Plugins to Get You Started: WordPress for Beginners

WordPress is a great blogging platform which is updated frequently with useful features. However, as useful as it is, the WordPress developers realize they cannot make a platform that contains every single feature that every user could possibly need.  As a result, they have made the platform extensible so that other people can create plugins to extend the functionality.  I’m not a heavy blogger so I don’t require much functionality beyond what is included in the core product, but I have found some plugins which are very useful to me. Let me know if you have a plugin which you consider essential.

  • AdSense Manager – This plugin allows you place Google AdSense ads on your blog.  Using this plugin, I place one banner ad at the bottom of the page and as a widget on the right side.
  • Akismet – REQUIRED plugin to kill spam.  Keep it updated and it will do an excellent job for you.
  • Bookmarkify – This plugin places a footer on each article which allows you to share the post through email, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, and many many many other services.   There are other plugins which accomplish the same thing, but this is the one I started with and am familiar with.
  • Enhanced WP-ContactForm – Allows you to create a CONTACT page with enhanced features referrers, spam protection, and allows the commenter to cc himself.
  • Google XML Sitemaps– REQUIRED if you want search engines like Google, Bing, & Yahoo to index your site.  The sitemap is created automatically and is updated each time you create a new post. When the  sitemap is updated, the major search engines are notified automatically.  Very useful and efficient.
  • IE6 No More – This is for the IT geek in me.  I’ve noticed on my blog and my wife’s photo site that there are still many people using Internet Explorer 6.  Do you realize IE6 was released in 2001?!? Many of the malicious attacks which are around today were not even conceivable when IE6 was developed. As a result IE6 is considered security Swiss cheese. Microsoft finally took the browser seriously in subsequent releases.This plugin places a banner at the top of each page for all IE6 users suggesting they upgrade to IE8 or another modern browser. I modified the plugin slightly for my use.
  • Kontera ContentLink– The purpose of my blog is not to make money. However, I do have this plugin enabled to create paid links based on certain content.  I haven’t gotten a check yet.
  • NextGEN Gallery– A REQUIRED plugin if you want to included photo galleries in your WordPress blogs.  Once you figure out the basics, this is extremely useful. This plugin is updated often.
  • Official StatCounter Plugin– I use to track usage on all my sites.  This plugin automates the task of placing the invisible StatCounter code in your blog entries.
  • Subscribe to Comments – This handy plugin allows your readers to subscribe to comments on your various posts.  I just added this one this week – I wish I would have thought to add it before.
  • Random Image– While not a plugin, I use this script to rotate my header image.  With each new page load, this script displays a random image.