Last night WP Beginner sent out a Tweet asking how many plugins people used on their sites. This is one of my favorite questions, simply because I always love to see the response people send back. As I’ve mentioned quite a few times, I’m an avid opponent to the idea that a lot of plugins inherently cause problems.
How many plugins do I run? Currently there are 48 active plugins on this site. The number has stayed pretty consistent for the last year with just a few changes here and there.
After WP Beginner sent out their Tweet, Will Schmierer asked me, jokingly, how many of the 49 (I was wrong in my answer as only 48 were active) were plugins that I had written:
Though Will was mostly joking when he asked he that, he does bring up a good point: as someone will only writes plugins (I dabble in themes occasionally), how many of the 48 active plugins did I write? The answer is 17.
Will went on to say this:
That’s what brings me to this post now. Since I write about plugins a lot, and I advocate quality over numbers, I do feel that I should share my list of active plugins. I will be up front and say that there are at least three plugins active on my site that I don’t actually use, they’re just activated for demonstration purposes. I use this anytime I need to upload a large video file for member-only tutorials.
1. Add From Server
If you have ever tried to upload a large file to the media library, you will know that WordPress typically doesn’t allow larger than 32 – 64MB files. Add From Server lets you upload files via FTP and then import them (after they’re uploaded) into your Media Library.
This plugin needs no introduction and helps fight spam.
3. Audio Player
A great plugin for podcasters; it allows you to embed audio files directly onto your site. I use it primarily for my Plugin Thoughts podcast, for the times that I do audio only.
Every site, without exception, should have a backup system, whether it’s through the hosting company, a cron job, or a plugin. BackupBuddy is by far the single greatest WordPress backup system I have ever used. It does automated / scheduled backups, creates easy restore points, and lets me easily migrate the site to a new host anytime I want (if needed).
5. Better Delete Revision
When you write a lot of content, post revisions (the automatic version control system built into WordPress) quickly stack up and increase the size of your database. This little plugin helps keep your database small(er) by automatically removing revisions after a certain point and limiting the total number of revisions that are kept in storage.
This is one of my own plugins that I use for showing recent tutorials, plugins, and other posts in widget areas on the site. It greatly expands on the default Recent Posts widget by adding support for custom post types, taxonomies, thumbnails, and a myriad of other options.
Another of my plugins, this is a simple widget for showing related posts/pages to the currently viewed item. It includes support for showing related items from specific taxonomies and everything is cached to better performance.
A great plugin from Justin Tadlock for improving the standard WordPress gallery output. It also adds support for opening gallery images in a variety of different lightbox-type effects.
More than anything, I just really like this plugin. It lets you color code posts in the dashboard list tables based on their status. All posts that currently saved as drafts, for example, on this site show up with a subtle yellow background in the admin. This makes it really easy to identify work-in-progress posts. You can set a color for every status.
This is a simple plugin I wrote to add comment status options as sub menu items to the dashboard Comments menu. It provides quick navigational access to your approved comments, pending comments, spam comments, and trashed comments.
11. Configure SMTP
The WordPress mail system fails a lot, usually (I think) due to hosting configurations or limitations. Configure SMTP is a simple plugin that reroutes all out going email from your site to an SMTP server, such as Gmail, providing a much more reliable email system.
12. Custom Functions
This is a custom plugin that is specific to this site. I use it for adding bits and pieces of functionality throughout the site. I will usually add things here that don’t necessarily warrant their own plugin, or ones I just didn’t feel like writing into a separate plugin. Some examples of functionality I have in here include:
- Adding some custom post types to blog archives
- Setting up a simple short code to perform custom queries
- Creating the notice system that I use for advertising discount codes and other items (similar to Simple Notices Pro)
A sweet little plugin for tracking searches performed on your site. It records each search and allows you to see which keywords are most often searched for.
This is a real gem of a plugin that improves the default dashboard comments widget by adding in the option to expand a comment and view the entire content of a comment. By default only comment excerpts are shown.
Another plugin that I wrote that allows you to display the avatars for all users that have contributed to a Github project.
16. Gravity Forms
Contact forms on steroids, Gravity Forms is by far one of the most robust form-creation plugins available. I use it for all contact forms, donation forms, polls, and more.
The Mail Chimp add-on for Gravity Forms powers my newsletter signup that you can see in the footer of the site.
The PayPal add-on for Gravity Forms powers my Support the Site page where I accept donations to help improve the site.
There are a lot of pieces to the Jetpack plugin, but I use it primarily for visitor stats tracking. The subscribe to comments / blog is also a great module in the plugin.
One of the first plugins I wrote when I started the site, this is a simple contact form. It remains active only for demonstrative purposes. Note, this plugin is not up to par with WordPress standards and should probably be removed.
21. Love It Pro
Another plugin that I wrote, Love It Pro is what powers the “Love It” system you can see at the top right of all posts on the site.
22. Meta Box
This is a utility plugin that simply provides a class for creating meta boxes on posts, pages and custom post types. I tie into this plugin from my custom functions to create some meta boxes that are used to add some standard information, such as premium videos, to posts.
A really sweet little plugin, this lets you create a tag map that shows all tags on your site sorted alphabetically. You can see this in action by going to the Tag Index page.
This is the ajaxed login form that you see in my sidebar. The version running on this site has been modified a bit to add in the “My Account” link and the bookmarks, and the original version also includes a simple registration form.
25. Post Series
A really slick little plugin for create series of posts. This is what I use for creating my tutorial series.
I use this plugin for redirecting old or broken URLs to other pages. One case where this is really useful is for tutorials/plugins that I moved from my old site, Pippin’s Pages and the post slug is no longer the same.
This is one of the very rare plugins that I will actually say is just about a must-have for every single site. The only WordPress site that doesn’t need this (at least one) is a site that doesn’t use a single image. Anytime you adjust your image sizes, or your theme does it during an update, this plugin will allow you to recreate thumbnails for every image in your media library.
Another of my plugins, Restrict Content Pro powers the membership system on the site. The plugin includes support for creating subscription levels, managing users, creating discount codes, and more.
29. Restrict Content Pro – Age Restriction
This is an add-on for Restrict Content Pro that adds a checkbox to the registration form asking the user to verify they are at least 13 years of age or older. I wrote this plugin specifically for CG Cookie.com and myself and it has not been officially release.
Another add-on for Restrict Content Pro, this plugin adds a Graphs page to the Restrict Content Pro menu in your Dashboard and shows graphs of your monthly earnings, members per subscription level, signups per day, and earnings per day.
Yet another add-on for Restrict Content Pro, this one adds a checkbox to the registration form that allows members to opt into signing up for my email newsletter, which I send via Mail Chimp.
And one more add-on for Restrict Content Pro, this plugin adds a simple math problem to the registration form that users must complete correctly before they will be allowed to signup. This helps tremendously in spam prevention.
I really don’t like captchas, but this one adds a captcha to the default WordPress registration form, which keeps the bot registrations at bay. This plugin can also add captchas to the login and comment forms, if that is something you need.
34. Social Box
This is a simple plugin for letting people like, follow, or fan you on any of your social network profiles via a widget. You can see this running (a slightly modified version) in my sidebar.
35. Social Metrics
In an admin page, this plugin will show you the social stats for every post on your site. In a list on one page, I can easily see exactly how many times a post has been tweeted, liked on Facebook, and shared on Google+. I can also post any post to any of my three primary networks from that page.
On occasion I will write a review of another developer’s plugin; this is the plugin that I use for showing the number of stars I have rating the plugin I am reviewing at the bottom of the post. It’s very simple and really lightweight.
This is the predecessor to Easy Digital Downloads and is the plugin I use for selling plugins directly through my site.
At some point I will replace this Easy Digital Downloads, but I haven’t gotten around to it. Update: Easy Digital Downloads now powers the plugin store.
38. Sugar FAQs
An FAQ plugin I wrote for showing your frequently asked questions in a nice accordion style. This plugin is only active for demonstrative purposes.
Another plugin that I wrote for creating and displaying modal windows throughout your site. This plugin is also active only for demonstrative purposes.
This takes the default tag cloud widget and expands on it. You can see it active in the footer of this site.
41. User Bookmarks
A plugin that I originally wrote for CG Cookie, INC., this plugin allows your logged-in users to bookmark their favorite posts and pages on your site. This is the same plugin I use for my bookmarks system here on this site.
42. User Switching
Another of the very rare “essential” plugins (in my mind), this plugin is absolutely a must have for anyone that runs a membership site. It allows you to easily “switch” to any other user on your site, meaning that you essentially log into their account and see the site exactly as they would. It’s a phenomenal tool for testing membership areas.
43. W3 Total Cache
There are several highly recommend caching plugins out there, but this is the one I prefer and recommend. I do not have any specific reasons for saying this one is better than the others, except for that I’m used to it and it works very well for me. One of the things I really like about it is the easy integration with CDNs for hosting media files for improved performance.
44. Widget Logic
This is one of the plugins that is just sheer genius. It allows you to conditionally apply widgets to certain areas of your site, but without requiring a dozen or more different widget areas. Using simple conditional tags, you can easily limit a widget to only pages, only categories, or even specific pages or categories. Any conditional tag available to WordPress can be used.
This plugin lets you easily add download files to your site and then track who downloads them and how many times each one is downloaded. I use it for the free downloads I often attach to tutorials.
46. WordPress HTTPS
If you use HTTPS on your site, but only conditionally on a few pages, then you should absolutely be using this plugin. It helps validate SSL certificates by getting rid of the nasty “there are unsecure elements on this page” warning. It allows you to enable HTTPS on a page-by-page basis.
47. WordPress SEO
Another plugin that needs no introduction. Yoast SEO is one of the best things you can do for your site in terms of search engine optimization, coming just after writing good content.
As someone who uses a lot of code in my posts, WP-Syntax is one of my best friends by providing me a simple way to embed code into a WordPress post or page. It takes care of escaping all special characters as well, so all I have to do is paste it from my editor.
Alright, I’ve shared the plugin I use day to day on this site, now it’s your turn.