea, and since I had told him about the benefits of using plugins to add functionality and customize the blog, he later wrote me an email asking me if I could save him some time by telling him which plugins I use. Here is the list (I’m using WordPress v1.5):

Update 18.09.06 Just a few days ago I updated WordPress to the latest version (2.0.4), and I’m still tweaking it so that everything works normally again. In a few days I will update this article for the last time, and I will also write a new one on the plugins I’m currently using, and the tweaks I had to apply to make them work.

Adding images

There are times when you want an image on your post to fill the screen, or sit in the middle of text with writing above and below it, but most of the time you want your image to sit on one side or the other of the text and have the text flow or wrap around the image. Let’s look at how this can be done.

The exception first: this is not a plugin but a useful guide to adding images to posts. Following it now I can easily specify the way the images I embed are shown. (scroll down the page to Exhibit).

This plugin allows you to associate image thumbnails to posts, and display them in a
variety of ways that link to the original images.

The guide above may be useful if all you add are single images, but in case you want to do more complex things, the exhibit plugin may come in handy. For instance, for this article I just specified the images I wanted to add and the way I wanted them to be displayed: the plugin made the thumbnails for me.

Adding Tags

Ultimate Tag Warrior allows storing a set of keywords (or as current slang dictates, tags) against posts that behave like categories – the tags can be displayed on a post, you can go to the archive page for a tag, and there are RSS/atom feeds available. Unlike categories, you can also view archive pages and feeds for sets of tags such as the posts which are tagged with both “photograph” and “food”, for example.

I believe that tags are an excellent way first to organize, then browse through contents in a flexible way, and by means of heatmaps or tagclouds they can provide a good, at-a-glance approach of a site´s contents. In this sense, UTW offers a wide range of options to tinker with, is well documented and has great support from the author. Each article posted here includes a set of tags which when clicked on show the articles related to that topic, either within the site itself or in Technorati (that´s where the little green icons point to). There´s also a tagcloud in the sidebar which highlights the hottest topics (I like quotes!) 😛

SimpleTags is a WordPress plugin that will allow you to easily generate Technorati tags at the bottom of your blog entries.

I stopped using this plugin when I got UTW; however, if all you want to do is add Technorati tags to your articles, this plugin does it very well.

Visitors and Stats

WP-UserOnline enables you to display how many users are online on your WordPress with detailed statistics of where they are and who there are(Members/Guests/Search Bots).

There are many other plugins and solutions you may use for the same purpose, but I found that this one integrates very well with the site and works well too.

as some of you should know google have released a site stat tool (linkage), telling you which links users clicked etc.
now adding this line of javascript is difficult to do (have to edit the theme…) so i created a plugin to make it easy to add/remove the Google Analytics script from the option panel.

I installed the plugin some days ago, but google has had some trouble with the service, so I haven´t been able to see if it works. It seems that it takes quite some days for google to start showing the statistics, so as soon as I start getting them I´ll make an update on this entry. Update 01.01.06 As of today, Analytics is showing stats for several pages in my site, but not for those belonging to the blog.

Other stuff

From the same site above where I got the wp-user online plugin I also use wp-print and wp-email, which allow the reader to get a printable version of an article and send it to someone else.

This plugin generates a Google Sitemaps compliant sitemap of your WordPress blog.

Easy to install, easy to set up, and works well.

Popularity Contest: This plugin will help you see which of your posts are most popular. Views, comments, etc. are tracked and given point values to determine popularity.

I installed the plugin just a few weeks ago and I´m still getting the grip of it. It comes with options to change the way popularity is measured, and it also gives popularity rankings based on several different parameters (by comments, by permalink views, etc). In the long term I believe it´s going to be useful. Update 17.01.06 It is actually very useful, but there should be an option to exclude “exceptional” posts from the list, so that if one of the posts receives unusual attention due to a link from an important site, it won’t bias the whole list.

In a nutshell, it displays posts that you declare to be feature-worthy.

This is the plugin that has proved most useful, judging from the number of people who click on the featured articles. No matter how easy one wants to make the information to grab, there´s always this article that you are proud of, or brought you visits in the past, but for some reason is now buried and passing unnoticed. By using this plugin, you have the opportunity to bring those articles to the front page again, and (though I´m not completely sure of this), I think that google will pay more attention to them too. Update 01.01.06 several of the featured articles are again in the place where they used to be within the google search results, which makes me more confident on this statement.

The last plugin I have installed so far, I use it to display a list of several random articles at the end of each article´s individual page.

The current default WordPress administration area is functional, but I felt it could be improved.

Update 17.01.06 This is the last plugin I have installed so far, and since it completely changes the aspect of the wordpress admin interface I’m still getting accustomed to it, so it will be in “test mode” for a few days.

Plugins I may use, Plugins I don’t use

I’m not using plugins related to sponsors or ads. There’s no particular reason for this other than I wouldn’t have that many things to set up, so I prefer to add and place them by hand.

Lately I have been thinking on moving to structured blogging, which appeals to me since I try to keep with precise guidelines when I write articles.

Though I have a popularity-measuring system for the posts, for quite a long time I was searching for a way so that people could vote on the posts. While writing this article I found the votio plugin at redalt. The question remains if people would actually use it.

Just for the sake of convenience, there’s a great number of plugins listed here:

Related Article: Adding an image to Black-Letterhead theme

Related Article: It´s raining tags, alleluia!

5 thoughts on “Blogging with WordPress: my favourite plugins”

  1. sir,

    would you let me know by what tool or plugin you could add the vertical bar at the left side of the quotations in your post? i have been looking for it quiet a while.

    also, do you know of any plugin that could filter the comments into a format of text only?

    many thanks!


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