A blogger’s buffet of WordPress plugins

Bleu cheese or Jetpack?
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When’s the last time you tried to choose a new salad dressing in the buffet line or at the grocery store?

Chances are you were faced with a wall of choices, all trying to entice you with bright packaging and catch phrases like “light” and “organic.” How many did your eyes wander over before you finally made a decision? Did you feel satisfied with the choice? I bet you didn’t.

In his book and oft-watched TED Talk, American psychologist Barry Schwartz explains that phenomenon as “the paradox of choice.”

paradoxofchoice

Using the abundance of products in American grocery stores as an example, Schwartz opines that when people are given too many choices, they aren’t ecstatic at the bounty surrounding them. They’re paralyzed. They don’t know which of many slightly different options to finally put in the shopping cart. And even when they finally pick out a product, the thought always nags at them: did I miss out on something better?

Schwartz also applies the paradox of choice to the business world. Get this: he found that for every 10 retirement funds an employer offered, the rate of participation dropped two percent. The plethora of choices caused people to put off picking a retirement plan at all!

That’s all well and good, but what does the paradox of choice have to do with websites?

Consider the blogger.

A new blogger who chooses to use the WordPress® content management system suddenly finds herself confronting more than 30,000 plugins to choose from. The fact that these plugins exist is fantastic. They allow a new blogger to customize her blog so that her website stands out from the masses.

But which of the 1,300+ search engine optimization plugins is right for her blog? How about the 600+ plugins that allow her to view her visitor statistics?

Narrowing down the options

There’s why we turn to experts like freelance WordPress designer and blogger Elaine Griffin. In her recently published “Top 7 WordPress Plugins for New Bloggers” on her popular blog, “The Laine List,” Elaine details the plugins that she recommends for beginner bloggers. Her Top 7 covers the blogging basics — everything from SEO to content distribution to social sharing.

“These plugins are really just the tip of the iceberg to get clients going with their sites. I do use many other framework-specific plugins, but these seven are the foundation I build for clients to help them learn to use their site effectively, increase their visibility, and grow their community.”

Here are a few of my personal favorites from Elaine’s list:

  1. WordPress SEO by Yoast: This plugin walks even the most novice blogger through the basics of on-page SEO, meaning her blog posts will have a higher chance of getting found by searchers on the Web. That’s Yoast, not toast.
  2. Jetpack: This bundled plugin is a great starter option that makes it easy for a new blogger to check out a lot of WordPress’s best features at once, including content distribution, subscriptions and slicing and dicing website statistics.
  3. Comment Luv: This handy little plugin encourages comments and sociability by allowing site visitors to leave links to their own posts. What better way to build a community of like-minded bloggers?

That’s just a snapshot of the plugin gems Elaine recommends. For more like these, toss out the paradox of choice and head on over to her curated list instead.

For more great tips, check out the GoDaddy Tool Kit on BlogHer.