After using WordPress since 2007, and installing and using it with a variety of sites, I am launching a new series on the WordPress plugins and add-ons which I find essential, or cool, or just plain gee-whiz fun.
WordPress started life as a way to enhance typography on the web in 2003, designed by Matt Mullenweg (whose official title on the WordPress.org site is “Head of Bug Creation.” It morphed into a blogging platform and again stretched and grew into one of the leading CMS (content management systems) on the Internet. Matt’s site states that “over 15% of the web.” Think about that. At least one out of every eight sites on the Internet run on WordPress.
The beauty of WordPress is its flexibility. Got a small site? Get a free account on WordPress.com and start writing. Got a huge corporate site? Go VIP.WordPress like CNN and Time and hundreds of other major players.
Want to change up the look of your site? Download a free theme and you can change from red anime theme to a blue country theme in a matter of minutes – all without losing a single post or image. Your structure stays intact, you menus, pages – skinning at its best.
It’s not just the look you can change up. WordPress uses a flexible widget system which lets you drag and drop functionality wherever it makes sense. Need a calendar in the upper right sidebar? Pick out a plugin and drag it there. Want to move the calendar to the footer? No worries. Nothing lost and easy to switch out. Want that calendar to interface with your Google calendar? There’s a plugin for that.
What are plugins? They are small, self-contained programs that supply specific functionality. They fit into WordPress in a few ways. Many are meant to drop into widget areas, ready to go. With 18,785 plugins on the WordPress.org site (as of 8:36 pm on March 16, 2012 – it’s a constantly moving number) there really is an app for that. The plugins which are uploaded to the WordPress site have been checked and approved. Then the users weigh in, grading every plugin. The most popular plugins have gone through many iterations and tens of thousands – or millions – or downloads. Truly democracy of the download.
Not enough on the WordPress site? There are thousands of “outlier plugins” on the web, too. Free and paid. Some people simply don’t want to go through the vetting process of WordPress.org or want to control the plugin on their own site.
I’m going to spend some time highlighting some of my favorite WordPress plugins and add-ons. If you have a favorite, add it as a comment and I’ll take a look.
- Inside The WordPress Toolbar (wp.smashingmagazine.com)
- WordPress 3.3 Update Refines Features, Interface (mashable.com)
- Smashing Special: WordPress Theme Trends For 2012 (wp.smashingmagazine.com)
- New Series on WordPress Plugins and Add-Ons (brownecompany.com)
- Useful WordPress Tools, Themes And Plugins (wp.smashingmagazine.com)