I get several user requests per day (I’m administrator & head of support in wordpress theme & plugin support forum) about plugin suggestions so I decided to create a tutorial post about this topic. Please be aware that it’s my personal opinion. I know there’re hundreds of plugins out there and every plugin has advantages/disadvantages.

I tested all plugins I mention below with free and premium themes – however I can’t promise that they work with your theme(s). I’ll maintain this list and I’ll add new plugins I think you might be interested in. You can suggest plugins by posting a comment :)

WP-Search plugin(s)


SearchWP
This plugin replaces the standard search engine with an advanced, keyword based search index. Specify exactly what weights keywords receive based on where they appear. Give more weight to titles and less to comments. Call out specific Custom Fields one at a time (or all at once). Exclude specific Categories if you want. SearchWP automatically makes PDF files searchable; include PDF content in search queries if you’d like. Capable of handling your brochure site with just a few pages or your other property with a hundred thousand, SearchWP aims to be a solution for any WordPress-powered website.

Font resizer plugin(s):

WordPress Font Resizer Plugin

This plugin allows you to add one or more font resizer widgets to your site and to give the users the option to change the font size. The plugin acts over jQuery and saves the settings in a cookie – therefore the visitors don’t need to adjust the font size over and over again if they reload the page or browse your website. The plugin comes with a sleek ajax driven option panel which allows you to set the default settings but you can also adjust/change these settings for each widget instance. You can download the plugin for free. If you miss some features don’t hesitate and contact me via the contact form here: http://inoplugs.com/contact/.

Event manager plugin(s):

Event Espresso

Event Espresso is an event registration, ticketing and entire management solution for WordPress. Event Espresso offers all event management tools you need like custom descriptions for events, multiple event dates, multiple event times, multiple event prices, surcharges, member pricing, event location and mapping, custom email confirmations, event categories, member-only events, on-going events, attendee limits, group registrations, custom post fields/events data & you can publish events as blog posts.

Event Espresso also comes with powerful attendee records: get a quick overview of registered attendees and their payment status, easily add/edit attendee records and export attendee list to Excel and/or CSV; add or edit a payment and send customizable payment reminders and receipts. Event Espresso offers multiple methods of accepting payments. Registrants can download a PDF invoice or pay by cash, check, money order, and there is even an option to pay by bank transfer. Easily send invoices and payment reminders to registrants who have not fully paid or after manually registering someone.

If your attendees need to register offline by phone, email, fax or postal letter, use the Manual Event Registration feature. You can add the attendee’s registration and payment information. Keep all your attendees organized into one place and then use the communication, billing and other tools to manage the attendee process.

You can even setup staff members and reuse that information for multiple events or display all the events for a given staff member or setup a venue and reuse that information for multiple events. EventEspresso also offers social media integration /facebook like, etc. for all events. It also integrates in the WP calender and displays all future events. You can use the promotion code feature to allow discounts and attribute sales to a particular source.

You can use the free version Event Espresso Lite or the paid version: Event Espresso Basic/Advanced. The paid product offers a lot more features and it’s worth the price – especially if you’d like to set up different tickets/prices and multiple event dates/times or recurring events.

The Events Calendar

Create and manage events quickly and easily with The Events Calendar plugin. Show off your events on your website in a calendar or an event list. Calendar grid view, which shows the current month in traditional calendar format, provides a comprehensive overview of what’s happening this month or you can use the standard list view which shows a nice loop of events. The Events Calendar offers a number of options for publishing events with a customizable page. Support for all-day events, multi-day events & shorter events with set hours. There’s a pro add-on (recurring events, custom event attributes, advanced ajax calendar and widget options, dedicated support forum, etc.): The Events Calendar Pro Add-on available and you can integrate your events into your WooCommerce shop (thus sell tickets) with: Wootickets. I tested the calendar plugin with Replete & Incarnation and it worked perfectly fine (Incarnation doesn’t support WooCommerce out of the box though).


Search Engine Optimization Plugin(s):

WordPress SEO by Yoast

My favorite SEO plugin. It’s free and offers some great features like a search engine preview field, xml sitemap generation, keyword analysis, etc. – imho it’s great for advanced SEO and integrates well in WP (admin bar, preview field, etc.)

All in One SEO

Most popular SEO plugin for WordPress. I used it before I switched to Yoast SEO. It’s great for beginners and helps you to improve your website ranking results without advanced seo/wp knowledge. However it lacks in my humble opinion important features and you need to install other plugins for sitemap generation. It’s useless for advanced SEO compared to Yoast SEO or SEO Ultimate. Also it’s a bit outdated and the author doesn’t really care about new features and updates. Do not buy the pro version because it doesn’t offer any additional features and is therefor not worth the money.

SEO Ultimate

I haven’t tested the plugin extensively and can’t say if it’s better than Yoast SEO but it seems to be feature rich and offers a lot of necessary & useful functions. It’s free and open source.

Platinum SEO Pack

I haven’t tested the plugin extensively and can’t say if it’s better than Yoast SEO but it seems to be feature rich and offers a lot of necessary & useful functions. It’s free and open source.


Contact Form Plugins:

Formidable Free Edition & Formidable Pro

Very popular form plugin which is available in a free and pro edition. It offers more features and a better user interface than Contact Form 7. The user interface is similiar to Gravity Form’s ui – you can create forms by drag’n’drop the input fields into the “form builder” area. Every form field offers a variety of options (i.e. obligatory field, field size, field calculations, key, label position, input permissions (read only), etc.). The developers categorized the fields in “Basic fields” and “Pro fields” – basic fields arestandard input elements like text fields, textareas, (multiple) select boxes, recaptcha anti spam field, radio buttons, etc. The “pro fields” are “Upload fields”, rich text fields, image fields, number, email, data, scale, webiste, user id, hidden etc.) fields.

You can also generate multi-paged forms with the addition of a page break. You can combine them without limitations and can create as many forms as you like. You can also restrict forms to logged-in users, allow them to edit previous responses, and display the user-generated or admin-generated posts and content.

The pro version of the plugin offers sleek graphical reports in the backend which makes it to a great poll plugin. View graphical reports for at-a-glance reporting for each field in your form, as well as a chart of daily submissions.

Another great feature is that it’s possible to allow your users to not only create posts, pages, and custom posts types with your forms, but also to manage and edit them from the front-end of your site. Add fields for only the post title and content for a simple post, or and any of the following: post date, title, slug, excerpt, categories, tags, status (they can select whether it’s a draft or pending review), and unlimited custom fields.

The support/help desk seems be be great and one of the best out there. They’re very responsive, fast and try to implement new features when the community asks for it. I.e. one of the advantages Gravity Form had was that they offered MailChimp integration. Some users requested this feature too and voila – they started to develop a mailchimp integration plugin for Formidable which goes final soon.

One of the major advantages of Formidable is that you can try it for free and that the pro upgrade (needed for poll features, advanced templates, etc.) is available for a reasonable price (varies from 37$ to $97$ for lifetime licenses with no yearly fees). Gravity Forms costs the same or even more for 1 year updates/support but offers less features.

If you’re searching for an advanced (contact) form plugin which helps you to build poll and contact forms or you’d like to offer direct post publishing forms to users (i.e. magazine sites, etc.) Formidable (Pro) is the way to go.

An useful extension is the Formidable Integration extension which allows you to add a subscribe checkbox to your Formidable forms. The subscribe checkbox will appear on the form as you configured it and if ticked/checked upon the submission of the form, the user will be subscribed to a newsletter mailing list automatically. The advantage is that you get new subscribers easily and they don’t need to fill out an additional form first.


Membership and E-Commerce Plugins:

Tribulant Shopping Cart Plugin

Tribulant Shopping Cart plugin gives you the ability to quickly and seamlessly integrate an online shop with a fully functional shopping cart into any WordPress website. It integrates well in our themes.
You can set up an unlimited number of products and categorize/organize them into multiple product categories.
Tribulant Shopping Cart uses WordPress pages/posts to provide shopping cart functionality. You can use shortcodes to embed products into the pages/posts.

As for product creation, Tribulant Shopping Cart provides a screen that looks very similar to the WordPress default “Add Post” screen. Through that screen you can create a new product and the plugin will save the product as a default WordPress post type. You can also optionally save it as a page.
Tribulant Shopping Cart handles product variations without problems – you add as many variation metrics as you want, i.e. size, weight, color, capacity, etc.

The shopping cart shipping features are very flexible. You can specify storewide shipping rates, per product rates, rates for bundles, and you can integrate your store with FedEx, USPS, UPS, Australia Post, and Canada Post. It offers a variety of payment gateways.

The tax management works great too. You can set whether you want to calculate rate or not, a default rate, whether to tax shipping fees, and finally, you can set a tax rate for various shipping regions.

It’s also possible to sell digital goods and to offer discounts/coupon codes. You can add as many product images per product as you like and insert product archives/overviews anywhere you like (quantity & add to cart button, etc. can be displayed).

WooCommerce – eCommerce plugin for WordPress

WooCommerce is a new ecommerce plugin developed by WooThemes. It’s open source and free and offers a lot of features out of the box. Some extensions add even more features to your store – i.e. popular payment gateways, product enquiry forms, etc.
A list of payment gateway plugins can be found HERE – some very popular services are supported like Google Checkout, PayPal Pro, Authorize.net, 2Checkout Form, eWay or even iDeal by Mollie. A list of all woocommerce extensions can be found HERE.

Abundance was created with WooCommerce in mind and the shop integrates perfectly into this theme. Other themes won’t work with WooCommerce out of the box but with some custom work you can integrate it (css and php file modifications). If you’d like to use WooCommerce “out of the box” please go with Abundance.
WooCommerce offers a lot of features and I think it’s useless to list them here because every update introduces new ones. A feature list can be found HERE.

Some very useful WooCommerce extensions are: WooCommerce QR Code Generator, WooCommerce Email Attachments, Groups WooCommerce, WooCommerce Wishlist, WooCommerce GumGallery – a product gallery plugin, Table Rate Shipping, WooCommerce Branding, WooCommerce Print Invoices, Product Enquiry Form, Product Add-Ons, Min/Max Quantities, Per Product Shipping, jPlayer, Catalog Visibility Options, Affiliate Payments (get 20% discount by using following coupon code: HOTPS20), Wootickets (requires the free Events Calendar plugin).

WooCommerce QR Code Generator

This extension for WooCommerce allows you to generate a QR-Code image and place it on a product page on selectable, predefined locations. To speed up loading the images are cached in a storage folder. Choose from the following possibilities to create your individual QR-Code:
1) Enter any text you like (use shortcodes for a link to product URL and homepage);
2) Use the Product URL;
3) Define a Bookmark or
4) Upload an existing image

All images will be generated on the server and the QR Generator does not rely on external APIs.

Cart 66

I tested the free, lite version of this plugin and it seems to work fine with our themes. You can easily place products for sale on any page or post of your WordPress website. You’re able to sell physical products, digital products, and services, Cart 66 will also turn your WordPress site into a membership website allowing you to sell subscription access to your content.

Easily place products for sale on any page or post of your WordPress website. The plugin comes with a powerful administration panel as well. Set your currency, choose which countries you want to sell to, charge tax by zip code ranges or states, manage orders, view sales reports, and track your inventory…

The paid version seems to offer more features however I haven’t tested it with our themes. The plugin is optimized for the US/UK market.

WP eStore

Very popular and feature rich shopping cart plugin. One great feature is the Nextgen Gallery integration which makes it attractive for graphic designers, photographers, etc. I really like it because the plugin offers tons of options and nearly everything is self explaining an user friendly. The support seems to be great and responsive and they try to come up with “all in one” solutions. I.e. you can integrate the E-Member plugin (see below) in the E-store plugin (and vice versa) and you can even stamp/brand PDF files to avoid file sharing (Link). They also offer an affilate platform integration (Link). There’s also a free version of the plugin which called Simple Paypal Shopping Cart – for those who don’t need secure payments and who want to build a shop with a small budget it’s definitely worth a try.

WP e-member

Very popular and feature rich membership plugin. It allows you to create unlimited membership levels and different levels of memberships (free, premium, etc.). You can protect your content with shortcodes (i.e. if you just want to hide specific areas on pages/posts like download links) or you can disable posts/pages/categories for unregistered users or users who don’t have a certain membership. I tried/used it myself and started to love it. Imho very fair priced and it integrates well with other plugins (like eStore, etc.).

Groups – User membership management

Groups is a WordPress plugin that provides group-based user membership management, group-based capabilities and group-based content access control. It integrates standard WordPress capabilities and application-specific capabilities along with an extensive API.

Feature Overview:

Users: Supports an unlimited number of groups; Provides a Registered group which is automatically maintained and the users can be assigned to any group; Users are added automatically to the Registered group

Groups hierarchy: Supports group hierarchies with capability inheritance

Group capabilities: Integrates standard WordPress capabilities which can be assigned to groups and users; Supports custom capabilities: allows to define new capabilities for usage in plugins and web applications

Access control: Built-in access control that allows to restrict access to posts, pages and custom content types to specific groups and users only; control access to content by groups: shortcodes allow to control who can access content on posts, show parts to members of certain groups or to those who are not members Shortcodes: [groups_member], [groups_non_member]; control access to content by capabilities: show (or do not show) content to users who have certain capabilities Shortcodes: [groups_can], [groups_can_not]

Multisite: All features are supported independently for each blog in multisite installations

There two paid extensions available:

1) Groups File Access: Groups File Access is an extension that allows to provide file download links for authorized users. Access to files is restricted to users by their group membership.

2) Groups WooCommerce: Groups for WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that allows you to sell memberships.

S2 Member & s2Member Pro

Very popular membership plugin. It allows you to create up to 4 membership levels in the free version and different classes of memberships (free, premium, etc.). The pro module allows you to create unlimited membership levels and adds an paypal pro gateway option. Paypal Pro makes it possible to integrate the whole payment process in your website – the user doesn’t need to leave your website. You can assign “Custom Capabilities” to each level and depending on your membership options this may requires manual work (shortcode scripting, etc.). S2members is a great alternative to e-member and is very user friendly. The free verson is extremely powerful and the support in the support forum (or via mail) is great.

There’s also a pro version available which allows you to integrate the whole payment process in your website and the user doesn’t need to leave your website. You can also create unlimited membership levels: s2Member Pro


Advertising plugin(s):

OIOpublisher

This plugin helps you to sell all forms of text ads, banner ads, and paid reviews on your website. You can simply display ads on any website you like using php or javascript.
The great thing is that OIOpublisher is a not only a wordpress plugin but also a standalone platform – it enables you to use this tool on any website. If you use it with wordpress it will install like a standard plugin and the client panel will integrate perfectly fine into any wordpress theme (you can use a standalone panel too if you like). However you can also use it on any static html website because of the standalone platform feature.
The plugin enables you to create as many ad zones as you like and you can select the number of banners per ad zone, price per ad banner and the payment methode (eg price for XX days or price for XX clicks, etc.). It’s also possible to rotate ads or to show the banners by using widgets or to insert it anywhere you like with a php function call.

OIOpublisher supports several payment gateways and you can even build up an affiliate system with it. Clients who are interested in buying ad spaces for their banners simply go to a page where they can upload their banner, insert the url to the website they want to link to, choose an ad zone of their choice and pay you by using PayPal or another (supported) gateway. Afterwards OIOpublisher will publish the advertising automatically and you don’t need to do anything else.


Affiliate plugin(s):

Affiliates Pro for s2Members and WooCommerce

First – you can get an exclusive 20% discount by using following coupon code: HOTPS20.

Affilates Pro is a professional affiliate platform which can be considered as very flexible. Integration with virtually any E-Commerce platform. It integrates well into several popular membership and e-commerce plugins. Among them S2members, WooCommerce and WP e-Commerce. Referrals and affiliate link statistics are recorded and available instantly, as transactions are processed.
You can add unlimited affiliates and affiliates can sign up automatically and can also be added manually with or without user accounts. Referral amounts can be flat rates, percentage of net sales amounts and based on custom formulas and you can create dedicated affiliate area pages which are showing affiliates their stats, banners, links, profile. The plugin allows you to make PayPal mass payments which means that you simply pay your affiliates all at once. Pay-outs can be based on accumulated totals.
The standard affiliates plugin is free and open source. If you want to use it, simply install it from your WordPress Dashboard or download it from WordPress.org. Affiliates Pro offers additional features.

The plugin author is very responsive when it comes to feature requests, bug reports and support requests in general.

s2Members Integration

The integration provides all the features of the Affiliates Pro plugin, plus:

-) Affiliate referrals are created automatically when a member makes a payment.
-) Support for recurring payments, if you continue to pay your affiliates for recurring subscription payments, the corresponding referrals are created automatically for the initial affiliate.
-) Refunds and reversed payments can automatically reject referrals.
-) Notifications are sent to the site administrator when a new referral has been granted.
-) Affiliates are notified of new referrals.
-) Automatically handles s2Member API Notifications – there is no need to set up notification URLs manually for payment or refund/reversal notifications.

WooCommerce Integration

The integration provides all the features of the Affiliates Pro plugin, plus:

Affiliates Pro automates referral handling with respect to the order status. It will react to changes in order status and adjust the referral status accordingly. Eg it will cancel affiliate payments if the order status is set to cancelled, etc.
Affiliates Pro will add a dedicated option page for WooCommerce specific settings which allows you to configure the behaviour for each order status, affiliate sale, etc.

The plugin comes with a lot of shortcodes which help you to design the affiliate areas/pages individually. During my tests all shortcodes worked flawlessly with Kriesi’s theme Propulsion and no css adjustments were required.


Review Plugins:

My Review Plugin

Allow users to easily rate products, posts and contribute their own reviews through your comment box. When posting a comment, users will be shown an easy-to-use “star rating form” with the rating fields you have specified. You can specify different rating sections for each post or mass-add rating categories to categories, authors or other criteria. For example, you may want to have one post (or category) that allows users to rate on “Overall,” “Price” and “Support,” and another category which allows users to rate on “Overall,” “Power” and “Build Quality.” Or you can allow users to see ratings as specified by the editor. Also, you can specify rating categories to be “editor’s only”, meaning users won’t be asked to rate them: this is a great way for editor’s to provide a detailed analysis, while keeping your site simple and navigable for users.
If 5-star ratings doesn’t fit the content you’re rating, MyReviewPlugin offers other rating types. Letter grades, percentage (out of 100), pass/fail and 10-star ratings are all available with just a click of a mouse. Plus they can all be converted back to 5-star ratings for use in average calculations and tables.
You can order posts chronologicallyor by most (or least) popular, highest (or lowest) rated, Bayesian weightings (see below), popularity or our weighted smart sorting system. You can add custom fields to show and compare information such as price, technical requirements, file size, sizes, etc. in the custom data table.
Comparison tables can be embedded on any page(s) and can be configured in the administration area to specify which fields, which rating categories and even the overall appearance of the table. Included are horizontal and vertical comparison tables.

There are many additional features like: Google Maps integration, explanation tooltips, seo friendly code and microformats, bonus plugins, etc.


Comment Plugins:

PTM AJAX Comments

AJAX enabled commenting based on the jQuery framework. This plugin will hook into the comments form and posts the user comments the AJAX way without reloading the whole page. I really like this plugin because it integrates the comments form/sending process perfectly into Kriesi’s themes. The error messages won’t be displayed on an ugly extra page anymore and the comments appear without a page refresh. The sending & loading process is indicated by an ajax icon which pops up next to the “submit” button. The plugin adds a 2kb jquery script to your website – however during my test I didn’t notice longer loading times.


Post/Page/Content/Image Plugins:

WP Cu3er – 3D Image slider plugin

wpCU3ER is a WordPress plugin designed to provide easy CU3ER integration into WordPress powered web sites while offering lots of advanced CU3ER content editing and managing features. You can create sveral slideshows like 3D slideshows, Ipad tablet slideshows, etc. – since the latest version Cu3er offers a javascript fallback slider too. The free version comes with the Cu3er branding and limits the number of projects you can create; the pro version allows you to create prjects with your own branding/logo, etc.

Pretty Link Free & Pretty Link Pro

Shrink, track and share any URL on the Internet from your WordPress website. Unlike other link shrinking services like tinyurl, budurl, and bit.ly, this plugin allows you to create shortlinks coming from your own domain. It’s very helpful if you’d like to shorten long urls (i.e. with php parameters, etc.) or if you’d like to convert useless into meaningful urls. Pretty Links can help you a lot to imrove your seo.

It helps you to mask affiliate link if you like and/or to sort, organize, group the links or to export & import them. Pretty Link tracks each hit on your URL and provides a full, detailed report of where the hit came from, the browser, os and host. You’ll also have full control over how all of your links look and you’ll be able to track all kinds of data about them. You can also choose between different redirection types.

Pretty Link Pro offers another great function – it can search through your entire site and replace keywords with your (affiliate) links. This can safe you a lot of time.

The plugin also allows you to put a customizable bar at the top of any of your links that will showcase your website and branding, and allow them to re-tweet the link.

Foobar – WordPress Notification Bars

The Foobar is a plugin for WordPress that allows you to add a highly customizable bar to the top of your blog or website. You can display different notifications on different pages and define a default bar that will display on all your pages. You can create as many notification bars as you like. And manage them all from the WordPress backend. Then decide which bar you want to display on which page or post, and select which bar you want as your default. Check out the demos to see what we are talking about. Each Foobar can have different colors, different heights, different borders, different open/close button themes. A Foobar can be fixed at the top of the site, or it can be inline, so that it scrolls out of view. I.e. set your Foobar to display after 3 seconds, or only show it once your visitor scrolls the page. You can define multiple messages for each Foobar. Easliy add new messages (which can contain HTML). Then easily reorder them using drag and drop.

Advanced Excerpts

This plugin will help you to customize your excerpts. I.e. you can use html tags/content within the excerpt which are normally not allowed by WP (WP strips them).

NextGen Gallery

Very popular and powerful photo gallery plugin. It allows you to create as many image galleries as you like with a great image uploader. It’s easy to handle galleries, thumbnail generation, image branding etc. with this plugin and it’s imho more user friendly than WP’s image attachments. It’s free and open source.

Showcase

Showcase couldn’t be any simpler to use. Uploading files is simple, no messing about with the WordPress media uploader. Drag & drop re-ordering, adding captions, links and alt tags to your images is done with ease. Showcase is both powerful and flexible at the same time. Create unlimited galleries, each with unlimited images, without ever leaving WordPress or touching code. Then simply copy and paste the shortcode to your posts and pages and there is your gallery.


Content Slider/Image Slider/Accordion Plugins:

Estro Slider WordPress Plugin

This slider includes a smooth and powerful Ken Burns effect which is completely configurable and compatible with all major browsers (including ie7 to ie9, Firefox Chrome, Opera, Safari) and mobile platforms like iphone / ipad.

Nivo Slider WordPress Plugin

Newer themes of Kriesi (Habitat+) already offer a slideshow function for each page/post out of the box but some of our “older” themes don’t offer this feature. In addition it’s not possible to insert slideshows by using shortcodes (except CleanCut). Some users asked me if there’s a plugin which can generate slideshows by using shortcodes. The answer can be found in the official Nivo Slider WordPress Plugin.

The plugin allows you to create multiple sliders that can be included anywhere and customized using the familiar WordPress backend. Using the WordPress backend you can create as many sliders as you need and include them in your posts and pages using a simple shortcode. You can tweak your sliders as you wish by using drag & drop re-ordering and setting captions and links.

The Nivo Slider plugin allows you to choose between creating Manual sliders, where you manually upload and order images, Category sliders, where post thumbnails from a certain category are used as the slider images, and Sticky sliders, where post thumbnails from sticky posts are used as the slider images.

The plugin makes use of the popular TimThumb script to automatically crop and resize your images to a size you specify. It uses the newest version of timthumb to avoid security issues.

The Nivo Slider WordPress plugin comes with a built in theme chooser which allows you to use some of the awesome pre-built themes with your slider automatically. You can create your own themes too of course :)

SlideDeck 2

Very popular content slider which offers a lot of possibilities to organize any type of web content into beautiful and innovative sliders.

Slidedeck integrates well in WP – you can create as many sliders as you like. SlideDeck 2 is built with your pre-existing content in mind. Easily connect to your favorite sources and quickly create beautiful SlideDecks. Use Lenses to place a layer of beautiful design over your content: The Lenses in SlideDeck 2 allow for tremendous customization while maintaining a high level of usability.

Customizable Covers allow you to make a big first impression with your SlideDeck – and finish with a strong call-to-action. Overlays allow users to share links to your SlideDecks, with additional Content Source-specific functionality on the way. You can also see your changes on-the-fly. Live Previews from within the WordPress admin means that you can see the changes to your SlideDeck in real-time without endless “saving & previewing.”

Some other features are: intuitive admin interface with js/ajax, very flexible when it comes to slider sizes, Google Fonts support, several shortcodes, touch & keyboard interaction, slide transitions, color options and free automatic updates.

This plugin is one of the best content slider plugins I’ve seen and tested yet.

TN3 Gallery Plugin

The plugin adds a new option panel to your WordPress admin panel which enables you to manage thousands of images over numerous galleries with no prior experience.
It generates the thumbnails automatically and it offers a built-in image editor to edit/resize the images manually.
You can reorder images and albums (in the pro version) with intuitive drag ‘n’ drop ordering system, reuse images and you can even automatically create copies of images at custom sizes for optimal image delivery and minimal bandwidth consumption.
The plugin is cross-browser compatible and offers some great features like thumbnail carousels, image captions and links, image preloading, custom css styles, several clean, modern and beautiful skins, developer api, mouse wheel navigation, Flickr, Facebook & Picasa support, dynamic image resizing on-the-fly, custom permalinks, etc.

Some skins support advanced effects like fullscreen galleries (the gallery will overlap the website and fill out the whole screenwhich gives the user a perfect impression of your images) or a slideshow/autoplay stop/pause/play function.

You can use the free version, which offers many features of the pro version and it’s perfect for photographers, etc. with a low budget who want to present their images in a beautyful minimalist way. The pro version offers some extra features which are well worth the fee – especially if you’d like to to use this gallery plugin extensively. The plugin integrates perfectly into WordPress and into Kriesi’s themes (no css/js code adjustments are required).
Example galleries can be found here: Examples.


Maintenance & performace plugins:

W3 Total Cache

Helps you to speed up your site and to decrease the loading times. Very popular and free. I loved it and use it for my websites. [strike]However the latest version introduced some bugs so you might want to use version 0.9.1.3 for now.[/strike] The newest version seems to work flawlessly again. I use W3TC on several websites and Version 0.9.2.3 works (with js/css/html file minification enabled).

Regenerate Thumbnails

Very useful plugin if you change the thumbnail dimensions. It will regenerate all uploaded WP images based on your new settings.

WP DB Manager

Backup and restore databases. Very useful if you need to move your site or if something went wrong (i.e. database errors, hacked db, etc.).

WP DB Backup

Backup databases. Very useful if you need to move your site or if something went wrong (i.e. database errors, hacked db, etc.). Very popular plugin and I prefer it over WP DB Manager – however it offers less features.

Search and Replace

Helps you to search and replace words and text strings in your database. Very useful if you i.e. changed your company name or domain and you want to batch replace all occurrences with a new text.


Forum Plugins:

Simple:Press

Very popular free forum plugin. It offers tons of features but imho loads slow and can be a pain when it comes to untegration and styling. To be honest I’d prefer bbPress plugin.

bbPress

Very popular free forum made by WP developers. They’re working on a wordpress plugin (already in beta). The forum doesn’t offer many features out of the box but it’s resource friendly, it loads fast, it’s user friendly and can be extended by various plugins. If you aren’t in a hurry I’d wait until the final version is released.

Mingle Forum

Popular free forum plugin. It loads faster than Simple:Press but offers less features. I’d prefer bbPress because the community is bigger (and development is faster).


Newsletter Plugins:

Tribulant Newsletter Plugin

Very powerful and feature rich newsletter plugin. It offers tons of features – among them comment notifications, post subscriptions with user lists support and of course a newsletter function for custom newsletter composing. You can even create and import your own email themes/templates and create several email/subscription lists which help you to write emails to certain users or target group only. The standard email templates look great and display correct in most email clients. Another great feature is the paid subscription feature which allows you to sell subscriptions by using popular gateways like PayPal and 2CheckOut. The support is very responsive and quick and the plugin is fair priced.

The user interface is very user friendly (especially compaired to plugins like MailPress) and the setup can be done quick and easy and it integrates well in Kriesis themes. It offers an ajax subscription widget and a widget without javascript/ajax function. You can import your wordpress users and add them to mailing lists and you can activate an “auto” subscription or subscription checkbox for newly registered users and the user registration form.

Other features: autoresponders, smtp support, WordPress MU compatible, custom fields for additional user information (birthdays, profession, etc.), newsletter scheduler, email tracking, etc.

A really useful extension is the Embedded Images Extension which enables you to attach/embed images into emails instead of loading them remotely. With regular HTML emails, images are loaded via HTTP from a remote location as the source of the image into the email or webmail client. These images are usually blocked until allowed/shown by the user and even then, the images take some time to load into the email from the remote source.

In the contrary, the embedded images extension will scan each outgoing newsletter for images and attach the images to the email, embedding them into the content. The advantages of sending emails this way is that it prevents image disabling in email and webmail clients, images load immediately as the email is opened by the user and all emails are cross-client compatible.

Another very useful extension is the Formidable Integration extension which allows you to add a subscribe checkbox to your Formidable forms. The subscribe checkbox will appear on the form as you configured it and if ticked/checked upon the submission of the form, the user will be subscribed to a newsletter mailing list automatically. The advantage is that you get new subscribers easily and they don’t need to fill out an additional form first.

MailPress

Free newsletter plugin. It offers a lot of features but the setup and the interface isn’t user friendly and the theme integration can be a pain. I’d only recommend this plugin if you’ve experience with php/html and a bit js programming. You need to create/develop your own email templates if you want to make them compatible with most email clients because the standard templates aren’t supported by Outlook, etc.


Feedback Plugins:

Avia Feedback

The Avia Feedback Box is a feature request system for visitors and customers. They can suggest new ideas, vote on existing ones, and track your work progress.

At the beginning of each month a user/visitor get 10 votes to distribute. They can choose to use all their votes for one idea they really like, or spread them across between several ideas :)

If you want to improve your product or service and also want to integrate your customers in an entertaining and playful way this is definitely a plugin you should consider.

Options of the plugin: 3 skins (light, dark and structure only); access rules so either everyone or only registered members can submit new entries and vote; set if new Feedback should be published immediatly or be sent as draft; special Commenting function for the admin to keep users posted; see additional options on the scrrenshots provided here; valid HTML , Compatible with FF2 ,3, Safari, Opera, IE7 ,8,9, etc.


Widget Plugins:

Widget Logic

This plugin helps you to add widget to specific pages/posts only. Very powerful and free.

Display Widgets

Show or hide widget areas on specific pages. Very powerful and free.


Multilanguage / Language Plugins:

WPML – WordPress Multilanguage Plugin

The plugin makes it easy to run a multilingual website with a single WordPress install. Choose languages for your site and start translating content. By default ir comes with over 40 languages but you can add your own language too.

It comes with great translation management. You can turn ordinary WordPress users into “translators”. Translators can access only specific translation jobs which Editors assign to them. WPML sends notification emails, provides a translation management screen, a jobs-queue and side-by-side translation editor. The plugin frees you from the hassle of editing PO files and uploading MO files. You can translate texts in other plugins and in Admin screens directly from the String Translation interface.

You’ll see where the texts come from both in the code and in the site and translate right from within the WordPress Admin panel.

When visitors leave comments in languages that you don’t speak, WPML automatically uses machine translation to help you read them.

You can reply in your language and use human translation before your comments are published – all fully automated.


Translation Tools/Plugins:

Codestyling Localization

You can manage and edit all gettext translation files (.po/.mo) directly out of your WordPress Admin Center without any need of an external editor. It automatically detects the gettext ready components like WordPress itself or any Plugin / Theme supporting gettext. Many users prefer this plugin over Poedit.

PoEdit

Poedit is cross-platform gettext catalogs (.po files) editor. It can run on many platforms (Win, Mac, Linux) and it’s easy to translate po/mo files with it. It’s a tool and not a wordpress plugin. Many users prefer the Codestyling Localization plugin instead.


Social Bookmark Plugins:

Digg Digg

One of the most popular social media plugins. It supports many social sharing services and is completely free/open source. A popular feature is the floating sharing bar.

Socialize

Popular social bookmark plugin. It supports many social sharing services.

Social Login

Allow your visitors to comment and login with social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Paypal, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, OpenID, VKontakte, Google, Yahoo, etc.


Hoster:

All Inkl Web Hosting

I got several requests which hoster I/we recommend. This question is hard to answer because it depends on your budget, your user traffic, your project (private or business?), your location and the location of your target market. We host our websites with All Inkl Webhosting:
The advantage of this hoster is that:
1) The fees are fair and transparent
2) Hosting is fast (at least for me with All-Inkl Premium account).
3) 24h/7 support – which is a real 24/7 support so you can call/write them at midnight or Christmas Eve and someone will answer. I had only a few questions but they were very friendly and helpful. They alo help you to transfer domains, etc.

One drawback I discovered is that their website is only available in German language (maybe only for me?). However the support accepts requests in English and German. The servers are based in Germany.

That said I really recommend this hoster and I can’t say something negative about it. However there’re many other popular hosters out there which offer a great value in return. Keep in mind though that you get what you pay for. A $4 hoster won’t give you the same performance & service like a $15 hoster. The $15 hoster can’t compete with a $100, etc.
Cheap hosting is great for private websites and blogs but it can (and probably will) hurt your business if you rely on quick loading times and multimedia content (like videos and music files which cause a lot of traffic and require high upload/download rates). Cache plugins like W3TC can improve the performance to a certain extent but they can’t (and never will) compensate a slow, bad hosting service.




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