WordPress has been my website engine of choice for quite a while, yet it never ceases to amaze me just how many developers are tirelessly inventing more and more nifty new plugins to make WordPress even more useful than it is straight out of the box. I likely have too many plugins running on my site, but it's hard to imagine doing without most of them.
Here are a handful of those that I would put in the 'utility' class and which I find very useful.
- Typos seem to be the bane of my existence, and too often I need to edit an earlier- posted item to fix some goofy error I made. Out of the box, WordPress doesn't distinguish edits from new posts in terms of its pinging machinery, so to avoid being a pain in the you know what, I use a little plugin called Smart Update Pinger to ensure my frequent edits don't trigger needless pings.
- I find myself testing stuff on my 'production' website and more than not, my testing triggers some weird looking results which must bemuse (or frustrate) any visitors who land on my pages during one of these sessions. So, I finally got around to installing Maintenance Mode which, when turned on, displays a splash page that politely informs that my website is undergoing maintenance and to check back within a few minutes (you can set the time).
- Photos go a long way to add appeal to a post, but finding suitable pics and loading them can take a lot of time and effort. That's where Photo Dropper proves its worth. It lets you search Flickr from your post screen to find suitable images. Not only that, it enables you to restrict your search to keep you on-side in terms of licencing under the Creative Commons. And, it adds a nice credit to the photo, so you don't have to do it manually. It's a great time saver.
- A nice signature looks good on your posts, but it's a drag to add them all manually (like we seem to have to do here). A little utility called Add Sig fills the bill here nicely. You can configure it so it will automatically display your signature on posts, or pages, or both - or you can set it up to add your signature using a placeholder in your posts. I do mine the automatic way.
- Unfortunately, sometimes visitors can enter a url for a non-existent page. But instead of getting a standard 'it doesn't exist' type of display, install AskApache Google 404 and even your 'not found' pages looks good. Here is a non-existent page on my website, if you want to see for yourself.
- When it comes to sidebar widgets, sometimes I don't want a widget to display on every post/page. I've come across a nifty little plugin that lets me pick and choose where each widget should appear. It's called Widget Logic. Install and activate it, and when you navigate to your widgets page, you'll notice an extra text box added to each widget form. That's where you enter a conditional statement to see if the currently displayed page (or post) is one for which you want that particular widget to show up.
One slight complicating factor about Widget Logic is that the text you enter in fact must be a snippet of 'php' code. But these snippets are simple, and you can find examples of pretty well everything you might need at WordPress.org. For instance, if you want your widget to show up only on the home page, your 'text' entry would be "is_home();" (without the quotes). Or for all posts within a particular category: "in_category('12');".
The other 'catch' to Widget Logic is that it needs an additional plugin to execute the 'php' it uses. But that's no big deal - something called php-excec does the trick.
To wrap this up, I should say that this list is by no means a complete list of the plugins I use. For instance, no WordPress site should operate without Akismet installed. But don't be afraid of installing any of these - they are all straight-forward to install, configure and use, and they all serve a useful purpose.
Bye for now,