Plugins and widgets are the little apps you install on your blogsite to add functionality. They’re tiny engines that make interactive things work, handling almost any task: Search Engine Optimization, spam killing, email gathering, photo displaying… the list goes on seemingly forever. Choosing plugins and widgets can be among the most important decisions you can make about your WordPress site.
They’re created and supported by regular software developers who sell Pro versions of the free plugins found on WordPress. Still, the developers do like donations and they let you know on every page possible.
Similar but Different
Plugins and widgets are downloaded the same way, on the Install Plugins page, yet they go in different places.
Widgets are always for the sidebar and they appear in the Widgets page.
Plugins are almost always for the page itself. Each plugin either gets it’s own setting page found on the main navigation column on the left according to its function, or else the settings page is found either in Settings, or below Settings by name.
Plugins and widgets are not to be feared, but too many of them increases your chances of encountering coding conflicts. And more plugins increase the chance of installing a bad coding. So it’s important to research Plugins before downloading.
When considering a plugin, look at the same things you would for a theme: details, ratings, version.
Click on Details and and read the Description. If the Description page shows a warning at the top that says this plugin has not been tested on your version of WordPress, you should avoid it.
Under FYI it will say compatible up to with the WordPress version number. If that number is lower than your version, you might have problems using it.
Look at Last Updated to see if the developer has improved the plugin recently. Look at Downloaded to see how many people are using this plugin.
Click on WordPress Plugin Page to read the comments from users. Click on Plugin Homepage to read more about the developers. All of this information will help you to decide what plugins you want to install on your site.
Once installed, both plugins and widgets require inputting your own personal data. Widgets are dragged to the sidebar of your choice and open automatically for easy data entry.
Plugins with their own settings page(s) require more input, such as entering API keys for social media, but good plugins will walk you through the process. Plugins such as a contact form, are usually placed on your page by copying a strip of code from the settings page and pasting it onto site page in the HTML view.
Some of my favorite Plugins and Widgets are:
Add Link to Facebook
Automatically add links to published posts to your Facebook wall or pages
All in One SEO Pack
Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog.
Contact Form 7
Just another contact form plugin. Simple but flexible.
Google Analytics for WordPress
Makes it simple to add Google Analytics to your WordPress blog, adding lots of features, eg. custom variables and automatic clickout and download tracking.
Social Media Widget
Adds links to all of your social media and sharing site profiles. Tons of icons come in 3 sizes, 4 icon styles, and 4 animations.
Notifies an email list when new entries are posted.
WP Mobile Detector
Automatically detects if the visitor is using a standard mobile phone or a smart phone and loads a compatible wordpress mobile theme for each.
Awesome Flickr Gallery
A simple, fast and light plugin to create a gallery of your Flickr photos on your WordPress enabled website. This plugin aims at providing a simple yet customizable way to create stunning Flickr gallery.
Enables writers, bloggers, and marketers to easily create and improve online content for increased reach, engagement and conversions.
Let me know if these work for you. And if you have a reliable plugin or widget to recommend, please comment.
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