September 09, 2012, 8:50 PM — WordPress turned nine this year. According to Matt Mullenweg, a lead developer for WordPress, the open-source content management system (CMS) has been downloaded 145 million times (video). And a survey by W3Techs, which surveys and reports on technology usage, states that WordPress now accounts for more than half of all websites using a CMS, and nearly 17% of all websites of any kind.
WordPress didn't achieve such penetration by being a barebones CMS; out of the box, it offers a bevy of features that makes it ideal for authors, vendors, media producers and more. The addition of Retina support in WordPress 3.5, coming December 5, demonstrates that the developers are determined to keep their software up-to-date and versatile.
But every user has individual needs that WordPress can't necessarily anticipate. That's why an active community of supporters and developers has produced more than 20,000 plugins. From modifying the core behavior to adding additional tools for administrators or readers, a wide range of problems has been encountered and solved through the use of third-party plugins, which are easy to install from the WordPress dashboard.
Inevitably, plugins change -- developers move on to other projects and functionality evolves to make old plugins obsolete. Among those I reviewed three years ago, a few remain relevant and supported -- most notably, Akismet for dealing with spam, All In One SEO Pack for improving your search engine optimization, NextGen Gallery for photo management and display and WP Greet Box for engaging new visitors to your site.
My list of essential plugins now includes not just those four, but also the following ten. Whatever the purpose of your site, these plugins will ensure a rich and trouble-free experience for you and your users.