For moderately sized sites (including simple e-Commerce sites), WordPress does a pretty good job as a CMS, making it easy to maintain your site, and update your content. Of course, it does this best with the help of a good theme, and some great WordPress CMS plugins. The strength of WordPress is the community of developers who have already done almost anything you can think of with it. Here are the best plugins we’ve run across, the ones we install for nearly all of our client’s sites.
- Cforms II – This is far and away the best contact form plugin there is. The reason? configurability. You can easy build literally anything with it. We’ve built out employment application forms, wedding checklists, and more for clients. It also drives our own quote form. There’s also built in spam protection, via question and answer or captcha. by delicious days
- WP e-Commerce – Unlike cforms, this plugin has no competition. It provides an easy to manage storefront and shopping cart as an integral part of your wordpress installation. It includes the ability to sell digital downloads as well, which is great for photographers, musicians, and authors. By default it includes support for PayPal, although the $29.99 fee for the authorize.net module will pay for itself in lower fees for most serious e-Commerce sites. by Instinct Entertainment
- Search Everything – Since most of the sites we develop focus more on their static content than on their blog posts, this plugin is essential for allowing users to search your entire site without leaving your site and relying on google. by Dan Cameron
- Google Sitemap Generator – The biggest benefit of using wordpress is the manual labor you save because the software already knows where all of your content is. This Plugin submits a comprehensive index of your site to google, yahoo, MSN Live, and Ask.com every time you update your site. It’s a huge boost to your site’s SEO. by Arne Brachhold
- Subscribe2 – Subscribe2 is a newsletter plugin for your site. It allows you to create newsletters and manage subscribers within your WordPress Dashboard. It also allows you to email subscribers when you post a blog entry, which allows you to have a permanent copy of the newsletter that you can refer people to. plugin homepage
- Event Calendar 3 – There are a ton of event plugins out there. This is the best & most integrated one we’ve used. It provides an iCal feed, in addition to the standard RSS feed. Since the events are created as Blog posts, it’s easy to integrate them into your site. by Alex Tingle
- Page Links To – by far the simplest plugin on this list, This plugin allows you to create “pages” that link to something else. It’s the easiest way to add links to your main menu, without mucking around in code. It’s good for adding a link to an external photography portfolio, for example. You could also use it to link to sections of a page, rather than an entirely seperate page, which could be useful for linking to sections of a restaurant menu, or other small sections of a larger page. by Mark Jaquith
- TinyMCE Advanced – I’ve posted a lot about using this plugin. It was referred to me by Jim Burke from TSG Real Estate, who needed a way to easily add classes to blockquotes, tables, and images. The plugin also does a great job of making tables work well with WordPress posts. plugin homepage
- XSPF_Player – As much as I’m not a fan of auto-playing music on websites, This MP3 player makes it easy to manage playlists, cover art, and artist links. It’s a great way for music venues to highlight upcoming shows. Used in conjunction with Event Calendar, you can make the track link lead to the post for their upcoming show, all of which is easily manageable from your wordpress dashboard. by Boriel
- pageMash – I just posted about this, but it’s worth mentioning again. This plugin makes it very easy to put your pages in order, without having to edit every page individually. by Joel Starnes
Bigger than Plugins:
DFGallery by Dezinerfolio provides an easy way to set up a flash slideshow without relying on flickr, or another external service. There’s not really an easy way to manage the photos, but we’ve used the gallery successfully for several clients.
WP Contact Manager by The Design Canopy is a great start on a project to make wordpress into a directory. It’s not just one plugin, it’s actually a series of plugins and a custom theme. While a public LDAP server would certainly make a better (and easier) contact manager, we’ve used the project to create vendor lists, and we’re working on building in microformat support, easier installation, and eventually the ability to use it as a paid-inclusion directory:
Be sure to check out our new article 10 Plugins That Transform WordPress Into A Blogging Friendly CMS for more great plugins that make WordPress awesome and easy to use.