Our Favorite WordPress Plugins Part 1

As you may know, WordPress has some core features included in every WordPress installation, but you can add additional features to WordPress sites by installing “Plugins”. We have decided to compile a list of some of our favorite plugins – those that have proved especially helpful (super time savers or things that help us sleep at night). We have installed these plugins on many a WordPress website and can say with great confidence (at time of publishing) that these plugins are pretty awesome.

All most are free, some have premium (or paid) versions that add extra features.

We will be making this a 10 (or more?) part series. First up: Black Studio TinyMCE

Black Studio TinyMCE Widget

What would we do without the “Black Studio TinyMCE Widget” plugin? We would hand-write a lot more HTML, that’s for sure! And we’d have a harder time making the sidebars on our websites easy for our (non-HTML-savvy) clients to maintain. Black Studio’s enhanced text widget that adds a WYSIWYG editor option as an alternative with TinyMCE buttons up top for inserting images, making links, adding lists and setting headings. Now you can add rich content to your sidebars as easily as you can add it to your posts and pages.

The most advantageous thing about this plugin – to us – is that this plugin allows for our clients and students to be able to interact and maintain their widget content without having to know HTML. We know how to code by hand if needed, but we don’t expect that our clients (or students) should need to. We <3 this plugin.

Example of Black Studio TinyMCE widget

Who is Dolly?

Plugin DirectoryIn keeping with our Plugin-themed posts, we would like to solve a plugin mystery that seems to confuse and sometimes irritate WordPress users who have not heard the history of Hello Dolly. This plugin is the world’s first official WordPress plugin and was created by Matt Mullenweg, a founding developer of WordPress.

Hello Dolly PluginThere were two purposes for creating this plugin. The first is that, when activated, the administrator will see a lyric from Louis Armstrong’s Hello, Dolly in the upper right part of the admin screen. This is only really helpful if you would like to get the song stuck in your head.

Hello, DollyThe second purpose of this plugin was to show users building websites the power of the plugin. Since this was the first plugin, no one knew why they should care about, build, or install plugins. This one showed how you could add on to the core of WordPress to enhance your website’s appearance and functionality.

There are now almost 25,000 plugins that have been downloaded over 435,000,000 times. Hello Dolly set the precedent of what a plugin could do for your WordPress Website.

Interestingly, our favorite host (WPEngine) has banned this plugin from their servers as it has no practical value. I guess they aren’t very nostalgic.