Plug-Ins Your Blog Needs

…and is too shy to ask you to install. These plug-ins are useful, fun, and really simple to set up, so I’m not going to do much other than recommend (and, in some cases, demonstrate) them here.

Broken Link Checker, by Janis Elsts

Nothing glamorous about this one – it just runs in the background and alerts you whenever it finds a broken link. Beats manually checking them all daily, doesn’t it? You can optionally have it email you or the author of the post containing broken links, when it finds one.

Click to Tweet, by Todaymade

Encourage your readers and Tweetmates to share your messages – not just a title link to your posts! For example:

It creates a shortcode.

Could it get any simpler?

Comments Evolved for WordPress, by Brian Holtsclaw

Adds the convenience of WordPress, Google+, and Facebook comments in one nice, integrated, unobtrusive package. Bet you didn’t even notice this one – but if you click each of the icons right above the comment box, you can either comment using the native WordPress comments system, share and comment via Google+, or share and comment using Facebook. Try it!

Default featured image, by Jan Willem Oostendorp

If this post has my picture in a thumbnail at the top, it’s working. Sometimes, it’s hard to find the perfect image for your post. Sometimes, you just want the words to speak for themselves. Sometimes you’re too lazy to remember to set a featured image. But that looks weird when someone shares on Facebook, or when you want to feature the post using certain themes. So it’s nice to set a default image – in case you’re lazy, frustrated, or forgetful – that can work as your default image. Your author profile pic, perhaps? A logo? A cute cat pic? The only settings you need to worry about – pick an image, upload it, and set it.

Starbox, by Squirrely UK

See the bio box at the bottom of my posts? That’s Starbox. It doesn’t need much, if any, tweaking to fit in with your blog’s theme, and it’s so easy to set up! There are a few global settings for the plug-in, but they are pretty straightforward. Its social settings appear on every author’s profile page (you can see @CairnRodrigues’s on her “Fantasy Food” post). All you and your other authors need to do is fill out the social links you want to include, write up a little bio blurb, and save.

Twitter Highlight, by Eduardo Reveles

When my friend, artist Todd Kruse, ranted this morning about hashtag abuse – hashtags spilling over from Twitter and Instagram to infest Facebook Walls and news feeds –  I knew that I had to make every effort to incorporate them into my #sillyhashtagsresponse, just to amuse him and make his annoyance complete. Twitter Highlight was just the ticket – not only turning hashtags into search terms but also causing Twitter name mentions to turn into Twitter links, automagically. Settings are simple, allowing you to choose where this magic gets applied, whether links are dofollow or not, and whether to open them in a new window. Other, more complex and complicated plug-ins do less, far less elegantly.

UPDATE: I am thrilled to report that I have been able to re-activate Twitter Highlight after the release of version 1.2 today! (Thrilled largely because its author took the time to come over here and let me know there was an update, and even gave me credit in the readme.txt for helping to improve the plug-in! Awesome – thank you, Eduardo!) I have tested it out, and it now appears to play nicely with everything else… works like a charm.

Oh, I do make it hard to hate me, some days, don’t I?

HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
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25 thoughts on “Plug-Ins Your Blog Needs”

    1. For now, the “workaround” is to use the “Minimal” style on Starbox. I can live without the “Latest Posts” tab, actually – given that appears when you hover over my CommentLuv links. But it would be nice to constrain the Twitter Highlight to the post itself – ONLY – if that would work better.
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Silly, Stupid #HashtagsMy Profile

  1. Thanks Holly!
    That Twitter plug in is great and I snapped it right up. I tried to make it a little smaller, by changing the font size, but it didn’t work. Any suggestions? Will check out the Twitter Highlight later.
    Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the Comments Evolved plug in to work, and I see that it’s no longer supported – lots of open tickets there. I installed Facebook and Google+ comments separately. They don’t look too bad, because they’re embedded at the end of the post.
    Have a good weekend. 🙂
    Debbie recently posted…READ FOR ANIMALS – A WORTHY CAUSE!My Profile

    1. Interesting. I like Comments Evolved because it integrates all three AND doesn’t muck up my theme. (Which plug-ins did you use, exactly? I might try those, since this more subtle approach isn’t really getting used much, anyway.)

      I think that the Twitter plug-in could be changed – I may look into it later – because I’m PRETTY sure it’s just using CSS attributes. I’ll let you know if I figure out how to do what you’re trying to do. 🙂

      The one that’s giving me the most concern right now is the conflict between Twitter Highlight and Starbox. I really like both, a lot. BUT… Twitter Highlight needs to skip over some things it’s currently not skipping over (it’s screwing up other things on the back end – nothing major, just cosmetic stuff). Hoping one or both authors will respond and help me figure out a proper fix!
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Plug-Ins Your Blog NeedsMy Profile

  2. To be honest, I haven’t use any of these plug-ins. I suppose those are new, however I always try to keep number of plug-ins to minimum.

    1. Yes, it’s wise to do so. Of course, I don’t run a lot of ads or blinky things, so I suppose it evens out along the way, if performance is a concern. (I’m always being told to “optimize” or “get rid of some plug-ins” by people who later go, “Oh, no, no problems there, really…”) I think my biggest sin is not always remembering to optimize my images. But that’s okay, too – I use so few of them, unless it’s screenshots in a tutorial.
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Plug-Ins Your Blog NeedsMy Profile

  3. FYI – I have disabled Twitter Highlight for now. While I like the plug-in, it breaks too many other things (due to the fact that it tries to apply itself to text inside HTML tags). If it could just limit itself to body text and/or comments, it would be perfect – but it tries to apply to Click to Tweet, to tabs defined in Starbox, and even to colors of elements displayed in the Dashboard. I haven’t seen it result in anything particularly detrimental, but it’s not something I want to take a chance on right now. If fixed, I’ll reinstall it and give it another go.
    HollyJahangiri recently posted…Silly, Stupid #HashtagsMy Profile

  4. Well, these are really some cool plug-ins. I’m missing them, as I can’t use them.

    So many times I’ve thought to migrate my blog from blogger to wordpress. But often I discard that thought thinking that it’s still a blog, not a blogging platform.

    It’s not that blogger is better than wordpress, but it’s really easy to use. The wordpress platform is 100 times better than blogger, and you can do whatever you like to do using the platform.

    However, I think there is a problem of using them. Although wordpress is providing you with thousands of cool plug-ins, but the problem is more plug-ins mean more external java scripts! I think you already know that more external java scripts mean more slower page load time!

    I know you don’t care about SEO factors. But I think it’s a factor that needs you attention, because it creates an impression in first time visitors.

    You current page has 34 external java scripts, while it’s better to have less than five java scripts in a post page. You can download yahoo’s YSlow app in Google chrome or Mozilla to better understand page load potential.
    Imtiaz Ibne Alam recently posted…Open Letter: A Confession with YouMy Profile

    1. FYI, I just used http://gtmetrix.com/ and there’s NO problem with the javascript here. But as I said, I’m bad about optimizing my images. 😉 I did look at that YSlow plug-in, and it had a three-star rating and numerous people saying it didn’t work anymore, so I didn’t install it. Gtmetrix was recommended by one of the tech support folks I worked with, recently. It’s fast and gives good info.
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…#BlogCrawl and BookishnessMy Profile

      1. Ahh, I see it now. I’m going to keep it private – not sure I want to highlight all those URLs. But I see what you mean. And the URL I gave, above, also gives the YSlow report (along with others).

        Honestly, I’m not sure how to combine them – I’m no programmer. Pretty sure I know what they’re all doing (and they’re parts of my theme and several plug-ins I like, so I’m not going to get rid of them, either). Given the pages generally load in less than 4 seconds, I’m not going to stress out TOO much over a C or D from YSlow or any other metric. BUT, it’s always wise to take a look, now and then.

        Thanks! (And thanks for sending me off to check the spam folder – yeah, it was the number of URLs that did it, in this case. 😉 )

  5. Looks like you were talking to yourself a lot on this post. lol The only one of these I actually did run for some time was Broken Link Checker. However, it shut down my blog a couple of times and I decided it wasn’t worth the stress anymore. That can happen to some folks.
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…“Great Content” ReduxMy Profile

  6. Hello Holly, they say it’s better late than never, so I just updated my plugin Twitter Highlight. Maybe you have no more use for it now, but I just wanted to let you know since you took the trouble to tell me the problem. It may take a while to appear, but version 1.2 fixes the problem.

    Regards!

    1. Beautiful, Eduardo! I’ve reactivated your plug-in, tested it with all the things it didn’t get along with before, and it’s great – thank you! And thank you, both for taking the time to let me know about the new version, and for your kind mention in the readme!

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