When you’re building a new WordPress site or reworking a previous design, there are bound to be problems or issues that need solving. Some require rolling up your sleeves and coding your way to a solution. But sometimes plugins can do the job much easier and come in quite handy.

Here are just 5 of the problems I came across on some of the blogs I’ve designed and the WordPress plugins I used to solve them:

  1. Easily Add CSS Styles From Your Stylesheet to Posts
  2. Automatically Shorten Long URLs in Comments
  3. Making Regular, Automatic Backups of Your WordPress Install and Database
  4. Don’t Ping Yourself When Linking to Your Own Posts
  5. Provide a Version of Your Site For Mobile Users

Note: Unless otherwise stated, all the following plugins work with WordPress 2.6 and 2.7+

Easily Add CSS Styles From Your Stylesheet to Posts

Problem: The Styles dropdown list in WordPress only contains WordPress-specific classes. I needed the ability to select styles from my existing CSS stylesheet when writing posts or pages. For example, I have a class for my captions.

Solution: TinyMCE Advanced

After a little searching, I came across TinyMCE Advanced—a set of plugins that covers quite a few things when it comes to editing and formating your posts.

Among other things, with TinyMCE Advanced you can rearrange your buttons and automatically import styles from your stylesheets. Now, when I use the Styles dropdown, I get a list of all my classes—not just WordPress-specific ones.

Automatically Shorten Long URLs in Comments

Problem: Someone leaves a comment on your blog that contains a URL that’s too long. This can cause serious issues, such as overflowing text and dropped floats, not to mention it just looks ugly.

Solution: WP Chunk

WP Chunk shortens long URLs in comments into short, manageable ones, thus saving your visitors from having to deal with the heartbreak of nasty, long URLs.

Making Regular Backups of Your WordPress Install

Problem: I’m lazy…when it comes to backups. I think this is a fairly common problem. You want to make automatic backups of your database and WordPress files.

Solution: WP-DBManager

With WP-DBManager, you can schedule automatic backups and they will be saved to a directory on your server as well as gzipped and emailed to an email address of your choosing.

I have mine set to go to my Gmail account which I check via Thunderbird. This way I have a copy on my server, a copy on my computer from my Gmail account and 1 more copy saved in my Gmail account online.

WP-DBManager also allows you to set a certain number of backups to be kept on the server. After the number is reached, it will delete the oldest backup.

In addition to scheduled backups, you can also do one-off backups when the need arises.

Don’t Ping Yourself

Problem: In order to keep a well-connected blog, I often link to posts that I’ve already published. Unfortunately, by default, WordPress adds a trackback on the original article. This is redundant and uglies-up your comments area.

Solution: Use No Self Ping to stop unnecessary trackbacks.

Provide a Version of Your Site For Mobile Users

Problem: You want readers that are using mobile devices and cellphones (iPhone, etc) to be able to view your content. How do you do this without creating another version of your blog yourself?

Solution: Use Mobilize by Mippin

Mobilize by Mippin is actually a plugin that works with a free online service called Mippin.

On Mippin’s site, you enter your site’s address and customize the look. Mippin will generate a mobile version and only serve it up to those coming to your site on mobile devices. Very handy.

The Mobilize plugin also works with Mippin to get content from your RSS feed and display it nicely, no matter what device you’re using. There’s no configuration needed for the plugin either—just activate and enjoy.

What Worked For You?

WordPress has tons of great and useful plugins available and I’ve been able to use them to solve most any problem I’ve come across.

What problems have you come across and what WordPress plugins have you used to solve them?

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