Unique Blog Designs "Must Have" WordPress Plugins

Choosing plugins that truly benefit your blog design can be difficult if you’re a WordPress novice. With over 1,400 plugins available at wordpress.org, you’ll find yourself looking for a few needles in a very thick haystack. Luckily, there are plenty of WordPress veterans that have been around long enough to sift through the masses and highlight the choice plugins for you.

The following is a list of the WordPress plugins which we have personally used and recommend to all of our clients. We will start with a small, manageable list and then continue to add more plugins that can be of use to you!


Comment Functionality

One of the great features of blogging is the ability for your readers to get involved and give feedback on the posts that you’re writing. Here are a few plugins that will enrich the comment features for your readers:

Brian’s Threaded Comments
Description: This gives you threaded comments and a “wandering” comment form.
Download | More Info

Comment Relish
Description: Increases your readership and RSS subscription rate by simply sending a short ‘thank you’ relishing type message to users when they first comment on your weblog.
Download | More Info

Subscribe to Comments
Description: Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry.
Download | More Info

Next, we will move on to how to enhance WordPress for maximum search engine ranking benefit…

SEO

WordPress has done a great job of building a CMS (content management system) that comes ready for SEO right out of the box. These two plugins are aimed at improving your blog’s ability to rank well, and making the process of optimization extremely easy and straightforward for you.

Google XML Sitemaps
Description: This plugin will generate a sitemaps.org compatible sitemap of your WordPress blog which is supported by Ask.com, Google, MSN Search and YAHOO.
Download | More Info

All In One SEO Pack
Description: Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog.
Download | More Info

***UPDATE*** Check out Headspace2 for a powerful SEO plugin. I haven’t had any experience with it, but from what I have read it looks like it is a great tool for adding meta tags and managing your blog’s SEO. Thanks, Edward!

Sidebar Functionality

Many blogs come jam-packed with sidebar widgets, advertisements, and other features. Here are two plugins that will encourage readers to comment and allow them to easily catch up on posts they may have missed.

Get Recent Comments
Description: Display the most recent comments or trackbacks with your own formatting in the sidebar.
Download | More Info

Recent Posts
Description: Returns a list of the most recent posts
Download | More Info

Social Media

This is a MUST HAVE! You never know who may really enjoy your post and encourage a few hundred, maybe a few thousand, people to read it as well.

Share This
Description: Let your visitors share a post/page with others. Supports e-mail and posting to social media sites.
Download | More Info

Podcasting

Podcasting is the next step for most bloggers. Podcasting is recording video or voice and posting it on your blog. To integrate podcasting onto your blog, there is only one plugin we recommend!

Podpress
Description: The podPress pluggin gives you everything you need in one easy plugin to use WordPress for Podcasting.
Download | More Info

General Functionality

Allowing your readers to interact with and get to know you is crucial personal branding in the blogosphere. Don’t miss out on these plugins!

Post Avatar Plugin
Description: Show your readers who you are, on every post! You can see this in action on our blog – the author of each article is displayed next to the post title. This plugin is absolutely mandatory for multi-author blogs. It is also an effective personal branding feature for your blog.
Download | More Info

Democracy Poll Plugin
Description: Encourage visitor interaction by featuring a poll on your site.
Download | More Info

WP-Contact Form
Description: WP Contact Form is a drop in form for users to contact you. It can be implemented on a page or a post. It currently works with WordPress 2.0+
Download | More Info

For more information on choosing, managing and integrating the right WordPress plugins, check out the WordPress Plugin Codex.

About Nate Whitehill

Nate is a co-founder of Unique Blog Designs and has been a user experience and visual designer for over a decade. He aspires to make the world pixel-perfect. Follow Nate on Twitter
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  • http://joshuadenney.com Joshua

    Nice round up of plugins!

    I haven’t seen that avatar one before…pretty damn cool!

    • http://natewhitehill.com Nate Whitehill

      Collin, send us an email with your FTP info and we will be more than happy to setup that plugin for you.

  • http://crenk.com Crenk

    Great list of plugins. All the basic plugins are here!

  • http://www.yourworldgallery.com Collin – Your World Gallery

    I have issues with the google site map one. I never am able to get it to work with out errors.

    Any tips?

  • http://www.yourworldgallery.com Collin – Your World Gallery

    Sorry for the double comment up there, must of hit it twice.

    I down loaded a few of your plug in’s, Relish, and avatar which does not seem to be working. Can someone swing by my site and see if there are working for them. I would like to get avatars going for sure.

    • http://www.uniqueblogdesigns.com Matt Blancarte

      Thanks, Edward. I just updated the post and added that to the list.

  • http://EdwardKhoo.com Edward

    Nice list of plugins, I guess there’s another SEO plugin called HeadSpace, mind to include it?

  • http://www.scriptdebate.com/ John

    Thanks for a nice list of plugins.

    I also like this list http://www.dirkut.com/top-wordpress-plugins/ :)

  • Pingback: Comment Functionality | Howard Young

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  • http://alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

    Comment Relish will consistently crash your site if you have a large enough amount of comments in your database. Perhaps this is worth it for a very new site, but from personal experience it’s really not fun coming back to a crashed blog, plus it looks unprofessional.

  • http://www.quickcert.com MCSE ANgie

    I can’t get enough wordpress plugins….I can’t keep up with all the latest releases and updates. It’s almost overwhelming.

  • http://internet-adviser.com Internet Adviser delivers reliable marketing results.

    Now that I\’ve scanned your post, I\’ll take another long read. I\’m also book marking your site.

  • http://www.idatewhite.com Eathan

    Good Job on this list

  • http://www.nela.in moserw

    Thanks for sharing your list. Will check out all the plugins listed here though I am already using a few of them.

  • http://iBizAcademy.com Boris Mahovac

    What happened to your UBD Block Ad Plugin? Is it still usable in WP 2.9.x?

    Thanks

    • Nate Whitehill

      Hi, we are not supporting that plugin anymore. It is no longer compatible. We recommend this plugin instead: WP-125 Ad Plugin

      Cheers,

      Nate