I love WordPress. My first thought about making new websites for clients, friends, or myself is “How can I do this with WordPress?”. In most cases, there is a way. I have used more open source php/mysql content management systems over the years than I can count, and at this point WordPress is my favorite by far.
The code is clean. That is the thing I love best. The file structure makes sense. It is usually pretty easy to completely customize a site design by altering only the theme files. In most other systems that I have used, hacking the core files is part of customizing the design, and updating the core files can be a nightmare. I do end up hacking WordPress plugin and widget files from time to time, but that usually has more to do with function than design.
A basic install of WordPress is small and fast. I like that. The plugin system is excellent and the developer community is incredible! It is nice to be able to customize site features as needed, rather than having to install a gigantic supersystem every time that overwhelms clients and has a negative impact on site performance.
My favorite WordPress plugins and widgets:
- For spam control – The combination of Akismet and Bad Behavior has been working really great for me. Akismet is great at filtering spam, but without Bad Behavior, I end up with large amounts of spam to check in the Akismet Spam list. Bad Behavior removes most of the spam, so that the Akismet list is much smaller and easier to manage.Bad Behavior also has the nice side effect of keeping my post count much more accurate because it prevents spambots from accessing my site. Otherwise, they are counted as visitors. Without bad behavior, post counts were inflated by thousands compared to server statistics for page visits.
- King Widgets – These are widgets that work with the King Framework from MP Mediaprojekte. They offer more extended options than the default WordPress widgets. The King Text Widget is my favorite. It offers the ability to execute php code from the widget, customize the html for individual widget display, and other handy features.
- Dropdown Archive Widget – Easy way to keep the archive list small.
- Exec-PHP – Allows PHP code to be executed from posts and pages.
- EZstatic – wrapper to integrate static content into a site. I use it for the hangman pages on this site.
- Plugins Used Plugin – It is always nice to give credit to the developers and also a good way to let other WordPress users see what makes your site tick.
- Headache With Pictures – I just discovered this one. It adds a little area to type notes to the Dashboard. I have been using it to keep my ongoing LBnuke todo list of plugins to try, posts to write, design tweaks, etc.
- Sidebar Widgets – Can’t use widgets without it.
- Ultimate Tag Warrior – Add tags to posts easily, make tag clouds, and more. There is also a UTW Tag Archives plugin that works with UTW to create an archive view based on tags.
- WP-Cache – Great caching plugin. Improves site performance.
- WP-phpMyAdmin – use phpMyAdmin from your site admin area.
Before I end my little private WordPress appreciation party and go back to work, I would also like to mention that there is an ever growing community of ardent WordPress users that is almost cult-like in a way that reminds me of mac users.
Within this community there is a great appreciation for all of the work that Matt and the other developers have done and still do. There are also a large number of people who really want to give something back to the community, either by developing plugins, making themes, answering questions in the support forums, or providing helpful feedback.
It is nice to see this tiny little area of life where so many people can work together and are willing to help each other out for nothing in return except the opportunity to contribute to such an awesome project.