10 Essential WordPress Plugins to Start Your Blog (and Why)

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November 15, 2008
Ready to start your own blog or online portfolio? Interested in downloading and incorporating WordPress into it? Or maybe you need to spruce up your current site? Well here are 10 essential WordPress plugins to get your blog started today. Maintaining a blog requires some work, but with WordPress plugin capabilities it has become a lot more convenient and less time consuming. Literally take these plugins and dump them into your /wp-content/plugins/ directory, turn them on in your Dashboard and Voila! A fully functional blog with all your vital needs. First and foremost, it can be quite a hassle to skim through lists of spam-ridden comments with nonsensical advertisements for Viagra and various other prescriptions drugs. Avoid them all together by adding one of these Spam filters:

1. WP SpamFree

WP SpamFree allows you to eliminate automated spam bots from controlling your comments, by using javascript and cookies that stops the bots from processing the automated spam. This virtually eliminates the need to type out annoying CAPTCHAS for your commenters. However, nothing is as full proof as the CAPTCHA method, as annoying as it may be. Thus, I've also recommended the WP-reCAPTCHA plugin as an alternative.

2. Ultimate Google Analytics

Ultimate Google Analytics allows you to automatically sync your Google Analytics account with your website. This plugin helps you manage your visits, page views-by date and location; and track links. This is very helpful in understanding and analyzing who frequents your site, where they came from, where they linked to from your site. Very useful if you are managing a blog with ads, in which advertisers are paying per page view, etc. Which leads me to my next essential plugin:

3. All in One Adsense and YPN

All in One Adsense and YPN is essential if you want link up your Adsense account with your WordPress blog, with the added benefit of adding your Yahoo! Publisher Network account, as well, doubling your advertising options. It will automatically create the ad codes in your posts, once you provide the publisher/channel IDs. Everyone enjoys the benefits of the lucrative advertising empire (except those unfortunate internet perusers unaware of Firefox's Adblock add-on).

4. Feed WordPress

Feed Wordpress syndicates your posts into lists of entries viewable from your audience's feedreaders. This allows for simple access to your site through a feedreader, which allows people to stay updated on your posts. Practically everyone in the world-o-blogs needs a way to manage the sites they frequent through a feedreader, and this plugin allows for fast, easy syndication to assist these audiences without difficult configuration.

5. Add to Any Share/Save/Bookmark Button

Add To Any is pivotal to the success of sharing and spreading your name or your blog. Seen at the bottom of nearly every editorial/news/blog/photolog article is this easy-to-share-with-any-social-networking/bookmarking-site-button. Reddit, Diggit, Facebook post-it, email it: you'll need this plugin in order to share your thoughts with audiences beyond your control.

6. Insights

Insights is literally heaven-sent. This plugin is a mold of interconnectedness that will improve your efficiency and strengthen the credibility, understanding, and efficiency of your entries. It allows for interconnection through this dynamic AJAX control with Flickr, Google Maps, Wikipedia, YouTube, etc., establishing a dynamic experience with your audience.

7. Global Translator

Global Translator is a fantastic plugin for reaching a wide variety of audiences, allowing for immediate translation of up to 14 different languages in an easily configurable plugin. If you are trying to reach large audiences of various nations and languages, this plugin will save you a lot of time and sanity.

8. About Me Widget

About Me Widget allows for a clean-cut, CSS-able/customizable interface, designed for the sidebar of your WordPress blog. This isn’t terribly difficult to create yourself, but having a copy/paste plugin option is always the more convenient route. The following are not necessarily essential to the blogosphere, but definitely spruce up the interactivity between your audience and your blog:

9. NextGen Gallery

NextGen Gallery is an aesthetic, interactive photo gallery to host your portfolio or just random, personal photos. You have the visual impact of Jquery’s Lightbox and Thickbox galleries, without the inconvenience of integrating the Jquery code, with this conveniently configurable plugin that packs a powerful punch to the interface of your site/blog/portfolio.

10. iLastFM

iLastFM is an awesome little plugin that will connect your Last.FM account with your blog, in a customizable, easily-configurable interface that creates a little sidebar widget. It can display CD covers with artists for a visual interface that offers a audible delight to your site, while sharing new music with your friends or fans.

WDD Staff

WDD staff are proud to be able to bring you this daily blog about web design and development. If there's something you think we should be talking about let us know @DesignerDepot.

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