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15 Essential WordPress Plugins for Aspiring Designers

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If you want to show off your web design credentials to the world, then WordPress is the perfect blogging platform to use: it’s simple, accessible and highly customisable. Nevertheless, you’re not going to be able to create a professional standard WordPress blog with great work and creativity alone, you’re also going to need some rather nifty plugins.

There are literally thousands of plugins currently available and, believe me, sifting through them can be an arduous task: some are absolutely brilliant, but many more are mediocre or totally pointless. The 15 superior plugins outlined below are all perfectly suited to the aspiring web designer looking to show off their wares. They’ll boost levels of traffic to your site, integrate your blog with Facebook, increase your productivity and make for a more interactive and interesting visitor experience.

WP Greet Box

Download WordPress plugin

You can greatly increase the readership of your blog with this ingenious plugin that provides visitors to your site with a tailored welcome message. New visitors can be invited to subscribe to your RSS feed, Digg your posts, or follow you on Twitter, depending on how they have clicked onto your site. Smashing Magazine, a site devoted to web design, has used this plugin, so you know it’s good!

NextGEN Gallery

Download WordPress plugin

NextGen is fast becoming the industry standard for displaying images on a WordPress blog. It’s simple and in many ways unexciting, but looks extremely professional. It comes with a Flash slideshow and a straightforward back-end, making image management that little bit easier.

FlippingBook

Download WordPress plugin

If NextGen occupies the more basic end of the image plugin spectrum, then FlippingBook occupies the more creative. You can use this plugin to organise images into individual interactive albums, which can be flicked through just like a book.

WP Super Cache

Download WordPress plugin

WP Super Cache protects your site against the huge spikes in traffic that can result from a front-page appearance on Digg for example, or promotion on a social networking site. It does so by generating static HTML files from your blog, which are then served to the vast majority of your visitors.

Facebook Connect

Download WordPress plugin

This much-needed plugin helps to promote your design work by integrating WordPress and your Facebook page. You can login to your WordPress blog using your Facebook account, invite Facebook friends to visit your blog and send blog comments to your Facebook profile feed.

Ultimate Google Analytics

Download WordPress plugin

With Ultimate Google Analytics, you can keep tabs on how many people are visiting your site by date and location, and which of your pages or posts are the most popular. You can also track all outgoing links from anywhere on your blog, which is particularly useful if you’re hosting adverts for which you get paid per page viewing.

Global Translator

Download WordPress plugin

You’ll be able to promote your web design to new and diverse global markets with this fantastic plugin. It instantly translates your blog into 41 languages, including Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and even Maltese.

Post Ideas

Download WordPress plugin

Got a great idea for a post, but no time to publish it? Like an online notebook, this plugin lets you record ideas for future posts in WordPress. This way, ideas will never be lost or forgotten and you can save paper in the process!

Sliding Panel

Download WordPress plugin

If you’ve got a large client list and endless examples of previous work, then you might struggle to upload everything you want to your blog without it getting cluttered and confusing. This space-saving plugin adds a panel to the top of your blog which opens and closes to hide (or expose) content.

WP Wall

Download WordPress plugin

Following in Facebook’s footsteps, this plugin adds a “wall” to the sidebar of your blog onto which visitors can quickly add comments about posts or your blog in general. The comments are internally handled by WordPress so that you can moderate their content.

Insights

Download WordPress plugin

Insights is a great tool for inserting images, videos, maps and so much more into your posts. Simply enter a keyword and choose from the Flickr images, Youtube videos, Wikipedia links and Google Maps that appear below.

Different Posts Per Page

Download WordPress plugin

Rather than sticking with the normal 10 posts per page, this customisable plugin lets you change and manage the number of posts displayed on your home, category, archive or search page, helping your site stand out from the masses of WordPress blogs out there.

Page Link Manager

Download WordPress plugin

This easy-to-use plugin adds an administration panel to your dashboard, allowing you to choose which links are included in your blog’s navigation. Link to the posts that you are most proud of and best exemplify your design style.

Pretty Link

Download WordPress plugin

With this seriously cool tool, you can shrink and personalise all the links to external sites that you provide on your blog. Unlike Tinyurl and other URL shrinking services, Pretty Link shortens links using your own domain name, and tracks them too.

About Me Widget

Download WordPress plugin

An “About Me” sidebar is a great means of communicating brand identity to potential clients and other visitors. Of course, it’s already possible to create such a sidebar in WordPress, but this widget really simplifies the process, solving all alignment and formatting issues.

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Written by Tom Walker

Tom designs and writes for a supplier of genuine Epson ink, toner and printing accessories. You can read more of his writing on the arts and print design on their blog.

53 Comments

  1. Dzinepress says:

    really needed for blogger.

  2. Luis Lopez says:

    I would like to have the greeting box but i can make it work, in my site i don’t know why.

    I think you forgot the community news plugin, is really popular lately.

  3. Jim Atwood says:

    Wow! Great info here. I like these lists because I always seem to find a new gem of a plugin to use. Thank you!

  4. Q Ball says:

    I use about 50% of these plugins. I really love Greet Box, Global Translator, and Insights the most. It makes life easier to emphasize on subscribing; appealing to the international community, and post references.

  5. Cam says:

    the global translator is great! about to do a blog that needs to be readable in Japanese as well as English

  6. Tim Wright says:

    Nice round up, thanks Tom

  7. Aleksandra says:

    Wow – those are really cool. Thanks for posting.

  8. This is an amazing list, all of these really are useful plug-ins. Trying to dig through WordPress’ database of plug-ins can get very tiresome, so seeing a nice list like this makes it that much easier to pick out the right ones to use.

  9. Alex says:

    Great info here. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely use Global Translator!

  10. Henry says:

    Love it! I’m going to give WP Greet Box a chance.

  11. Neil Brown says:

    Great list! Lots of ones I haven’t seen before that I will certainly check out.

  12. Now this was different.

    Opinion matters when it comes to blogging and the important widgets and plugins you should use. I learnt about some newer plugins i am not using yet.

    Guess thats about to change. I appreciate you sharing this and i think I am going to tweet this its that good.

    Thanks.

    Kevin

  13. Alex says:

    Wow. This is fantastic. Really appreciate you putting this together. Will some time and money and on having someone code some of this stuff for me.

  14. Nardyello says:

    Wow. Talk about awesome! Fantastic list. Wasn’t aware of many of these. Thank you for sharing! :D

  15. Cody says:

    Ultimate Google Analytics hasn’t been updated since Feb. 2008, does it even work with WP 2.8?

  16. Phil says:

    Interesting line up. I’ll be sure to check some of them out but you should be very very wary of machine translation plugins. I’ve never used Global Translator but I’ve seen enough machine translation softwares to know that if you can’t actually check what they have translated for you then you shouldn’t be using them. Regular translation softwares can be “taught” and then used to speed up repetitive translations but they turn naturally written sentences into something funky almost every time. That’s funky as in bad not as in the grandfather of soul, in case you were wondering.

  17. David Cooper says:

    I will check some of them it’s look awesome and different.

  18. Neri says:

    very good job of collecting!

  19. Awesome collection. Thanks for sharing. I’ll check a few out now…

  20. Tim Piele says:

    WP Greet Box is awesome. We use that on almost every WP site we design. There are also some killer Flickr plugins out there which make it easy for authors to post images in post and/or galleries.

  21. Great theme. I liked it very much.

    Thanks for it.

  22. Interesting list to build up a high standard blog/site. Cheers for some of the discoveries.

  23. Nemesh says:

    Great article. As a web developer, I always encounter a situation where my clients want to accept appointments on their blogs and found this great plugin which not only allows you to manage but also market your services. My clients are loving it. Its a great plugin.

    See one of our clients site here with this plugin:
    http://punkyink.com/book-an-appointment/

    You can get this plugin from here:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/appointy-appointment-scheduler/

    I hope it would help few of your clients.

    Cheers!

  24. Michel says:

    Thanks, this is a great list of original and useful plugins! I found some that are perfect for my next project.

    High quality article.

  25. Bogdan Pop says:

    Post Ideas plugin? Seriously, isn’t it easier to just get into WP, input your idea in the title are of Quick Posts form and hit save draft?

  26. Promotional says:

    I hope these plugins can be used on my promotional products web site. Thanks!

  27. No one can beat their price.

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