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I know some people have been moving away from WordPress and toward blogging solutions like Tumblr. The number one reason I hear for making this move is that WordPress gets to complicated once you start customizing. Distractingly so. I don’t disagree.

I love tweaking WordPress websites, though, and have built quite a few of them. The plugin community is part of what makes it so much fun. I’m constantly amazed by the creativity and craftsmanship I see go into these projects. Most of them don’t make any money, but I thought I’d show you a few I’ve been more than happy to donate to.

There are a few bedrock plugins that I think everyone should have, and as such I’m only going to mention them in passing: W3 Total Cache, Markdown Extra, and of course, Akismet. There are others, though, that I hadn’t heard much about before, yet they’ve become integral to my current blog. Here are my plugin crushes right now…

I’ve tried quite a few plugins for backing up my blog, but all have eventually failed me, with the exception of Updraft. I think its simplicity is its saving grace; it doesn’t try to be anything more than a hassle-free way to back up your entire WordPress blog, including uploads, themes and database. I’m using it to back up to my Amazon S3 account, and it also works with Rackspace, your own FTP server, or, if you really want to, it can email your backups to you. It can purge older backups, and the restore feature is as fast as your storage system of choice.
Fluency Admin
This one is just wicked. It’s a theme for the admin panel which not only looks amazing, it adds extensive keyboard navigation to the back end. If you know me, you know that makes me happy.
I’ve been toying a lot with how to share my bookmarks and web trails lately. Postalicious came along and made it easy to post groups of links to my blog automatically, and with complete control over formatting. Right now I have it pulling from Delicious, waiting until there are at least 4 new bookmarks (and not more than 6) with the tag “blogit,” and publishing the list with links and my notes, and the date in the title. All I have to do is pop up Delibar once in a while and bookmark something I think is worth sharing. Postalicious also works with ma.gnolia, Google Reader, Reddit, Yahoo Pipes and Jumptags.
WP-Syntax Download Extension
WP-Syntax is a great solution for code highlighting. It’s taken me a lot of tweaking to get it running, and I hadn’t liked the idea of offering syntax-highlighted code without a raw backup. This extension, used in combination with WP-Syntax, allows users to grab the raw source or force a download of a file. It’s rather ingenious once you dig into the code, if not a bit of a hack (I mean that in a good way, I’m intrigued). But it works, and it solves a few of my concerns!

If you’re a WordPress user and you haven’t tried some of these out, give them a shot. None of the plugins above add anything to the front end which would slow your site down for end users, so go ahead and play!