WordPress Plugins Explained

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

Adding New Functionality To Your Blog With PluginsOne of the most useful benefits of the WordPress web content publishing platform is the ability to quickly and easily increase your WP web site’s functionality using plugins.

About WordPress Plugins

No doubt, you probably own a cell phone. What do you do when you want to access something new on your device like a new application, software or a new business tool?

You download and install an app!

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

A Guide To WP Plugins

(Just as you will find social sharing apps for mobile devices …)

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

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

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

Generally, if you decide to expand the functionality of an already-built web site, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the new features or enhancements, this cost can be significant, especially if it requires website development.

This is also applicable to setting up a new web site. Business owners sometimes invest money in advance in extra features they may simply not need.

For this reason, we recommend a cost-effective approach when growing a digital presence presence and WP plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine being able to:

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

2) As you need more features, you can add new applications with just a couple of mouse clicks directly from within your WP administration area, to give your website a completely new and expanded range of useful functionality, and also …

3) Cost not one cent extra to add to your web site?

Well, that’s just what WP plugins let you do!

Benefits Of WP Plugins

Earlier, we compared WP plugins with ’apps’. Just like some apps are free to download and some apps cost a little bit of money, the same applies to WP plugins.

In fact, thousands of wonderful plugins can be installed and activated on your sites.

WordPress plugins that you buy are called ’Premium’ plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the cost of hiring a professional web developer to add similar functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. ”paid”) plugins are typically quite inexpensive.

Also, as WordPress makes its code available to everyone, any person can create, edit and customize any part of the WordPress code. This has allowed thousands of professional web development professionals to enhance the WPsoftware.

  • Plugins let you get started with a simple website and then expand if necessary.
  • Plugins allow you to add practically unlimited features to your website easily and inexpensively.
  • Plugins give you practically endless expansion capabilities.
  • WordPress plugins allow anyone to have a site that they can self-manage.
  • Most plugins will work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your website or blog instant new capabilities, enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins can be a little more advanced and may require some initial configuring.

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

Just like WordPress themes, loads of WP plugins are available for WordPress users … for FREE!

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

A Beginner's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you will find plugins that can do almost everything you want done.

There are WP plugins for:

  • Website Administration
  • Content Syndication
  • Traffic
  • User Interactivity
  • Social Media
  • Inserting Media Files – Video, Images, Audio, Multimedia, etc.
  • e-Commerce And Online Sales & Advertising Automation
  • Improving Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data & System Reporting Applications
  • WP SEO

For example, you can add features to a WP site with plugins such as:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • User Surveys
  • Managing banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single ordering with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce with shopping carts, invoicing, recurring billing, coupon codes, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Membership sites
  • List-building opt-in forms
  • Sales workflow
  • Mobile integration
  • Improving your site’s SEO
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User feedback forms
  • Automatic language translation (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your site 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.
  • Cloud storage integration
  • Faster page loading
  • Managing events & bookings
  • Business directories
  • Automatically sell and manage advertising on your blog
  • Set up client appointments and reminders
  • Manage reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks on your pages and email you reports
  • Redirect website pages
  • Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
  • Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
  • Add sitemaps
  • Exclude certain from showing on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide content on your pages and posts
  • Import information from non-WordPress applications
  • Perform bulk content replacements
  • Prevent SPAM commenting
  • Customize guest commenting (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
  • Insert code and code elements into your posts
  • Add and format tables
  • Add animated graphics and advanced content formatting options
  • Add and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google search listings
  • Add a map
  • Post your posts automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and others
  • Show countdown timers (for expiring offers, coupons, etc …)
  • Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

As you can clearly see, WordPress plugins give you endless business flexibility. If you are currently planning to build a web site, or your existing website isn’t powered by WordPress, then consider getting a WP site or blog in the future, or you will be missing out on some serious functionality.

If you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using WP plugins, let’s take a look at how you can benefit instantly by simply adding a plugin to your site.

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

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

As mentioned before, you can use free plugins to enhance your website in so many different ways. From adding new features that improve your business, your visitors’ experience and your ability to review visitor metrics …

A Beginner's Guide To WP Plugins

To increasing your business visibility across multiple social sites and search engines …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also add advanced features to your website using inexpensive premium WordPress plugins. For example, you can download plugins that automate functionality on your site such as displaying customer testimonials and booking events …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

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

A Beginner's Guide To WP Plugins

Additionally, you can take advantage of built-in WordPress commenting features and plugins that can increase visitor engagement …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

For example, your visitors can easily:

  • Post comments on your site (which can turn into online discussions) using either the built-in WordPress commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then shared throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site added exposure).
  • Bookmark your content on social networks.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage online with your staff through forums or even set up a private online community on your own domain.
  • Engage with your support team via live video chats
  • Dial your business directly from their cellphones when browsing your website
  • Get help via a dedicated user support helpdesk
  • And so much more …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also integrate complex enterprise-level applications using a WP “front end”. This allows you to control the content that your visitors see on your website, while your third-party application handles the technical functions …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

Some Useful Tips About Plugins

  • There are so many plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your server with an excessive amount of plugins, as this can affect your website’s performance and site loading times. It also creates more maintenance work for you resulting from possible conflicts.
  • Install only the plugins that you really need to use. Delete inactive 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 premium WordPress plugins, make sure you check some reviews online and see what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check our WordPress plugin recommendations for additional information.
  • If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two years), then think carefully before installing it on your site. WordPress changes on a regular basis and older plugins that have not been updated can cause problems.
  • Make sure that you always maintain your plugins up-to-date. Outdated plugin not only can create issues, they may also have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an important part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most downloaded website open source software in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to expand quickly without having to spend thousands of dollars on outsourced web development.

One last thing regarding plugins:

Whatever feature you want for your website, you can be sure that a someone has probably already authored one 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 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 chance such a plugin does not exist, then it can most certainly be coded for your business at a reasonable cost.

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

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"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum

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