The recent posts list is something that I value highly on blog designs. I considered adding thumbnails to the recent posts manually but my laziness and love of plugins got the better of me!
The first plugin I looked at was Special Recent Posts Pro, an beautiful feature rich recent posts plugin from Luca Grandicelli that retails for only $6. I was pretty set on buying it but to be sure I tried out the free version of the plugin first. It worked ok but wasn’t really what I was looking for. There is clearly a gulf in quality between the free and pro version of the plugin but using the free version made me look at my 2nd choice: Better Recent Posts Widget Pro.
Designed by Pippin Williamson, the pro version has a lot of extra features that are not found in the free version. In retrospect, the free version might have been enough for my needs though the pro version only costs $4 and gives me the flexibility of enhancing the recent post area at a later date.
The plugin features:
- 11 Options to Choose from on a per-widget basis
- Widget Title
- Post Title Display
- Post Author Display
- Post Date Display
- Comment Count Display
- Post Excerpt Display with Length Control
- Post Display Order
- Post Sorting Method
- Number of Posts to Show
- Post Offset
- Featured Thumbnail Display
- Thumbnail Size Control
- Show Posts from Custom Taxonomy, including post formats
- Choose the Taxonomy Terms to Show Posts From (based on term ID or slug)
- Show Entries from Custom Post Types
- Multiple Widget Instance Support
The post title, author, date and comment count can all be included in your recent posts listing. You can also show the excerpt for each post. You can offset the number of posts before posts are shown; a useful feature if you don’t want the last posts shown on your home page to be shown on the sidebar too. Unfortunately, there’s not an option to use the offset button on every page except the home page. I think this would make the offset feature useful as on most other pages you want the latest posts shown. What you can do using the offset feature is split your recent posts into parts i.e. you could display 5 latest posts in your first widget and the next 5 in the second widget.
Posts can be ordered by title, publication date or randomly. Thumbnails can also be shown. All you have to do is set the dimensions of your thumbnails. You can display posts by post types or taxonomy too.
Below is a screenshot of the old recent posts list on WP Mods. Only the title was shown.
I tested adding the date, author and comment count in post lists but it felt a little crowded (I may add comment count later). The excerpts option works well though I noticed that using excerpts invalidates your code.
In the video below Pippin walks you through using the plugin and shows you how easy it is to use.
One of the great things about the plugin is the ability to display posts, pages, attachments or any other post type. Therefore, if you have something like bbPress installed you can use this plugin to display your latest threads or replies from your forum.
It’s cheap, easy to use and very versatile. There are lots of free alternatives available, including the free version of this plugin, though $4 is a bargain for a plugin of this quality. Recommended.