When browsing other WordPress blogs with awesome themes, I always find myself wondering how someone handled a particular aspect of the layout or functionality. This is especially true with the Thesis Theme, because of the difference in setup due to the Thesis hooks system. So for anyone browsing Kikolani, I wanted to answer the question of “how did you do that” in a new series on WordPress Thesis Theme Customization.
Part Two: Plugins
One of the things I love about WordPress is that most of the functionality that you are seeking can be found in the plug-ins directory. Most of them (with exception to cForms II) can be found in the WordPress plug-ins directory and installed automatically in WordPress 2.7+ by going into your Admin Panel > Plugins > Add New >. Other plug-ins can be uploaded in .zip format on the Add New Plugins page. Here are the ones that I use – with exception to Thesis OpenHook, these are great suggestions for other themes as well.
- Add Post Footer – This plugin allows you to add specific content to every post, text and ads. This is where I add in the 468×60 Google Adsense ad along with the “Enjoy this post?…” text at the end of each post. (This plugin isn’t fully necessary, considering I could add it into the custom-functions.php, but I haven’t gotten around to moving it yet. Plus it’s a great plugin for other themes.)
- cForms II – This plugin controls the form on my contact page. It is highly flexible in terms of adding additional fields (checkboxes, drop downs, additional text inputs, etc.) and customizing the styling of the forms, offering several pre-built styles to choose from with the option to further edit the CSS for those styles.
- Chat Catcher – This plugin captures some of the Twitter and FriendFeed shares of a particular post and adds them to your post’s comments as comments or trackbacks. I have mine set to “Post Trackbacks.”
- CommentLuv – This plugin automatically captures the latest blog post of a comment author, provided that they have registered their site on ComLuv.
- DoFollow – This plugin removes the nofollow attribute from comment author links, rewarding comment authors with valuable “link juice.” (Read more about Link Building with DoFollow Blogs)
- Google Sitemaps XML – This plugin automatically creates a sitemap for your blog and submits it to the major search engines (Google, Live/Bing, and Ask). It will update Yahoo as well, but first you have to get an API key.
- Math Comment Spam Protection – This plugin asks for the answer of a simple math question to prevent bot-generated comment spam. Although I do admit it is a bit annoying, it prevents me from either losing valuable comments to automated spam catchers, and is more legible than many of the captchas.
- Redirections – This plugin modifies your .htaccess with permanent re-directs. For example, I have permanently redirected the Love Story formerly on Kikolani to the Soulmates Wedding site.
- Show Top Commentator – This plugin displays the top commentator list in the sidebar.
- SEO Slugs – This plugin removes words like ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘in’ from post titles for SEO purposes.
- Subscribe to Comments – This plugin will send subscribers to a particular post’s comments an email every time a new comment is made to that post.
- Thesis OpenHook – By far the most important plugin in terms of modifying your Thesis site, it gives you easy access to add custom content to each area of the Thesis hooks, custom-functions.php and custom.css.
- WordPress Database Backup – This plugin automatically schedules backups of your WordPress database and can email those backups daily. Just be sure to regularly backup your theme files if you customize them, as the database does not store those changes!
- Ajax Edit Comments – This plugin allows commentators to edit their comment after submitting it, in case of a misspelling or last minute addition.
- WP Greet Box – This plugin displays a box at the top of each post based on where the reader is coming from. For example, if a reader happens to find your post via StumbleUpon, it will bring up a box that asks the reader to Stumble the post while they are there. The text in each box based on referral is customizable, so you can have it always say the exact same thing, no matter where the reader came from, or you can add additional options (like a subscribe via RSS) to each greeting.
Two plugins that didn’t make this list because I do not have to use them anymore are Platinum SEO & All in One SEO Pack. The Thesis theme automatically comes with built in SEO fields for customization of the homepage meta information, and custom title tag, meta descriptions and meta keywords for each post. For most other themes, you will need a plugin to handle manage your SEO, and I would suggest either Platinum or All in One, as I have used both for other customized WordPress sites.
About the WordPress Thesis Theme Customization Series
Originally, I had planned on making one comprehensive article about my Thesis Theme customizations, but after only finishing two sections, I realized that this article would be a bit overwhelming if it was a all in one job. So instead, I’m breaking it up into a series:
- Part One: Thesis Options & Design Options
- Part Two: Plug-ins
- Part Three: Thesis OpenHook, Custom Programming & Styling
- Part Four: Thesis Resources
If you have any questions regarding customizations of the Thesis Theme throughout the series, please let me know via the comments. If I get enough questions, I may add a Part Five of Q&A. And other commentators, if you see a question you can answer, go for it! I’ll add your name & link to the Part Five post, assuming there are enough questions.