My 6 Basic WordPress Plugins

I make a living working on WordPress. And this blog is on WordPress. And at the risk of sounding repetitive, I’ve been on WordPress for 4-5 years now. One of the most important things in the install workflow is selecting and installing the plugins you’d need. While the exact set of plugins varies from project to project, and depends on the intended functionality of the site, there are a few basic ones that I make sure to install on every site I deploy. The exhaustive list is too big, but here’s my top six, which you may find useful.

  1. Akismet: Automattic’s own plugin which saves me a lot of time & energy in filtering out the comment spam, done by SEO bots mainly.
  2. Google Analytics: Any GA plugin will do. But most loved by us is the one by Joost de Valk. Why do you need this? You do want to know the details of the traffic you get, don’t you? And then you can export that data, import it into your spreadsheet software, and soar into the dreamy world of pivot-tables.
  3. YARPP: Remember how you forgot to leave Amazon the last time you went there, because you kept clicking on the “the people who bought this also saw this” products? Well, why not use the same tactic for your blog? Increase the stickiness. Increase the meaningful interlinks. Increase SEO juice. There are plenty of related posts plugin, but I favour Yet Another Related Posts Plugin. Why? Is the name not enough?
  4. BWP Google XML Sitemaps: Sitemaps are important. Sitemaps let crawlers know where all your content is. It’s like the related posts for robots. Must for improved search rankings, and findability. Preferred plugin: BWP’s.
  5. Regenerate Thumbnails: How many times during development have you realised you need a new size of an image, and found that WordPress is either giving you too small or too big an image? And then after registering a new thumbnail size, how many times have you wondered if you need to delete and reupload the images already in the library, so that the thumbnails in the new size are created for these images? If you have come across such questions, you need to install this plugin, which regenerates thumbnails for all the images already in the library.
  6. Smushit: Have lots of images making your blog heavy to load? Install this plugin, so that every image you upload is passed through Yahoo!’s service and losslessly compressed.

Which plugins do you recommend as the bare necessities when installing a fresh WordPress setup? And do you have alternatives to the ones mentioned above?

Share them in the comments.

The 16-step Quick Guide to Becoming a Photographer!

This is a list I started writing a few years ago. Finally I realised that “ship it” is the best policy in such posts. So here goes. Last few points added today itself. To keep the post up-to-date. You’re welcome to add more in the comments.

  1. Step 1: Buy a camera.
    SLR. Instant professional!
    If not an SLR, then any prosumer bridge. Because it’s so good (read smart purchase), who needs an SLR?
    If not these, then a Point & Shoot. Instant road to underprivileged artist-dom.
    If not a P&S, then use your mobile phone. Ditto.
  2. Post all your pictures, either never opened in any software at all, or post-processed with heavy Warhol-like effects, or heavy faux HDR effects, into an album called ‘random’, ‘the world thru ma eyez’, ‘ma work’.
  3. Big copyright marks are a must. Your name, logo or URL should be very small. The © should be taking up the maximum area. How else would the image thief know that he should not ©opy it?
  4. Thick borders. Extra points for double borders. Bonus points for a thick white border around the black border. Anything to make it look like an old-style wood-framed picture.
  5. And the image title, and your copyright mark just outside the frame, in Comic Sans Papyrus Monotype Corsiva.
  6. Visit all major online photography forums, and create a new discussion thread entitled ‘Please take a look’. You lose points if you give away what kind of photography you are showcasing.
  7. Post a link to your entire album(s). Make sure the album(s) do not adhere to any one or two genres. They must contain everything from a street dog, to a barber in his shop, to a closeup macro of a petunia, to a lit cigarette.
  8. Don’t ask for feedback on any particular picture. Superspecialization is for insects, remember?
  9. Ask them to ‘go thru your work’ and give feedback (read ‘appreciate my inborn talent to the moon’).
  10. If you’ve ‘snapped’ your ‘work’ using a mobile phone camera, mention that with an apology, expecting sympathetic comments. After all, poor you are fighting all those rich mofos with expensive SLRs and still clicking such ‘ossum work’. Two more points on your report card for showcasing poverty.
  11. But the moment someone offers a suggestion get defensive. Your work is ‘ossum’ by itself. You don’t need to improve. Or get a better camera or lens. It’s the world that needs to wrap its heads around your talent. Because you’re ‘ossum’. Your college friends said it.
  12. Either describe the ‘thot’ behind the picture in a paragraph that’s longer than War & Peace, or don’t say anything. Let the viewer wonder if it’s a single shoe flowing in the river or a crow. Because either you want the viewer to appreciate all the thoughts you made up when you sat down to look through the pictures and found this half-decent shot, or your art must be that brilliant that it defies explanation.
  13. Mobile phones > SLR. Anyday.
  14. Emulate the French photographers from 50 years ago with Leicas. Using your smartphone. Same size, almost. Same weight, almost. And there are apps that can make your pics look like they’re 50 years old.
  15. Hipstamatic! Instagram!
  16. Filters! Filters!! Some more Filters!!!