In Dallas, August 29, 2010, at OpenCamp I presented “Mind Blowing WordPress Plugins.” Here are the WordPress Plugins and more features during my presentation.
Let me first define what my qualifications for a “mind blowing WordPress Plugin” were, as I had to sift through thousands of Plugins and then filter down to include the following in my 50 minute presentation.
To me, a mind blowing WordPress Plugin is one that breaks the rules. It is unique and original in its implementation, and pushes WordPress. It might not be a Plugin that everyone must have on their site. It might not be a Plugin that even interests you. What these will do is to get you to look at the incredible diversity of Plugins available. If you are a Plugin author, hopefully these will light up your imagination as to the possible, building upon these and incorporating their originality into your Plugins.
I’d love to know if you’ve found a WordPress Plugin that really and truly blows your mind, pushing the capability of WordPress beyond “just a blog” or simple website. Almost all Plugins push WordPress, but I adore the ones that really shove it around.
As of the day I gave my presentation, there were 11,040 WordPress Plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory. That’s not counting all the WordPress Plugins not in the Directory.
In fact, our blogs are built on WordPress Plugins. Even here on WordPress.com, Plugins fire up a lot of the features we use, even if we can’t add Plugins ourself.
In the beginning of 2006, I spent an entire month writing about almost nothing but WordPress Plugins in a A Month of WordPress Plugins, showcasing over two hundred WordPress Plugins. Introducing it, I spent months crawling the web to gather your Lists of Your Favorite WordPress Plugins and compiled the results of your lists into What Are Your Favorite WordPress Plugins? I reviewed the list to see which Plugins were still active with continued support and interest and was surprised to find most of them still rocking, and some even incorporated into the core.
The cumulative list included:
- WordPress Database Backup
- Ultimate Tag Warrior WordPress Plugin is now deprecated as tags are in the core.
- Popularity Contest
- WP-Cache – Today: W3 Total Cache WordPress Plugin or WP Super Cache WordPress Plugin
- PodPress WordPress Plugin updated to work with WordPress 3.0 by Tim Berger
- Google Sitemap Generators: XML Sitemap WordPress Plugins from the WordPress Plugin Directory
- Ryan Duff’s Contact Form WordPress Plugin – Today Contact Form 7 WordPress Plugin or Fast Secure Contact Form WordPress Plugin
- Adhesive WordPress Plugin (replaced by Sticky Posts feature in the WordPress Core)
- Subscribe to Comments
- Bad Behavior and Spam Karma 2
- Global Translator WordPress Plugin by Nothing2Hide
- Customizable Post Listings WordPress Plugin
- Customizable Comment Listings WordPress Plugin
Development of WordPress is a crowd sourced project. Visit WordPress Ideas to have your say and rate the Plugins you use in the WordPress Plugin Directory and comment to let the authors and WordPress know which ones your blog is dependent upon.
WordPressers Just Wanna Have Fun – Fun WordPress Plugins
- War Room Poker – WRP-Cards enables the ability to add playing cards in your blog’s content.
- guff: CSS Naked Day is in April each year and temporarily removes the stylesheet and styles to your site, celebrating and honoring web designers. Where would we be without their colorful and artistic presence on our sites? So we pay tribute one day a year by going naked – on our sites.
- US Department of Homeland Insecurity Idiocy Level for WordPress features the popular Firefox Extension’s status of the US government’s idiocy level on your blog.
- Suicide Squirrel Threat Advisory System takes the idiocy level a step further with duct tape preparedness reports (and when to protect your nuts).
- Pirate Day WordPress Plugin or Text Filter Suite is September 19, 2010, this year, an annual “talk like a pirate” day. It automatically converts what you write normally on your blog into “pirate talk.” Dougal Campbell also offers a Fun Filters hack which you can modify to filter posts and comments to translate into Pig Latin, Elmer Fudd, or any other silly speaking stuff.
- Related Ways to Take Action WordPress Plugin is a social Plugin to support non-profits.
- My Worst Posts WordPress Plugin shows the least popular and least commented posts on your blog.
- Mood Personalizer WordPress Plugin adds a mood icon to your blog.
- Women Quotes WordPress Plugin displays random quotes about women talking about being a woman.
- Men Quotes On Women WordPress Plugin displays random quotes about men with quotes on women.
One of my favorites for being an unusual WordPress Plugin is Next Of Kin. The author sums it up as:
This plugin is useful for those that want their blog to out-live them, and serve as an online memorial. Even without use of this plugin, all are recommended to make sure someone can handle their website in case of emergency.
Tags: afterlife, death, will
If you don’t log into your blog within, say, 3 days, it will send you an email to remind you. If another two days passes without a login, it will send a note to you and to another person or two to let them know you are ignoring your blog. Another couple days and they send out a note saying something you write like “please stop by my apartment and sniff the door for an ominous smell.”
Liz Comment Counter by Ozh WordPress Plugin is one of the few Plugins attributed to a person. I’ve written extensively about it, including the initial announcement in “My Comment Count is Bigger Than Your Comment Count!.” The Plugin puts a chicklet on your sidebar that tracks the number of comments on your blog. Liz Strauss is renown for Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference (SOBCon), which will be outside of Chicago for the first time in Colorado, September 17-18, 2010.
Business WordPress Plugins
- The Donations Cloud features your donors in your sidebar in a donor cloud.
- WP Greet Box WordPress Plugin permits different visitor “welcomes” and greetings dependent upon their referrer URL.
- The Events Calendar WordPress Plugin for adding events to your blog with maps and calendar.
- MapWork WordPress Plugin by Jillian Ada Burrows incorporates Google Maps into your blog with a shortcode and custom text and logos/picture with street view featuring artwork.
- Business Directory WordPress Plugin allows you to host a free directory page for readers, advertisers, community, staff, members, etc. Includes ability for members to promote themselves on the directory in an “ad.”
- RoloPress is a contact organizer for tracking contact and companies contact information, social networks, websites, and more.
- Edit Flow WordPress Plugin is designed to manage multi-user newsroom’s editorial work flow including pitches, monitoring, tracking, and assigning.
- WP-Invoice sends web invoices and bill clients online through the WordPress Administration Panels.
- Woopra real-time web analytics brings real-time interface to Administration Panels.
WordPress Administration Panels: The Backend
- Feed Pauser WordPress Plugin delays release of post to feeds by a customizable time.
- UPM HTML Tag Manager WordPress Plugin is the kses.php fixes. It allows you to control which HTML is allowed on posts, comments, and Pages.
- WP-phpMyAdmin brings the phpMyAdmin to the Administration Panels.
- My FTP WordPress Plugin brings an FTP client to the WordPress Administration Panels.
WordPress Blog Network WordPress Plugins
- New Blog Defaults WordPress Plugin for launching “similar” sites on your blog network. You can set all the setup details, categories, about page text, subtitle, and name for uncategorized category and more.
- Viper’s Video Quicktags WordPress Plugin adds buttons to the Write/Edit Post panel for YouTube and most common video and multimedia embeds and links.
- BuddyPress adds a social layer to your WordPress blog.
Content WordPress Plugins
- WP Content Filter WordPress Plugin filters out the “inappropriate” words in content and comments with asterisks. It’s f**king awesome.
- Dave’s Whizmatronic Widgulating Calibrational Scribometer adds a project monitor graphic to your sidebar to let your readers know how far whatever is along in the process.
- Insights WordPress Plugin by Vladimir Prelovac increases productivity by adding to the Administration Panels the ability to search your own blog for posts and link to the current post, insert multimedia from YouTube, Flickr, etc., search and find links in Wikipedia, Google, and other resources to include in your post, insert a Google Map and much more.
- Photo Dropper WordPress Plugin searches for public domain, free-to-use images from within the Edit/Write panel, you select from 3 sizes, and it adds the image into the post with the proper citation.
User Generated Content
- FV Community News WordPress Plugin allows visitors to submit links to “Community News” for moderation and inclusion in a sidebar listing.
- TDO Mini Forms WordPress Plugin adds customizable forms for content submission to your site.
- Facethumb WordPress Plugin allows visitor to take snapshots with a webcam and display the image on your sidebar. Visitor can add their name and a URL which will link to the picture, and a automatic gallery is created of user submitted images.
- Dropbox Upload Form is one among several uploading services with a WordPress Plugin for registered members to upload images to those services from within the Administration Panels.
- WordPress Download Monitor WordPress Plugin is a download monitoring panel for the Administration Panels. Unfortunately, it includes ads on the panels for the free version.
WordPress Theme and Design WordPress Plugins
- Maintenance Mode WordPress Plugin adds a splash page to let the world know your site is temporarily down. It’s one of the few that adds a “back in X minutes” feature to let the world know you’re on this and will come back very soon.
- Comic Blog Designs with Plugins: Webcomic WordPress Plugin, ComicPress Manager WordPress Plugin, and Manga+Press Comic Manager WordPress Plugin.
- Liturgical Year Themes WordPress Plugin, designed for churches, it changes the WordPress Theme design based upon the liturgical date or season. Think of the possibilities to add features and design elements based upon seasons and specific dates!
- Theme Test Drive WordPress Plugin or Theme Tester WordPress Plugin allows you to “test drive” a WordPress Theme to be viewed by your team or clients live without impacting the old view for your visitors. Great way to test a site live.
- Art Direction WordPress Plugin allows for easy global archives and single per-post styles and scripts to style individual posts on your site in a “new age art direction.”
- WordPress.com Custom CSS stores the CSS code in wp_posts using a custom post_type of custom CSS, allowing use of the built-in revision engine. The CSS is filtered through CSS Tidy and KSES for security.
- Cross-theme Stylesheets WordPress Plugin adds the same stylesheet to ALL Themes in your Theme folder, allowing for overriding similar styles across all the Themes.
CMS Your Mess with WordPress Plugins
Customizable Post Listings WordPress Plugin is the “kitchen sink” of WordPress Plugins allowing you to bring content, comments, and other content to your sidebar, header, footer, and content area in an infinitely customizable way with percentage tags (shortcodes) for the template files in your WordPress Theme or through widgets. For more information, see my basic tutorial on an older version of the Plugin.
- WP Post Type UI WordPress Plugin creates a user interface for managing your Custom Post (Page) Types.
- GD Custom Posts And Taxonomies Tools WordPress Plugin helps to manage your post and Page Taxonomies from the Administration Panels.
- Post Type Switcher WordPress Plugin permits switching posts to Pages and Pages to posts, etc.
- Listing Posts Type WordPress Plugin displays the Custom Post Types in the sidebar with a function or Widget.
- More Types WordPress Plugin gives you the ability to add more Custom Post Types to your WordPress blog easily.
- Multiple Post Thumbnails WordPress Plugin helps you add more than one post thumbnail to each post for display on the multi-post pageviews.
- More Fields WordPress Plugin helps you use custom fields to add input fields to your Write/Edit Administration Panels for customizing the content on your site posts and Pages.
- More Taxonomies WordPress Plugin helps add new taxonomies to your WordPress site with an easy-to-use interface.
- Snazzy Archives is the site map archive page on steroids. Several different ways to display your content in a highly graphical, mostly flash and HTML 5/CSS 3, interface.
Rule Breakers and Blog Changers
The following are examples of WordPress Plugins truly breaking the rules and changing how we blog as well as how we create WordPress Plugins.
M Realty in Portland, Oregon, is developing the tentatively named “Octopus WordPress Plugin.” It is a brand new, radical way to view your post content by geo-location, on a local or global scale.
An example is found at Portland Oregon Neighborhood Map Search on a multi-user WordPress version. Zoom in on the map to see map icons featuring MLS listings as well as blog post content set by geo-location on the map and styled by category. Hover over the knife and fork icon and a balloon will popup showcasing a blog post review of a restaurant. Hover over a school icon and get a post about the nearby school description and activities. Click on it to get the post to appear in the left sidebar. Click on the post in the sidebar to go directly to the agent’s blog post. Map icons can be filtered to only show the specific things you are looking for on the map.
The Officers Directory WordPress Plugin by Douglas Bell creates a simple but powerful way of displaying your “officers,” authors, contributors, members…in an easy to update and use Administration Panel and embedded into your post with a simple shortcode. Each position includes a contact form with an obfuscated email to send directly to the person or department the visitor needs to contact. Open positions can be marked as such, letting the association or company know that this position is vacant.
What makes this Plugin special is that it is one of the early adopters of the new Contextual Help Menus in WordPress. Click on the HELP link at the top of the Plugin Panel’s screen to get a drop down, inline help tips and advice for using the Plugin. Douglas wrote up instructions so all Plugin Authors can use this in Adding Contextual Help to Administration Menus on the WordPress Codex.
For WordPress Authors or Blog Administrators or webmasters, think of the possibilities. You can put to do lists, help, tips, advice, and even encouragement easily into the Administration Panels through a simple “help” page. A great way of integrating customer support right into WordPress.
Talking Plugins To Plugin Authors
A why ago I wrote a Love Letter to WordPress Plugin Authors to help them understand how we, those who worship the ground they float over, need to interact with us so we can find and use their amazing WordPress Plugins. It’s still valid.
I also recommend a review of Joost de Valk’s article, Lessons Learned From Maintaining a WordPress Plug-In on Smashing Magazine, as it has some great tips for WordPress Plugin Authors, though the first tip is that a WordPress Plugin is spelled Plugin not plug-in, which is something you stick into the wall to get electricity to your iPhone. :D
Here are some more tips:
How NOT to Describe a WordPress Plugin
This is the description of a Plugin that perfectly makes my point on how NOT to describe a WordPress Plugin to the world. (Note: This is not to pick on the author, for whom English is not his native language, but to provide a good living example.)
A New Plugin For Your New WordPress 3.0
The latest WordPress version was launched. Yes, WordPress 3.0 was already available and ready to
optimize for our blog. Indeed, WordPress is always the best blogging platform for me and I believe for many other blogger. However, as in title, I will introduce you with a great WordPress plugin which I believe perfectly match with WordPress 3.0. It can be said as a new plugin for a new WordPress blog.
After crawling through a lot of useless information, this is my version of the summary of the WordPress Plugin:
Best Blogroll WordPress Plugin
Allows customization of the blogroll or sidebar links for dofollow or nofollow.
Now, I do not recommend this Plugin as nofollow and dofollow don’t work and are games best left unplayed, but now you do know what the Plugin does, with clear, findable words.
Unleashing Your WordPress Plugin Into the Wild
- Test in variety of environments and not too early.
- TEST TEST TEST TEST TEST.
- Prepare for feedback
- Your site
- WordPress Plugin Directory
- WordPress Support Forums
- Google Search
- Be ready to update for fixes immediately.
- Make it brain-dead stupid to use.
- Add version numbers EVERYWHERE including database option arrays.
- Ask users the version number.
- URL Bugs: Embrace https, subdomains, subwebs.
- Never assume.
- Listen, Listen, Listen, LISTEN DAMN IT!
Where to find more WordPress Plugin JOY!
- Weblog Tools Collection
- WordCast Plugin Picks Podcast
- The WordPress Plugins Podcast with Angelo Mandato
- WordPress Tavern
- Google Code
Hug a WordPress Plugin Author
Our WordPress sites are built on the foundations of WordPress Plugins. Many won’t upgrade their site for fear of losing access to these Plugins or having the upgrade break the Plugins. Since we depend upon them so much, how about giving back a little.
- Write about your favorite WordPress Plugin(s).
- Tweet out your favorite WordPress Plugin(s).
- Follow and chat up your favorite Plugin authors, even if it is to say thanks.
- Interview a Plugin Author on your site, podcast, or video show.
- Buy them a beer, if that’s all you can afford via the donation links on many WordPress Plugin Directory pages or their sites.
- Buy them dinner. Imagine you are taking them out to a decent restaurant and spoiling them with a steak or seafood dinner. What a great way of saying thank you for their generosity on your site.
- Give a percentage of your income. Even if it’s a little, look at your income and donate a slight percentage of it to them – you know you couldn’t do what you do without them, so share a little wealth.
Without our support, those who give so much of their love for WordPress and code and keep our blogs running wouldn’t continue supporting their Plugins. Give as much or little as you can, but give something back. They deserve it.