When I have some time to spare between work and running around Europe, I like to work on minor improvements to my blog such as my blog design, blog SEO and blog plugins. Most of the things I change are either tiny cosmetic updates or back end and not things that I would expect my readers to notice. The elements I most enjoy updating, however, are my blog plugins. A plugin is a bit of code that you can upload to a blog in order to add additional features. For readers who have been around for a while, they might remember the “send me a text message” tool in the sidebar (which I had to remove due to spam messages) – that was a plugin. Other plugins can add photo galleries, allow readers to rate and vote on their favourite posts, generate random quotes or make sure your post’s title is search engine optimisied. There are literally thousands of fun little widgets and tools and add ons that other coders have created for bloggers like me to use.
What impresses me most is the variety of options and the people who take the time to make them. While in many cases, bloggers with a solid technical background create plugins to solve problems that they have encountered and then share them with the blogger community, in other cases, people just enjoy making the plugins for others. I’ve even paid for a plugin when it solved a very tricky problem that I had no other way to work around.
If you have a WordPress blog, take a look at some of these directories of great plugins below.
The Official WordPress Plugin Directory
It’s easy to get carried away with plugins on a blog – and there are some pretty ridiculous plugin options as well. The best way to ensure that your blog doesn’t become over run is to think of what you like to see on other blogs. Is it important to you to see random quotes of the day elsewhere on the net? If so, go for it. If not, maybe give that plugin a skip. Also think about what your blog is trying to convey. If you’re aiming to be the next Mashable-style tech blog, then having a rotating picture of a lolcat on your sidebar might not be the best option, no matter how much it makes you laugh. Sometimes the best plugins of all are the ones that no one necessarily sees but that add great value to your blog overall.
What are your favourite plugins? What frustrates you about your blog that you have been looking for a plugin to fix?