WordPress

Posted by Brian Paris on Jan 9, 2009 in Blog |

I have been looking at a lot of wordpress plugins lately, so today I am sharing some of the new ones that I have found along with some of my old favorites.

First, let’s talk about wordpress itself.  WordPress.org is an open source blogging platform that is used by many individuals as well as organizations.  Here are some notable users. It is also the software that I use to power this website, and my personal blog. You can download the software for free and use it on your own servers (or rented space with a hosting company), or you can go to wordpress.com and they will host your blog for free. I prefer the flexibility that I get by hosting my own blogs, but some prefer the ease of use (and cost) of the pre-hosted version.

Once you have wordpress set up, you will want to look for a good theme. Themes are web templates that provide the design of your site. There are thousands of pre-made themes that can be downloaded for free on the wordpress site. I have used many themes for different sites, and usually find something close to what I like. I can then tweak it to get it perfect. All of the software released for wordpress comes under a license that allows you to modify any of the code. This makes it fun if you like getting into the design code. If you just want something simple, you can usually find a pre-made theme that you will make you happy.

After you have the theme picked out, you can then add plugins. There are plugins for almost anything. Some effect the whole blog, some just do stuff beneath the surface, and some just add useful widget to the sidebars of the site. Here is a list of some of the plugins that I am using.

Askimet is the anti-spam plugin that comes with wordpress. I strongly suggest that you activate this as soon as you can. If your blog gets any popularity you will get a ton of spam comments. The next utility plugin that I use is All in One SEO Pack. This plugin get rid of all the redundancy that search engines see in your site, and also lets you easily add keywords to let the search engines know what you are blogging about. Some people try to game the system to get their pages ranked higher in profitable categories. I try to make my keywords descriptive of what I do and hopefully by writing good content people will start using the information.

Next plugin that I use is cforms. If you click on my contact page up above you will see what you can do with this contact form plugin. For a long time I used Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form v.2.0WP (also called gbcf) for contacts (for those of you familiar with my unregimented blog you will notice that the plugin programmer also designed the theme that I use). So even though I was more familiar with the other contact form, I thought that I would try the cforms plugin this time. Cforms is more complex, so I wouldn’t recommend it to some one new to setting up a wordpress blog. If you need the more advanced features maybe you can find a friend to set it up for you. Once it is set up you won’t have to mess with it. People will then be able to contact you directly from your site. If you want to contact me, feel free to give it a try and say, “Hi.”

Over on the side of my blog you can see the result of some of my other plugins. One is the wp-postviews plugin. (Well actually it is a couple of plugin; one for set up and one for posting as a widget). This allows you to see what post are getting the most views. I am getting away from posting in categories. Sometimes it is difficult to get a post to fit into a simple category, and just trying to think of all the possible future categories just gives me headaches. So, instead I am focusing on tags. The tag cloud is a widget that comes in the base package of wordpress. With the Search Box, Tag Cloud, and the Most Viewed sections, hopefully you can find anything on the site.

The last plugin is just a fun one. I use Last.fm RPS to list the last ten songs that I have listened to on last.fm. There are a ton of last.fm plugins, but this one seemed pretty simple to use and had good results. I am also thinking about adding a twitter widget, but I am not sure that I want to get hooked on twittering. The whole concept of micro-blogging seems like a lot of work.

One plugin that I am not currently using, but I have used in the past is Podpress. This plugin allows easy integration with podcast (and video podcast). I would recommend it to any one wanting to set up a podcast.

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