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Monday, May 23, 2011

Best WordPress Plugins

One of the things that separates WordPress from other blogging software out there is the fact that it is open source, and the benefits that go along with being open source. If you aren’t very good at coding, or good with PHP in particular, then the WordPress community has come to the rescue with WordPress plugins, which will allow just about anyone to easily add additional functionality to their blog. With the free WordPress plugins that various authors write and contribute from around the globe, WordPress has gained a lot of flexibility, causing it to be more attractive to potential bloggers.
As this site is dedicated to WordPress, I thought it would be a good idea to have a featured post dedicated to the best WordPress plugins available. This post is a constant work in progress, and will continue to be updated as I feature more plugins on this website. After each plugin, you should find a quick description, as well as a link to the full review. I have also broken the plugins down into categories for easy reference.

Premium WordPress Plugins

- Advertising -

  • Billboard + Rotating Images – Two Premium WordPress plugins that allow you to easily add images like advertisements, photos, featured homes and social icons to your widget-ready sidebars and feature areas.
  • OIO Publisher – Complete plugin that removes all hassle for bloggers who manage advertising. Automates banners, text links, paid reviews, and collects the money for you. [Full Review]

- Affiliates -

  • Auction Thumbs – Plugin that allows you to easily integrate eBay Partner Network ads into your WordPress Blog. [Full Review]
  • PHP Bay Pro – Premium plugin that integrates eBay auction ads into your WordPress blog. [Full Review]
  • WP Affiliate Pro – Allows you to manage your affiliate links from within your WordPress dashboard. Also allows you to mask links and a number of other features. [Full Review]
  • WP Ninja Affiliate – Similar to WP Affiliate Pro plugin, but provides some additional features including  multiple keywords and caching. [Full Review]

- Maintenance -

  • Backup Buddy – All-in-one solution for backups, restoration, and migration. The single backup file created by the plugin can be used with the importer script to quickly and easily restore your site on the same server or even migrate to a new host with different settings. Whether you’re an end user or a developer, this plugin is sure to bring you peace of mind and added safety in the event of data loss.
  • Email Buddy – EmailBuddy is an email newsletter solution for WordPress. Building email lists around your blog, or your products and services, is a vital marketing function. Despite the popularity of social media like Twitter and Facebook, email marketing is not dead. You can’t rely on people coming back to your site or knowing about your new launches. Simple text-based group emails are extremely effective at getting your message out to the right audience. With EmailBuddy, you can do that and more!
  • Gravity Forms – Premium WordPress plugin which allows you to build a completely custom contact form for your WordPress websites/blogs.

- Media -

  • Display Buddy – DisplayBuddy is a collection of plugins designed to showcase images, video, and text uniquely and easily on your WordPress site in a visually pleasing way. Each individual plugin is designed to allow easy customization controls and ways to put your content groups onto your site with features such as widget and shortcode support. All plugins include automatic upgrades & quality support.
  • My Video Poster – Premium plugin that automatically publishes any videos you upload to YouTube on your WordPress website/blog.
  • VidEmbed – VidEmbed is a powerful simple to use solution to adding videos inline within your WordPress posts, pages, and widget areas. With support for both self-hosted videos as well as YouTube and Vimeo you can quickly add videos from many sources. With the explosion of media on the web it is important to be able to easily and quickly provide video content to your site visitors.

- SEO -

  • Scribe SEO – Incredible full featured WordPress plugin which analyzes your posts and offers tips for improving search engine optimization. [Full Review]
  • WP SEO Sniper – Extreme SEO plugin designed to give people conscious of SEO full control over their blogs from the WordPress dashboard. Significant upgrade to the All-in-One SEO Pack plugin. [Full Review]

- Websites -

  • Thumbs Up – ThumbsUp is an idea ranking solution that allows users to up/down vote a group of items (topics, videos, and images).
  • WP Review Engine – Theme and plugin combination that allows you to create a fully featured website which makes it easy to provide information on a range of products, include thumbnail images, and link out the products.   Ideal for affiliate websites/blogs.
  • WP Review Site - Simply activate theme and plugin to create a full-featured review website.  No additional work needed, allowing you to make a number of these sites quickly!  [Full Review]

Free WordPress Plugins

- Admin Tools -

  • Gamer’s Pack – Makes your blog viewable using the Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, and PSP gaming systems. [Full Review]
  • GoCodes – Easily create redirects from your WordPress Dashboard that point anywhere. Great for hiding affiliate links. [Full Review]
  • Google Sitemap – Creates a fully-compliant sitemap for search engines. [Full Review]
  • Greet Box – Identifies where traffic is being referred from and displays the appropriate welcome message to them, encouraging to subscribe to your feed, Digg or Stumble your posts, etc. [Full Review]
  • In Series – Allows you to easily group a series of posts into a series. [Full Review]
  • Jetpack – Supercharges your self-hosted WordPress site with the awesome cloud power of [Full Review]
  • MobilePress – Optimizes your WordPress blog for mobile phones including the popular iPhone. [Full Review]
  • No Self Ping – Prevents your blog from sending pingbacks internally to your other posts. [Full Review]
  • WP-o-Matic – Allows users to collect feeds and auto-generate posts on your blog. [Full Review]
  • WordPress Backup – Plugin that backups up your WordPress themes, WordPress plugins, images, and other non-database stuff.  Works with WP-DB Manager.  [Full Review]
  • WP-DB Manager – Plugin that gives you full control over your WordPress database backups.  Works with the WordPress Backup plugin. [Full Review]
  • WP Sticky – Allows users to feature a post at the top of their homepage for a day or permanently. [Full Review]
  • WP-Super Cache – Creates a cache of your posts to avoid server load. Great for surviving a Digg. [Full Review]

- Advertising -

- Authors -

- Comments -

  • CubePoints – CubePoints allows you to choose a certain amount of points for each comment posted by a certain commentator. You can offer premium content, allow readers to purchase merchandise or maybe even an advertisement for your blog with a certain amount of points. [Full Review]
  • Keyword Luv – Adds an extra field to your comments where people can enter their website so they don’t add their website’s name in the name field for SEO anchor text purposes. [Full Review]
  • Liz Comment Count – Displays a comment count in a similar fashion to the Feedburner feed count widget. [Full Review]
  • MyAvatars – Automatically inserts the commentators MyBlogLog avatar next to their comment using the e-mail address provided. If unavailable, it will attempt to pull the bloggers Gravatar. [Full Review]
  • Show Top Commentators – Allows you to display your top commentators automatically in a place of your choosing. Great for encouraging comments. [Full Review]
  • Smilies Themer – Plugin that offers a variety of smilies styles to place in the comments section of your blog. [Full Review]
  • Subscribe to Comments – Allows readers to receive e-mail notifications when a follow up comment is left. [Full Review]

- Domaining -

  • Domain Name Portfolio – This plugin automatically creates a page in WordPress that domainers can use to display their domain portfolio. Everything is controlled from the dashboard. [Full Review]

- Downloads -

- Feeds -

- Forums -

  • RS Discuss – Plugin that allows you to easily integrate a forum into your existing WordPress blog. [Full Review]

- Maintenance -

  • Server Buddy – ServerBuddy tests server configuration to look for problems with hosting configuration and determine compatibility with various WordPress themes and plugins. Additionally it provides easy to understand explanations of various server settings and generates reports and samples of what to ask your hosting provider if a problem is found with any server configuration that needs fixed. ServerBuddy is designed to be extremely powerful but still provide information in an easy to understand way for even a novice.
  • WordPress Automatic Upgrade – Allows you to easily upgrade your WordPress installation to the latest version. **No longer needed in WordPress 2.7+**[Full Review]

- Miscellaneous -

  • Best Posts Summary – Automatically generates a daily, weekly, or monthly review post.  Includes both post titles and brief descriptions. [Full Review]
  • BreadCrumb Navigation XT – Allows you to provide your readers with additional blog navigation. [Full Review]
  • Get Firefox Banner – Shows a banner to IE6 and IE7 web browser users recommending they switch to Firefox. Great for blogs whose WordPress theme is optimized for Firefox. [Full Review]
  • Popularity Contest – Monitors your website traffic and gives you reports on your popular posts. Plugin is fully customizable allowing you to set the values used to calculate your posts popularity. [Full Review]
  • WP-eCommerce – Plugin that allows you to create an online shop on your WordPress blog [Full Review]
  • WP-Email – Allows you to add an “Email This!” button to your WordPress blog. [Full Review]
  • WP-Submission – Creates a submission page then places all submissions into a post draft. Ideal for group writing projects. [Full Review]

- Related Posts -

- SEO –

  • All-in-One SEO Pack – The Ultimate SEO WordPress plugin. Allows you to set your homepage meta information and automatically generate custom meta information for your individual posts. [Full Review]
  • Permalink Redirect – Creates a 301 Redirect to avoid duplicate content penalties with search engines. Also includes a Feedburner redirect. [Full Review]

- Tags -

- Video -

  • All-in-One Video Pack – All-in-One Video Pack includes every functionality you might need for video and rich-media, including the ability to upload/ record/import videos directly to your post, edit and remix content with an online video editor, enable video responses, manage and track your video content, create playlists, etc. [Full Review]

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8 Awesome, But Underrated Software For College

1. Q10 For Distraction-Free Essay Writing

With Facebook and other distractions just a tab away, it’s pretty hard to focus on writing for long bouts of time but you have to a lot of that in college – there’s always an essay lying there in your todo list. Q10 is a nifty text editor that blocks all distractions by taking full screen control of your desktop.
Q10 has a dark interface that puts the focus on your writing. The editor canvas also shows dynamic word count, and there’s even a timer that you can race against to complete your essay or thesis work. If you download one thing today, download Q10.

2. FocusBooster Helps You Focus On One Task

The Pomodoro Technique is one of the best ways to get things done. You set a timer for 25 minutes and start working without a break. You do nothing for five minutes after that, and you resume your work again as the countdown restarts.
FocusBooster puts a neat countdown timer on your desktop. It’s based on Adobe AIR, and there’s this ticking sound as the countdown runs. You can even set an alarm to ring when a session ends.

3. RescueTime Tracks Your Time Wasting Habits

Do you switch on your computer to do some coursework but end up spending your time on Facebook? RescueTimeis for you.  The app will track where you’re spending your time when you’re using your computer – you can see your activities charted out in the RescueTime web dashboard.
Each of these activities is assigned a productivity score and your efficiency is calculated and emailed to you every week. Besides that, there’s a ‘Get Focused’ mode in the app that lets you block all distracting activities for a set number of minutes.

4. GeeTeeDee Is A No Nonsense Task Management App

If you need a beautiful, no-frills task manager for Windows and if Wunderlist doesn’t cut it for you, try GeeTeeDee. In GeeTeeDee, you can create a group for specific task types, and start adding tasks immediately. The bottomline: it’s simple, and there’s a ‘Compact’ view option that makes it even more minimalistic.
The best part: there’s a portable version of GeeTeeDee which you can put in your USB key or Dropbox and use across multiple computers. There isn’t a sync feature and there aren’t mobile apps yet. But, simple tasks management is guaranteed. Thanks Abhishek!

5. FreeMind Lets You Map Your Ideas

FreeMind doesn’t get a lot of press, but it certainly deserves a mention. You can use FreeMind to create a free-form mind map on any topic that’s running inside your head. The mind map is non-linear – so you can add and remove elements at any time.
This screenshot sourced from the official site should be self-explanatory. FreeMind is perfect for jotting down notes from your class and can also help you record essay ideas.

6. SpeedRead Improves Your Comprehension Rate

Most of us have an average reading speed of 200 words per minute. However, with a bit of training and effort, you can drastically increase it without affecting comprehension.  SpeedRead helps you do just that.
Throw SpeedRead a text file and it start displaying the words in the text file one by one. You need to concentrate on just following the text. Pretty useful if you’re going to be taking competitive exams.

7. Chit Chat Puts Facebook Chat In Your Desktop

Enough said about distractions, but you might still find Facebook chat indispensable to keep in touch with your friends in college. It’s downright annoying to switch between browser tabs often when chatting. Chit Chat is a neat application for Windows that brings Facebook chat to your desktop.
Chit Chat’s interface supports tabs – you can chat with multiple friends under a single window. There’s also instant desktop notification support, much better than Facebook’s pop-sound, switch-tab, see-message workflow. Just make sure you decline the agreement to install RelevantKnowledge crapware when you install Chit Chat.

8. Ubuntu As Your Primary Operating System

Every operating system has its own merits. You don’t need to spend a dime on Ubuntu – it’s free of cost and you can download it for your computer from their site. Better security is a bonus.
Courtesy: Sticky Comics
Mac fanboys and Windows aficionados are screaming already, but you’ll learn more about  your system internals when you’re on Linux than when you’re on any other OS. It might break, but it’s exciting to use and it will be a fun ride. Linux desktops in general have come a long way and everything works out-of-the-box these days.

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