Wordpress offers a great platform to create websites on the go, and you really do not need to have great design skills in order to make a beautiful and functioning blog. The great thing about Wordpress for me is that fact that there are zillions of plugins that make life as a blogger a lot easier, and your blog a lot more attractive and engaging for your visitors.
A little warning note though, while plugins are great, you really should not go overboard and install just any plugin you run into. This will have you end up with a slow and messy blog and even though you publish the world´s most fabulous content, people online want to get everything fast and if your blog loads too slow because of all the plugins you use, they will leave before they ever get a chance to read that interesting article of yours.
A few WP plugins that I play around with are the following:
- Unique Article Wizard - Creating Unique content for your blog
I only recently found this plugin and have been using it with great pleasure so far. One of the most important things when running a blog (and probably one that will give you the biggest advantages when it comes to the success of your blog) is updating very regularly. But, since we are all human and sometime life get´s in the way, there are always moments that inspiration lacks or we just don´t have the time to add posts. This plugin will allow other people to post articles to your blog, much in the same way article directories receive their articles, without losing control over the content, since you can have them posted as draft versions and you just need to approve the article (or delete it if it does not represent what you agree with).
This Article Wizard is a monthly service to help with your article marketing strategies, sending your articles to all different article directories in a unique version, but separate from that, they offer a free plugin you can easily install in order to receive articles you can publish on your blog for (they support all different sorts of blog platforms, not just wordpress).
- Add Sig by Dagon Design
I am using this plugin at the moment to add some interesting products that I am using, to the bottom of all of my posts but there are of course other things you can do with this plugin without having to change things in the core code. It supports up to three different signature templates so you have an easier way of adding something to the end of all of your posts, whether it be a special message (like for example, "if you liked this post, please leave a comment or digg/stumble it") or maybe some adsense code or affiliate link.
- Anti-Sociable by Andy Beard
Automatically add links on your posts to popular social bookmarking sites so make it easier to be bookmarked in case a post was really enjoyed. Whenever I use the Sociable plugin, I prefer using the hacked version called Antisocial, which prevents losing linkjuice to social bookmarking sites.
- Commentluv by Andy Bailey
This plugin shows a link to the last post from the commentator´s blog in their comment. Just activate and it´s ready. Currently parses with wordpress, blogspot, typepad and blogs that have a feed link in the head section of their page. I like this plugin a lot; it has already lead me to many interesting blogs I would not have found otherwise.
- Enhanced WP-ContactForm by Joost Valk
WP Contact Form is a drop in form for users to contact you. In the message it sends to you it gives the page the user visited before the contact page, as well as the original outside referrer. It can be implemented on a page or a post. After activation of the plug, just go to Settings in your controlpanel and then to the enhanced wp contactform in order to configure your preference (like where you want the email to be sent to), once done, all you need to do is set up a new page and add the following code to the html wherever you want the contactform to appear:
- Subscribe To Comments By Mark Jaquith
This plugin allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry, making it easier to keep track of certain comments and dialogues.
Last but not least, there is a neat plugin that can really help visitors stay on your blog and if that is what you are after, have them stay rather than click out on an affiliate offer, you could check out a plugin called NRelate. You can easily upload it through the WP admin panel and install it straight away. What this plugin does is that it will show picture thumbs of related posts at the end of your post, giving a nice visual of more articles that might be interesting to read for your visitor. I used to use a service called linkwithin but the problem with their service, is that you have to sign up every blog you want to use this feature on, separate. Another problem I found was that they put a link on your site for using their feature.
While I can fully understand that their service is free and that that is their way to "get something back", I do not like the fact that I am having to put up links that have absolutely no relevance to my topic. NRelate however, gives you the option to sponsor their plugin if you so choose to do, without any obligation on their end, and I believe they are really on to something.
I have to admit though, I did have a small problem with the pictures not showing up correctly in the beginning, but after contacting their support, and getting word back the same day (!), all was sorted out. Now that is what I call great support, and without paying for it either.
This plugin really does add a personal touch but at the same time gives your blog a more professional touch as well. If that is not enough, they offer the option to earn money from your blog by adding publicity through the plugin, so that related posts also contain sponsored ads, but I have not tried out that feature and for the moment I am not sure I will.
So there you have it, a small list with useful plugins to spice up your Wordpress blog and make it more user friendly for your visitors!