I don’t know of one WordPress site that could function without plugins. They help boost performance and make life easier for us front-end web developers (and bloggers). It’s almost like having a whole team of back-end developers working for you.
What are plugins? They are essentially like add-ons or applications for WordPress. Emoticons, contact forms or photo galleries.
To find new plugins to use click ‘add new’ under ‘plugins’ in the left sidebar of your WordPress dashboard. You will find a search box as well as a cloud tag of post popular plugin.
Another way to find plugins is to go to http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ I would suggest that if you find one you like on WordPress.org that instead of downloading the .zip file to upload and extract in your ftp, that you go back to your WordPress Dashboard and search for the plugin there and then download. This way, WordPress does all the work for you, downloading, extracting and installing.
There are some plugins that I think are essential to have:
This plugin check your comments and makes sure they aren’t spam. I use the plugin and it’s great.
This provides the script so you can use emoticons; For your use and your visitor’s use. The plugin comes with a pack of smiles and to change to a custom pack simply change the url specified under Settings > Smilies.
Google XML Sitemaps
Sitemaps allow search engines to find pages that they wouldn’t usually find. This ensures that all your pages are indexed by the search engine.
WordPress Theme Showcase Plugin
When you try to view your theme by its direct folder link there is usually a php error. This plugin allows you to view your themes fully without activating it. This way you can show premade themes to visitors or test your themes a lot better than the preivew in your WordPress Dashboard.
WordPress Thread Comment
This is a terrific plugin! This allows you and others to reply to comments on your blog or anywhere else you allow comments. It’s not too complicated and provides a great benefit.
If you need help with any of this you can contact me and I’ll try to help you or get somone who can.