I’ve just finished the build on a wicked blog for a longtime friend of dt’s that will be going live soon. During the process I found some pretty cool plugins that would get the Awesome-Sauce award for improving user experience. Here are three that rock:

1. WP-PageNavi

This plugin is super simple and yet amazing — it extends the basic WordPress pagination and displays a more advanced and customizable pagination. This is something you’d have to otherwise custom build, since WordPress’ pagination is essentially a Previous/Next implementation. All that goes on behind the scenes is the same, it does not work any differently. The presentation is what changes, and that’s what makes this awesome. You can get your amazingly customizable pagination the way you want it, super fast. Another recommendation is a little bug fix plugin that has been necessary since WP 2.7 — it fixes your pagination for category pages if you use the custom permalink structure (/%category%/%postname% — pretty urls).

This gives great pagination for the user and takes little to no time to set up. It provides a true representation of viewable pages.

2. Magic-Fields

The name of this plugin does itself justice… it’s magic or at least feels like it. I love this plugin. It helps to pull WordPress out of its “blogging” niche and into being able to be used as a CMS. Something that Dave has written about. This plugin allows you to create custom write panels, assign them to a category or categories and create custom fields assigned to those write panels.

What does this mean for you?

It means: super customizable and easily added content. The annoyance I’ve had with WordPress’ Custom User Fields is that you’d have to remember which was used with what category, you’d have to post a URL to reference a file, etc. Magic-Fields has a slew of options, like Audio upload, Date selection with a nice little JavaScript calendar, plus more. You can now have highly customizable content for your post and grab them really easily within the loop. For the individual, typically the client, it is super simple to add your content and takes little time. You don’t have to remember to check the right category since you have assigned one to the write panel. Clients will love this, it truly helps WordPress break into the CMS crowd.

This enables the client to easily enter data, making the process amazingly simple and saves time.

3. WordPress v2.9 Post Thumbnail Images

This is not a plugin perse… and it’s a little more technical, but with WordPress 2.9 you can enable the ability to use Post Thumbnails. All that is needed is a little code insertion in your theme’s functions.php file, something your developer can do in about 10 seconds, then add a few more lines to setup some image size variations. I love that it’s a core feature in 2.9, super simple and you get some awesome thumbnail usage for your site. Images can make or break a site, and when it comes to thumbnails, this fits the bill perfectly! With this addition, 1 image can play the role of so many variations in size. It auto sizes from the center of the image, and can box resize (does not keep aspect ratio), or hard crop (keeps aspect ratio). Mark Jaquith does a great job in explaining how to implement this feature.

This is makes it super easy to add thumbnails to your site once configured and enables users to visually associate content on your site.

These are really awesome plugins and they have been a pleasure to use. There are tons of great plugins out there that also help improve the user experience of your site or the admin interface. Post them in the comments if you like. Cheers!

Plugins Resources/Related Reading:

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