WordPress Thesis Theme Customization Part Two: Plugins

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.
  • 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.
  • 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

So stay tuned for Part Three next week to see what custom code and styles have been implemented to utilize the functionality of the plugins and design of Thesis Theme on Kikolani.

Thesis Questions

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.

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Comments

  1. says

    Great work and thanks for the plugins. That WP Greet is awesome. Never heard of it before, but you can bet your last dollar that I willl have that on my page immediately. Thanks for the tip and keep them coming.

    This customization report you are doing just might make me switch to Thesis!

  2. says

    Kristi,

    Many of these customizations can also be used for other themes, but it’s always important to have your original theme backed up!

  3. says

    I have installed most of them, though using only a few. Hey, do us a favor, why not make a post on how to use and get the best of All in One SEO, I do fill up some spaces but have no idea if I am doing it right. My search engine traffic is a little low or at least I think it is :) .

  4. says

    Hello Kristi,

    You have some great information here. I will have my hubby install a few of them, hopefully by the weekend. Great list of resources as usually. I am looking for to the next article.

    Thanks Kristi

  5. says

    I do really like the way the Thesis theme looks and from what I have seen the designers seem like a pretty cool company. This is a pretty neat guide. I had been wondering what the number protection captcha was ;)

  6. says

    Hey Kristi! Great resource line-up, as always. I love how you always make your articles are a one-stop source! WP greetbox is one of my favorite plug-ins since it increases the subscription chances of new visitors.

  7. says

    I’m pretty new to this stuff so this list really helps out. My WordPress is pretty bare, so I’m sure I will be going off of this list for quite some time. There is so much here, almost overwhelming, thanks!

  8. says

    Hi Kristi,
    nice update in part two, i use some of plugin and very happy with this type CMS plug in, nice to share, i got some new plug in for here very very thanks for sharing!!!!

    Best Regards,
    SEO India

  9. says

    Just make sure not to put in too many plugins just in case. More plugins = slower load times so you better consider every plugin carefully.

  10. says

    Hey, Kiko:
    It’s been a while. This post is great and invaluable. A few things, with your experience and background that would really be nice, is if you could write a post or posts that is a how-to, to implement google adsense into a blog/site and which plugins one can use, at least as an entry level, to have wordpress function as a fully CMS site. I have to wait a bit longer to finally get up and running with my purchase of actual server space from Godaddy (another service), but I’ve already purchased my domain. I’ll be bookmarking this post, so thank you so much for blogging it!

  11. says

    Really great effort. I was trying out the greetbox, not sure what I did wrong but the message didn’t come out. The settings are a little different than the thumbnails shown in the setup file. May need to look harder.

    Thanks, Kikolani for sharing these. Looking forward to more of them.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

  12. says

    I think it is is great that you share your list of plugins with your readers.

    I used to have the XML sitemap plugin myself and then read a lot about how it not only doesn’t help (unless you have an absolutely massive site) but might actually do harm to your SEO. Do you know anything, or have any opinions, about that?

    Thanks!

  13. says

    Whoa, thank you. I am making my first wordpress site for my company and was a bit lost when it came to plugins, so many out there to choose from. I will definitly snag a few from your list. I like the chat catcher.

  14. says

    You have a good list. Redirects is the name of the game for relevant websites. There’s a lot of benefits in using them online….it can be awesome if used the right way.

  15. says

    Thanks for the great list of plugins. There are tens of thousands of plugins available, with many of them doing the same thing. Its good to see experienced WP users helping others on what tools are good to use.

  16. says

    Hi! This is a great post. I was just wondering if you could help with the code for inserting the RSS and email pics and links into the text of the post footer. For some reason I cannot get it to work. Thanks!
    .-= Brittany at Mommy Words´s last blog ..Mommy Word: MOTHER =-.

  17. says

    Good line up of resources, I loved Cfroms, but it does not work well with the Ithemes. I have an older version in place on my blog – but the newer one’s call havoc with headers and such. Anyone using both together with success?
    .-= Susie´s last blog ..Stumbling Your Way Finding Friends =-.

  18. says

    I have been hearing a lot about how WordPress themes are not very optimized for the search engines, and came across a blog post mentioning that it was the best out there. Anybody have experience using the Thesis Theme for WordPress?

  19. says

    Hello i was going through your tutes and they are great i still have some questions..I gave too much time but could not find how to do that..
    Chk these 2 blogs http://www.shoutmeloud.com & http://www.serradinho.com/

    you can see a Recent and popular post widget which are very well customized.
    i tried adding codes in custom.css but still not able to get that view..is there anything else that i need to do for getting such customized widget.. kindly help me..

    these are the codes which i filled in custom.css

    /******************************************************************/
    /* RECENT & POPULAR POSTS */
    /******************************************************************/
    #recent-posts li {background: #E4F2FD; border: 1px solid #C6D9E9; line-height: 1.4em; -moz-border-radius: 5px; padding: 0.5em; -webkit-border-radius: 5px; overflow: hidden;}
    #recent-posts div.posts_align{color: #baaf2e; float: right; font-size: 11px; text-transform: uppercase;}
    #popular-posts li {background: #FFFBCC; border: 1px solid #E6DB55; line-height: 1.4em; -moz-border-radius: 5px; padding: 0.5em; -webkit-border-radius: 5px; overflow: hidden;}
    #popular-posts div.posts_align {color: #3399FF; float: right; font-size: 11px; text-transform: uppercase;}
    #popular-posts a {border-bottom: 1px solid #E6DB55; color: #AAA027 !important;}
    #recent-posts img, #popular-posts img {float: right; padding-left: 4px;}

    /******************************************************************/

    Anything else i need to do in something in custom_funtion.php too or anywhere else..

    I hope to expect help from you..
    .-= Ankit´s last blog ..How to remove blackheads in quick time =-.

  20. says

    We use Thesis on our site. I use most of the plugins you discussed in this post.

    I have never read about the “Add Post Footer” plugin. I haven’t figured out how to add a message to the end of every post yet using the custom-functions.php. This plugin could save me.

    Are you still using it? or Have you figured out how to add content to the end of every post with the custom-functions.php?
    .-= New from Chuck Edwards@Weight Loss Tips The Special K Diet and Challenge =-.

  21. says

    I recently realized that the Thesis-theme is one of the best themes in terms of seo perspective and I am now considering to get this theme for my blog. Looking at the fact that you can also get plugins dedicated to the thesis-theme I am now highly convinced.

  22. says

    These are some good stuffs to reward your audience/commentators.
    But I wonder why you don’t the “Show the top commentator” plugin?
    But I only find few bloggers who uses Ajax edit, It’s very useful. Because we don’t want to see other comments misspelled or having a wrong grammar. Sometimes I get pissed off when I see my comments doesn’t make sense because or wrong grammars and can’t do anything to change it. :(

    • says

      Hi Chris. I used Mashable’s subscribe widget as an example and coded it into Thesis. Planning to do a post with the details soon! :)

      • says

        This is by far the coolest subscription sidebar I’ve found so far, and I’d like to try and copy it too from mashable’s site since I do know a little bit about HTML/CSS.

        I prefer your icons though, is it okay if I copy your RSS and E-mail icons?
        Kris – Health Blog just posted Why are trans fats bad?