12 Essential Plugins for Your WordPress Design Blog

November 13th, 2009 Posted in Various

For millions of bloggers worldwide, WordPress is the platform of choice. Offering the widest range of plugins and features — both user-designed and official, a massive network of bloggers and inbuilt installations, and the perfect price ($0), there’s no wonder why this blogging platform has become the industry standard.

Of course, WordPress isn’t limited to blogs and bloggers. With such powerful customization options, thousands of big name corporate websites are running on the WordPress platform. Design and development blogs, some of the most popular online presences, almost always use WordPress as their platform of choice.

If you’re thinking of launching a design blog, these twelve plugins should always be on your to-download list. From server protection to intense design options, customizing your WordPress design and development blog is much simpler with these 12 plugins on your server.


1. Lightbox 2 Plugin for Images

The original lightbox plugin, Lightbox 2, has some pretty cool features that make it a virtual requirement for any WordPress based design website. Images are the life and soul of any design website — without them it’s hard to draw attention or valuable links — and presenting those images is just as important as having them there. Using a simple lightbox plugin, you can let your readers view images and design examples without having to open them in another tab or window.

While the original plugin is the most popular, there are several others around that offer similar features, and often more customization options. For Picasa users, the Picasa Lightbox plugin will save you time and server space by directly loading images from your Picasa account. Flexible Lightbox seamlessly integrates the lightbox feature into your gallery options, making the entire process more simple for you. Finally, the Lightbox Gallery Plugin changes your gallery viewing mode to lightbox by default, saving your visitors the trouble of having to click through to new tabs to view images.

2. Super Cache for Digg, StumbleUpon and Other Traffic

Everyone’s seen the Digg effect in action. Small blogs that normally get by on 1000 views per day get crushed under the weight of one of the world’s biggest social bookmarking websites. Even a small slither of Digg’s traffic is enough to cripple your server, and occasionally even prompt your host to investigate for dDos attacks.

This plugin protects you from being overwhelmed with traffic from a front page link on any of the major industry websites. It’s awesome to be flooded with traffic, but it’s a real problem when that traffic leaves your website down for days, or even completely spent for a month. A quick installation of Super Cache can save you a lot of trouble when your posts start getting ultra-popular.

3. WP Print for Printable Tutorials

If you’re running a design blog, you know how essential guides and tutorials are for traffic generation. Running a great tutorial on your blog gets you picked up by other design blogs, generating valuable links and potentially lucrative traffic. From Photoshop tutorials to advanced web development case studies, posting the hard data can put your blog above the rest.

WP Print makes it easy for your readers to print out tutorials, even if they cover multiple pages. Some of your audience might not be reading on advanced design rigs, and having a printed copy could save hours of flicking back and forth between windows — not everyone has a dual monitor setup! Worried about important content missing from the print version? Relax. You can customize what should and shouldn’t be included in the plugin’s options.

4. Mobile Press for Mobile Blog Access

As good as today’s smart phones are, visiting a blog on them is an infuriating experience. There’s the tiny text, the frequent dividers, and the advertising that seems to take up 90% of the screen space. Visiting your average design blog leaves most people constantly double-tapping their iPhone screens just to view the text.

Mobile Press changes all that. Instead of having your mobile users make do with a full size theme, you can create a custom mobile theme for your design blog. For a WordPress designer, there’s a great opportunity for extra exposure — create a mobile theme for your already popular design website. Worried about losing advertising revenue? Simply change your mobile theme to allow for small page ads, leaving your mobile visitors free to click through to advertiser websites too.

5. Google XML Sitemaps for SEO Benefits

Getting your blog ranked high on Google can be incredibly difficult, especially in a competitive field like design. Sure, you could go down the natural SEO route, with every post adding to an incredibly large backlog of SEO-buildind content, or you could optimize what you’ve got. The first part of the equation is making sure that search engines have access to your website.

The Google XML Sitemap plugin makes the whole process simple. Instead of having to crawl through your website manually, a sitemap gives search engine crawlers direct instructions on what to index. This plugin automates the whole process, making your SEO efforts less of a drain.

This plugin works especially well alongside…

6. The All in One SEO Pack

SEO can be seriously draining, and a waste of valuable time when you could be focusing on more lucrative activities. Don’t spend all day doing basic SEO tasks when this useful plugin pack could be doing them for you. Even if you’re an absolute WordPress beginner, this highly useful

plugin pack will make your SEO efforts so much more simple. There’s no real need to tweak options if you don’t want to. Just install the plugin and your website will immediately get some SEO benefits.

If you’re using your design blog to make money, either through affiliate programs or on-page advertising, maintaining a high search engine ranking is essential. Give this plugin pack a try, along with the XML Sitemaps plugin, and watch as your rankings soar.

7. Author Exposed for Guest Posts and Multiple Writers

Running a busy design blog on your own is almost impossible, which is why so many top design blogs run articles, guides and studies from a wide variety of writers. Whether you’re employing writers to help run your blog or simply inviting people to submit guest posts, adding variety to your blog is a great way to make it to the top.

Author Exposed allows you to have individual profiles for each and every writer that submits content to your blog. By including Gravatar pictures and important link information, this resource box styled plugin is far superior to WP’s somewhat bulky standard solution.

8. All-in-One Video Pack for Video Tutorials and Features

Five years ago, big images were enough for people to flock to your blog posts. Now, things are different. Every design post is backed up with supporting images, and the new golden content is video. From design tutorials to interviews with famous web presences and designers, adding video to your web design blog is a sure-fire way to bring in some fresh new traffic.

The All in One Video Pack makes it easy to add video to your WordPress blog. This isn’t just Youtube embeds either, but dedicated and powerful online video from several different sources. You can upload media directly from your editing software, do live uploads from your webcam, and even have your readers post their own video responses and comments. With support for over 150 different types of online video, finding and uploading video content that supports your blog post is easy.

9. WP Ban for Managing Comments and Users

The internet, for all its brilliant advances, still has one major problem: anonymous trolls. Sure, they’re entertaining sometimes, and yes, they can occasionally bring life to a stale discussion, but there’s nothing more annoying than having them pop up in the comments section of your design blog.

WP Ban makes it easy to manage community annoyances. Using this simple plugin, you can choose to ban users by IP address, restrict the usage of certain names, or even wipe out entire characters entirely. If your WordPress blog is being troubled by permanent annoyances, give this plugin a try.

WP Ban has another great benefit — spam prevention. Akismet does a great job keeping spam out of your comments section, but it doesn’t do too much to prevent the annoying SEO spammers that seem to pop up from time to time. Don’t want them clogging up your comments section? Use WP Ban to limit their ability to post comments.


10. TTFTitles for Dynamic Titles and Custom Title Fonts

The standard title text can become a bit boring from time to time, and this plugin lets you keep it interesting. By adding custom fonts to your post titles, you can draw attention to special posts, differentiate between authors, and introduce some cool new design elements to your blog. Sounds useful for a blog that’s all about design, right?

TTFTitles is the plugin to use if you want interesting post titles. Truth be told, you’re not actually adding a new font to your blog. Instead, this plugin generates an image from an online font database, and uses it as the title of your new post. While you’re not generating a custom font on your own blog, the visual effect is exactly the same. Great design is all about creating attention, and this plugin will surely have your visitors talking.

11. Javascript Pull Quotes for Quotes and Inspiration

If there’s one advantage Tumblr has over WordPress, it’s the ease of quoting other posts, and adding well known adages to your blog. In WordPress, you’ve got to manually increase the text size and add emphasis tags, whereas other blogging platforms allow you to simply pick the “quote” option from a drop down menu.

Javascript Pull Quotes makes adding quotes to your blog much more simple. By giving your quotes a different design, you can easily separate them from your body text and keep your inspiration away from the rest of your content. Don’t want to use a particular quote style? Don’t worry, this plugin is completely customizable, right down to the font and style used for your quotations.

12. Post Typographer for Simple, Attractive Typography

What would a design blog be without good typography? Thousands of bloggers and webmasters spend days making sure their WordPress theme is perfect, all the while ignoring the most important design element on their page: the text. A focus on typography is essential for any design blogger. If you’re spending time on your page design but ignoring your text, you need to reassess your design and take another look at how things should be.

Post Typographer is a very simple text design plugin that automatically improves the look of your text. From post titles to body content, this plugin changes your letter spacing to improve readability, switches dashes to more attractive alternatives, and makes your posts more easy to read and much more appealing to the eye.

These twelve plugins are a great foundation for your WordPress design blog. Of course, any serious blogger would look at installing more as soon as they could. From social media manipulation and management to much more advanced design tools, the amount of WordPress plugins that are out there is truly astonishing. For design and development bloggers, the need to be on top of all these plugins is important, so get out there, get downloading, and get busy customizing your design blog.

On that note, have you got a favorite WordPress plugin? Design related or not, fire away in the comments with your favorite WordPress plugins, widgets and more.

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11 Responses to “12 Essential Plugins for Your WordPress Design Blog”

  1. Stephen R Says:

    RE: #11 — Thank you for the kind mention, but it appears that you are missing the distinction between a “pull quote” and a “block quote”.

    A pull quote is a visual enhancement commonly seen in magazines and newspapers, in which a short excerpt from the article is repeated and emphasised. That is, a pull quote repeats something from the *same* post/article, not a different post.

    Of course you *could* use my plugin for that as well, but it’s primarily designed for emphasizing (and repeating) text already within a post.

  2. Mathew Says:

    Hi Stephen, thank you for your comment and for the clarifaction. Regards, Mat.

  3. uberVU - social comments Says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  4. Evan Beck Says:

    Just referenced your list on a post. You have some mentioned I have not yet seen or know about. Thanks

    Evan Beck

  5. BebopDesigner Says:

    This is really really handy. Thanks a million… just what I needed

  6. seo sydney Says:

    your information are nice, i like to your blog content very useful & helpfull for me,
    i book marked this site

  7. GrefTek Says:

    Nice article and some very useful plug-ins. I would personally also recommend akismet (because the world is a scary place out there), wp-cache for optimal performance and WP Google Analytics for optimizing your site’s functional performance.

  8. Keith Davis Says:

    Just installed All in one SEO.
    Followed the video instructions from Evan Beck’s site. Would recommend a visit to anyone thinking of installing this plugin.
    Easy to imnstall and configure… fingers crossed, just waiting for the results!

  9. seo Says:

    realy love this blog post,can i bookmark you site, :))

  10. Jenny Says:

    Hey, nice post. 🙂 Thanks for the interesting info.

  11. blogiskewl Says:

    Hi, I recently started a bloghosting platform (based on wordpress MU) and when I stumbled your blog I paid attention to your theme (looking good) so I was wondering can you tell me is it custom made theme or one of those free ones? thanks in advance! regards, blogiskewl

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