WordPress Tutorial 4: Recommended WordPress Plugins

This is part 4 in an ongoing series on WordPress. Please see Part 1: WordPress Tutorial 1: Installation Setup and Part 2: WordPress Tutorial 2: Terminology and Part 3: WordPress Tutorial 3: How to Install a New Plugin, Theme, or Widget.

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Now that you have WordPress installed, understand the interface, and know how to install new parts, let’s take a look at our recommended plugins.

Recommended Plugins:

Caching

We cannot recommend caching for your WordPress installation strongly enough. Without getting too technical: Disk I/O (or Input/Output) is the writing to, and reading from, a hard drive. No matter how awesome or fast your hard drive is, it can still only do one thing at a time: specifically reading or writing to a single file. This is where the ‘wait’ part gets involved. The more disk I/O is occurring, the longer a program’s wait times become. To counter this, we recommend using caching.

While WordPress does not have any built-in caching, a number of third-party developers have created caching plugins for WordPress which offer various levels of simplicity and control.

WordPress SuperCache

With WordPress SuperCache you can control how often the cache refreshes and who gets to see cached pages through the wp-admin interface.

From the site:

This plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After a html file is generated your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.

The static html files will be served to the vast majority of your users, but because a user’s details are displayed in the comment form after they leave a comment those requests are handled by PHP. Static files are served to:

1. Users who are not logged in.
2. Users who have not left a comment on your blog.
3. Or users who have not viewed a password protected post.

W3 Total Cache

W3-Total-Cache is for a more advanced user, and gives you more fine-tuned control, and can give you even better performance. It can also be coupled with memcached to drastically reduce your page load times.

The fastest and most complete WordPress performance optimization plugin. Trusted by many popular blogs like: mashable.com, briansolis.com, pearsonified.com, ilovetypography.com, noupe.com, webdesignerdepot.com, freelanceswitch.com, tutsplus.com, yoast.com, css-tricks.com, css3.info and others — W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your blog by improving your server performance, caching every aspect of your site, reducing the download time of your theme and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration.

Admin Interface

We do not like too much clutter in our interface, and the plugin ‘Clean Notifications’ helps declutter the notifications that you get from WordPress by default.

Clean Notifications

Public-facing

We also like to have a clean comments section. If you are using your WordPress installation for a blog, our favorite addition to make the comments section of your site prettier is ‘AJAX Comments’

Ajax Comments

This plugin uses AJAX to add new comments to your blog without requiring a refresh of the page after the addition, which is extremely aesthetically pleasing.

Akismet Comment Spam Filter

WordPress includes a copy of the Akismet comment spam filter plugin. If your site receives a fair amount of traffic you will almost certainly start seeing spam comments being left on your posts. Akismet makes these spam comments much easier to deal with by automatically flagging them and removing them from WordPress’s workflow.

Have fun!

After you’ve installed those plugins, poke around and find a plugin that’s for you. There are plugins for everything from pictures to twitter, and there’s sure to be something that you like.

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