WordPress Plugins Explained

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

WP Plugins - Improve Your Website's CapabilityOne of the most useful benefits of using the WordPress platform is that you can easily expand your WP website’s functionality using applications called plugins.

About WordPress Plugins

No doubt, you most likely use a mobile phone. What do you do when you would like access to something new on your device like a new software or a new 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 integrates new features and functionality into your smart phone.

A Non-Technical Guide To WP Plugins

(Just as you will find social sharing apps …)

A WP plugin is similar to an app. You download and install a software that provides new functionality to your WP web site …

A Useful Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

Typically, if you want to add a new feature to an already-built website, additional cost is involved. Depending on how complex the features or enhancements are, things can get quite expensive, especially if it requires modifying code.

This is also applicable to creating a website or business blog. Organizations often invest money up-front for additional features they probably will never need.

For sound, strategic business planning reasons, we suggest using a sustainable strategy when developing a website and WP plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine being able to:

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

2) As the need for new capabilities and functionality arises, add new applications with a couple of mouse clicks directly from within your dashboard area, to give your site an entirely new range of capabilities and functionality, and …

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

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

WP Plugins – Benefits & Advantages

Earlier, we compared plugins with apps. In the same way that some apps are free to download and some apps may cost a little money, so do WordPress plugins.

In fact, many plugins are available at no cost to WP users.

Plugins that you buy are called Premium plugins. The good news, is that when you compare the cost of purchasing a Premium plugin to the price of hiring a professional web developer to get similar functionality on your site, most Premium plugins are typically quite inexpensive.

Also, since WordPress distributes its software as an Open Source application, any person can create, edit and customize any portion of the code. This has enabled many third-party software developers to enhance and contribute to the WordPresssoftware.

  • WordPress plugins let you start off simply with just a basic web site and then add new features and enhancements to your site only if required.
  • Plugins allow you to add almost endless features to any web site quickly and cheaply.
  • WP plugins give your online presence almost endless expanding capabilities.
  • Plugins allow ”non-techies” to own a web presence that they can manage themselves.
  • Most plugins will typically work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to provide your website or blog with new enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins can be a little more advanced and may require some initial configuring.

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

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

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

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As previously mentioned, you will find plugins that can do just about everything you want done.

There are WP plugins for:

  • User Management
  • Content Syndication
  • Increasing Web Traffic
  • Visitor Engagement
  • Social Engagement
  • Media Utilities Automation
  • Improving Sales And Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data & System Monitoring & Reporting
  • Securing Your WordPress Blog

You can expand your WordPress site with plugins like the following:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • User Surveys
  • Managing banners
  • E-commerce (from managing single-item ordering with PayPal buttons, to enterprise scale e-commerce stores with online shopping carts, payment processing, recurring payments, coupons, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Private Membership sites
  • Newsletter subscription forms
  • Sales workflow
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your website’s Search Engine Optimization
  • Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User testimonials
  • Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your website from English to Spanish)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation menus
  • Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Offline storage management
  • Faster page loading
  • Event management
  • Business listing directories
  • Automatically sell and manage advertising on your website
  • Set up appointments and reminders
  • Manage reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken links and email 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 available for printing or downloading as PDF
  • Add sitemaps
  • Hide certain from showing on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
  • Protect page content
  • Migrate data from non-WordPress applications
  • Search and replace content
  • Block SPAM commenting
  • Customize visitor commenting (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
  • Insert code and code elements into your content
  • Add formatted tables
  • Display animated graphic elements and advanced content formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve your local search listings on Google
  • Add location maps
  • Post your posts automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and many others
  • Display countdown timers (for special offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display personalized greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

As it’s clear to see, WordPress plugins give you limitless possibilities. If you are planning to build a website or blog, or your existing site was not built with WordPress, then consider getting one in the future, or you will be missing out on some serious features.

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

For example, if you need to publish content which is only accessible to some users, you can install plugins to make an area of your page inaccessible, or create a complete membership site with separate login details for every user …

A Guide To WP Plugins

As mentioned previously, you can use free plugins to enhance your web presence in lots of different ways. From adding features that will enhance your business, your website visitors’ experience and your understanding of what is taking place on your site …

A Useful Guide To WordPress Plugins

To increasing your business reach across social networks and search engines …

A Useful Guide To WordPress Plugins

You can also add complex features to your site using relatively inexpensive premium WordPress plugins. For example, you can install plugins that integrate and automate features on your website like displaying customer testimonials and booking events …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

A Basic Guide To WP Plugins

You can also take advantage of native WP commenting features and plugins that will allow you to engage even more with your visitors, clients and registered site users …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

For example, your visitors can:

  • Post comments on your blog posts (which can turn into online discussions) using either the native WP commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then displayed throughout a visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site added exposure).
  • Bookmark your posts on various social sites.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage online directly with other users via online forums or even set up an online community on your domain.
  • Engage with your support staff using live chats
  • Dial your business from their mobile phones when visiting your website
  • Open support tickets
  • And so much more …

A Useful Guide To WP Plugins

You can even integrate sophisticated enterprise applications within a WordPress “front end”. This enables you to control your business sales and marketing, while the third-party application handles the technical aspects …

A Beginner's Guide To WP Plugins

WP Plugins – Some Useful Information

  • There are loads of amazing plugins available. Be careful not to overload your site with an excessive amount of plugins, as this will affect your website’s performance and site loading speed. It also means more maintenance work for you as a consequence of possible errors.
  • Only keep those plugins that you really plan to use. Delete any plugins you don’t use from your site, as these use server resources.
  • Many free plugins often come with very little to no support from the plugin developer. When considering premium plugins, make sure you check around a little and see what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check some of the plugin reviews we provide here for additional information.
  • If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two or more years), then think carefully before installing it on your website. WordPress is updated on a frequent basis and outdated WordPress plugins can cause issues.
  • Always upgrade your plugins to their latest version. Older plugin not only can create errors, they may also have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Newbie's Guide To WP Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an important component of WordPress and contribute to making it the most preferred content management system available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to expand without having to spend thousands of dollars on outsourced web development.

One last thing on the topic of WP plugins:

If there is a feature you want for your web presence, you can guarantee that a someone has probably already created one that will do just what you need it to do, and that this plugin will either be available at no cost, 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 WP plugin does not exist, then one can most certainly be coded for you at a reasonable cost.

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of WordPress plugins – what they are and how they can improve your WP web site. See our published posts to learn about more great WP plugins that we recommend using.

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"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)

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