The WordPress Plugin is one of the most important features of WordPress. They allow you to extend the capabilities of WordPress. With a Plugin, you can evolve your site as you decide to apply new features. You can even resuscitate your site if it is in need of some sprucing up. It only takes a few Plugins to make your site even more useful than the standard WordPress site.
This site – which uses WordPress – uses several Plugins that are obviously my favorites including:
- Configurable Tag Cloud: shows tags that vary in size depending on the amount of articles with that tag.
- Easy Fancybox: Shows thumbnails that are clickable to full-size. Easily enable the FancyBox jQuery extension on all image, SWF, PDF, YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo links. Also supports iFrame and inline content. Just insert an image in your article as a thumbnail using the Upload/Insert Image icon in the article editor. Then a user can click the image to pop it up full size. A user can also navigate thru all such images on the page.
- Developer Tools. Allows you to easily manage background options of your site. For instance, easily add your Google Analytics account number.
- Print Friendly and PDF. PrintFriendly & PDF optimizes your pages for print. Help your readers save paper and ink, plus enjoy your content in printed form.
- SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam. Adds CAPTCHA anti-spam methods to WordPress forms for comments, registration, lost password, login, or all. This prevents spam from automated bots.
- Slick Contact Forms. Create quick and easy floating or slide out contact forms with animated validation error messages.
- Sociable. Automatically add links on your posts, pages and RSS feed to your favorite social bookmarking sites.
- WPTouch. A plugin which formats your site with a mobile theme for visitors on Apple iPhone / iPod touch, Google Android, Blackberry Storm and Torch, Palm Pre and other touch-based smartphones.
For a site that is selling products, consider the impressive WPOnlineStore WordPress Plugin. Here is a site that I have built using that plugin – http://www.getflybye.com. It is an easy way to get a store up and running quickly.
WordPress has made it extremely simple to manage your plugins. First there is a WordPress Plugin Universe where you can search for features that you may find useful. This library is directly available from your WordPress administration interface. Second, the WordPress administration interface makes it remarkably easy to manage Plugins.
The Administrator adds/enables/disables/deletes Plugins thru the WordPress Administration interface via the Plugins page (that makes sense). To add a Plugin, login as the administrator, visit the Plugins page, search for one of the Plugins above, and click the Add link.
Follow the directions for the specific Plugin to configure it to your liking. All Plugins have a page that allows you to choose various options. Usually, a Plugin configuration is found in the WordPress Administration interface under the Settings page. Play with the settings until you get the look and feel that you like.
With WordPress Plugins, you can extend the capabilities of your WordPress site. Thousands are available, so you need to do some homework to determine your favorites. The list above are the extensions used on this site and they will provide a great starting point for your WordPress site. Oh, and did I say FREE? All of them are free. Why pay more?