After upgrading the blog to version 2.3.1 and combing through posts like this to find good plugins, I’ve implemented a few on this site. The constant challenge of finding good 3rd party plugins for your WordPress blog is that some don’t play well with others and many just don’t work. It’s time-consuming and frustrating to sift through all the options out there – here are some that I’ve found and activated successfully.

About Me – Adds a sidebar widget About Me box. Instead of having a seekrit blog, I like to let readers know who’s doing the writing.

Add to Any: Bookmark Button – Adds a social bookmark button to the bottom of posts. I originally tried Sociable – which worked well, but I didn’t like the cluttered look of all those icons. This one also seems more up-to-date on the most popular SB sites. It’s a nice thing to offer visitors and great for SEO.

Admin Drop Down Menu – This is a great productivity plugin that takes that little extra step out of the admin menu of clicking on a main link and getting to the submenu – it adds a rollover effect that reveals that dropdown menu for immediate selection. This or a version of it should be implemented in a future version of WordPress.

Akismet – Comes with WordPress, and is absolutely Essential in the War against comment spam.

All In One SEO Pack – This plugin is updated frequently, which is a good sign that it’s keeping up with the ever changing SEO landscape. I’m sure I haven’t seen the full power of this one yet, but it’s one of the most popular plugins on the official WordPress plugins directory.

Google XML Sitemaps – Huge, HUGE plugin – makes updating to Google too easy. Also one of the most popular plugins on the official WordPress plugins directory.

Gravatars – This puts a small gravatar (globally recognized avatar) next to comments/posts, based off the author’s email address. After unsuccessfully trying to implement the Gravatars2 plugin and the WordPress Gravatars plugin, I used a combination of the Gravatar plugin found on the Implement section of the Gravatar website to make them available on comments, and this post to make them available on author posts. I’ve since read some posts explaining how to add Gravatars without using a plugin at all.

Simple Tags – This expands on WordPress’ built-in tagging system and creates a great-looking Tag Cloud in the sidebar. I’m sure this will come in handy as the blog grows, as we don’t have many categories created yet.

I’ve also tried out a couple other plugins, but deactivated them because we don’t need them on this site (yet) – I’ll probably use them in the future on other sites.

Event Calendar and Event Calendar Widget – Adds a simple Events calendar to your blog, with a sidebar calendar and list of upcoming events. It’s not uber robust, but it would do the job. It also integrates with iCal, although I haven’t explored this feature.

Web Page Navi – adds a more robust web page navigation system to help control blogs with a lot of posts. Again, I think this will come in handy in the future on this blog.

WP E-Commerce – a simple, yet robust e-commerce solution for WordPress. I’ve only gotten as far as installing and playing around a bit with it, but everything I’ve read about it says it’s stable and works well.