WordPress Plugins I Actually Use: Part 2

A couple weeks have gone by, and I have been tweaking this site a bit, both in the look and feel of the user interface and in the functionality in the plugins installed.

I added one new plugin, deactivated one and replaced it with another.

Since my last post, I have deactivated ShareThis. I felt it caused too much delay in page loading. In its place, I am using Sociable, which looks prettier and loads faster.

For managing the top level navigation, I found Page Lists Plus. This plugin gives you a great deal of control over the main nav, which WordPress creates based on your Pages. The link to my resume in the top nav is a link to a Google Docs page. And I have created a couple of other pages that I want in the site but that I don’t want in the main nav.

To configure Page Lists Plus to do the redirect, install and activate the plugin. On the Setting page, check this box:

plp1

Then create the Page, where the following appears at the bottom of the admin:

plp2

As you see, I have entered the Google Docs URL in the Redirect To field. Now the Resume page appears in the top navigation, but redirects to an off site URL instead of the page in WordPress.

So, this Part 2 of the series isn’t earth shattering in content, but, in the case of the main navigation, important in managing the functionality of the site.

The limited behavior of the main navigation, based as it is on Pages, belies WordPress’ history as a blogging platform. As WordPress continues to grow towards a more full-featured CMS, little amenities like these need to migrate from plugins into core functionality.

Block Flash in Your Browser

FlashBlock for Firefox in action - this banner ad was blocked until I clicked the logo in the center.

This banner ad was blocked until I clicked the logo in the center.

As a web designer, I have a love/hate relationship with Adobe Flash. Flash can be a great interface for displaying interactive information. But Flash is also a security vulnerability, and Flash is a common format for banner ads.

My main beef with Flash as a user has to do with the banner ads. Flash banners are almost never served off the same server as the website they appear on. Instead, Flash banners are served by ad network servers that can dramatically slow the performance of the page you’re viewing. 

Now, there is a plugin that gives you the power.

If you’re using Firefox, you can install FlashBlock, and on Safari you can install ClicktoFlash. Internet Explorer users can install Toggle Flash. Google Chrome users may have to wait a while for Google to implement plugins, though there are kludges for installing FlashBlock for the technically minded.

In both cases, the web pages you view will not load the Flash elements by default, instead displaying a button you can click to deliberately load the Flash element you want to see. By blocking the default loading of Flash elements, you minimize your security risk through the Flash plugin and should see an increase in page loading times.