One of the things I think makes WordPress the best choice for building websites is the vast amount of available plugins to customize your site and most of them are free. Today, I’ll give you my top 10. These are plugins that I actually use on my site.
Gigpress: Designed for musicians to list upcoming live shows and tours, this free plugin can be used by speakers, authors, seminar promoters or anyone wanting a simple way to list upcoming events on their website or blog.
ShareThis: Lets your visitors quickly and easily share your blog posts/articles via email and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Stumbleupon and Google Buzz.
Contact Form 7: It’s never a good idea to post your email address on your website due to nasty spambots crawling websites looking to add your email address to their junk mail lists. You can either display your email address as a graphic, which spambots can’t see or, even better, use a plugin like Contact Form 7 to quickly create a contact form on your site. It’s fairly easy to setup and can be used with a “Captcha” plugin to further cut down on spam. I use Really Simple Captcha for this as it was designed to work with Contact Form 7.
Easy ReTweet: Simple plugin that adds a ‘Retweet This” button to your blog posts. Can be placed before or after (or both) each blog post or article and you can customize the button’s text.
Google Analytics for WordPress: Allows you to use easily use Google Analytics on your site to track visitors, page views and much more. This one is essential.
W3 Total Cache: Without getting into a lot of technical details, W3 Total Cache helps your site load faster. A slow website means people leave your site fast. See this page for more details on how to speed up your WordPress site.
WordPress Popular Posts: You can see this one at work in the lower right-hand margin. It shows visitors your most popular posts based on comment counts by default but can be set to show most viewed posts, too.
WP Smush.it: Automatically reduces the size of your image files so your pages load faster. Saves a lot of time if you post a lot of photos and other images on your blog.
WPTouch: Free and paid versions automatically create a special, customizable mobile theme for your blog or website for visitors browsing on their mobile phone. I just added this one today so I haven’t had a lot of experience with it but it makes a huge difference in the way my site looks like on my iPhone. Much easier to read with this installed.
WordPress Editorial Calendar: Creates a calendar view of your blog posts (both drafts and published posts) so you can schedule posts out several days or weeks in advance. It’s a great way to plan your blogging over a period of time with drag-n-drop capability and other cool features.
Bonus: WishList: <-Affiliate Link. The first 10 on this list are free plug-ins but I want to mention one more essential plugin if you’re considering setting up a membership site using WordPress. I’ve setup several paid membership sites over the past few years. They can be very profitable but the software available for building them used to give me fits until WishList was developed. I’ve built two sites with it so far and it makes things so much easier.
These are some of my favorite Wishlist plugins. Did I leave one of your favorites off the list? Are you currently using any of the plugins I mentioned? Please leave a comment below.