WordPress Plugins, Hacks, Tips, and More

Wordpress Logo - Plugins, Tips, Hacks

Just about an hour ago, I finished speaking at the Fort Wayne Social Media Breakfast.  I was one of three “speakers”.  We were on a panel, talking about blogging tips, tools, techniques, etc.

Now for anyone who knows me, it’s no surprise that I talked a decent amount about WordPress.  One of the questions coming from the room was favorite / most used plugins, themes, etc.

So, I ran home and put together this post featuring some of my favorites.  Favorite plugins, favorites tips, and just random thoughts about wordpress.

Plugins

  • Gravity Forms – without any question, this is what I think to be the best contact form plugin.  It is simply awesome.  Super easy to use, very powerful.  It really does everything you want.  However, it is not free.  It is $39.00 for personal use, $99.00 for business use.  My favorite feature is that in addition to sending you the contact information via email, it stores all the contact information in a database.  So, at any time, you can log in and see a record of everyone who has submitted your form, when they submitted it, etc.  You can then download this information into MS Excel and analyze it, etc.
  • All In One SEO – this is my favorite plugin for Search Engine Optimization (appearing higher on Google, etc.).  It allows you to set TITLE tags for each and every page and post, etc.  It is very simple to use and very powerful.
  • Sexy Bookmarks – this is my favorite “social sharing” plugin.  It lets you have links to just about EVERY social network.  It will also add the goole +1 buttons, twitter share buttons, Facebook buttons, etc.  Super simple to use and it looks great (hence the name).
  • Next Gen Gallery – the best photo gallery available.  Upload photos, add new galleries, create super cool slideshows, and more.  All of this is really simple using Next Gen.  If you have photos, you need Next Gen Gallery.
  • Ultimate Google Analytics – my favorite Google Analytics plug-in.  It’s my favorite because it is so “lightweight”.  It doesn’t do much – it simply add Google Analytics code to your site.  Very small in size, etc.
  • Google Sitemap Generator – this simple plugin automatically generates a google site map and submits it to Google for you.  It adds nothing to the “front end” (what people see) of your site.  It simply creates the site map and submits it on a regular schedule.
  • WP Database Backup – this plugin does exactly what it says – it backs up your database for you.  It can then email this backup to you or save it on the server.  I STRONGLY suggest using this plugin and having it email you regular backups (I suggest weekly).  Once you get the email, save the attached file somewhere and then forget about it.  You might not know what the file is, but should disaster strike, a developer will know EXACTLY what to do with it.  A must have!!!

While I have a bunch of other plugins I love, that’s a few for now.  I didn’t bother linking to any of the plugins’ home pages.  Just go into your wordpress admin and click on PLUGINS -> ADD NEW.  Form this location, you can simply search for the plugin and install it.  Like most things on WordPress – super simple!

Tips

In addition to plugins, here are a few random tips to getting the most out of wordpress – mostly from a semi-technical point of view.

  • Use WP SUPER CACHE – ok, I know this is ANOTHER plugin.  But, it is different.   What is does is make your site faster.  If you notice your wordpress site or blog is loading slow, try installing this plugin.  Basically, it creates static HTML pages for all your pages and serves up these.   By doing this the site has to make A LOT less calls to the database.  Therefore, the site runs faster.  Make sense?  If not, don’t worry.  It’s a great plugin that will speed up things!
  • Get a Good Host  – the number one most important thing to think about when it comes to site speed is your web host.  NOTHING will impact your site’s speed more than who you choose for hosting.  A few of my favorite hosts are Host Gator, Media Temple, Midphase, and Blue Host.  I purposely didn’t make links to these guys as I don’t “endorse” any of them.  Just google them and try them out.  I’m not getting any kickbacks from them…
  • Update –  as with any computer program, it is super important to stay up to date.  Once you install wordpress, be sure to update it any time you have the choice.  You’ll see the update notice immediately when you log in.  Typically these updates patch security flaws and are critically important.
  • Use Strong Passwords –  this is true every time you use a password, especially on WordPress.  Assuming you do not want your site hacked, use a strong password.  What exactly is a strong password?  Here’s a few simple thoughts:
    • The longer the better – use a MINIMUM of 8 characters
    • Use small case, upper case, numbers, and symbols – mix it up a lot
    • NEVER use a dictionary word.  Trust me, people will guess it.
    • Try using the first line from your favorite song – yeah, the ENTIRE first line, including the concluding punctuation
  • Backup – I know I mentioned a backup plugin above, but it’s worth mentioning again.  THREE things need to be backed up: your database (use the plugin), your theme (unless you can download it again somewhere), and all your uploads (like pictures, etc.).  Typically making a one time backup of your theme and saving it on your computer is good enough for that.  Also, your uploads are usually pretty easy to recover.  What is SUPER important is a regular (i.e. weekly) backup of your database.  Use the plugin I mentioned above.

So, that’s my first thought about using WordPress – 7 plugins and 5 random tips.  What about you?  Do you have favorite tips, tricks, hacks, etc.?  If so, leave me a comment so we can all learn.

And, should you need any help, support, consulting, etc.  Contact Me today and we’ll talk!

    Justin says:
    07/26/2011 Reply

    Thanks for sharing this morning.

    I’m glad you emphasized the importance of a good host. Not all are created equal, especially for a resource intensive application like WP.

      Eric says:
      07/26/2011 Reply

      Justin –

      Agreed about hosts… It is a HUGE deal, and one that is often overlooked. My personal favorite continues to be Host Gator…

    craig d crook says:
    07/26/2011 Reply

    great post Eric, wish you would have done it sooner though!

      Eric says:
      07/26/2011 Reply

      Thanks Craig. I try to type as fast as I can…

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