15 Essential WordPress Plugins for Portfolio Sites

by Tom Walker

on July 1, 2009

in design

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With the right plugins and a bit of know-how, WordPress can be used to create almost any type of website imaginable. It’s the perfect platform to use for creating an online portfolio: it looks great, it can be managed remotely from any computer, it requires very little knowledge of HTML and, most importantly, it’s completely free.

Artists, photographers, graphic and web designers can use WordPress to create an online portfolio that perfectly suits their work. Plugins can be used to convert a plain, standard WordPress blog into an interesting and unique portfolio that end-users will be keen to explore.

With the plugins outlined below, you will be able to present your portfolio and the images therein in new and exciting ways, as well as increase levels of all-important traffic to your site.

1. NextGEN Gallery

This extremely popular Image Gallery plugin, which comes with a Flash slideshow option, displays images in a simple, but professional manner. Its comprehensive admin pages and straightforward back-end make managing your portfolio easy.

NextGEN Gallery

2. FlippingBook

Tired of boring image galleries? FlippingBook organizes images into individual interactive albums, which can be flicked through just like a book. The effect can be far superior to having hundreds of thumbnails in your portfolio.

FlippingBook

3. Image Drop Shadow

This plugin automatically creates a drop-shadow effect for all your images. Simple as that.

Image Drop Shadow

4. Thumbnail for Excerpts

Add a thumbnail to accompany any excerpts you might have anywhere on your site, such as in the archive or feed. Adding thumbnails not only improves your portfolio’s looks, it also makes it easier to navigate.

Thumbnail for Excerpts

5. Featured Content Gallery

This plugin embeds a customizable rotating gallery of your images anywhere in your theme. You can provide text, like the first few lines of a post for example, to accompany each image.

Featured Content Gallery

6. Flickr Gallery

Flickr Gallery makes it easy to create portfolio galleries from you Flickr photos, which is great if you’ve already spent hours uploading images. You can also embed Flickr’s flash movie player into your theme.

Flickr Gallery

7. Word Tube

This plugin lets you embed music, videos and images into your posts and pages. It supports .flv and .swf video files, MP3 sound files, and JPG, GIF and PNG graphic files. You can even run pre-role, overlay mid-roll, and post-roll adverts.

Word Tube

8. cformsII

Add multiple contact forms to your portfolio with cformsII. The contact forms all ask for a name, email address and message, but can be heavily modified to suit your requirements.

cformsII

9. GD Star Rating

Add a star rating system to the comments section of your portfolio with GD Star Rating, which also provides a system for aggregating reviews. Using GD Star Rating implies a certain level of confidence in your work, but remember, it could all backfire if ratings are negative.

GD Star Rating

10. Post Templates

This time-saving plugin lets you create templates for the types of posts you publish most frequently, like ‘image of the week’ for example. You can use it to create a standard entry to accompany all of your images, giving details of materials used if you’re an artist, or location and date if you’re a photographer.

Post Templates

11. PhotoQ

PhotoQ instantly converts your WordPress blog into a photoblog. If there’s a theme you desperately want to use, even though it doesn’t make for a great portfolio, then this is the ideal tool for you. Its batch image upload facility lets you upload several images simultaneously. Uploaded images are placed in a queue for use at your discretion. Photos at the top of the queue can even be uploaded automatically.

PhotoQ

12. Google (XML) Sitemaps

This plugin generates an XML sitemap of your WordPress portfolio, making it easier for search engines to find and list your site. The generator is supported by Yahoo, MSN Search, Ask.com and, most importantly, Google.

Google (XML) Sitemaps

13. WordBook

WordBook drives traffic to your portfolio by adding all your blog posts to your Facebook wall. The Facebook ‘Boxes’ tab helps you keep track of recent posts.

WordBook

14. Twitter Tools

Twitter Tools fully integrates Twitter into your WordPress blog. Not only can you add tweets to your blog as posts, you can create new tweets on your posts from inside WordPress.

Twitter Tools

15. Sociable

Sociable automatically adds links from the best social bookmarking sites onto your posts. Choose from 99 different sites including Digg, Delicious and Google Bookmarks.

Sociable

About the Author:

Tom Walker is passionate about technology and design who blogs for a leading supplier of cheap printer cartridges for homes and businesses recommended by Friends of the Earth. You can also follow him on Twitter.

For inspirational portfolios, please visit Folio Focus.

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About Tom Walker