WordPress is an extremely powerful blog platform. The biggest reason why it is so powerful is because of all the plugins out there that take WordPress to the next level and completely change how it operates. It could be said that many of these plugins work to make WordPress more like a full fledged Content Management System, rather than just a blogging platform.
Each of these plugins adds advanced functionality to WordPess and each has a learning curve of it’s own. They don’t necessarily work right out of the box and will require some tweaking to get them to behave the way they are meant to.
But let’s face it, bloggers like to get our hands dirty and learn new things as often as we can. So I thought I would share 5 advanced WordPress plugins with you that you can utilize on your blog. Check them out:
TDO Mini Forms
Have you ever thought: I wish there was a way I could let people submit blogs posts or content, with custom fields that would automatically post? That’s what this plugin does. On a basic level, it’s a form builder. On an advanced level, it can help you create custom content that users can create on their own. It allows you to maintain complete control while opening a site up to user contributions. For example, this would be useful if you were creating some kind of informational directory that required user input. You can create a form with TDO Mini Forms that will have all the relevant fields and then publish it to the site.
However, it’s not that simple. This plugin is extremely difficult to learn how to use, especially when it comes to creating custom fields. Often times you’ll have to resort to hacking the form code itself in order to get it to do what you want. They make it easy to hack, but you’ll need to know your way around HTML to get things to work right. But once you get it to work, it can be an extremely powerful way to create content for your website.
Once your blog hits critical mass and has the readership to support it, a forum is great way to engage your readers. People love belonging to communities and adding a forum to your blog will do that. The problem is that WordPress can’t do this out of the box. In comes WP Forum, which aims to be a complete WordPress Forum solution. It integrates well with WordPress and gets the job done. Best of all, it’s under active development, unlike other WordPress Forum solutions.
Once you install this plugin, you’ll need to set it up and create some custom pages. Once you do this, the forum will live within your blog and you’ll be able to manage it within WordPress Admin. If you went with a standalone forum software, you would not be able to do this. Installed, you can do everything you expect do with a forum, create categories, create posts and more. It’s a great little package.
This plugin is a little difficult to quantify. So, I’ll compare it to a cousin. In the Drupal CMS, there is something called the Content Construction Kit. Basically it lets you create custom content that is different from blog posts. Flutter is CCK for WordPress. It allows you to create custom content that is separate than blog posts. That means that if you want to have content on your WordPress site that’s different from a blog post, such as an event listing or definition. You create the custom content with this plugin and then you’ll have the option to write a ‘custom post’ as opposed to a regular blog post.
In a way, it’s slightly related to TDO Mini Forms in that it will allow you to create custom content pages. The only difference is that anonymous users won’t necessarily be able to create the content on their own. Like I said, it can be a little difficult to wrap your head around this plugin, which is why Flutter has an informative little video on their website that explains it by example.
Open Directory Links
A great way to drive traffic to your site and build its backlinks is to create a link directory. Until now, there hasn’t been a very good link directory solution for WordPress that didn’t require a lot of hacking to get it to function. Open Directory Links is a slick implementation of a link directory that will work just like directories such as DMOZ. When you install the plugin, it creates another part of your site that is a link directory.
It integrates well with WordPress and will display with your theme. It has the ability for permalinks. Users can submit their own links. You can create whatever categories you wish and all links will go into a moderation queue. The only thing that is missing is a way to accept payment for link inclusion; a feature I suspect is not far off. This plugin is perfect for including a link directory in your site quickly and easily.
There is a standalone photo gallery management system called Gallery 2 that is a free and open source way to create a photo gallery on your website. It’s very powerful and is actually used by some huge websites. Since it’s free, you can use it on your own website. WPG2 is a plugin that integrates Gallery 2 into your WordPress Blog.
It’s not an easy process, but it’s worth it. First, you’ll have to install Gallery 2 on your webserver and get it up and running on it’s own. Then you’ll have to set it up, setup some required modules and get the house in order for WPG2. Once everything is good, you’ll need to install WPG2 as a plugin, which has it’s own laundry list of requirements. When is all said and done, you’ll have an advanced photo gallery on your website that will be integrated perfectly with your WordPress website (and with your theme).
As you can see, these plugins can add a lot of functiality your existing blog. Hopefully you will give some of them a shot and see how they work for you.
Do You Have a Favorite Advanced Plugin?