Our mission-critical WordPress plugins #Web development#buddypress#offbeat bride tribe#plugins#wordpress October 16 | Ariel Meadow Stallings offbeatariel Wear your WORDPRESS love close to your heart… Photo © by Titanas, used under Creative Commons license. It's no secret that I bet the farm when I built the Offbeat Empire on WordPress. My developer, Jennifer M. Dodd, suggested way back in 2006 that we tap into WordPress's open source platform and a big part of that was the active plugin development community around WordPress. In the years since, we've tested out hundreds of plugins. Some of them have become mission critical — to the point where I literally couldn't do business without them. Others of them, unfortunately, have been so poorly coded that Jennifer has scolded me for installing them on our server. (ACK! That's the risk with open source code…) In the interest of spreading the awesomeness around, here are the plugins that the Empire literally could not function without: OIO Publisher: Advertising This plugin manages all the direct-sold advertising on the Empire. Every sponsored post, every vendor listing, every text ad, and all the sponsorship banners: they all go through OIO. Honestly, it's not that elegantly coded or actively developed, and we've had to do a lot of hack over the years… but this one plugin manages 75% of the Empire's revenue. It's powerful stuff. Cost: $50. GravityForms: Submissions Since so much of our content is submitted by readers, GravityForms was a complete game-changer for us. Suddenly bride profiles went from this awkward process involving email, Google Docs, and WordPress to this perfectly clean, easy, streamlined thing where submissions automatically became drafts, all ready for editing. GAME CHANGER. Cost: Starts at $39 EditFlow: Editorial management We use this plugin primarily for behind-the-scenes editorial comments on posts (so that all the editors can track the progress of who's seen it, what changes they'd suggest, etc), but it also has custom post statuses that we use, a built-in editorial calendar that I adore, meta-data fields, and so much more. Cost: Free. Related Post Migration currently underway: lessons being learned Remember that hugely scary project I mentioned? Well, it's happening RIGHT NOW. With the help of the Offbeat Bride Tribe's moderators, I'm currently in the... Read more BuddyPress & BBPress: Community management & forum Duh. This is the platform that the Offbeat Bride Tribe is built on, and while it's definitely not as mature as the WordPress platform, it's still pretty powerful. We've had to invest a LOT in development on making it right for us, but it's still a dang powerful tool. Cost: Free, but it needs developer time/dollars S2Member: Community Privacy This is the plugin that allows us to keep the Offbeat Bride Tribe private and secure, with special features for paid members. Not sexy, but super important. Cost: $69 for pro version w3 Total Cache: Caching My server started melting under the traffic load of Offbeat Bride in 2010, and I spent a lot of time and money that year trying to get the situation under control. This plugin plugin combined with a Content Distribution Network saves me thousands of dollars a year on hosting fees. Caching is so unsexy, but so incredibly important once your traffic gets above, say, 100,000 pageviews/month. Cost: Free Codestyling Localization: Customization Another one that's way unsexy, but super important. This plugin allows us to change the admin language anywhere on any of our sites. So for instance, when an Offbeat Bride Tribe members complains that our cheeky "2 Tribesmaids like this" language is disrespectful to genderqueer members, it takes me five seconds to change the language to read "2 like this." No hacking necessary. Cost: Free Jetpack: Bells & Whistles This is a plugin pack produced by the folks at WordPress and it is PURE SEX. I use it for all sorts of things all over the place: gorgeous galleries on the Offbeat Bride Tribe, contact forms on my personal sites, pretty gravatar comments, so many other things. It's very actively under development, and very actively sexy. Cost: Free Multisite Comments: Moderation This is a custom plugin my developer Jennifer M. Dodd made for me that does one very simple thing extremely well: it shows me all the most recent comments from across all four Empire sites on one page. Other than gmail, this is my most-visited page on the internet. Cost: Free, but not available publicly… YET Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Ariel Meadow Stallings Author of Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides, Ariel acts as the publisher of all the Offbeat Empire websites. She lives, loves, and dorks out hard in Seattle, WA. @offbeatariel @offbeatbride PREVIOUS Liberal bullying: Privilege-checking and semantics-scolding as internet sport NEXT The new illustrations are full color, and full awesome Show/Hide comments [ 6 ] If Multisite Comments ever goes public, I'll be right there! I manage a multi-site WordPress install at work, and long ago realized that I needed to keep on top of the comments myself because it was easier than trying to explain the details of spam-identifying and comment moderation to the bloggers who rightly jut want to get on with their jobs and not bother with managing stuff backstage, as it were. Reply I'll let jmdodd know she should get on releasing it! Lookit how sexy it is. (Emails & IPs blurred out for privacy's sake.) 1 agrees Reply Oooooh, shiny! WANT Reply What about the THIS! button. Reply The THIS! button is freaking awesome (and will be even more awesome when it's expanded into it's fully-formed this/flag functionality), but we could limp along without it. 1 agrees Reply The THIS! button is powered by a lightweight custom plugin that was designed to replace GD Star Rating. I can't put a date on it, but I am working on a release-ready version. 3 agree Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.