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The Top 5 WordPress Plugins We Love

Blog post   •   Nov 08, 2011 06:30 EST

We’ve been using WordPress as our blog platform since we started. What we love about WordPress is that it’s an OpenSource project, meaning that the possibilities are literally endless. We can customize the blog completely to our liking, by applying our own designs, as well as installing specific plugins.

And that’s what we want to highlight today – the top 5 WordPress plugins that have enhanced the look and feel of the Mynewsdesk blog (in no particular order):

1. Lightbox Plus by Dan Zappone

You know what isn’t fun to do? Cropping and compressing the carefully chosen images for a blog entry, because they don’t quite fit the layout or alignment you want. You’re then left with smaller images embedded in the text and to see the larger versions, readers have to click the image, leading them away from the article to the page it’s hosted on.

Well, Lightbox Plus solves this issue. This plugin creates a lightbox overlay on your blog for each image that you publish. In other words, you can view larger versions of published images without leaving the page you’re on. Click the picture below to see for yourself. It’s one from Mynewsday in Malmö, with yours truly in the foreground wearing the blindingly red trousers.

Adam Vincenzini discusses the power of YouTube at Mynewsday in Malmö

 2. Related Post Thumbnails by Maria Shaldybina

This plugin is exactly what the title suggests it is: it will display related blog posts at the bottom of each entry, with a thumbnail image for each. Pretty straightforward. There are tons of these “related post” or “recommended post” plugins on WordPress and you might prefer others depending on what you need. We chose this one and are happy with it because:

  1. You can choose the thumbnail images and sizes for each post, even setting a default image.
  2. You can customize how the relations between posts are determined (e.g. using tags or using categories).
  3. It can create a sidebar widget with related posts.
  4. It can embed the related post thumbnails in the text.

Scroll down to see the blog posts related to this entry.

 3. Polldaddy Polls & Ratings by Automattic, Inc.

Polldaddy is the mother of all poll, survey, and rating plugins. (See what I did there? Pretty witty eh?)

You have to create a Polldaddy account to use this plugin, but thankfully, the free version allows you to use the plugin on WordPress. You get to make 200 polls, surveys, or ratings per month (10 questions per survey), but have to endure a hardcoded backlink to the Polldaddy website. A small price to pay for what is, according to their own website, “the most powerful and easy-to-use survey software around.” They’re not too far off actually.

4. All-in-One Event Calendar Plugin by The Seed Studio

We started using this calendar plugin recently, because we wanted to display information, dates, and locations of upcoming Mynewsdesk events on our blog without too much administration. But this plugin does so much more than just that. You can add recurring events, add tags, categories, and color coding, share with Google Calendar and Outlook, as well as embed Google Maps to indicate location. On top of that, each event you post is search-engine optimized. What’s not to like?

Have a look at our Events page to see what the calendar looks like or how individual events are displayed.

5. Instapress by Thomas Krammer

We are big fans of Instagram. It’s a great app that allows you to take extraordinary pictures with your iPhone (by using various filters and other effects). But while Instagram excels at being an app, it leaves any web-integration up to 3rd party developers – which is just fine by us! Instapress gives you the opportunity to embed all your awesome Instagram pictures in the text or in a sidebar widget… just like the ones below:

 There is a plugin for that. And for that. And that too.

So there you have them – five of our favorite plugins. In total, we use around 20 plugins on our blog, giving it its unique look and functionality. And we’ll probably add more as we come up with different ideas or needs. We recommend that if you want to add some flair or specific features to your blog, or if you just have this crazy idea, have a look around in the WordPress Plugin Directory. Chances are there is already a plugin for that.

Post was originally published at The Mynewsdesk Blog