For years I was a plugin junkie, changing my sidebar on a regular basis with newly released plugins. I'm keen to get into this habit again, as I love trying out new plugins. Additionally, it means I can review the plugins for you guys :)
I love the way that the Top Stories widgets displays posts. The plugin allows you to display popular posts by views, most commented posts, and pages. I initially thought the most popular posts widget wasn't working. I later found out that the views only start being counted once the plugin
has been activated (makes sense!), therefore popular posts will show up after a few hours.
The widget allows you to customise the way your posts are displayed. You can select posts from one specific category, the number of posts to be displayed, and the number of days in which posts are displayed. Featured images are used for each post listing, however you can define the background colour. You can also define the colour of the date tag.
When I first purchased the plugin, I was frustrated to see that you could not define which pages were displayed with the pages widget. I contacted the developer about this issue and he immediately added the option to select which pages were displayed (kudos to him for doing that).
I'm still thinking about changing some things on my sidebar, however I'm happy with the way top stories looks. Hopefully, in a future version, they can add the option to change the text colour and style from the widget area. Currently, this can only be done by editing the plugin code directly. Plus, I would love to see a latest posts option added. I am using another plugin for latest posts at the moment and it seems silly for them both to have different styling.
Top Stories retails for $12 on CodeCanyon. The developer is very quick at responding to questions and support queries, and he seems very open to suggestions on how it can be improved. So I expect the plugin will be improved a lot over the next few months. I recommend checking it out if you are looking for a way to promote popular articles.