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 Enhance Your Site's CapabilityOne of the most useful features of WordPress is the ability to easily enhance your WordPress website’s functionality using plugins.

Understanding WordPress Plugins

No doubt, you most likely own a device like a cell phone. What happens when you want to access something new on your device like a new software or a new tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a little software application that is very easy to install and instantly integrates new functionality into any smart phone.

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

(Just as there are social sharing apps for smart devices …)

A plugin is quite similar to an app. You simply install a little piece of software that adds new functionality to your WordPress web site …

A Basic Guide To WordPress Plugins

(… you can also find social sharing plugins for WordPress sites!)

Almost always, adding new features to an existing website involves additional cost. Depending on the complexity of the feature or enhancement, the cost can be fairly significant, especially if it requires editing code.

This also applies when developing a website or business blog. Companies often invest money in added bells and whistles they may not ever need.

To keep your business costs low, we recommend a modular strategy when setting up your digital presence presence and WP plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine if you could:

1) Start simply with minimal cost involved. Get your website up and running fast, then …

2) As you need new features, add new applications with just a few clicks of the mouse directly from within your WP admin section, giving your website or blog a whole new range of practical capabilities, and also …

3) Cost not one dollar more to install on your website?

Well, this is just what WordPress plugins allow you to do!

Benefits Of Using Plugins

Earlier, we compared plugins with apps. In a similar way that many apps are free to download and some cost a little bit of money, the same is true of WP plugins.

In fact, thousands of fantastic plugins can be downloaded to your site for free.

WordPress plugins that you have to buy are called ’Premium’ plugins. The good news, is that when you compare it to the cost of investing in web development services to add similar features and functionality on your site, most Premium plugins are priced quite cheaply.

Also, because WordPress distributes its software as an Open Source application, anybody can create, edit and customize any portion of the code. This has enabled many professional software development professionals to enhance and contribute to the core software application.

  • WordPress plugins allow you to start off with a basic yet professional web site and add new features and enhancements to your site when required.
  • WordPress plugins allow you to add practically unlimited features to your website quickly and cheaply.
  • Plugins give your web site practically unlimited expansion capabilities.
  • WordPress plugins allow anyone to have a web presence that they can manage themselves.
  • Most plugins will work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to give your site new capabilities and features.
  • Some plugins can be slightly more advanced and may need some configuring.

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

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

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

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As previously mentioned, you can find plugins that can do just about anything you need done.

Plugin categories cover:

  • Site Administration
  • Content Syndication
  • Increasing Web Visitors
  • Visitor Interactivity
  • Social Sharing
  • Inserting Media – Video, Images, Audio, Multimedia, etc.
  • e-Biz And Online Sales And Marketing Automation
  • Improving Sales And Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data & System Analysis Applications
  • Site Optimization

For example, you can expand a business online presence with plugins like the following:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Surveys
  • Managing ad banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single-item ordering with PayPal buttons, to full scale e-commerce with shopping carts, payment processing, recurring payments, coupons, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Private Membership sites
  • List-building opt-in forms
  • Sales funnels
  • Mobile integration
  • Improving your website’s SEO
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User feedback forms
  • Instant language translation (e.g. you can instantly change your site’s content from English to German)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation
  • Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Cloud storage management
  • Faster page loading
  • Event management
  • Business directories
  • Automatically sell and manage advertising on your blog
  • Set client appointments and reminders
  • Set up reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken links and send you reports
  • Redirect web links
  • Monitor what social media users are posting about your business
  • Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
  • Add a site map
  • Hide specific from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Protect content on your posts and pages
  • Import content from different CMS platforms
  • Search and replace data
  • Prevent SPAM
  • Customize guest discussions (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
  • Insert scripts and script elements into your site’s header or footer
  • Add tables
  • Display animated graphic elements and advanced content formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google local search
  • Add business location maps
  • Publicize your content automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others
  • Display countdown timers (for scarcity offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display personalized greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

As it’s clear to see, WordPress plugins give you endless business scalability. If you are currently planning to build a website, or your existing site wasn’t built with WordPress, then consider getting a WP site or blog built on your domain, or you will be missing out on some serious functionality.

If you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible plugins are, let’s take a look at how you can benefit instantly by installing a plugin on your site.

For example, if you want to publish content which is only accessible to some but not all users, you can use plugins to make an area of your post inaccessible, or create a professional membership site with personal login details for users …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As mentioned previously, free plugins can be used to enhance your web site in lots of ways. From installing features that can improve your business, your web users’ experience and your ability to review website metrics …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

A Basic Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also add advanced features to your website using relatively inexpensive premium WP plugins. For example, you can download plugins that automate functions on your pages such as user testimonial and event registration management …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

And also run a complete bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring software developers to build custom functionality for you …

A Beginner's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also take advantage of native WordPress commenting features and plugins that can increase visitor engagement …

A Basic Guide To WordPress Plugins

For example, your web visitors can easily:

  • Leave comments on your site (which can grow into online discussions) using either the native WordPress commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get displayed throughout your visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with additional exposure).
  • Bookmark your content on social media.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage in online discussions with other members through online forums or even set up an online social network on your own domain.
  • Engage with your staff through live video chats
  • Call your business from their mobile phones while browsing your website
  • Open a support ticket
  • And much more …

A Practical Guide To WP Plugins

You can also integrate complex enterprise applications within a WP “front end”. This enables you to manage the content that your visitors will see on your website, while your third-party application handles the technological functions …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

Plugins – Additional Things To Know

  • There are lots of plugins to choose from. Be careful of overloading your site with too many plugins, as this can affect your site’s resources and site loading speed. It also means more maintenance issues for you resulting from possible errors.
  • Install only the plugins that you really need. Delete any plugins from your site, as these use server resources.
  • Many free plugins typically receive very little to no support from the plugin author. When considering paid plugins, ensure that 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 WordPress plugin reviews for additional expert information.
  • If you see that an unsupported plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two or more years), then think carefully before using it. WordPress changes regularly and older plugins that have not been updated can cause issues.
  • Always maintain your plugins up-to-date. Older plugins not only can create errors, they may also have security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most preferred website open source platform available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to expand without having to spend thousands of dollars on web development costs.

One last thing on the subject of WordPress plugins:

Whatever feature or functionality you want for your web site, you can be sure that a plugin already exists that will do what you need it to do, and that this plugin can either be accessed for FREE, or if it’s a paid plugin, that the cost to purchase it will be minimal.

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 WP plugin is not available, then a custom plugin that does precisely what you want it to do can probably be coded for you at a reasonable cost.

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of plugins – what they are and how they can enhance the functionality of your WordPress website. See our related posts section to learn more about using WP plugins.

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"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group

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