En-Rich Your Blog With 10 WordPress Rich Media Plugins

8 Apr

Rich media is easy. Well, it takes some work, and there is some learning involved, but plugin developers have made it much easier to adorn our sites with the glitz and glamor of all things interactive. Play with some of them and see what they’re capable of. You’ll be amazed at how far this medium can take your site and how you’ll be better able to serve your site visitors.

So what kinds of plugins are out there and what are they capable of? Let’s find out, shall we?

All-In-One Video Pack

Available on the Kaltura site and WordPress.org. Demo is also available.

This is a fully-functioning video tool. You an import, upload, and record video right in the post. Video editing, mixing, thumbnails, video players, and other features that rival those found on YouTube can be added as well.

The whole thing installs pretty easily and sets up pretty quick. If you’re going to get the most of this plugin, however, take some time to explore everything, read up on the features, and play with it. This is a fantastic option for those looking to try vlogging, artists, and those who currently use a number of different social networks for their videos.

WPaudio MP3 Player

Available for download from WordPress.org.

If you’re a podcaster or blog about music, poetry readings, voice overs, or other audio, you need an audio plugin that’s clean, stylish, and easy to use. Compatibility is often a huge problem when working in this format as well. The WPaudio MP3 Player plugin takes care of a lot of that.

Like the video plugin, this one is pretty quick to set up and doesn’t seem to slow page loads down like many of the others available out there. I think the best features of this one are the controls themselves and its use of tags. It also works with HTML 5.

Smooth Slider

Available for download from WordPress.org, ClickOnF5, and you’ll find a demo in the upper left hand side of the home page.

Neat features are not something WordPress is known for on its own. Even getting a basic set of columns and tables can be almost impossible, and often break more things than you have the patience to fix. The Smooth Slider Widget, however, seems to solve the problem.

Simple, fully customizable, and easy to use, you don’t have to know how to code to use it. It supports custom post types, pages, and media, pure images or image/text combinations. You can use your own text and even replace the number system. Definitely worth a try if you’re looking to add special features or update your site’s style.

Apture

Available from Apture (Warning: Direct Download). See Apture in action at The Economist (highlight a term) and check out the links on the Apture home page.

Apture is all about search, and I have to admit, they do it well. Once installed:

  • Links are given a popout to their respective pages
  • Media is a snap to upload and imbed
  • Search for terms

You’ll find it’s easier for you to serve up the added content, without having visitors leave your site. They’ll be able to explore all they like, and can even search farther within the Apture window. I had this on my own blog for quite some time and really enjoyed it.

Lightbox Plus

Download from WordPress.org, 23Systems, and you can see a demo of the plugin at 23Systems as well.

If you use images to help explain a point, or like to feature images, but find you need a thumbnail and the ability to call up a larger image for a closer look, this is your plugin. It’s light, simple, and basic.

Fancy Box

An alternative is Fancybox. Similar in concept, this one is fully customizable, allows you to customize the various features, and is applied automatically. you can download it from WordPress.org and see it in action on Moskis. I’ve tried numerous ones (am currently testing another), and liked this one the best so far. Others easily became too complicated or lacked the basic functionality.

Incorporating Social Media

There are a ton of plugins available for the various sites, many of them work on a post by post basis and communicate back to the network. Unfortunately, there are just too many varieties to cover. My suggestion is to make a list of the features you want, have a look around, and try a few out.

Twitter Goodies

Available from WordPress.org, Twitter Goodies gives you a tweet button, search widget, and a profile widget. Quick, simple & clean

Simple Facebook Connect

No matter what you want to do with Facebook connect, this easy set of plugins will help you do it. There’s no need to be a coding wiz, either. Great for DIY-ers. You’ll find it on WordPress.org

Embed Facebook

Why waste your time posting the same thing twice, when you can post it on Facebook and embed it anywhere on your site you’d like? That’s what the Embed Facebook plugin does.

Social Bookmarking RELOADED

Why restrict your readers to only one or two social networks when you can let them share and save on whichever site they’d like? This one is neat and pretty comprehensive. Offered on WordPress.org.

Niche Specific Plugins

If you’re in a particular niche, why not use that to your advantage and offer something a little bit different that your visitors could actually use? Here are a few interesting ones:

Real Estate Finder

Visitors can search the US, Canada, Australia and the UK for property. Download it from WordPress.org. You can also find a Mortgage Loan Calculator plugin they might find helpful.

WP Flash Clock

If you give away hourly deals or otherwise use time in your marketing or niche, this could be an interesting one for you. You might even want to incorporate it right into your theme. You can find it here.

Protein Shake Recipe Calculator

Making protein shakes is a big thing for dieters and fitness nuts. Make it easy for them to figure out how many calories they’re consuming so they can stay on top of things. Available in a widget.

Foursquare Latest Checkins

I realize this probably should have gone in the social section, but to be honest, I thought this would be so great for a personal travel website, local review site, or even for marketing (traveling mascot), I had to move it to this section. Displays the latest checkins for a user. Get it on WordPress.org.

Have you used any rich media plugins? Which ones did you like the best?

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