Adding extra functionality to your wordpress blog
WordPress is an impressive CMS1 with many already inbuilt functions but its true magnificence is that it is an open source platform upon which developers can create further options and features that simply “plug in” to wordpress. A little bit like the i phone and apps. Having an i phone is cool, but it’s the apps that make it even more useful. The same goes for wordpress.
**Note plug ins are for self hosted wordpress blogs, unfortunately you can’t add plug ins to free wordpress.com hosted blogs – sorry 🙁
Most of us bloggers are active on twitter and often our blogs and tweets become interwoven so adding tweet functions to wordpress are almost necessary. I’m just listing the one’s I like and use but many more add ons, widgets and other interactive programs are available for you to use.
Word Press Tweeter – You can set this up so that it uses your chosen template to tweet to your followers every time you publish a new post on your blog. You can also have it set to tweet every time you update a post – but for someone who makes as many typo’s as me you don’t want to fill your timeline with updated posts tweets!
Another twitter wordpress plug in you might be interested in if your blog is older than a year or so is Tweet Old Posts which will tweet about a post from within your archives. You can set how you want these posts chosen and other options from the plugins admin panel. A kind of cool way to share your older posts with new followers who may have missed them first time round. **EDIT** June 20th 2011: As Dangerous Lily so kindly pointed out in the comments below the Tweet Old Posts plugin appears to be not working and the authors site isn’t available. I am looking for another plugin that offers the same features and will update this post if & when I find one – I’m not having much luck though so if you have any suggestions please comment away.
Tweet Meme Re-Tweeter – This easy to configure plug in will add the re-tweet button (On my posts it should be in the upper right hand corner) to each of your blog posts to allow your readers to easily share a post with their twitter followers
Although I currently don’t use a plug in to display my tweets on my blog there are a number of good ones available, alternatively you could install one of twitters customisable widgets to your sidebar or footer to share your tweets in real time with your blog readers.
In Post Plugins
There are a lot of cool plugins that allow you to add extra content or offer extra features that can be included within your actual wordress blog posts.
One of the most handy and often used is WP_footnotes. This plug in allows you to add extra comments to a blog post that can be viewed by the reader hovering on or clicking the related number within the post2. The comment is also placed at the bottom of the post which the footnote link sends the reader to if they click the footnote indicator rather than just hovering over it.
Adding the footnote comments within the post is easy to do just by starting a comment with two opening brackets (.( and finishing it with two closing brackets ).)3 and it is by far one of my favourite and most useful plugins,
Recently I’ve discovered the WordPress Post Tabs plug in which allows you to add tabbed sections within your post. I haven’t gotten around to publishing a post using it but I’ve got a few almost written. I think it is a great way to be able to divide up the different sections of reviews – you can have a tab for general info, care & cleaning and any other sections you can think of. You can checkout the demo on the plug in page. If you don’t think the default look will work for your blog you can adjust the way the tabs look by tinkering with your css.
Another plugin that’s useful to both you and your readers is a related posts plugin. There are a lot of different ones out there all with different features. Some offer Images and links, others just print out post links of similar posts that might also interest your readers. As I’m not currently using one I’m not going to recommend & link to some random one, but you can go and search for a related posts plugin that will suit your exact needs from within your plugins menu of your dashboard or at the WordPress.org repository.4
Most sex toy reviewers regularly run giveaways and anyone who has done so using comments for tracking entries knows that it can be a bit of a headache, so can trying to track entries in a spreadsheet. If you don’t have a theme that assigns a number to each comment it’s even worse.
With the ‘And The Winner Is‘ plugin the only hassle is to ensure entry comments don’t end up in the spam folder. Once installed you just tick the plugins admin box when publishing the giveaway post and indicate the number of winners there will be. After the giveaway closes and you’ve double checked the spam folder it will choose a random winner from all of that post’s comments. It takes a whole lot of hassle out of the process of administering a sex toy giveaway!
For statistics, in my opinion anyway, you can’t beat wp-stats-dashboard. Like the name suggests it does produce a stats panel similar to the one you get with a wordpress.com blog – except this ones does so much more too. It tracks your visitors to display them as a handy graph with daily weekly & monthly totals being available for comparison.
It also tracks where visitors have come from, what they’ve searched for to find your blog as well as which links they’ve clicked from your blog. Some of the extra features of wp stats dashboard stats are that it also includes tracking for your Google PR, Alexa Ranking, # of twitter followers and about 20 other important metrics regarding your blog that are tracked and graphed by this full featured dashboard plugin. You can see just how many different metrics this plug in measures by checking out the screenshots.
You can download wp-stats-dashboard from the authors site or the wordpress.org repository and save the zip file to your hard drive then upload it via the plugins menu or you can simply search for it via your plugins menu.
The WP-125 plug in is possibly the one I’m asked about the most – It’s what I use to display the 125×125 pixel ads in my sidebar. It isn’t actually a discovery of mine, rather it came included with my theme (which is created by the folks at site5.com), but I strongly recommend it to anyone wishing to sell some advertising space on their blog as the 125 square format is incredibly popular.
With WP-125 you can style the ads however you like using css so that they will fit seamlessly into your theme. The plug in also tracks the number of clicks per ad as well as reminding you of when the ad is due to be renewed. I love that it allows you to have any empty ad spots link to a page or post that outlines your advertising policies. You can download it directly from the developer’s website, its page in the wordpress.org repository or you can search for it by name via your plug ins dashboard.
Another question I have for my fellow sex toy reviewing bloggers is that if there was a plug in that added a list to your sidebar of the items sitting in your queue awaiting review would you use it? It’s something I was thinking of writing but thought I’d see how many people would be interested first.
If you need help with any of these plugins feel free to leave a comment or send me an email