WordPress Plugins Explained

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

WP Plugins - Improving Your Blog's CapabilitiesOne of the main benefits of using WordPress is that you can quickly increase your WP site’s functionality using applications called plugins.

About Plugins

Like most people, you most likely have a device like a cell phone. What happens when you want to access something new on your device like a new application, software or productivity tool?

You download and install an app!

An app is a software application that is easy to install and immediately adds new features to your smart device.

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

(Just as you will find social sharing apps …)

A plugin is similar to an app. You install a software that adds new functionality to your site …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

(… you can also find social sharing plugins for WP users!)

Almost always, if you want to expand the functionality of an already-built site, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the new features or enhancement, this cost can be fairly significant, particularly if website developers have to create new code or modify templates or install scripts that integrate with your existing set up.

This is also applicable to setting up a web site. Companies will often pay for features and options they probably will never need.

To minimize expenses, we suggest a modular strategy to growing your website and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could:

1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get a basic, professional-looking website up and running quickly, then …

2) As the need becomes evident, you can add new software modules with only a few mouse clicks that integrate with your existing website or blog, giving your web site an entirely new range of useful features, and …

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

Well, that’s exactly what plugins allow you to do!

Plugins – Benefits

We started this blog post by comparing WP plugins with ’apps’. In a similar way that some apps are free to download and some cost a little bit of money, the same applies with WP plugins.

In fact, loads of plugins can be downloaded to your website for free.

Plugins that you buy are referred to as ’Premium’ plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the cost of hiring a professional web developer to add the same functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins cost very little.

Also, as WordPress is an Open Source application, any web developer can create, edit and customize any portion of the code. This has enabled many third-party software development companies to build more plugins that enhance WordPress than you can imagine.

  • Plugins allow you to start off with a basic web site and add new features and enhancements to your site only when necessary.
  • Plugins allow you to add practically unlimited functionality to any web site easily, quickly and quite cheaply.
  • Plugins give your online presence almost unlimited expanding capabilities.
  • WordPress plugins allow ”non-techies” to own a site that they can fully manage.
  • Most plugins will normally work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your web site new capabilities and enhancements.
  • Some plugins can be slightly more complex and may require some initial configuration.

WordPress Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Of Them Are) 100% FREE!

Just like themes, tens of thousands of great plugins are made available to WordPress users … often at $0 cost!

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

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you can find plugins that can do just about everything you can imagine.

Plugin categories cover:

  • Web Site Management
  • Content Syndication
  • Increasing Web Visitors
  • User Engagement
  • Social Media
  • Media Management Automation
  • Improving Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data And System Analysis
  • Securing Your

For example, you can enhance your website with plugins like the following:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Social contests
  • Rotating ad banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single-item ordering with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce with shopping carts, payment processing, recurring billing, discount codes, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Private Membership sites
  • Newsletter opt-in forms
  • Sales funnels
  • Mobile integration
  • Improving your website’s SEO
  • Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User testimonials
  • Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your website from English to Norwegian)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation
  • Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Offline storage management
  • Making pages load faster
  • Managing events
  • Business directories
  • Automatically sell spots on your blog
  • Set client appointments and appointment reminders
  • Help customers make reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks on your pages and send you reports
  • Redirect affiliate pages
  • Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
  • Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
  • Add sitemaps
  • Hide pages from showing on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Protect content on your pages and posts
  • Migrate content from non-WordPress platforms
  • Perform bulk content edits
  • Prevent SPAM commenting
  • Customize guest comment displays (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
  • Inserting code and code elements into your posts and pages
  • Add formatted tables
  • Add animated graphic elements and advanced content formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve your local search listings on Google
  • Add a map
  • Post your posts automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and others
  • Show countdown timers (for scarcity offers, coupons, etc …)
  • Display personalized greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

As it’s clear to see, WP plugins give you virtually limitless business flexibility. If you plan to build a website, or your existing web site isn’t powered by WordPress, then consider getting a WordPress site or blog in the future, or you could be missing out on some serious features.

If you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible plugins are, let me show you some practical uses of adding an inexpensive plugin to your website.

For example, if you need to publish private content, you can use plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on a page or post inaccessible, or create a complete membership site with personal login details for users …

A Practical Guide To WordPress Plugins

As mentioned before, you can use free plugins to improve your site in so many ways. From adding features that can improve your business, your site’s user experience and your understanding of what is happening on your site …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

To extending your site’s reach across many social networks and search engines …

A Basic Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

You can also add sophisticated features to your website using inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can download plugins that automate processes on your site like displaying customer testimonials and booking events …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

And even run a custom bookings and reservations system online … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of paying programmers to design similar functionality for you …

A Non-Technical User's Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

You can also take advantage of built-in WP commenting features and plugins that can make your site even more interactive …

A Beginner's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

For example, your visitors can easily:

  • Post comments on your blog posts (which can grow into online discussions) using either the built-in WordPress commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then displayed throughout a visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with added exposure).
  • Share your content with other web visitors on bookmarking sites.
  • Contact you via contact forms
  • Engage in online discussions with your support staff using online forums or even set up a private community on your own domain.
  • Engage with your team using live web conferencing and chatrooms
  • Call your business from their smart phones while browsing your pages
  • Open a support ticket
  • And much more …

A Useful Guide To WP Plugins

Finally you, can also integrate complex enterprise-level applications with a WordPress “front end”. This lets you manage your business sales and marketing, while your 3rd-party application handles the technological areas …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

Some Useful Things You Should Know About Plugins

  • There are many amazing plugins available. Be careful of overloading your server with an excessive amount of plugins, as this can eventually affect your website’s performance and page loading times. It also creates more maintenance work for you as a consequence of possible conflicts and errors.
  • Install only those plugins that you really use. Delete any plugins you don’t use from your site, as these utilize server resources.
  • Many free plugins normally receive little to no support from the plugin author. When choosing paid plugins, make sure you do a little research first to understand what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to offering support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of our plugin recommendations for more information.
  • If you see that an unsupported plugin has not been updated for a very long time (e.g. two years), then think carefully before using it. WordPress updates regularly and older plugins that have not been updated can cause problems.
  • Make sure that you always upgrade your plugins. Older plugins not only can create conflicts, they may also have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malicious users.

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most used website open source application available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to add new features to their web presence without spending thousands of dollars on outsourced web developers.

One last thing regarding WordPress plugins:

Whatever functionality you need for your website, you can guarantee that a someone has probably already authored one that will do exactly what you want it to do, and that it will either be available for FREE, or if it’s a paid plugin, that it will be surprisingly inexpensive.

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 any chance such a WordPress plugin does not exist, then it can certainly be coded for your business for a very reasonable price.

Hopefully, this information has given you a better understanding of plugins – what they are and how they can improve your business blog. See our published posts to learn more about using WP plugins.

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"I am beyond impressed with what you have put together. I can tell that you put a ton of hard work into building what you have. You have the absolute best content on WordPress I have ever seen!" - Robert T. Jillie

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