WordPress Plugins I Use

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Chris Coyier on (Updated on )

I think this is a fun and useful style of post that any WordPress blogger can do. It’s always interesting to hear in what ways people are extending what WordPress can do out of the box. I’ll share the ones I’m using here on CSS-Tricks then you can share yours (either in the comments or in a post on your own WordPress site). My list is quite a bit different than the last time I did this in 2008. If you have some better alternatives to the ones I’m using, I’m always interested in that, too.


Allows me to create new buttons in the post editor of my own creation. I have buttons like “jQuery” which allows me to select some code I’m putting in a blog post and it wraps it in the tags I need to make it look like code and be syntax highlighted.

Default buttons plus many of my own.

Advanced Excerpt

Gives me more control for how I output excerpts of posts. For instance, which tags specifically should be removed and which can stay. Also allows for one-off control with a custom function. e.g.

<?php the_advanced_excerpt("length=40&use_words=1"); ?>


Has blocked 148,338 spam comments at the time of this writing. Invaluable.

Clean Notifications

Extremely old but still vital for me. Turns new comment notifications from being plain text with big long gnarly URL’s all over them into a simple HTML email with clickable links.


I turned this off recently thinking maybe this has made it into core, but it hasn’t. I think it’s time to make WordPress start sending nicer emails, no?

Code Markup

Also extremely old but still works great. All it does is make sure that I don’t have to escape HTML code myself. If it’s inside <code> tags it does it automatically.

FD FeedBurner Plugin

Makes sure all RSS feed requests get shuttled over to my FeedBurner feed. That’s best because 1) then I can track statistics accurately and 2) it relieves some load from the server.

Feature Comments

Gives me the ability to reward good comments and discourage bad comments. All I do is click links in the comment thread to apply class names and I style them. This is just one small tool in curating good comment threads. More on that here.

Live Comment Preview

Speaking of better comment threads, I believe allowing people to see what their comment will look like before posting helps that. Especially on a site where people post code fairly frequently and how easy that is to screw up.

See the next plugin and it’s notes for how the Markdown preview works.


Lastly related to comments, I allow people to write them in Markdown. I did this because 1) it’s consistant with the Forums, which also allow Markdown and 2) I like Markdown.

I had to do a slight bit of custom stuff here in that I load up Showdown.js (a JavaScript port of Markdown) so that Live Comment Preview can do it’s preview with Markdown as well. It was a two-line change in the comment preview plugin, but it’s something I have to be aware of when updates come around.


There is a lot of stuff in here, but at the moment I only use one feature: the ability to let users get email notifications of follow up comments or new articles on the blog.

Peter’s Login Redirect

I have it set up so that when Lodge members log in (which is the default WordPress login system), they go straight back to The Lodge.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

At the end of each blog posts, lists a couple of other blog posts that people might be interested in reading. The idea is to be helpful to readers with the side bonus of keeping people on your site and engaged.


Restrict Content Pro

The heart that makes The Lodge work. Some content just isn’t availble to view on the site unless you’ve logged in and have an active subscription. This makes all that happen. I use the PayPal Pro and CSV user import plugins for it. Plugin plugins!


Does full site and database backups for me. Peace of mind.

W3 Total Cache

Keeps CSS-Tricks speedy. Does the CDN integration with NetDNA automatically.

WordPress HTTPS

Allows me to force certain pages on CSS-Tricks to be SSL just by checking a checkbox. For instance, I do this one the Lodge Signup page, because it collects payment information and that really needs to be secure.

It should be noted that in order for this to be useful you need to:

  1. Have a valid SSL certificate installed on your site
  2. Have your server set up to mirror your site on the HTTPS side (or otherwise do something smart)
  3. If you’re using a CDN, make sure it can handle HTTPS too.
  4. Make sure all resources you use (images, CSS, JS, fonts…) are also HTTPS.

WordPress SEO

Takes care of all the little best practices stuff that is tedious to deal with otherwise. Things like using ideal page title formats, proper meta tags, canonical URLs, sitemap building, social media data, etc.


Handles the polls around here.

WP Page Numbers

Allows navigation like

← 1 … 2 3 4 … 975 →

instead of just

← previous posts     next posts →

What are some of your can’t-live-without plugins?