Plugins to turn WordPress into a serviceable CMS

@fairminder asked me to put together a post on the plugins we use most frequently to turn WordPress into a CMS. The list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s relatively complete.

Here in West Africa, there are two huge problems we face with our clients:

Internet illiteracy. Client training often starts with sessions on how the internet work and how to set-up a free Yahoo! France email account. From there, we’re able to make comparisons between saving a document in MS-Word and publishing a page using WordPress. In addition, we have a well developed written user guide that we distribute to each of our clients that details not only how to do basic tasks like adding and editing pages, but also how to manage their various plugins, like forums and polls.

Slow internet connections. Even the major newspapers we work with update their websites from slow CDMA connections operating at dial-up speeds. Since WordPress 2.6, Google Gears has been integrated, making an enormous difference in load times, but some of the plugins we use are still chosen with these slow speeds in mind.

Plugins for every install

Admin Management Xtended adds a lot of CMS functionality to the Manage section. As WordPress doesn’t provide any capacity to fine tune page display order, drag-and-drop page management is particularly interesting. Also incredibly useful for those of us using slow West African connections is the possibility to change page titles from the Manage menu, instead of having to access the Edit Page page. (Download)

Note: WordPress 2.7’s quick edit features are a huge improvement, but don’t cover 100% of the functionality that this plugin offers.

All in One SEO Pack seems to be more or less standard for fine tuning individual page and article SEO. Most sites don’t need this level of detail for all pages, but it’s often useful to set descriptions for major landing pages. (Download)

Note: Headspace2 has much better internationalization, but I’ve had a devil of a time getting it working correctly on the 2.7 betas. I’m waiting for the next release before switching entirely. (Download)

cformsII is a super-flexible form management plugin. While it’s probably overkill for simple contact pages, its flexibility and admin management makes it more useful than most WordPress contact plugins. (Download)

Note: our clients find this plugin’s configuration relatively difficult, so we take care of all the initial details on our end.

Enforce www. Preference does just what it says. (Download)

Google Analytics for WordPress. ‘Nuff said. (Download)

Google XML Sitemaps creates XML sitemaps for Google. (Download)

Sociable allows rapid sharing on social media networks. And it’s well-internationalized, which is super-important for all plugins that add text to the front-end. (Download)

Search Everything improves WP’s internal search functions, allowing search of pages, meta data, custom fields, etc. Because so many of our clients use WP as a CMS, this plugin is incredibly important. (Download)

Plugins for most installs

Subscribe2 sends out an email to subscribers each time a new article is published. This plugin isn’t a perfect solution to the newsletter problem, but it’s plug-and-forget, which is a huge advantage over its competitors. (Download)

WP-Email and WP-Print go together because we use them together. They allow users to email the article/ page to a friend and print the article/ page, respectively. (Download WP-Email Download WP-Print)

WP-Polls is another great Lester Chan plugin. It’s not the most robust polling plugin around, but it’s dead-simple to use and has excellent internationalization (like most of his plugins). (Download)

Simple Forums is exactly what it says. I prefer it to other forum software for several reasons, one of which is its excellent support and internationalization (do you sense a theme here?). (Download)

Custom Branding is used in two ways.

  • If the client is a single-user site, we brand the installation for People Online because free marketing is awesome.
  • If the client is running a multi-user or community site that requires Joe Schmoe reader to sign-up/ log-in, we brand it with the clients logo and colors.


Note: we’re also experimenting with wp-adminimize.

There are a lot of other great WordPress plugins out there that we use occasionally. Role-scoper, which I talked about here is one, as is StatPress Reloaded, which we use because some clients find Google Analytics too complicated.

What are your favorite plugins? What do you use to make WordPress a better CMS?

4 thoughts on “Plugins to turn WordPress into a serviceable CMS

  1. Thanks for sharing your requirements and the plugins you like to use to make WordPress a CMS. It’s a very good list. I use nearly all the same plugins.

    Here are a few more to consider, depending on the need.

    I really find wp-backup, by Austin Matzko, invaluable. It emails a db back up to my gmail account each week. Having a backup off of the server is often over-looked.

    Similar to your choices, I use Search All, by Cori Schlegel.
    I also like using ShareThis for book marks, tags etc.

    Robots Meta, by Joost de Valk, is a handy little gem when needed.
    When needed, Redirection, by John Godley, is a great way to handle redirects.

    I tried HeadSpace II and went back to All In One SEO Pack because it is easier to use.

    Thanks again for the great list and sorry for no links, but author names should make it easy to search for them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge