WordPress Plugins Explained

This tutorial explains what WordPress plugins are, how plugins work and how plugins help WordPress users extend their website’s functionality. 

WordPress Plugins - The Easy Way To Extend Your Site's FeaturesOne of the main features of the WordPress software is that you can quickly and easily enhance your WordPress web site’s functionality using applications called ’plugins’.

Understanding WP Plugins

Like most people, you most likely have a cell phone. What do you do when you would like access to something new on your phone like a new software or a new business productivity tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a software that is very easy to install and adds new features to any mobile device.

A Beginner's Guide To WordPress Plugins

(Just as there are social sharing apps …)

A WP plugin is like an app. You simply install and activate a software that adds new functionality to your web site …

A Non-Technical Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

(… there are also social sharing plugins for WordPress sites!)

Typically, adding new features to an existing web site involves additional cost. Depending on how complex the features or enhancements are, this cost can be significant, particularly if it requires programming code.

This is also applicable when creating a web site. Businesses sometimes pay for added features and options they probably will never need.

To reduce unnecessary expenses, we suggest considering a sustainable strategy to developing a website and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine being able to:

1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get a website up and running fast, then …

2) As you need more features, add new applications with only a couple of mouse clicks directly from your admin section, giving your website or blog a whole new range of useful functionality, and also …

3) Cost not a single cent extra to download and install on your website?

Well, that’s precisely what a plugin enables you to do!

Plugins – Benefits And Advantages

Earlier, we compared WP plugins with mobile apps. Just like some apps are free to download and some may cost a little bit of money, so do WP plugins.

In fact, thousands of plugins can be downloaded to your website at no cost.

WordPress plugins that you buy are referred to as Premium plugins. The good news, is that when you compare these to the price of hiring a professional web developer to get similar functionality on your site, most Premium plugins cost very little.

Also, as WordPress makes its code publicly available, anyone can create, rewrite and customize any part of the code. This has allowed thousands of third-party software development professionals to enhance and contribute to the core software application.

  • Plugins let you get started simply with a simple online business presence and then add new features and enhancements to your site when necessary.
  • Plugins let you add almost unlimited functionality to your web site easily and cheaply.
  • WordPress plugins give you practically endless expanding capabilities.
  • Plugins allow anyone to own a web presence that they can self-manage.
  • Most plugins will work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to provide your web site with new enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins offer more extensive features and may require some initial configuring.

WP Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Often) Completely FREE!

Like many WP themes, loads of great WP plugins are available to WP users … for FREE!

You can download thousands of WP plugins from the Free WP Plugin Repository

A Beginner's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you will find WP plugins that will do almost anything you can think of.

There are plugins for:

  • Blog Administration
  • Content Management
  • Online Traffic Generation
  • Visitor Engagement
  • Social Connectivity
  • Uploading Media – Video, Graphics & Images, Podcasts, Multimedia, etc.
  • e-Commerce And Online Sales & Marketing Automation
  • Improving Sales And Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data & System Reporting Applications
  • Site Security

You can enhance a business online presence with plugins like:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Social contests
  • Rotating ad banners
  • E-commerce (from managing single-item ordering with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring payments, coupon codes, etc …)
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Membership sites
  • List-building subscription forms
  • Sales workflow
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your website’s Search Engine Optimization
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User testimonial forms
  • Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change your website’s content from English to Italian)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation
  • Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Offline storage integration
  • Making pages load faster
  • Event management
  • Business directories
  • Automatically sell and manage spots on your blog
  • Set up appointments and appointment reminders
  • Automate reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks and email you reports
  • Redirect website links
  • Monitor social conversations
  • Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
  • Add a site map
  • Hide certain from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
  • Protect content on your posts and pages
  • Migrate information from different publishing platforms
  • Search and replace data
  • Block SPAM commenting
  • Customize guest comment displays (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
  • Insert HTML and code elements into your pages
  • Add formatted tables
  • Add animated graphics and advanced font display formatting options
  • Add and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google search listings
  • Add a map
  • Post your content automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and others
  • Display countdown timers (for scarcity offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

As it’s clear to see, WP plugins give you practically limitless possibilities. If you are planning to build a website, or your existing site isn’t powered by WordPress, then consider using WordPress in the future.

In case you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using plugins, let me show you how you can benefit instantly by installing an inexpensive plugin on your site.

For example, if you need content protection, you can install plugins to make an area of your page inaccessible, or create a professional membership site with separate login details for users …

A Basic Guide To WordPress Plugins

As mentioned before, you can use free plugins to improve your web site in lots of ways. From installing functionality that can enhance your business, your visitors’ experience and your understanding of what is taking place on your site …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

To extending your business reach across social sites and search engines …

A Guide To WP Plugins

You can also add complex features to your website using inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can set up plugins that integrate and automate processes on your site such as customer feedback and event bookings management …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

And also run a custom bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a small fraction of the cost of paying software developers to design the same applications for you …

A Practical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also take advantage of native WP commenting features and plugins that will let you engage better with web visitors, customers and registered site users …

A Guide To WP Plugins

For example, your visitors can:

  • Post comments on your blog posts (which can turn into online discussions) using either the native WP commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get displayed throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with additional exposure).
  • Bookmark your content on social networks.
  • Contact you via contact forms
  • Engage in online discussions with your team via online forums or even set up an online community on your site.
  • Engage with members of your team using live web conferencing and chatrooms
  • Dial your business from their smart phones while visiting your website
  • Get help via a dedicated client support helpdesk
  • And much more …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

You can even integrate sophisticated “back end” applications using a WP “front end”. This lets you manage the content that your visitors will see on your site, while the third-party application handles the technical side of things …

A Practical Guide To WP Plugins

Plugins – Useful Information

  • There are lots of plugins to choose from. Be careful of overloading your site with an excessive amount of plugins, as this can begin to affect your website’s performance and site loading times. It also means more maintenance issues for you resulting from potential conflicts and errors.
  • Only keep those plugins that you really need. Delete inactive plugins from your site, as these also use server resources.
  • Many free plugins often come with very little to no support from the plugin author. When considering premium plugins, ensure that you check some reviews online and understand what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to offering support, updates, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of the plugin reviews we provide on this site for additional helpful information.
  • If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two or more years), then think carefully before installing it. The WordPress application updates frequently and older plugins that have not been updated can cause errors.
  • Make sure that you always update your plugins. Outdated plugin not only can cause conflicts, they may also contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most downloaded content management system available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to expand quickly without spending thousands of dollars on web developers.

One last thing about WP plugins:

If there is any functionality you want for your web site, you can guarantee that a someone has probably already created one that will do what you need it to do, and that it can either be downloaded for FREE, or if it’s a premium plugin, that the price will be surprisingly affordable.

Whatever you need done, there's a WordPress plugin for that!

(Whatever you need done, there’s a WordPress plugin for that!)

And, if by chance such a WP plugin is not available, then it can probably be created for your business at a reasonable cost.

Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of WP plugins – what they are and how they can help improve your website. See our related posts section to learn about more great WordPress plugins that we recommend using.

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