Share Your Favorite WordPress Plugins for Domain Campers

As part of this week’s Ontario Extend Domain Camp work, we have an activity asking people new to WordPress to explore installing and activating plugin. Because there are only about 56,000 of them, we cannot really cover them all.

So we ask people to explore the giant plugin pile, try one (or more) from a small set we suggested, and share what they discovered. As a response for this activity, we ask them to post a reply to this thread (our heavy handed way of getting people in the community)

But if you are a seasoned WordPress user, please help out here by also sharing your most recommended or favorite plugins, the ones you think could be useful especially for folks new to WordPress.


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One plugin I find useful, especially on sites where many people might be uploading media, is Smush Image Compression and Optimization.

It can make your site load more efficiently by removing the fat from uploaded images:

Smush meticulously scans every image you upload – or have already added to your site – cuts all the unnecessary data and scales it for you before adding it to your media library.

It can back smush your existing media, and automatically smush the size of ones as you upload new ones. Having smaller sized files not only improve your sites experience for visitors, it can make sure your disk quota on Reclaim stays as small as possible.

In my live demo, I uploaded a 5 MB photo and the results are sizes up to 2000px wide that are less than 200k each:

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I tried Akismet and JetPack and both had payment plans. Are there free versions of these??

I chose to have some fun and try the Instagram Feed by 10web. It was easy to upload and install. Once I figured out it created a page for me, I added it to my menu and voila! My Instagram feed was posted.

For a education related blog, I don’t think I would actually post my Instagram feed…but I would post my Twitter feed or a link to the #edtech hashtag. So I went looking for a Twitter Plugin. I found Custom Twitter Feeds By Smash Balloon. Just like the Instagram feed, it was easy to install. The plug in added a menu item in the dashboard that allowed me to customize what I wanted to show up. It didn’t create a page - and I think that was because there are so many options on how to display the feed. I stuck with a single feed showing all tweets with the hashtag #edtech. (I added the page with the shortcode in it).

Yes, you have to look down at the bottom of the payment options in small print for the free options. They are always trying to upsell you. I think with Akismet you can enter a $0 amount (away from computer now so can’t confirm with screen shot).

A quick list of plug-ins I really like for WordPress are:

  • H5P - for interactive content types (e.g. quizzes, image juxtaposition, interactive video, drag and drop, hot spots, flash cards etc)
  • Shortcodes Ultimate - for simple integration of image galleries, accordions, etc.
  • Wordfence Security - for monitoring attempted logins and getting WordPress security news
  • NS Cloner - this works great if you use WP for multiple courses. I created a course template that can be easily cloned for use in multiple courses.
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I am pretty fond of the following on my personal blog:

Ultimate Category Excluder - Useful for excluding certain posts from my blog roll. I used it to share published articles that I perhaps want someone to read for me first; also useful for excluding posts from the main blog roll if you want to make them available via a separate Category page
Regenerate Thumbnails - has saved my bacon when resized images of media files I’ve uploaded have gotten corrupted.
MCE Table Buttons - makes adding an HTML table to a post much much less tedious.

I like Display Posts Shortcode which allows to to display lists of posts, pages and the like in a very flexible way, lots of customisation.
I’ve been playing with the indieweb plugin and its pals. A bit of a rabbit hole.
If you start messing about with child themes What The File helps figure out which bits of a page are coming from where.
Event Organiser create a custom post type of events and calendars to go along with it.

If I’m paying for plugins, I’m a big fan of Facet WP, Gravity Forms and Advanced Custom Fields.

The first two are really powerful and really flexible regardless of building custom themes or not and ACF allows really fast construction of custom back end structures but you have to build in the front end support.

I have been trying out JM TwitterCards. I like to share my blog post to twitter but have not always liked how it looks. With JM TwitterCards, I have set up some defaults that show a large picture with a summary below as well as a default photo that matches my site that would be used instead of the blue bird icon when there is no photo. The twitter card appears below the post so I can customized further if needed.

JM works solid; you may consider too the more general Open Graph tag plugins that will create social media posts as well for FB and other services, as well as twitter. You get this with the JetPack plugin if you enable Publicize module.

Or go with one like

All will use the featured image for the posting. There’s a preview site for twitter cards I think it’s