150x150-wordpress-logoWordPress is a content management system (CMS) that was originally used for blogging. Today WordPress is also commonly used for new website design and development.

Programmers and designers like working with WordPress because it gives them a programming framework that is flexible and easy to work with. A good designer/programmer can pretty much do ANYTHING with WordPress.

Business owners like it because it allows them to have more control over their website. They can easily add new content, edit existing content, add pictures and do even more if they are technically oriented and comfortable working behind the scenes.

One of my favorite things about WordPress is the ability to use what are known as “plug-ins.” These small programs can be added to WordPress to deliver additional functionality. They are called “plug-ins” because they are not part of the core WordPress application and are added after the initial installation – they are “plugged-in.”

Most plug-ins are not created by WordPress nor do they “endorse” them. Plug-ins are usually created by others who are not directly associated with WordPress. They might be individuals or they might be companies. And while many plug-ins are free, some authors charge a fee. These paid-for plug-ins are often referred to as “premium plugins.”

The best place to find a plug-in with the features and functionality you are looking for is the WordPress plugin directory: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/

Whatever the case, free or paid, plug-ins give you more functionality that allows you to make your WordPress site even better!

But there are a few things you should know about WordPress plug-ins before you venture off and start downloading and using them.

Not all plug-ins are compatible with the current version of WordPress. This means they may not work like they should, they may not work at all, and they might even corrupt your WordPress site.

The creators of plug-ins are not certified or otherwise “approved” by WordPress. I’ve installed plug-ins that didn’t work, one even corrupted my entire site! This doesn’t happen often, but it can happen. Carefully choose the plug-ins you are thinking about using and check the compatibility and reviews before you install one.

I generally do NOT use NEW plug-ins (a plug-in that is less than three months old) or a plug-in with only one or two reviews. I find it best to wait until a plug-in has been tested and reviewed by others before installing it at my site.

Use plug-ins sparingly and for a REAL purpose, not just because it looks “cool.” Plug-ins add “overhead” to your WordPress site and can lead to performance problems that make it slow or adversely impact other functionality.

Plug-ins may have limited or no support from the author/creator or the WordPress support community.

My Favorite Plug-ins

Get your picture to show up next to your links in a search engine results page at Google. Requires a little more technical skill than most plug-ins, as well as a Google+ personal page.

Maintenance Mode
Adds a splash page to your site that lets visitors know your site is down for maintenance. Full access to the back- & front-end is optional. Good for blocking access to the public while you build out your new WordPress site.

Popular Posts Tabbed Widget for Jetpack
Shows a tabbed widget for most popular, most commented and latest blog posts. Most popular posts tab uses data from Jetpack Stats module.

Rotating Testimonials
This one requires a little more technical skill than most of the others on my list, but it’s WAY cool and a pretty easy way to add rotating testimonials to your WordPress site.

Pinterest Related – jQuery Pin It Button For Images
Highlights images on hover and adds a Pinterest “Pin It” button over them for easy pinning.

Peter’s Post Notes
Allows you to put administrative notes, reminders, or snippets of code specific to each post or page.

Akismet Comment Spam Protection
Not fool-proof but works very well at fending off junk comments.

Google XML Sitemaps
Must have for good SEO, easily creates Google-friendly sitemap.

Google Analytics for WordPress
Easily add Google Analytics to your WordPress site.

Lots of helpful features and functionality that allows you to better manage your WordPress site.

Wordfence Security
Powerful security tools to minimize the likelihood of a site hack.

Contact Form
Every site needs a contact form!

WordPress editing on steroids!

Back-up Buddy
Not free but more than worth the price; back-up your complete site.

The All-in-One SEO Pack
A powerful plug-in to help with search engine optimization of your site.

Make Your WordPress Blog iPhone Friendly
Transform your WordPress blog into smartphone friendly site.

WordPress Caching
Speed up your page load times, a must-have if you are using lots of photos.

Sticky Post
Allows you to “force” posts to show up first, also known as “sticky” status.

Duplicate Post
Save time; allows you to duplicate pages and posts easily.

Share This
Adds links at the bottom of posts to share via email and social sites.

Print Friendly
Give visitors the ability to print clean, well-formatted pages at your site.

Post Footer
Add content that shows up “automatically” at the bottom of all your posts and pages.

Easy Heads Up Bar
Creates a customizable message area at the top of your WordPress site.

Random Text
Show random text that shows up in a widget. I use it at this site, see my testimonials and how they randomly change with a page refresh?

Bulk Comment Management

Get rid of comments fast. This plugin allows administrators to globally delete comments (spam, trash, unapproved comments), enable/disable comments on all posts.

WordPress Plug-in Directory
The best place to find plug-ins with the features/functionality you are looking for!