WordPress is known for its versatility thanks to its rich line of plugins; so rich that it is considered both an advantage and disadvantage. Knowing what plugins to use out of thousands is a real pain, which I myself had experienced when I was just starting using WordPress. We can all agree that not all plugins are reliable and it can even break your WordPress installation at times if it is poorly written.
For those who are just starting to use WordPress 3, I’ve rounded up some 10 plugins that I found useful and reliable (mostly when I was just starting out) that you might want to try as well. They are arranged in no particular order:
Custom Post Types & Taxonomies
Version 3.0 carries one of the most innovative features of WordPress to date – Custom Post Types and Taxonomies. Its introduction paved the way for WordPress as groundwork for a fully functional Content Management System (CMS) apart from just being a blogging tool. You can create custom post types and taxonomies by coding, but with Custom Post Type UI, it provides you a more intuitive way to create them through a user interface.
For more info on Post Types please refer to the codex.
Custom Fields/ Meta-data
WordPress allows authors to attach arbitrary extra information to posts known as meta-data. Normally, you can declare custom fields through the Custom Field Box when adding or editing posts, which is quite hassle to use. With More Fields you can create sets of fields (Boxes) for each custom post type. You can also set how you would like each field entered, be it through a textbox, a checkbox, a set of radio buttons and more depending on its context.
For more info on Custom Fields please refer to the codex.
The easiest way for you to create a contact form (or any other form that submits information to an email for that matter) on WordPress probably is by using Contact Form 7. The download count does not lie. It is very simple to use yet very flexible. You can whip up a working contact form within a few minutes.
Image Galleries, Slideshows
When I started using WordPress, I had difficulty understanding how to work with its Media Gallery. I also went on to use other image galleries but among them, the easiest, most robust, and most versatile was NextGEN Gallery. It features a simple administration system for images and managing galleries becomes a breeze. Its galleries are also customizable.
Promotion Slider is not just another slideshow plugin. Though the rotating slideshow effect is simple, what makes it great is you can feature almost anything on the slideshow – posts, pages, categories and even ad codes. You can also use multiple instances of the slideshow that features different sets of slides (which many other slideshow plugins can’t). It supports custom post types and uses simple shortcodes.
XML Sitemap Generator
This plugin makes it easier for crawlers to go over the structure of your website by generating a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your blog. It also supports WordPress generated pages and custom URLs. It helps your blog/website become more visible and increase page rankings as it notifies search engines once a new post is made.
Search Engine Optimization
Simply, it optimizes your website for search engines and it does just that awesomely. It allows you to create alternative titles for each post and page, assign custom titles for custom post types, categories and other taxonomies, and populate keywords that search engines can read and more. If used properly using various SEO techniques, this plugin can help you drive massive traffic to your blog.
Search Engine Optimization
This plugin promises to multiply your blog traffic to algorithmic scale. It does this through various ways such as adding special links to search results, strengthening on page SEO of your blog, republishing posts that lack traffic from search engines, and providing useful lists of popular keywords to your website.
WP-PageNavi does a most simple yet also a very useful feature to any WordPress blog – pagination. It saves you incredible amount of coding effort adding this feature. It nicely adapts to your theme as well.
Like its name suggests, Widget Logic adds an extra control to all widgets where you can set what parts of your blog/website they should appear on using conditional tags and general PHP code. This is especially useful when you have widgets you want to show on selected pages only.