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 - Improve Your Blog's FunctionalityOne of the most unique features of WordPress is the ability to quickly and easily increase your WordPress website or blog’s functionality using plugins.

Understanding Plugins

Like most of us, you probably use a device like a cell phone. What happens when you would like to access something new on your device like a new application, game or productivity tool?

You download and install an app!

An app is a software that is very simple and easy to install and immediately adds new features and functionality to any mobile phone.

A Practical Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

(Just like there are social sharing apps for smart phones …)

A plugin is very much like an app. You download and install a software application that adds new functionality to your site …

A Useful Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

Typically, adding a new feature to an already-built web site involves additional cost. Depending on how complex the new feature or enhancement is, things could become quite expensive, particularly if web developers need to create new code or edit code or install programs to integrate into your existing site.

This is also applicable when creating a web site. Companies tend to invest money in added features or customizations they probably will never need.

To avoid unnecessary expenses, we suggest a modular approach when setting up a presence online presence and WP plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine being able to:

1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get a web site up and running quickly, then …

2) As the need becomes apparent, add new software modules with only a few clicks of the mouse that integrate seamlessly with your current website, to give your website or blog an entirely new range of capabilities and functionality, and …

3) Cost not one cent more to install on your web site?

Well, that’s precisely what a WP plugin enables you to do!

WP Plugins – Benefits

I started this post by comparing plugins with ’apps’. In the same way that many apps are free to download and some apps cost a little money, the same applies with plugins.

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

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 add the same functionality on your site, most Premium plugins are priced quite low.

Also, since WordPress makes its code available to everyone, anyone can create, rewrite and customize any part of the WP code. This has enabled many professional software developers to create more new plugins that add new features to WordPress than you can possibly imagine.

  • WordPress plugins let you start simply with just a basic web site and add new features and enhancements to your site only if required.
  • Plugins allow you to add almost endless features to your online business presence quickly and cheaply.
  • WordPress plugins give your website practically endless expansion capabilities.
  • WordPress plugins allow anyone to own a website that they can manage.
  • Most plugins will typically work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your website new capabilities, enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins are a little more advanced and may require some initial configuring.

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

Like many themes, thousands of WP plugins are available to WordPress users … often at $0 cost!

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

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you will find plugins that can do almost anything you can possibly want your site to do.

Plugin categories cover:

  • Site Administration
  • Content Distribution
  • Web Traffic Generation
  • User Engagement
  • Social Connectivity
  • Media Utilities Automation
  • Increasing Website Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data And System Reporting Applications
  • Website Security

For example, you can enhance your website with plugins like the following:

  • Contact forms
  • Polls and quizzes
  • Surveys
  • Display banners
  • E-commerce (from managing single-item sales with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce with online shopping carts, payment processing, recurring billing, coupons, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Membership sites
  • Newsletter opt-in forms
  • Sales workflow
  • Mobile integration
  • Improving your website’s SEO
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User testimonials
  • Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your site from English to French)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation
  • Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Media integration
  • Making pages load faster
  • Managing events
  • Niche directories
  • Automatically sell spots on your blog
  • Set up client appointments and appointment reminders
  • Help customers make reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks on your pages and send you reports
  • Redirect affiliate pages
  • Monitor social conversations
  • Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
  • Add a site map
  • Hide specific from showing on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
  • Protect content on your posts and pages
  • Migrate information from other publishing applications
  • Perform bulk data replacements
  • Block SPAM commenting
  • Customize guest commenting (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
  • Inserting scripts and script elements into your content
  • Add and format tables
  • Display animated graphic elements and advanced text formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google local search
  • Add location maps
  • Post your posts automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and others
  • Show countdown timers (for special offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

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

If you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible WP plugins are, let’s take a look at how you can benefit by simply adding an inexpensive plugin to your website.

For example, if you need to publish content which is only accessible to some users, you can use plugins to make a section of a page inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a complete membership site with personal login details for users …

A Useful Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

A Guide To WP Plugins

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

A Basic Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

You can also add sophisticated features to your website using inexpensive premium plugins. For example, you can install plugins that automate tasks on your pages such as managing customer testimonials and booking events …

A Beginner's Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

And also run a custom-branded bookings and reservations system online … all for a small fraction of the cost of paying programmers to create the same functionality for you …

A Useful Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

A Guide To WP Plugins

For example, your web visitors can easily:

  • Post comments on your site (which can turn into online discussions) using either the built-in WP commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get shared throughout your visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with increased exposure).
  • Share your content with other web visitors on bookmarking sites.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage online directly with other online users through online forums or even set up an online social network on your own domain.
  • Engage with your support staff using live chats
  • Dial your business directly from their mobile phones while browsing your pages
  • Get help via a client help desk
  • And so much more …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

Finally you, can also integrate complex third-party solutions with a WordPress “front end”. This enables you to manage your business marketing, while your third-party application handles the technological areas …

A Guide To WP Plugins

WP Plugins – Additional Information

  • There are lots of plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your server with too many plugins, as this can affect your site’s resources and site loading times. It can also mean more maintenance issues for you resulting from possible conflicts and errors.
  • Install only those plugins you really use. Delete inactive plugins from your site, as these utilize extra server resources.
  • Many free plugins normally receive little to no support from the plugin author. When choosing paid WordPress plugins, ensure that you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to offering support, upgrades, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check our plugin recommendations for additional information.
  • If you see that an unsupported plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two or more years), then think twice before installing it. The WordPress platform is updated on a frequent basis and older plugins can create problems.
  • Make sure to always update your plugins. Outdated plugin not only can cause problems, they may also have security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As you can see, WP plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most downloaded CMS in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to add instant functionality to their web presence without having to spend thousands of dollars on outsourced web developers.

One last thing on the subject of WP plugins:

If there is any functionality you need for your website, you can guarantee that a plugin currently exists that will do just what you need it to do, and that it can either be downloaded for FREE, or if it’s a paid plugin, that the price will be very 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 such a plugin is not available, then one can probably be created for you at a reasonable cost.

Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of WP plugins – what plugins are and how they can to improve your blog. See our related posts section to learn more about using WordPress plugins.


"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)