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 Blog's FeaturesOne of the most unique features of WordPress is the ability to quickly and easily increase your WP website’s functionality using plugins.

What Are WP Plugins?

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

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a piece of software that is easy to install and instantly adds new functionality to any smart phone.

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

(Just like you can find social sharing apps for smart phones …)

A WP plugin is like an app. You simply install an application that adds new functionality to your WordPress website …

A Guide To WP Plugins

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

Normally, if you plan to expand the functionality of an existing website, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the new features or enhancement, this can become quite expensive, particularly if it requires programming code.

This also applies when starting a new website or business blog. Companies sometimes spend money upfront on components they may never need.

For sound, strategic business planning reasons, we suggest a sustainable approach to setting up your website and WP plugins are ideal for doing this.

Imagine being able to:

1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get a professional-looking website up and running quickly, then …

2) As the need arises, simply add new software modules with only a couple of clicks of the mouse directly from your admin section, and give your website or blog a whole new and expanded range of useful functionality, and also …

3) Cost not one dollar extra to download and install on your web site?

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

Plugins – Benefits

We began this blog post by comparing WordPress plugins with apps. In the same way that some apps are free to download and some cost a little bit of money, so do plugins.

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

WP plugins that you purchase are referred to as “Premium” plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the price of hiring a professional web developer to add the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium plugins are typically very inexpensive.

Also, as WordPress is an Open Source application, anyone can create, edit and customize any portion of the code. This has allowed many professional web developers to enhance the core software application.

  • Plugins allow you to get started with only a basic online business presence and then add new features and enhancements to your site as required.
  • WP plugins let you add practically unlimited functionality to your web presence quickly and inexpensively.
  • Plugins give your website virtually endless expanding capabilities.
  • Plugins allow ”non-techies” to own a digital presence that they can manage.
  • Most plugins normally work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to provide your website or blog with instant new capabilities, enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins are a little more advanced and require some configuring.

WP Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Are) Completely FREE!

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

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

A Newbie's Guide To WP Plugins

As previously mentioned, you can find WP plugins that will do just about everything you could possibly want a website to do.

There are plugins for:

  • Web Site Administration
  • Content Management
  • Traffic
  • Visitor Engagement
  • Social Sharing
  • Uploading Media – Videocasts, Images, Audio, Multimedia, etc.
  • e-Commerce And Online Sales Automation
  • Improving Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data & System Reporting
  • Site SEO

For example, you can expand your website with plugins like:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Social contests
  • Rotating banners
  • E-commerce (from managing single ordering with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce with online shopping carts, payment processing, recurring billing, discount codes, etc …)
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Private Membership sites
  • List-building subscription forms
  • Sales workflow
  • Mobile integration
  • Improving your site’s SEO
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • Customer testimonials
  • Language translation plugins (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.
  • Cloud storage integration
  • Faster page loading
  • Managing events & bookings
  • Business listing directories
  • Automatically sell advertising on your website
  • Set up client appointments and reminders
  • Automate reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken links and send you reports
  • Redirect visitors from old pages to other pages on your site or other sites
  • Monitor what social media users 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
  • Migrate information from different publishing applications
  • Perform bulk content edits
  • Block SPAM
  • Customize visitor commenting (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
  • Inserting code and code elements into your site’s header and footer
  • Add formatted tables
  • Display animated graphics and advanced text formatting options
  • Add and manage QR codes
  • Improve your local search listings on Google
  • Add a map
  • Syndicate your posts automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and many others
  • Show countdown timers (for scarcity offers, coupons, etc …)
  • Display personalized greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

As it’s clear to see, WordPress plugins give you virtually limitless possibilities. If you plan to build a website for your business, or your existing site isn’t powered by WordPress, then consider getting a WP site or blog added to your domain, or you will be missing out on some serious features.

In case you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using plugins, let me show you some practical advantages of installing an inexpensive plugin on your web site.

For example, if you need to protect your content, you can install plugins to make a section of a post inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a professional membership site with separate login details for each member …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

As mentioned previously, you can use free plugins to enhance your web site in lots of ways. From installing functionality that improve your business, your website visitors’ experience and your ability to analyze site data …

A Useful Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

A Useful Guide To WP Plugins

You can also add complex functionality to your site using relatively inexpensive premium WP plugins. For example, you can install plugins that automate functionality on your pages like displaying customer testimonials and event registration details …

A Practical Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

And also set up a custom bookings and reservations system online … all for a small fraction of the cost of hiring software developers to design custom applications for you …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

Additionally, you can take advantage of built-in WordPress commenting features and plugins that will let you engage in various ways with visitors, clients and registered site members …

A Guide To Understanding WP 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 shared throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site additional exposure).
  • Bookmark your posts on social networks.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage online with your team members using forums or even set up a private online community on your domain.
  • Engage with members of your team using live chats
  • Dial your business from their devices when browsing your website
  • Get help and support via a client help desk
  • And much more …

A Guide To WP Plugins

You can also integrate complex enterprise-level solutions with a WordPress “front end”. This lets you manage the content that your visitors will see on your site, while the 3rd-party application handles the technological functions …

A Guide To WP Plugins

Plugins – Additional Things To Know

  • There are lots of plugins to choose from. Be careful of overloading your site with an excessive amount of plugins, as this will affect your website’s performance and page loading speed. It also creates more maintenance work for you as a result of potential conflicts and errors.
  • Install only those plugins that you really use. Delete any plugins you don’t need from your site, as these utilize server resources.
  • Many free plugins typically come with very little to no support from the plugin developer. When considering paid WordPress plugins, ensure that you check some reviews online and understand what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, updates, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check some of the plugin reviews we publish here for additional 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 installing it. WordPress is updated frequently and outdated plugins can cause errors.
  • Always keep your plugins updated. Older plugin not only can create conflicts, they may also have security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malicious software.

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most popular online open source tool in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to expand without spending thousands of dollars on outsourced web development costs.

One last thing on the topic of WP plugins:

If there is a functionality you want for your website, you can be sure that a WordPress plugin probably exists that will do exactly what you need it to do, and that this plugin can either be accessed for FREE, or if it’s a paid plugin, that it will be surprisingly 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 does not exist, then a custom plugin that does just what you would like it to do can probably be created for your business for a reasonable price.

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