If you followed my tutorial on building a photography website using WordPress, you probably already have some WordPress plugins on your new photography website. But my video listed several other plugins. This article goes into detail about all the plugins I listed so you can have some nice extensions to the functionality of your site. I listed them in alphabetical order.
Spam control for blog posts
Within minutes — minutes — of setting up a self-hosted WordPress site, a spam comment arrived. How they do this, I don’t know, but plenty of good tools to control spam on a WordPress site exist. In fact, the default WordPress installation comes with a good one — Akismet. It automatically monitors incoming comments and has an uncanny sense of which ones are legit and which are spam, and it puts spam ones into a hidden section that you can check, and redirect to legitimacy if Akismet gets it wrong. When I ran comments on my site, I never found Akismet to get it wrong.
All in One SEO Pack →
Add SEO-friendly information to your site
All in One SEO Pack adds fields to each post and page to let you set extra information for Google and Bing to grab onto for their organic searches. The only field I use is the Description field, because Google and Bing can use them to display in SERPs, right below your page title. It lets you specify a different page title from your post title, which can be handy if you wanted to direct search engines’ keywords in a certain way. It also lets you enter meta keywords for posts, though as I mentioned in Part 4 of my tutorial on building a photography site in WordPress, Google and Bing ignore this, so you should too.
Broken Link Checker →
Don’t leave broken links on your site
Visitors can be frustrated if they click a link on your site and it goes to a 404 page or to a domain that doesn’t exist. With this plugin, you’ll be warned when any page or post on your site has a link that fails this way, and you can then fix it. It can even automatically draw a cross-out through the link until you can fix or delete it.
FancyBox for WordPress →
Photos in your post zoom to full size
By default, linked photos in your posts just show up as an image when you click on them, and your website goes away. Visitors have to click the Back button on their browsers to get back. Install FancyBox and now your photos appear in their own little window-like thing while your website fades to the background. The user clicks the close box and your website comes right back. Many similar plugins exist, but this one has a great combination of a nice look and easy configuration.
Google XML Sitemaps →
Automatically submit sitemaps to search engines
Sites can help search engines navigate through all the pages by supplying a sitemap — a file that has a listing of all pages of the site and their hierarchy. This plugin automatically generates one and keeps it updated as you add content to your website. This isn’t the key to SEO, but it can help assure that search engines won’t miss any page of your site, and properly classifies its contents. Google published some good information about Sitemaps
Grunion Contact Form →
Make a nicer contact form
WordPress doesn’t come with much to help with forms, but plenty of plugins do. If all you want is a nice contact form, this plugin makes your job very easy. If you’re not averse to some CSS, you can even style it to perfectly match the rest of your site.
NextGEN Gallery →
Easy-to-manage photo gallery
WordPress has a gallery function built in, but managing it leaves a lot to be desired. NextGEN Gallery throws all that out with its own gallery management system separate from WordPress’s. It displays them in a nice grid and has an optional (and somewhat wanting) slideshow function.
Post Thumbnail Editor →
Crop photo thumbnails the way you want
WordPress themes control the creation of thumbnails of images in your post, and they’re often used alongside post excerpts. Sometimes, thumbnails have a different aspect ratio from the original photo, so they end up cropped in thumbnails. This automatic cropping might not appear exactly as you’d like, so this plugin lets you take existing automatically generated thumbnails and crop them exactly as you want.
Regenerate Thumbnails →
Force WordPress to rebuild your new cropped thumbnails
If you change your mind about how thumbnails are cropped. It’s sometimes hard to force WordPress to honor new thumbnail settings, and it’d be nice if you could tell it to just regenerate them. This plugin does just that, and you choose whether to regenerate all of them, or some subset.
W3 Total Cache →
Accelerate your site
WordPress doesn’t have a set of HTML pages that it just feeds to your visitors’ browsers — its pages are written in PHP which the server interprets down to HTML which it then feeds to requesting browsers. This process takes some time, so this plugin caches the results so that visitors just get the straight HTML as quickly as possible. This plugin also automatically compresses the myriad files involved in a Web page, and even lets you offload your hosting service by placing compressed, pre-converted pages to a CDN like Amazon S3, reducing the load on your own hosting service. The default settings for this plugin help speed up your site — but if you’re willing to research its numerous settings, you can really optimize it.
Sell your photography online
If you’d like to sell your images online, many great services like Flickr and Smugmug do a great job for a reasonable yearly fee. But if you want your visitors to stay on your site and be in control of the whole purchasing process and not pay a fee to anyone, WooCommerce does a great job of providing a purchasing environment. This plugin doesn’t scrimp on features, so you may need the help of a Web developer to customize it to fit the rest of your site.
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