WordPress plugins allow anyone to extend the default functionality that comes with WordPress. Some advantages of plugins are:

  • Everyone can choose to install only the plugins they need, saving on time to generate a web page
  • Extra functionality can be added to WordPress without having to know programming.
  • The numerous plugins will make it possible to keep WordPress code from bloating, leaving only the necessary features available in the program’s core.

There are a few drawbacks when dealing with plugins though:

  • Some plugins won’t work with the new releases of WordPress, leaving users to question whether they should upgrade their WordPress but lose the plugin or keep the plugin and the old WordPress version.
  • When installing a new plugin, you usually integrate it with the active theme. If the theme is changed, you will have to hook all your plugins with the new theme all over again.
  • Not all plugins come with a solid support system. Some plugin writers are happy to share their code with the rest of the world, but have no time to provide an actual support, and troubleshoot the problems that you may encounter when getting these plugins to work properly.

Which WordPress plugins are essential?

  1. Akismet – there’s a good reason why Akismet plugin is one of the three plugins that come with every WordPress installation. So make sure you activate this plugin and it’ll save you lots of time and frustrations when dealing with an inevitable spam on your blog. After two months of blogging, my blog suddenly started getting spam comments, almost on a daily basis: just one or two, but I’m sure glad I have my Akismet warrior catching them.
  2. Optimal Title – this plugin is good for SEO. By default WordPress displays your blogs name first in every page/post title tag, followed by the actual post title. Optimal Title plugin reverses the structure which makes it more SEO friendly, by giving more prominence to the keywords in your post’s title.
  3. Feedburner Feed Replacement – Forwards all feed traffic to Feedburner. This allows you to customize your feeds with various feed presentation, analyze your subscribers statistics, and much more.
  4. WP-ContactForm or Dagon Design Form Mailer – Every blog, just like every website, should have a Contact page. Of course, you can create one and display your contact details there, but it’s much better to have a contact form that your readers can use to contact you directly, and the form will protect your email address from getting spanned. At first I was using WP-Contact Form plugin for my contact page, but then I was told by Jonathan from Pixel Acres about another plugin which includes more security features in the contact form code – Dagon Design Form Mailer. I looked at the code and the features and I did like it better. It includes an Image Verification question which ensures that a person fills out your contact form, not a spam bot.
  5. Google Sitemaps – This plugin will generate a Google compliant sitemap of your WordPress blog. Google sitemap will allow Google to know how often a web page has been updated and helps to get more pages crawled.

If you think that I missed on some essential plugins for WordPress, please, let me know and I will update this list. Next I will talk about some optional plugins that would make your blogging life easier and more efficient, based on your blog’s needs.

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7 Insightful Bits in response to “Practical Information About WordPress Plugins”

  1. Good stuff. I was looking for something to forward my site feed to my feedburner feed. I’m looking forward to the optional plugins. I’m a gadget junky.

  2. I think the related posts plugin is also a great one to have. While not really essential it’s a great way to keep people looking through your site by providing a list of other posts in your blog that are similar to the post you are reading. The details can be seen here: http://wasabi.pbwiki.com/Related%20Entries

    I’m just sorting the feedburner plugin now. Thanks for the tip!

  3. ibit

    @Brian – Thank you. Hopefully you’ll find more useful plugins from my new post on optional plugins.

    @Garry – as you can see, I’ve included the Related posts plugin in my optional plugin list. I was actually debating myself whether to include it in my essential list, but then decided against – it is a handy plugin, but not really essential.

  4. Thanks for the info. I am definitely going to look at the contact form plug in.

  5. ibit

    You’re very welcome, Joey.

  6. You’ve reminded me to turn Akismet on, my comment spam is getting out of control!

    Thanks for the mention – but you got my name wrong ;)

  7. ibit

    Oh, Jonathan, I’m so sorry – I’ve corrected it now. Don’t know how I got it wrong. That’s what happens with multitaskers, I guess….

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on