20 WordPress Tricks to Improve Your Blog

by Steven Snell

February 11, 2009 in design

One of the reasons WordPress is so popular is because of its flexibility. Designers, developers, and bloggers have plenty of options. In this post we’ll look at a combination of tutorials for improving a WordPress-based site, and plugins that can provide added functionality that will bring new possibilities.

UPDATE: We recently launched a gallery site that showcases the best blog designs for your inspiration – Blog Design Heroes.


Build a Featured Posts Section for WordPress

Magazine themes are becoming increasingly popular. There are plenty of quality premium themes available, and also some decent free magazine themes, but you may want to build or customize your own. This tutorial covers the process of coding the index.php file to set up a magazine-style front page with a featured post section.

Featured Post Section

WordPress Sidebar Turned Apple-Flashy Using jQuery UI

Sidebars are often pretty boring. If you’re looking to improve yours, this tutorial goes through the process of using jQuery that expands and reacts to user actions, similar to the Apple sidebar.

Flashy Sidebar

How to Make a Featured Post Carousel for WordPress

This tutorial will show you a different approach to displaying featured content. The technique is fairly simple, and can easily be applied to any blog that wants to give more exposure to certain content. This only requires a few coding changes to get the featured content in the carousel.

Featured Post Carousel

Building a Better Blogroll: Dynamic Fun with SimplePie and jQuery

This tutorial from Chris Coyier is not exclusively for WordPress, but this could easily the sidebar for many WordPress users. Blogrolls are common sidebar features, but with this tutorial Chris shows how the traditional blogroll can be taken a step further by bringing in feeds from other sites and blogs using SimplePie and jQuery. This technique is especially useful for those who run multiple blogs or a network.

Build a Better Blogroll

Dynamic Highlight Menu

Nick La of Web Designer Wall has a post with a number of WordPress hacks, one of them being the dynamic highlight menu. Nick shows his approach for creating the navigation menu at Best Web Gallery that highlights the current location for visitors.

Dynamic Highlight Menu

Two-Tiered Conditional Navigation

In this tutorial Darren Hoyt provides the code for creating a WordPress navigation menu that shows both parent pages and the relevant child pages. For sites and blogs that have a lot of content and pages, this trick can help to improve user experience.

Two-Tiered Conditional Navigation

WordPress Custom Fields: Laying Text Over Your Lead Graphic

WordPress’s custom fields open up endless possibilities for theme developers and bloggers.  In this tutorial you’ll learn how to use custom fields to display an image for a post with text laying on top of it.

Laying Text Over Lead Graphic

“Magazine-Style” Horizontal Dropdown Menu

Jean-Baptiste Jung shows another technique for improving the navigation of a WordPress site. The horizontal dropdown menu uses categories and sub-categories to create a magazine-style nav menu.

Horizontal Dropdown Menu

Integrate a Slideshow into Your WordPress Theme

Smooth Gallery is a MooTools gallery that can add some sizzle to a website. In this tutorial you’ll learn how to integrate Smooth Gallery with WordPress.

Integrate a Slideshow

Adding Tabs to Your Blog Sidebar

If you’d like to improve your sidebar by adding some tabbed content/navigation areas, this tutorial covers the process of using Yahoo! TabView in your WordPress sidebar.

Adding Tabs to Your Sidebar

Create a “Send This to Twitter” Button

As Twitter continues to increase in popularity, integrating Twitter and WordPress will likely continue to become more common. This post isn’t really a tutorial, but it does give the code that you need to add a “send this to Twitter” link or button to your WordPress blog.

Send This to Twitter Button


J Post Slider Plugin

With the J Post Slider Plugin gives WordPress users an easy way to add an attractive image slide show that can be controlled from the admin panel.

J Post Slider Plugin

Lightview for WordPress

Lightview is similar to Lightbox. However, Lightview also works with videos and iframed web pages in addition to photos.

Lightview for WordPress

NextGEN Gallery

NextGEN Gallery is a full integrated Image Gallery plugin for WordPress with a Flash slideshow option.

NextGEN Gallery

Advanced Category Excluder

Advanced Category Excluder allows WordPress users to easily have CMS-like control over which content appears on the front page, in RSS feeds, archives and more.

Advanced Category Excluder

Event Calendar 3

With Events Calendar 3 you can manage future events as an online calendar. Display upcoming events in a dynamic calendar, on a listings page, or as a list in the sidebar.

Events Calendar 3

WP e-Commerce

WP e-Commerce is a highly useful plugin for bloggers or website owners who want to sell products from their site without a lot of work to set up an e-commerce site.

WP e-Commerce Plugin

TDO Mini Forms

With TDO Mini Forms you can allow users to submit posts by completing a form. The posts are held in moderation until you choose to publish them.

TDO Mini Forms

FV Community News Plugin

Community news sections are popular among design blogs. This plugin will make it easy to accept and publish user submissions. There are a lot of options and control for the site owner or administrator.

FV Community News Plugin

Yoast Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumb navigation can be helpful for usability and SEO purposes. This plugin allows you to easily add plugins to your WordPress theme.

20 WordPress Tricks to Improve Your Blog

For more WordPress-related content, please see:

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About Steven Snell

Stephen Snell is the owner and editor of Vandelay Design.Connect with Stephen on google+

  • Andrew Lindstrom

    Feb 12th

    Now this is an awesome post! I love it when I see jQuery and WordPress playing nice together. :)

    And seriously, I wish I knew about the “FV Community News” plugin two weeks ago – would have saved me a lot of grief.

  • Raymond Selda

    Feb 12th

    Great post! I’m about to redesign my blog and this post would be extremely helpful.

    There’s also an article over at Smashing Magazine for 10 WordPress Hacks.

    Thank you for this post.

  • Mike Brisk

    Feb 12th

    I have to agree with the first comment, Awesome! Some new stuff that the other wp blogs haven’t listed. Thanks!

  • Jen Rochester

    Feb 12th

    Awesome post! You covered how to solve a few problems I’ve been dealing with. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Khayyam Wakil

    Feb 12th

    This is indeed a very good post. Thank you for some really helpful research.

    It’s #delicious.

  • Tracey Grady

    Feb 12th

    Marvellous and very timely collection. Thank you.

  • Scott Lyon

    Feb 12th

    Considered and concise post – will have to look into some of this myself. Thanks!

  • Nile

    Feb 12th

    This is a good post, but kind of goes here and there. You should make the tricks toward a certain type of site. However, as said, very good. The list could be larger though as there are a lot of great tricks. I noticed, a couple of those are adopted and redone from old b2 tutorials with WP today in mind. No surprise.

    Thanks for sharing this. :)

  • Steve

    Feb 12th

    WordPress Custom Fields: Laying Text Over Your Lead Graphic
    is garbage, you should delete it, as to not waste peoples time with an old, horrible and incorrect tutorial.

  • Patternhead

    Feb 12th

    Great selection. I hadn’t seen a couple of these before. Should come in handy for a few projects I’ve got planned. Thanks.

  • Steven Snell

    Feb 12th

    I agree, it could be focused better. Sorry about that, but I hope the content is still useful.

  • Anthony Blears

    Feb 12th

    Sweet – extremely helpful post, thanks for sharing.


  • Demian Farnworth

    Feb 12th

    I did not know that about custom fields, so I like the tutorial for the laying of text over your lead graphic. Too cool. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

  • Marcel

    Feb 12th

    Very nice list. I’ve been looking for a suitable slideshow tool for a while. Thank you

  • Mark

    Feb 12th

    I love this list of tutorials. Bookmarked it so I can make use of some of these. Thanks

  • mohsen

    Feb 12th

    Really helpful.
    Thanks for sharing

  • Susan

    Feb 12th

    This is a highly helpful post. Much appreciated!

  • John Samuel

    Feb 13th

    Quite useful post

  • Blog Design Studio

    Feb 13th

    Indeed a wonderful blog post that lists out some really awesome tricks that surely improve the WordPress installations. No wonder everyone was tweeting about it.

  • yugu | Dzineblog

    Feb 13th

    This one really helpfull, thanks
    i’m going to try some of these in my blog

  • sports picks

    Feb 13th

    “…to lure a reader in…” It’s funny that we have to bait our readers. Great post, you’ve offered us some great suggestions. Thank you.

  • Desizntech

    Feb 14th

    Really useful tips…Thanks for not repeating the same info many blogs produce

  • Val Silver

    Feb 15th

    Hi and thanks for the tips. Been looking for this info, maybe you can help. (I’m a techno-kindergartner)
    Do you know if there’s a way to add an opt-in box to free wordpress.com?
    Thanks, Val

  • Steven Snell

    Feb 15th

    Hi Val,
    I’m sorry, but I have no experience with the free wordpress.com system. I always use the hosted version. I’m not really sure of the limitations of the free version.

  • Audee Velasco

    Feb 15th

    Thanks! This is really helpful..

    Maybe I’ll start incorporating jquery with my wordpress.

  • Webdesign Oelde

    Feb 17th

    Nice collection. I didn’t knew all of them. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Lorne Pike

    Feb 19th

    Another great post. Thanks for more ideas to add to the kit bag!

  • Vivek Khandelwal

    Feb 28th

    thanx for the these
    a great list.. The themes look great ,,

  • Paul

    Mar 3rd

    I love all the great information. I keep learning more about all the things you can do with wordpress.


  • Scott Dylan

    Mar 15th

    This is a great post, im new to blogging but enjoying learning about WordPress and what i can with it.

  • abusyafiq

    Apr 21st

    good article, I learn it… thanks

  • Nintendo Gaming

    Apr 24th

    Some useful tips here that I was actually searching an answer for, so thanks! It’s very useful seeing as I’m a WP newbie.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Wonder Wyant

    Apr 25th

    Wonderful post and some really great tips! Found via twitter, subscribed, thanks so much :)

  • alex

    May 4th

    Great post Thanks!!!

  • Sajid Latif

    May 9th

    One of the best that I have seen so far. The list could be larger though as there are a lot of great tricks.

  • free classified ads

    May 12th

    Very inforrmative,\e-commerce plugin is very useful i like that..

  • Sajid

    Jun 4th

    The list could be larger though as there are a lot of great tricks.
    Great job on the theme.

  • Steven Snell

    Jun 4th

    You’re right it could be larger, but you could say that even if there were 100 items on the list.

  • virvith

    Jun 28th

    Great a post thank u very very

  • Wordpressthemegenerator

    Jul 3rd

    Great themes and tricks which help us lot….Thanksss

    Now Make Word-press Theme Online at my Website ..check it.

  • Jamie Crager

    Jul 29th

    Thanks for the collection, i am just trying to figure out which one i am going to use first.

    Jamie Crager


  • the_guv

    Jul 29th

    Nice, Steven, tx .. jQuery humdingers.

    Plugins .. would add Sniplets and HeadSpace2 and, if I may be so bold? .. don’t forget security, here’s the 101 ..


  • farbige kontaktlinsen

    Oct 20th

    Twitter is really a great invention, but I think blogging is even more important to create some traffic. But I can use some of the tips.

  • ProWebGuru

    Oct 27th

    This is very useful.
    Can you post an articles on TDO Mini Forms.
    I searched a lot but there is not a single article which will show how to use TDO Mini Forms for creating a custom data entry page by which people can fill the data.

    Everyone will like that.

  • Steven Snell

    Oct 27th

    Here is a tutorial for using TDO Mini Forms that may help you.

  • ProWebGuru

    Oct 28th

    Thanks for your help
    I followed that tutorial but i m facing a problem in that.
    Whenever i am submitting any link then title will be inserted as date.
    And while showing that on sidebar, it is showing title as date.

  • Steven Snell

    Oct 28th

    I didn’t write that tutorial and I don’t remember the details so you would have to ask the author.

  • izdelovanje spletnih strani

    Nov 13th

    thank you for sharing this, i guess more work awaits … to improve my blog

  • www.bhsource.net

    Nov 28th

    Great article and information and since I am just starting my own blog it your tips will come handy :)

  • gambler

    Dec 12th

    Great article! At all the Highlighted Menue is exactly what i searched for!

  • Eva

    Jan 2nd

    Thank you so much I got understand more about TDO.

  • Jessy Wu

    Jan 11th

    wow! what a great post.
    tons of useful tips i can use on my newly setup blog.
    thanks again for sharing.

  • advertising

    Feb 28th

    something to think about

  • Janoe

    Mar 16th

    Whoa… it’s a great post. Thank you, I have searched this plugin tutorial.

  • blogiskewl

    Mar 26th

    Hi, I recently started a bloghosting platform (based on wordpress MU) and when I stumbled your blog I paid attention to your theme (looking good) so I was wondering can you tell me is it custom made theme or one of those free ones? thanks in advance! regards, blogiskewl

  • Steven Snell

    Mar 27th

    It’s custom.

  • Shevaa | webdesignersblog

    Apr 24th

    Hmm Wow Great Post man….

  • Roxana Tesch

    May 16th

    That’s pretty useful, thanks for the post, can you guys give me any examples about how to create more elaborate animations in flash?

  • sureshpeters

    May 30th

    wow..a nice information…never known abt this stuff..!! tnx for share.!! ur post really helpful for begineers..u rocks..admin…

  • burakg

    Jun 13th

    thank you for mentioning really nice WP plugins. Especially the “advanced category excluder” is what i’ve been searching for.

  • world cup 2010 betting lines

    Jun 13th

    Oh..wonderfull post and great information …will have a try all the tips..thanks…

  • Mertie Whitchurch

    Jun 15th

    Thanks for your article! I was searching for free classified advertising and classified related articles when I came across your website post on Bing. This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for the share. I’ve saved this post for future reference :-) Nice comments – Cheers

  • Flinn

    Jun 22nd

    love the blogroll tut by Chris at Nettuts(will use it some where).thnx a lot.

  • pizza fırını

    Jun 24th

    Thanks for this carefully selected list of WP plugins.

  • Keila Selia

    Jun 28th

    very intresting write up now to further my research

  • Pixelbox Design

    Jul 16th

    Excellent Article, Added to favs, keep up the good work.

  • Ahmet ERTEM

    Jul 16th

    Nice article… I’ll translete it to Turkish and re-post on my blog…

  • Emily Kirby

    Aug 1st

    Thank you for the blog design heroes link, so helpful!

  • lv

    Aug 7th

    so helpful!

  • wordpress designer

    Aug 17th

    Nice tutorial.

  • ของขวัญ

    Oct 16th

    Great!!!! Thanks

  • webdesignerslog

    Oct 29th

    Thanks for sharing specially Event Calendar…

  • Alishia Kolp

    Nov 11th

    I’ve to state, you selected your phrases well. The ideas you wrote on your encounters are effectively placed. This is an unbelievable weblog!

  • Andrea

    Nov 15th

    Fabulous ideas; thanks for the tips!

  • ของขวัญ

    Nov 20th

    So amazing topic, cool!

  • Niek

    Dec 9th

    Some real usefull tutorials out there, keep it going!

  • Edythe Thygerson

    Dec 15th

    I am not really superb with English but I come up this real easygoing to read .

  • Stenko

    Dec 19th

    Very useful for me.

  • Paul, WordPress designer

    Dec 20th

    a lot of this is now outdated, I’d use Gravity Forms for any type of form or data submission process.

  • Robert Jones

    Dec 30th

    Is there any chance I can blog about some of this work? I’m rebuilding my x mini site where we introduce about the little X Mini speaker – a small battery powered iPod speaker – so I need as much content as I can get for the new blog. I will give you credit of course, and link back to this website.

  • Moses Sumas

    Dec 30th

    Hi – very good site you have established. I had fun going through this posting. I did want to reply a remark to tell you that the layout of this website is very aesthetically pleasing. I used to be a graphic designer, now I am a simple employee for a merchandising firm. I have always had fun playing with computers and am attempting to learn code in my spare time (which there is never enough of lol).

  • ของขวัญ

    Jan 10th

    Great !
    Thank you for this valuable resource.

  • ans

    Jan 12th

    Thanks this is good post i love it so much.

  • ของขวัญ

    Jan 16th

    Thank You for sharing. ^_^

  • jD

    Jan 23rd

    Thank you for this great post. I love the Smooth Gallery and the Tabs solution. For my blog i will use it too.

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    Mar 7th

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    Mar 10th

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    * Before you sell your website, make sure that you provide all vital information about your website including search engine ranking reports, profit and loss statements, traffic reports, and summary of the website business model.

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    Apr 24th

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  • WebDesignerSEO

    Apr 27th

    Even though its over a year old Thank you for this valuable resource.

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    Apr 29th

    thank for sharing very much

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    May 2nd

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    May 11th

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    May 25th

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    Jul 4th

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    Jul 8th

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    Jul 9th

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  • Terri Beiler

    Jul 25th

    I constructed mine and i was looking for some concepts and you gave me a couple of

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