WordPress Plugins Explained

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

Using WP Plugins To Extend Your Website's Features And FunctionalityOne of the main benefits of the WordPress platform is the ability to quickly and easily expand your WordPress site’s functionality using inexpensive called plugins.

What Are WP Plugins?

No doubt, you most likely use a cell phone. What do you do when you would like to access something new on your device like a new software or productivity tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

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

A Useful Guide To WordPress Plugins

(Just as you can find social sharing apps …)

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

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

Generally, if you want to expand the functionality of your website, additional cost is involved. Depending on how complex the new features or enhancements are, things can become quite expensive, particularly if web developers need to add new code or modify code or install programs that integrate with your existing site.

This also applies to developing a new website. Businesses will often invest upfront in features or customizations they may not ever need.

To minimize your expenses, we recommend using a cost-effective strategy to growing a website and WordPress plugins are ideal for doing this.

Imagine being able to:

1) Start simply and with minimal expense involved. Get a basic, professional web presence up and running fast, then …

2) As more features and functionality become necessary, install new applications with just a couple of clicks of the mouse that integrate with your existing web site, to give your website or blog a whole new range of capabilities and functionality, and also …

3) Cost not a single cent more to add to your website?

Well, that’s exactly what plugins let you do!

Plugins – Benefits

Earlier, we compared WP plugins with apps. In a similar way that many apps are free to download and some apps cost a little money, so do WP plugins.

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

Plugins that you purchase are referred to as Premium plugins. The good news, is that when you compare these to the cost of hiring a professional web developer to get similar functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins are priced quite cheaply.

Also, because WordPress makes its source code available to everyone, anybody can create, rewrite and customize any part of the WP code. This has allowed many third-party software developers to enhance the core software application.

  • WP plugins allow you to get started simply with just a basic website and expand as necessary.
  • WP plugins let you add practically endless features to your website easily, quickly and quite cheaply.
  • WordPress plugins give you almost unlimited expanding capabilities.
  • Plugins allow anyone to have a digital presence that they can manage themselves.
  • Most plugins will typically work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to provide your website with instant new capabilities and functionality.
  • Some plugins can be a little more complex and require some initial configuration.

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

Just like themes, tens of thousands of great plugins are currently available for WordPress users … for FREE!

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

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you can find WordPress plugins that will do almost everything you can possibly need a site to do.

WP plugin categories cover:

  • Site Administration
  • Content Management
  • Increasing Site Visitors
  • User Interactivity
  • Social Engagement
  • Adding Media Files – Video, Images, Podcasts, Multimedia, etc.
  • e-Biz And Online Sales Automation
  • Improving Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data Reporting
  • Web Site Optimization

You can expand a website with plugins like:

  • Contact forms
  • Polls and quizzes
  • User Surveys
  • Display ad banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single sales with PayPal buttons, to complete e-commerce with online shopping carts, payment processing, recurring billing, coupons, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Membership sites
  • Newsletter subscription forms
  • Sales funnels
  • Mobile integration
  • Improving your website’s Search Engine Optimization
  • Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User testimonials
  • Automatic language translation (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your pages from English to Spanish)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation menus
  • Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Media integration
  • Making pages load faster
  • Managing events
  • Business listing directories
  • Automatically sell spots on your website
  • Set client appointments and reminders
  • Help customers make reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken links on your pages and send you reports
  • Redirect web pages
  • Monitor social conversations
  • 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. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Protect content on your posts and pages
  • Migrate content from different CMS applications
  • Perform bulk content edits
  • Prevent SPAM
  • Customize guest comment displays (e.g. display Facebook discussions)
  • Inserting HTML and script elements into your posts, pages and sidebar menus
  • Add formatted tables
  • Display animated graphics and advanced text formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google search
  • Add a map
  • Post your content automatically on social pages like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and others
  • Display countdown timers (for expiring offers, coupons, etc …)
  • Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And hundreds of other features!

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

In case you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible plugins are, let me show you some practical uses of installing a plugin on your website.

For example, if you want to protect your content, you can install plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on your page or post inaccessible, or create a complete membership site with customized login details for users …

A Non-Technical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As mentioned previously, you can use free plugins to improve your web site in so many ways. From installing features that can improve your business, your visitors’ experience and your ability to review visitor data …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

To extending your business visibility across various social networks and search engines …

A Basic Guide To WordPress Plugins

You can also add complex features to your website using relatively inexpensive premium WordPress plugins. For example, you can buy plugins that automate processes on your pages such as user testimonial and event bookings management …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

And even run a complete bookings and reservations system online … all for a small fraction of the cost of paying web developers to create these applications for you …

A Basic Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

A Practical Guide To WordPress Plugins

For example, your web visitors can easily:

  • Leave comments on your blog posts (which can grow into online discussions) using either the built-in WordPress commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get displayed throughout a visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site additional exposure).
  • Bookmark your posts on social networks.
  • Contact you via contact forms
  • Engage online with your support team using online forums or even set up a private social network on your own site.
  • Engage with members of your team through live video chats
  • Call your business from their laptops when browsing your site
  • Get help and support via a client helpdesk
  • And much more …

A Newbie's Guide To WordPress Plugins

You can even integrate complex enterprise solutions using a WordPress “front end”. This allows you to control your business marketing, while the third-party application handles the technical side of things …

A Basic Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

Plugins – Some Useful Things You Should Know

  • There are lots of plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your site with an excessive amount of plugins, as this can affect your site’s resources and page loading speed. It also creates more maintenance issues for you as a result of possible errors.
  • Only keep those plugins you really plan to use. Delete any plugins from your site, as these use server resources.
  • Many free plugins typically receive little to no support from the plugin author. When considering premium WP 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 improvements, etc. Be sure to check some of the plugin reviews we provide here 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 on your website. WordPress is updated often and older WordPress plugins can create problems.
  • Always upgrade your plugins. Older plugins not only can create problems, they could also contain vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most popular web management solution in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to add instant functionality to their web presence without spending thousands of dollars on outsourced web development costs.

One last thing on the topic of plugins:

If there is any feature or functionality you need for your web presence, you can be sure that a someone has probably already developed one that will do just what you need it to do, and that this plugin will either be available at no cost, or if it’s a paid plugin, that it will be fairly 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 chance such a WordPress plugin is not available, then a custom plugin that does just what you want it to do can most certainly be written for your business for a very reasonable price.

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

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