I’ve developed a lot of sites in WordPress. I love it, and I love the plug-in repository. Some of the things I find are of especial use to a particular site or theme, but there are some plug-ins that I find useful time and again. Here are five plug-ins that I find necessary for just about every website, in reverse order…
5 – Google Analyticator
Google Analyticator automates the process. You log in to your Google account, it automatically connects your Google account to your WordPress installation, and the code appears. Presto. As soon as I found the plug-in and installed it on my web design site, I immediately installed it on all of my other sites. I’m kicking myself for not using something like this earlier.
4 – Lightbox 2
At some point, you’ll want an image in a post to help illustrate a point. If you’re a photographer or if you write tech tutorials or game walk throughs, you’ll have tons of images in your posts.
3 – Updraft
You back-up your data, right? Well, it can be a pain if you don’t find the right tool. For me, Updraft is that tool.
It allows me to automatically back-up my database as well as my extra content (i.e. uploads). I store it all on the server outside of the public root, and I can then automate the process to back it up to another location (like my external hard drive) with other back-up software. The ability to back-up uploads is really important. The website for my photography studio wouldn’t be of much use if I managed to save the database from destruction but I lost all the photos that I uploaded with the posts. Of course, I have the original images backed up elsewhere, but going through months of posts to add pictures back in would be horrible!
2 – Google XML Sitemaps
Google XML Sitemaps comes pre-installed. For good reason. You want good SEO, you’ll want a sitemap that tells Google where to find everything on your site. It ensures proper crawling. Sure, you can write a custom script to make a sitemap. I’ve done it. Is there a reason to do it? Nope. This plug-in does everything you need. Activate it.
1 – Akismet
Akismet also comes pre-installed for good reason. It is an awesome spam catcher. When you first launch your website you might be craving comments… but once you start getting spam comments you’ll wish you never had a visitor in the first place. Akismet does a good job of catching the most egregious spammers, while creating very few false positives.
Unfortunately, some people might not activate it because you have to go through the extra step of obtaining an API key. When I first started using Akismet, I got this API key through my WordPress.com account. Although these keys can cost money, you can get a free API key for personal use (which Akismet defines as a hobby website earning less than $500 a year). Go get one, and if you’re making more than $500 a year…? Just pay for it.