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 Expand Your Website's CapabilityOne of the main benefits of WordPress is the ability to quickly and easily enhance your WordPress website or blog’s functionality using inexpensive called plugins.

What Are Plugins?

No doubt, you most likely own a device like a smart phone. What happens when you want access to something new on your device like a new application, software or business tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a little piece of software that is really easy to install and immediately adds new features and functionality to your mobile device.

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

(Just like you can find social sharing apps …)

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

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

Generally, adding a new feature to an existing site involves additional cost. Depending on how complex the new feature or enhancement is, this can become quite expensive, especially if it involves website development.

This also applies when setting up a web site. Organizations often invest money in advance for components they may not ever need.

To save money and keep costs down, we recommend a modular approach to developing a presence online presence and WP plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine if you could:

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

2) As you need more features or functionality, add new software modules with only a few clicks of the mouse that integrate with your current web site, giving your website or blog a completely new and expanded range of useful functionality, and …

3) Cost not a single dollar more to install on your web site?

Well, this is exactly what plugins let you do!

WordPress Plugins – Benefits & Advantages

Earlier, we compared plugins with smartphone apps. Just like many apps are free to download and some cost a little money, so do WordPress plugins.

In fact, thousands of useful plugins can be downloaded and installed on your websites.

WP plugins that you buy are referred to as ’Premium’ plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the cost of paying for professional web development services to add similar functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins are generally quite inexpensive.

Also, as WordPress is an Open Source application, anyone can create, rewrite and customize any part of the code. This has enabled thousands of third-party web developers to create more applications that add new functionality to the WordPress software than you can possibly imagine.

  • WordPress plugins let you start off simply with only a basic online business presence and then expand as required.
  • WordPress plugins let you add practically unlimited features to any web site quickly and quite inexpensively.
  • WP plugins give your website virtually endless expansion capabilities.
  • Plugins allow anyone to own a website that they can manage.
  • Most plugins will work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your website or blog new capabilities and enhancements.
  • Some plugins can be slightly more complex and may require some configuring.

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

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

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

A Guide To WP Plugins

As previously mentioned, you will find plugins that will do almost everything you need done.

WP plugin categories cover:

  • User Management
  • Content Distribution
  • Increasing Web Traffic
  • User Interactivity
  • Social Sharing
  • Managing Media Files – Videocasts, Graphics & Images, Audio, Multimedia, etc.
  • e-Commerce And Online Sales And Advertising Automation
  • Increasing Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data Reporting Applications
  • WP Security

You can enhance your business online presence with plugins like:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Surveys
  • Display banners
  • E-commerce (from managing single-item sales with PayPal buttons, to complete e-commerce with shopping carts, payment processing, recurring payments, coupons, etc …)
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Membership sites
  • Newsletter subscription forms
  • Sales funnels
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your site’s SEO
  • Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User feedback forms
  • Language translation (e.g. you can instantly change your website’s content from English to German)
  • 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
  • Faster page loading
  • Event management
  • Niche directories
  • Automatically sell and manage spots on your site
  • Set up client appointments and reminders
  • Set up reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken links and send you reports
  • Redirect visitors from broken pages to other pages on your site or other sites
  • Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
  • Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
  • Add a site map
  • Hide specific from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide post content
  • Migrate content from non-WordPress platforms
  • Search and replace data
  • Block SPAM
  • Customize guest comment displays (e.g. display Facebook comments)
  • Insert HTML and code elements into your blog’s header and footer
  • Add formatted tables
  • Display animated graphics and advanced text formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google local search
  • Add location maps
  • Distribute your content automatically on social pages like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and many others
  • Display countdown timers (for special offers, coupons, etc …)
  • Display personalized greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

As it’s clear to see, WordPress plugins give you endless possibilities. If you plan to build a web site for your business, or your existing site wasn’t built with WordPress, then consider getting one in the future, or you could be missing out on some serious features.

If you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible WordPress plugins are, let me show you some practical advantages of adding a plugin to your website.

For example, if you need content protection, you can install plugins to make a section of a page inaccessible, or create a professional paid membership site with personal login details for every user …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As mentioned previously, free plugins can be used to enhance your business site in so many ways. From adding functionality that will improve your business, your web users’ experience and your understanding of what is happening on your site …

A Guide To WP Plugins

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

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also add complex features to your site using inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can install plugins that integrate and automate functions on your site like user testimonial and event registration management …

A Practical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

And also set up a custom bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring software developers to code the same applications for you …

A Guide To WP Plugins

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

A Useful Guide To WordPress Plugins

For example, your web visitors can:

  • Post comments on your blog posts (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, providing you with increased exposure).
  • Bookmark your content on various social sites.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage in online discussions with your team using online forums or even set up a private social network on your domain.
  • Engage with your support staff via live chats
  • Call your business from their devices when visiting your website
  • Open support tickets
  • And much more …

A Non-Technical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

Finally you, can even integrate sophisticated enterprise-level solutions using a WP “front end”. This enables you to control your business marketing, while your third-party application handles the technical aspects …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

Plugins – Additional Things To Know

  • There are many awesome plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your server with an excessive amount of plugins, as this can affect your site’s performance and site loading speed. It can also mean more maintenance issues for you resulting from potential conflicts and errors.
  • Install only the plugins that you really need. Delete inactive plugins from your site, as these also utilize server resources.
  • Many free plugins typically receive little to no support from the plugin developer. When considering premium WP plugins, we recommend that you check some reviews online and see what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, updates, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check our plugin reviews for additional useful information.
  • If you see that an unsupported plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two years), then think carefully before using it. WordPress is updated on a frequent basis and older plugins that have not been updated can cause errors.
  • Make sure that you always keep your plugins updated. Outdated plugins not only can create errors, 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 powerful, flexible and scalable CMS in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to add new functionality to their website without spending thousands of dollars on web developers.

One last thing regarding WordPress plugins:

If there is a functionality you want for your web site, you can be sure that a someone has probably already developed one 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 premium plugin, that the cost to buy it will be quite reasonable.

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 has not been created yet, then one can probably be coded for your business for a reasonable price.

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