Recommend me some WordPress plugins
June 24, 2014 1:11 PM   Subscribe

I am tasked with updating a WordPress site for my research facility. I need to add two features, an image gallery and an event ticker or news feed. Free plugins are greatly preferred, since the mechanics of payment for this sort of thing are a giant pain in the patookus. I am not terribly experienced with WordPress, but have spent a decent amount of time elbow deep in the site and have an idea of how most of it works.

1) Image gallery. This will be a gallery of research-related images. I'm flexible on slideshow vs thumbnails vs ??? layout, but my images will not all be the same size, nor can they all be reasonably cropped to a standard dimension. I would like to be able to include a little blurb about what it's an image of, possibly with a more detailed description if you click on something.

2) Event ticker / news feed. A place to list things like job postings, congratulations to someone on getting a paper published, and seminar announcements.

I've googled and there are a million options. I'd like specific recommendations that are reasonably user friendly and have a good user experience.
posted by telepanda to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to look at a whole new theme rather than plugins. For example this one basically does what you want. I have had excellent experience using this vendor, good support with any issues, and the themes I've used all work well. If your existing site is not too complicated, migrating the content over to a new theme is a piece of cake.
posted by beagle at 1:25 PM on June 24, 2014

Regarding #1: If you are using the most recent version of WordPress (or even a fairly recent version), WP has simple image galleries built-in.

I'd recommend also using this plugin, which makes the native gallery prettier (w/ slideshow-style lightbox navigation) using code that comes with Jetpack (a free package of plugins made by Wordpress, bringing features to self-hosted sites), without actually having to have a Jetpack/ account.
posted by Zephyrial at 1:38 PM on June 24, 2014

Also, regarding #2: The times I've done this for others, sometimes it's easier to just use a Twitter or Tumblr widget plugin, knowing that they can update the Twitter or Tumblr easily, rather than trying to create something within WordPress that they can update themselves. YMMV.
posted by Zephyrial at 1:39 PM on June 24, 2014

Changing themes is not likely to be an option. We currently have a custom theme that was put together by some web designers who are now out of the picture. I don't think it would go over well if I migrated to a new theme.

While our research facility does not currently have a Tumblr/Flickr/Twitter account, I am open to suggestions along this line, and reasons why you think it's better. Again, mention of specific plugins is appreciated.
posted by telepanda at 1:59 PM on June 24, 2014

Is your site mostly constructed of pages? Because if so, you don't need a ticker – that's what the posting system is for! You just create a blank page with a name like "news" or whatever, and point the posting system at it (you do that in settings/reading).

One of the standard widgets (which you find under "appearance") is "recent posts" and you can put that in your sidebar so people can see the recent headlines you want to emphasize.

Sorry if I'm telling you things you know, but you seem to be grasping for plugins when Wordpress does the things you need natively right out of the box.

Plugins can be fun, but they can also cause conflicts with the main code or with each other. If you can achieve the same results with WP itself, it's less prone to cause development woes.
posted by zadcat at 2:47 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could try kPicasa Gallery, a plugin I developped. It hasn't been updated in a while, but it's only because there aren't any known bugs or missing features (I wanted to keep it simple).
posted by kag at 5:55 AM on June 25, 2014

I am totally happy to learn about built-in features that can do what I need. I am not hell-bent on overcomplicating things. My only goal is "make this work".
posted by telepanda at 7:28 AM on June 25, 2014

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