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 WordPress Plugins Enhance Your Site's Features And FunctionalityOne of the most powerful features of WordPress is the ability to quickly and easily enhance your WordPress web site’s functionality using applications called ’plugins’.

About WordPress Plugins

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

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a software application that is really simple and easy to install and adds new features to a mobile device.

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

(Just like there are social sharing apps …)

A WP plugin is really similar to an app. You simply download and install an application that adds new functionality to your WP website or blog …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

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

Normally, adding new features to a web site involves additional cost. Depending on how complex the features or enhancements are, this cost can be significant, especially if web developers need to add new code or edit programs or develop scripts that integrate with your current site.

This also applies when creating a new website or business blog. Companies often pay money up-front for additional features they may not ever need.

For sound, strategic business planning reasons, we suggest a cost-effective strategy to developing a web site and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine if you could:

1) Start simply and with minimal cost involved. Get a web site up and running fast, then …

2) As more features and functionality become necessary, add new software modules with only a couple of clicks of the mouse that integrate with your existing web site, giving your site a whole new and expanded range of features and functionality, and …

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

Well, this is exactly what a plugin enables you to do!

Benefits Of WordPress Plugins

We started this post by comparing plugins with apps. Just like some apps are free to download and some may cost a little bit of money, so do WordPress plugins.

In fact, thousands of powerful plugins are freely available for WordPress users.

WP plugins that cost money are called “Premium” plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the price of hiring a professional web developer to get similar features and functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins cost very little.

Also, because WordPress makes its source code available to everyone, anybody can create, modify and customize any portion of the WP code. This has allowed thousands of professional web developers to enhance the WPsoftware.

  • Plugins allow you to start off with a basic yet professional website and expand only when necessary.
  • Plugins allow you to add practically unlimited functionality to your web site quickly and really inexpensively.
  • Plugins give your website practically endless expansion capabilities.
  • WordPress plugins allow business owners to own a website that they can manage.
  • Most plugins typically work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to give your website immediate capabilities, enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins provide more extensive options and may need some initial configuring.

WP Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Often) 100% FREE!

Like themes, loads of great plugins are available for WordPress users … for FREE!

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

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As previously mentioned, you will find plugins that will do just about anything you can possibly want your site to do.

There are WP plugins for:

  • Web Site Management
  • Content Management
  • Increasing Web Visitors
  • User Engagement
  • Social Sharing
  • Uploading Media – Videos, Images, Podcasts, Multimedia, etc.
  • e-Commerce And Online Sales And Advertising Automation
  • Increasing Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data And System Monitoring & Reporting Tools
  • WP Optimization

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

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Social contests
  • Managing advertising banners
  • E-commerce (from managing single-item sales with PayPal buttons, to complete e-commerce with shopping carts, invoicing, recurring billing, coupon codes, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Private Membership sites
  • Newsletter subscription forms
  • Sales funnels
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your site’s SEO
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User feedback forms
  • Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change your website’s content from English to Portuguese)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation
  • Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Media management
  • Faster page loading
  • Managing events
  • Niche directories
  • Automatically sell spots on your blog
  • Set up appointments and appointment reminders
  • Automate reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken links and email you reports
  • Redirect affiliate links
  • Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
  • Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
  • Add sitemaps
  • Hide certain from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Protect content on your pages and posts
  • Import content from different publishing applications
  • Search and replace data
  • Block SPAM commenting
  • Customize visitor discussions (e.g. displaying Facebook discussions)
  • Insert code and code elements into your pages
  • Add and format tables
  • Display animated graphic elements and advanced content formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google search listings
  • Add location maps
  • Post your content automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and others
  • Show countdown timers (for scarcity offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so many other features!

As you can clearly see, WordPress plugins give you practically limitless business scalability. If you plan to build a website, or your existing web site isn’t powered by WordPress, then consider getting one 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 WordPress plugins, let me show you how you can benefit by adding a plugin to your site.

For example, if you need to protect your content, you can use plugins to make an area of a page inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a full membership site with customized login details for users …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As mentioned before, you can use free plugins to improve your website in so many different ways. From adding features that can enhance your business, your website visitors’ experience and your understanding of what is taking place on your site …

A Beginner's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

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

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

You can also add advanced features to your website using relatively inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can download plugins that integrate and automate tasks on your site like customer feedback and event registration management …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

And even set up a complete bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of paying programmers to design the same functionality for you …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

A Non-Technical Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

For example, your web visitors can:

  • Post 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, giving your site added exposure).
  • Share your content with other online users on bookmarking sites.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage in online discussions with other users through forums or even set up a private community on your domain.
  • Engage with your support team via live chats
  • Call your business directly from their laptops when visiting your pages
  • Get help and support via a customer help desk
  • And so much more …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

Finally you, can even integrate complex enterprise applications with a WordPress “front end”. This allows you to manage the content that your visitors see on your site, while your 3rd-party application handles the technical functions …

A Useful Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

Some Useful Tips About Plugins

  • There are lots of plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your site with an excessive amount of plugins, as this will affect your website’s performance and site loading times. It can also create more maintenance issues for you as a result of possible conflicts and errors.
  • Install only the plugins that you really need. Delete any plugins you don’t use from your site, as these also use resources.
  • Many free plugins often come with little to no support from the plugin author. When choosing premium WP plugins, ensure that you do a little research first to understand what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, updates, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of our WP plugin reviews for additional expert information.
  • If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a very long time (e.g. two or more years), then think carefully before using it. The WordPress platform is updated frequently and older plugins that have not been updated can cause issues.
  • Always upgrade your plugins. Older plugins not only can create errors, they may also have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malicious users.

A Guide To WP Plugins

As you can see, WordPress plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most powerful, flexible and scalable CMS available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to expand quickly without spending thousands of dollars on web development.

One last thing about plugins:

If there is a functionality you need for your web site, you can guarantee that a someone has probably already authored one that will do just what you want, and that it will either be available at no cost, or if it’s a premium plugin, that it will be fairly 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 chance this plugin does not exist, then it can probably be coded for your business at a reasonable cost.

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

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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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