One thing I intend to talk about on this blog is… blogging…
Worry not, it won’t be a “blog about blogging” – I’m not geek enough for that – but I think that it won’t hurt to occasionally share my experience and experiments in that field. You know, share stuff, give advice when I can, ask for it the rest of the time and those sorts of things.
Today I want to talk about plugins.
I think I instantly became a big fan of plugins as soon as I left Blogger as my blogging platform of choice to go the self-hosted way. All the plugins that were available with WordPress to tweak your blog! I almost became dizzy from the possibilities.
I became such a big fan that I started to install as many plugins as possible, not realizing that it was not necessarily a good thing.
I started becoming aware of that when my sites started slowing down (I’m especially talking about Ogijima.com and Ogijima.fr as they’re my oldest self-hosted blogs).
I think that the maximum number of plugins I had installed was 45 at the same time. Yeah, crazy I know….
Now, I’m down to about 30.
I’d like to go down to 20, but it may prove hard, we’ll see.
Here a list of what I’m currently using and what I used but recently parted with, in order to give you an idea of what’s behind my blogs.
(in green are the plugins I still use, in red those I used to have but dropped recently in my quest to have as few plugins as possible, in blue, those I’m still torn about between keeping and deleting)
- Akismet: I guess this is the indispensable plugin to fight spam. It’s not perfect, but it does a great job at it.
- WordPress Hashcash: I love Hashcash, especially used with Akismet. It can find if a comment comes from a human or a spambot. If it’s a spambot, the comment is automatically deleted (or sent to Akismet, your choice). The only reason I deleted it is because it’s not indispensable, it just reduces (drastically) the number of spam in your spambox.
- Limit Login Attempts: The title is self-explanatory. I always have the strongest possible passwords (note the plural), but you never know. This plugin blocks attempts to log in after a set number of failed attempts. I’m debating whether to get rid of it or not. While it is useful in theory, somebody else trying to log into my site and being blocked by this plugin happened only once (and not even on my blogs, just another site I have). Yet, you just need one time of a malicious person logging into your site to have major problems.
- Bad Behavior, WP Security Scan, Secure WordPress: Ok, this is in these kinds of moments that you know I’m not a techie. I have these three plugins installed for only one reason: I read on a reputable blog that they were great plugins to secure your blog. I don’t exactly know what they do (well, I do at least a little, but not the most technical parts). They may be redundant, they may be useful or useless. I guess I really need to look into them to see if I really need them or not. if you guys know about those, feel free to enlighten me in the comments.
- WP Super Cache: I used to use W3 Total Cache until one day an update really messed up my sites. I know that the problem has been fixed since, but in the meantime, I’ve found WP Super Cache which is much easier to set up.
- Better WordPress Minify: I’m sure that if you have a WordPress blog, you know WP Minify. However, for some reason, it messes up my blog (some conflict, somewhere). This one doesn’t. And it really speeds up my site.
- Use Google Libraries: I was told that this plugin also speeds up your site. I never actually tested how efficient it is. I guess I should, so that I know if I need it or need to get rid of it.
- TentBlogger Optimize WordPress Database Plugin: First of all I want to say that I’m a big fan of Tentblogger’s plugins, they’re easy to set up and use, and they’re also pretty light. However, I’m really not sure if I need this one. As the title says, it helps optimizing your database and making it lighter, but apparently my database is already pretty light as when I use it, it clears up only a few hundreds Kb maximum. On the other hand, as it’s a plugin that you use only in the back-end, I don’t think it has an influence on the blog’s performance. Does it?
- WordPress Gzip Compression: From what I’ve heard from several sources, you need to have it for performance, period.
- WP Smush.it: This cool plugin gets rid of all unnecessary information in your picture files, thus making them much lighter (it doesn’t alter in any way the quality of the pictures, it gets rid of other data contained in the file and doesn’t touch the image itself).
- Cbnet Ping Optimizer: It pings a bunch of services in order to have any new (or updated) post indexed in the main search engines as fast as possible.
- Google XML Sitemaps: Until recently I thought it was the only plugin that would allow you to create a sitemap that you can parameter, until I realized that I already had other plugins installed that could do the job just as well. Bye bye, Google XML Sitemaps, I liked you.
- SEO Friendly Images: Automatically completes the title and alternate name of any picture file. I dropped it when I started to do that manually for more control.
- TentBlogger SEO Categories: a cool plugin that gets rid of the “/category/” in your category page URLs. I also dropped it when I realized that the next plugin can do that too.
- WordPress SEO: I won’t explain it in details. I’ll just say that it’s a must have plugin in terms on SEO for your site.
- Comment Luv: Do I need Comment Luv? No. Do I want Comment Luv? Yeah! I love it when I’m able to insert a link to my latest post when I comment on someone else’s blog, so I think it’s all too normal to return the favor. I know it attracts spammer (I even get some “visitors” who arrive on my blogs searching “comment luv enabled”), but I’m constantly staying on the lookout for them.
- GetSocial: One of the many plugins that create a floating share bar on the left side of your post. I tried several (including Digg-Digg which I like a lot too). I settled for this one at the moment. It can change in the future.
- Subscribe to Comments Reloaded: I don’t understand why it’s not a native function in WordPress, being able to subscribe to the comments of one post. In any case, this plugin solves that.
- Tentblogger Feedburner RSS redirect: I’m not sure this plugin is that useful (I may get rid of it in the near future). With this plugin all feeds in a site get automatically redirected to its Feedburner feed . Good for Feedburner stats, but that’s pretty much it I think.
- Tweet old post: I love this plugin. It automatically tweets links to old posts and gives them a second (or third or fourth) life. I have a couple of posts becoming popular months after I posted them thanks to this plugin.
- WP Greet Box: I have a love/hate relationship with this plugin. On the one hand, I love the idea of having a message for new readers inviting them to subscribe, follow and whatnot. On the other hand, the lack of stats makes it impossible to know how much it is used by readers and it can be bothersome for returning readers to constantly see this message. I’d advise it only for new blogs, and then after a while it’s not a bad idea to get rid of it.
- Display Widgets: a useful plugin that allows you to decide on what page or type of page a widget will show up or not. For example, you can have widgets appearing only on the homepage or everywhere except the homepage or several combinations. Personally, I love it. It allows me among other things to have a few links as possible on the homepage where their number can be important in terms of “google juice” and those sorts of things.
- TentBlogger Simple Top Commenters: I don’t have to have this plugin, but I like to have these lists among my widgets and I believe my readers do to.
- WordPress Popular Posts: Same as the previous post. This plugin also allows an extra layer of internal linking in the site.
- FancyBox for WordPress: Allows pictures to show up in a nice pop-up when clicked instead of a separate page.
- Fast Secure Contact Form: I couldn’t have this page without it.
- Iframe: It allows to insert iframes within posts. How could I insert Youtube videos and Google maps without it?
- Post Layout: It allows you to insert special codes within a post, especially useful to insert Adsense codes when necessary.
- Related Post Thumbnails: Suggests related posts at the bottom of every post. A great tool to have your readers stay longer on your site.
- Simple Tags: It makes my life easier when selecting tags for a post. I could get rid of it, but I don’t think it influences the site’s performance on the user’s side.
- Clicky for WordPress: a plugin that allows me to use Clicky a great stats tool for WordPress.
- Redirection: This plugin can redict any URL (starting with your domain of course) to any other URL. Indispensable for two reasons: when you change the URL of a page that gets a lot of external backlinks, and when you want to have a clean and/or legible URL to give to people for a page that doesn’t have one.
- Permalink Finder, Permalink Moved Permanently, Change Permalink Helper: these three plugins are very useful when you change a lot of urls in your site (if you change your permalink structure for example). I’m still not sure which one is the best, all seem to be better at one thing and not the other one. Having the three installed is somewhat overkill though (ok, I admit, I had the three at some point, now I’m playing with the three to find the better one).
- Broken Link Checker: also a very important plugin that tells you when there’s a broken link in your site, whether it is an internal one or an outgoing one.
- TentBlogger Show All Categories: Not indispensable, but quite useful. Don’t you find it annoying when you have a certain number of categories to have to scroll through them when you type your post? Especially because the scroll bar is right next the main scroll bar? Well, this plugin removes that extra unnecessary scrollbar. Also – and a specialist can correct me if necessary – I doubt this has an influence on the site performance, so I decided to keep it.
So what do you think of this list? What plugins should I get rid of? Did I miss any important ones? What about you? How many plugins do you have on your site?