Ten of my favorite WordPress plugins

I’ve received absolutely zero requests asking what plugins I use to run this fine internet enterprise, so I thought I’d highlight some of the ones that are particularly nifty.

Firstly, I must make mention of the fine folks at DIYThemes, creators of the Thesis theme. I’ve been using it to present GFS for awhile, and it’s worth every penny. That’s right, for the first time I actually paid money for a WordPress theme. It’s robust, stable, and fairly easy to manipulate once you get the hang of it. Oh and as a bonus, the official and unofficial support you get on their message boards is second to none.

Anyway, here are just ten of the plugins that I get the most use from — I hope you can too!

  1. Disqus Comment System — I thought long and hard before I turned over administration of my comments to a third party, but so far it’s been a good experience. I think the social aspect of Disqus is underutilized as many people still prefer to comment anonymously, but I don’t know if there’s a solution to that. (Update: I disabled Disqus in September 2011. You can read why here.)
  2. Follow Me — See that floating “Follow Me” tab to the right of your screen? That’s courtesy the Follow Me plugin. It’s easy to configure and change, and looks pretty snazzy too.
  3. mTouch Quiz — This is my latest toy, and you can see it in action on my prog rock pop quiz. It looks good on a site and is pretty easy to configure.
  4. Related Posts Thumbnails — Scroll down to the bottom of this post. See those thumbnails linking to related articles? That’s what this plugin does. Of course, you have to supply the images. If you’re using Thesis and have a ton of posts with no assigned thumbnails, then I heartily recommend Teaser Thumbnail Catcher as well.
  5. Search & Replace — This came in really handy after I upgraded to PHP5, and a whole bunch of special characters on the site were converted to gibberish. This plugin allows you to search your entire WordPress database and replace text in one fell swoop.
  6. SEO SearchTerms Tagging 2 — The main reason I use this one is that it will automatically convert incoming search terms into text displayed in the post. This helps increase your search engine rank by adding terms people use to get to your posts, but that you may not be using. Just don’t overdo it (I limit the number of terms displayed to 10).
  7. W3 Total Cache — This is one of the most popular plugins around, and for good reason. When I installed this my site load performance improved dramatically. Given that Google punishes sites with slow load times, this was a good thing. My advice on this one is to start slowly at first, as it can jack up your site if you aren’t careful.
  8. Wordbooker — If you want excellent integration between your site and Facebook, this is one of the better tools to use. It allows for auto-publishing of new posts on both your personal Facebook wall and on the wall for the site (if you have one established).
  9. WP Smush.it — Another performance tweak plugin, this one compresses the images on your site to help aid load times. And don’t worry, the images still look fine after. The only letdown with this one is that it only automatically processes images uploaded after installation. You’ll have to smush old ones manually.
  10. Zemanta — I don’t use all the features of this plugin, but it does make some aspects of blogging much easier. It suggests links, which can be added with one click. It also suggests tags and related articles. For those with an Amazon affiliate account, it can link Amazon items directly using your affiliate link.