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 - The Easy Way To Enhance Your Web Site's Features And FunctionalityOne of the most powerful benefits of choosing the WordPress website management software is that you can quickly and easily increase your WordPress web site’s functionality using plugins.

Understanding WP Plugins

Like most people, you probably own a device like a smart phone. What do you do when you would like access to something new on your device like a new application, game or a new productivity tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a software that is easy to install and immediately integrates new features and functionality into your mobile device.

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

(Just like there are social sharing apps …)

A WP plugin is really similar to an app. You install and activate an application that provides new functionality to your website …

A Guide To WP Plugins

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

Typically, expanding the functionality of an existing web site involves additional cost. Depending on the complexity of the new feature or enhancements, things could get quite expensive, especially if web developers have to add new code or modify programs or develop programs that integrate into your current site.

This also applies when developing a new website or business blog. Many businesses will often fork out money in advance on features they may never need.

As part of sound strategic business planning, we suggest using a sustainable approach to developing your web presence and WP plugins are ideal for doing this.

Imagine being able to:

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

2) As more features become necessary, simply add new applications with just a couple of mouse clicks that integrate with your website or blog, to give your site a whole new and expanded range of useful capabilities, and also …

3) Cost not a single dollar extra to install on your site?

Well, this is precisely what a WordPress plugin lets you do!

Plugins – Benefits And Advantages

Earlier, we compared WP plugins with ’apps’. In a similar way that many apps are free to download and some cost a little money, the same applies to WordPress plugins.

In fact, thousands of plugins are available at no cost to users.

Plugins that you buy are called Premium plugins. The good news, is that when you compare these to the price of investing in professional web development services to add the same functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. ”paid”) plugins are typically very inexpensive.

Also, because WordPress is an Open Source application, any person can create, edit and customize any portion of the code. This has allowed thousands of third-party software development professionals to enhance and contribute to the core software application.

  • WordPress plugins let you get started simply with a simple yet professional website and expand only if necessary.
  • Plugins let you add practically unlimited features to any web site easily and very inexpensively.
  • Plugins give you almost unlimited expanding capabilities.
  • WordPress plugins allow anyone to own a site that they can manage themselves.
  • Most plugins will work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your website or blog new capabilities and enhancements.
  • Some plugins offer more extensive options and could require some initial configuring.

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

Just like WordPress themes, thousands of plugins are available for WP users … and many of these great plugins are 100% FREE!

You can download thousands of WordPress plugins from the Free WP Plugin Directory

A Newbie's Guide To WP Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you can find WP plugins that can do almost anything you need your site to do.

Plugin categories cover:

  • Blog Administration
  • Content Syndication
  • Traffic
  • Visitor Engagement
  • Social Engagement
  • Media Utilities Automation
  • Improving Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data & System Reporting Tools
  • Securing Your

For example, you can add features to your business online presence with plugins such as:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Surveys
  • Managing advertising banners
  • E-commerce (from managing single-item sales with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce with online shopping carts, payment processing, recurring billing, coupons, etc …)
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Membership sites
  • Newsletter opt-in forms
  • Sales funnels
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your site’s SEO
  • Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User testimonials
  • Instant language translation (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your website from English to Portuguese)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation
  • Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Media management
  • Making pages load faster
  • Managing events & bookings
  • Business listing directories
  • Automatically sell advertising on your site
  • Set appointments and reminders
  • Help customers make reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks on your pages and email you reports
  • Redirect URLs
  • Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
  • Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
  • Add a site map
  • Exclude pages from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide page content
  • Import content from non-WordPress platforms
  • Search and replace data
  • Prevent SPAM
  • Customize guest commenting (e.g. displaying Facebook comments)
  • Inserting scripts and code elements into your posts
  • Add formatted tables
  • Add animated graphic elements and advanced text formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google local search
  • Add a map of your business location
  • Publish your content automatically on social pages like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and others
  • Display countdown timers (for special offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

As it’s clear to see, WP plugins give you limitless possibilities. If you plan to build a web site for your business, or your existing site isn’t powered by WordPress, then consider choosing it in the future.

In case you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible WP plugins are, let’s take a look at how you can benefit by adding an inexpensive plugin to your website.

For example, if you want to publish content which is only accessible to some users, you can install plugins to make a section of a page inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a full paid membership site with personal login details for users …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As mentioned previously, free plugins can be used to enhance your web site in lots of ways. From adding functionality that enhance your business, your visitors’ experience and your ability to review website data …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

To increasing your site’s reach across many social media and search engines …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also add complex functionality to your website using relatively inexpensive premium WP plugins. For example, you can set up plugins that integrate and automate functions on your pages like managing customer testimonials and booking events …

A Practical Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

And even set up a complete bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a small fraction of the cost of hiring software developers to code similar functionality for you …

A Guide To WP Plugins

You can also take advantage of native WordPress commenting features and plugins that can increase your site’s interactivity …

A Guide To WP Plugins

For example, your visitors can easily:

  • Leave comments on your site (which can grow into online discussions) using either the built-in WordPress commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then displayed throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site additional exposure).
  • Share your content with other web users on bookmarking sites.
  • Contact you via contact forms
  • Engage online with your support staff using forums or even set up a private social network on your own domain.
  • Engage with members of your team via live video chats
  • Call your business from their laptops when browsing your pages
  • Get help via a user support helpdesk
  • And so much more …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

Finally you, can also integrate complex “back end” solutions with a WordPress “front end”. This allows you to manage the content that your visitors will see on your web site, while the 3rd-party application handles the technological areas …

A Beginner's Guide To WP Plugins

Useful Information About Plugins

  • There are many great WordPress plugins to choose from. Be careful of overloading your server with too many plugins, as this can affect your website’s resources and site loading times. It also means more maintenance issues for you resulting from possible errors.
  • Install only the plugins you really use. Delete any plugins you don’t use from your site, as these utilize resources.
  • Many free plugins often come with little to no support from the plugin developer. When choosing paid WP plugins, make sure you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check some of our plugin recommendations for more expert information.
  • If you see that an unsupported plugin has not been updated for a very long time (e.g. two or more years), then think twice before using it. WordPress changes frequently and older plugins that have not been updated can cause conflicts.
  • Always maintain all plugins updated. Outdated plugin not only can create errors and conflicts, they may also contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Useful Guide To WP Plugins

As you can see, WordPress plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most preferred CMS available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to add new functionality to their website without spending thousands of dollars on outsourced web development costs.

One last thing on the subject of plugins:

If there is a functionality you want for your web presence, you can guarantee that a someone has probably already authored one that will do exactly what you need, and that it will either be available at no cost, or if it’s a premium plugin, that the price will be very 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 any chance this plugin is not available, then one can certainly be developed for you for a reasonable price.

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of WP plugins – what plugins are and how they can help improve your blog. See our published posts to learn more about using WordPress plugins.


"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)