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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 customizable. 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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
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
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.
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.
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.