Matt Mullenweg: 11 Recommended Tools & Themes For WordPress

Matt Mullenweg: 11 Recommended Tools & Themes For WordPress

As a regular subscriber to the print magazine Web Designer I was happy to see their guest editor for the 200th edition was non other than Automattic supremo Matt Mullenweg.

Matt Mullenweg (for those few that may not already know) is the founder and lead developer of the WordPress foundation. He is also a well-known speaker, with other business interests including Akismet, Gravatar, VaultPress, IntenseDebate, PollDaddy, and more.

With WordPress now powering over 15% of the worlds websites, im sure it is no over statement to refer to Matt as a big deal. I don’t know what direction my online life would have headed had it not been for my early discovery of this fantastic CMS – I definitely wouldn’t have started this website anyway!

The magazine article also featured an interview with Matt Mullenweg , which had significant relevance as it was after the 10th birthday celebrations of WordPress itself.

Throughout the interview Matt gave his views on where WordPress would be heading over the next 12 month; where he cited specific areas such as making the media experience within WP better, as well as making it more social through further development of their Jetpack plugin. He also discussed what he believed would be the biggest challenges to WordPress over the next ten years – responsive design for mobile phones and tablets.

While the interview on a whole was very interesting, it was really Matt’s answers to the very last question that I wished to discuss, and offer some insights into.

As I am always scouring the internet for new tools, themes, and plugins it is hardly a surprise that the question “What tools and themes would you recommend?” excited me. Matt’s responses are below:

6 Essential Additions For WordPress (in association with or Automatic)

1. Jetpack (official website & WordPress plugin directory)

It is hardly a surprise that the Jetpack plugin was top of Matt’s list considering it has been developed by the WordPress Foundation, and a large portion of the discussion earlier on in the interview as one of their key focusses over the next 12 months, but here it is non the less.

This Jetpack plugin consists of a dashboard of tools that you can decide to activate, or decide not to. Some of these tools are premium tools that must be paid for, but most are free and are an easy way to add features that would normally only ever be associated with (hosted).


2. Vaultpress

Vaultpress is essentially a backup service specifically for WordPress, and again developed and run by Automatic (so no surprise it makes the list too).

I have used Vaultpress since it initially released in beta. There are only so many times you can cope with your WP installation being hacked, or destroyed y coding errors (normally at my own hands I must admit) before turning to a premium service such as Vaultpress.

This premium service will not only backup your files consistently, you will also be able to restore your website to an earlier version with just one click.


3. Akismet (official website & WordPress plugin directory)

Akismet is a free plugin (but must be paid for by business) that has been especially designed to fight comment spam. Install the plugin, and apply for your Askimet activation key and you are ready to go.

Bye, Bye comment spam!


4. P2 Theme

The P2 theme concentrates on quick status updates, similar to twitter. The theme is great to be used as part of a community and has an ever-growing number of add ons that can be used in conjunction with the theme itself. Better than me explaining it (as I have not actually taken it for a test drive yet), here is a video:

And here is the P2 Themes website.

P2 Theme Image


5. _s theme

This stupidly named theme is a free skeleton theme framework for aspiring and professional developers. The theme has been specifically designed to be hacked, and boasts that it will save developers 1000 hours development time.

I have wanted to learn theme development for quite sometime and had hoped that because this starter theme was being pushed so heavily that they would offer some online resources to help aspiring developers get started with this theme, but alas I am yet to come across any resources that would truly help a total theme developing novice like me – but if you already have some experience it may be just what YOU are looking for!

Here is what the theme (once installed) looks like!

And here is the website:


6. Theme Check

This plugin is new to me, perhaps because I am not a theme developer, and care little about the coding of my themes – over and above basic functionality.

The purpose of this plugin is to enable you to check that your themes spec is up to the latest word press theme review standards.

A perfect ad on for theme developers.

5 Great Third Party Tools

1. Facebook for WordPress

This plugin does more than just add a WordPress like button to your WordPress website, it also offers other ways of sharing your website content with your friends, and fully fits into Matt’s focus on increasing the social aspects of WordPress.

There is probably no better way to fully understand the focus and capabilities of this program than by visiting the plugins page on Facebook itself here:

But here’s a screenshot of how the plugin appears on a popular celebrity website:


2. WP-Super Cache

This is a plugin that I have a lot of experience with, so much in fact that I plan to cover the set-up process in exact detail in a future article, but for now I will just look into the what it is, and what it is likely to do for your WordPress website or blog.

The plugin when set up in the correct way will generate static html files for your web server that are comparatively lighter than your WordPress php script.

For all intent and purpose the super cache plugin has been designed to speed up your website. This is especially important because Google now looks closely at your websites load time and uses this as a clear ranking factor. Your regular readers will also appreciate your website loading faster.

Here is just one example of how this plugin can help speed up your website:


3. Email Post Changes

Now this is an ad on that I did not know existed, but it is also one that I believe I would have very little need for.

This plugin essentially emails the administrators of a website when a change has been made to an already published post.

The beauty of this plugin is that you can select the sort of changes you want to be emailed about – links added for instance!


4. All in one SEO

Now if you havent heard of this plugin you must either be brand new to WordPress or working on a whole different level to me. I have used this plugin for over 6 years and while I have been tempted to try others such as the Yoast SEO plugin I am happy with it.

If you are new to WordPress or SEO I strongly recommend you to set this up on your blog immediately.


5. bbPress

bbPress forums has now been redeveloped as a WordPress plugin.

This allows simple integration of forums onto your WordPress installation, and avoids all the unnecessary hassles that are sometimes apparent with other systems.

Hopefully one day we will need a forum here at but until that day I probably wont be needing the plugin – though I am sure I will comprehensively test it for those that do