It’s customary at this year for blogs to do roundup posts and summaries of the previous 12 months. Rather than do a large list of long themes and plugins, I thought it would be better if I spoke about my own favourite themes and plugins from 2011.
Note, if you are looking for long lists of themes and plugins, I recommend you check out our theme and plugin lists from 2011 on our Featured Articles page.
My Top 3 WordPress Themes
Choosing your favourite 3 WordPress designs from 12 active months isn’t easy, particularly if you have personally reviewed hundreds of them. In the end I decided to go with 3 designs which I believe are not only great themes but have also helped extend WordPress in some way.
An advanced WordPress theme that turns WordPress into a full functional review website. A 5 star rating system is integrated throughout the website and there are buttons that link to each product or service to help increase affiliate commissions. For me, this is what sets the theme apart from other magazine themes.
A single license retails for only $37, which is a great price for a theme that boasts this many features. I recommend checking it out if you are thinking of starting a review website.
In my opinion, support for post formats in 2011 hasn’t been as good as it should have been. There has been a lot of great Tumblr themes released over the last 12 months. It was difficult to choose one over others as there are several that I like.
In the end, I decided to go with the Grido theme from Themify. There are so many things to love about the design. I love the post icons that each post uses and the ability to choose from 9 different colours for post format backgrounds. It also comes with 7 different theme skins. By far its coolest feature is the option to show one, two, three or four columns of posts on a page. You can show a sidebar too. All of these features make it a very flexible theme and a great choice for a Tumblr style blog or personal website.
The Navigator is one of the coolest WordPress ideas I have seen this year. The design lets you turn your website into an interactive location guide. Google Maps is shown in full screen in the background. You can add information, photos and more about specific locations anywhere in the world. Whenever the use views information about a new destination, the background image changes appropriately.
My Top 3 WordPress Plugins
I’ve purchased dozens of premium WordPress plugins over the last 12 months and I’ve tested hundreds on my test blog too. This makes choosing a top 3 difficult. After reviewing some old posts and looking at what plugins I still use today, I finally decided on 3 plugins that I use on WP Mods and consider essential to the success of this site.
Although I previewed the beta launch of VaultPress in late 2010, it wasn’t launched fully until 2011. Since then it has rightfully earned a reputation as (in my opinion) the best way to back up your WordPress website.
The service backs up your website each and every hour and allows you to download any backup since you started using it. For example, as I started using the service last November, I can download a backup from any hour within the last 13 months i.e. all themes, plugins, uploads and the database itself at any given hour.
The service recently got even better with the introduction of a much anticipated one-click restore feature. This means that in the event of your site being hacked or lost, you can now restore your site with just one click. I can’t imagine running WPMods without it.
UberMenu allows you to easily transform your WordPress menu into a colourful multi-column drop down navigation menu. You can add icons for each link and there is an advanced style generator that lets you customise the style of your menu without having to touch the theme stylesheet.
It has become the biggest selling plugin on CodeCanyon with over three thousand purchases. The great support from developer Chris Mavricos has no doubt helped it become such a success. He personally helped me change the menu for WP Mods on more than one occasion and even pointed our some other errors he found in my stylesheet. I recommend trying it out if you want a more feature rich navigation menu.
You may have noticed a pop up on WP Mods encouraging you to sign up to our newsletter. This pop up is powered by Pippity. Sign up rates to the WP Mods newsletter increase by over 300% since using it.
I’ve tried a few different newsletter plugins over the last year or so however Pippity is the easiest to set up. It also has better pop up designs compared to its competitors and reports useful stats on impressions and conversions. A must have plugin for anyone that is trying to build their newsletter list.
What are your top 3 WordPress designs and plugins from 2011? I’d love to hear what your favourite products were and why :)