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 Expand Your Blog's Features And FunctionalityOne of the main advantages of choosing the WordPress content publishing software is the ability to quickly and easily enhance your WP website’s functionality using applications called plugins.

Understanding Plugins

No doubt, you probably use a device like a mobile phone. What do you do when you would like to access something new on your phone like a new application, software or a business tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

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

A Guide To WP Plugins

(Just as you can find social sharing apps …)

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

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

Almost always, if you need to add new features to a web site, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the feature or enhancements, this could become quite expensive, especially if web developers need to add new code or edit code or install scripts to integrate with your current set up.

This also applies to creating a website. Business owners often pay money in advance for additional components they probably will never need.

For this reason, we suggest a cost-effective approach when growing a website and WP plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine being able to:

1) Start simply with minimal expense involved. Get a website up and running fast, then …

2) As you need new features or functionality, add new software modules with a couple of clicks of the mouse directly from your admin section, giving your site a whole new and expanded range of possibilities, and also …

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

Well, this is precisely what a WP plugin allows you to do!

Plugins – Benefits

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

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

WP plugins that you have to buy are referred to as ’Premium’ plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the price of hiring a professional web developer to get the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. ”paid”) plugins are typically quite inexpensive.

Also, because WordPress distributes its software as an Open Source application, anybody can create, modify and customize any part of the WP code. This has allowed many professional software developers to enhance the core WP software application.

  • Plugins allow you to start off with just a basic yet professional website and then expand only as necessary.
  • WordPress plugins allow you to add almost endless functionality to any site easily and really cheaply.
  • Plugins give your website practically endless expanding capabilities.
  • Plugins allow anyone to own a digital presence that they can manage themselves.
  • Most plugins normally work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your website or blog immediate capabilities and functionality.
  • Some plugins provide more extensive features and may require some initial configuration.

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

Like many WordPress themes, tens of thousands of great WP plugins are currently available for WordPress users … often at no cost!

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

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you will find WP plugins that can do almost everything you can imagine.

There are WP plugins for:

  • Website Administration
  • Content Management
  • Increasing Web Visitors
  • User Engagement
  • Social Monitoring
  • Media Utilities Automation
  • Increasing Sales & Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data Reporting Tools
  • Website Security

You can expand a WP site with plugins like the following:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Surveys
  • Rotating ad banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single-item ordering with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring billing, discount codes, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Membership sites
  • Newsletter opt-in forms
  • Sales workflow
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your site’s SEO
  • Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • Customer testimonial forms
  • Language translation (e.g. you can instantly change your site’s content from English to Italian)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation menus
  • Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Media integration
  • Faster page loading
  • Event management
  • Business directories
  • Automatically sell advertising on your website
  • Set client appointments and reminders
  • Manage reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken links and email you reports
  • Redirect URLs
  • Monitor what social media users are posting about your business
  • Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
  • Add sitemaps
  • Hide certain from showing on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide content on your posts and pages
  • Import content from different publishing applications
  • Search and replace data
  • Fight SPAM
  • Customize guest commenting (e.g. display Facebook discussions)
  • Inserting HTML and script elements into your content
  • Add tables
  • Display animated graphic elements and advanced font display formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google search listings
  • Add a map
  • Distribute your content automatically on social pages like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and others
  • Display countdown timers (for special offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

As you can clearly see, WP plugins give you virtually endless business scalability. If you are currently planning to build a website for your business, or your existing website was not built with WordPress, then consider choosing WordPress in the future.

In case you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible WP plugins are, let’s take a look at some practical uses of adding an inexpensive plugin to your web site.

For example, if you need to protect your content, you can install plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on a post or page inaccessible, or create a full membership site with personal login details for each user …

A Guide To WP Plugins

As mentioned previously, free plugins can be used to enhance your site in so many ways. From installing new features that will enhance your business, your web users’ experience and your understanding of what is taking place on your site …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also add sophisticated functionality to your website using inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can download plugins that automate functions on your site like managing customer testimonials and booking events …

A Guide To WP Plugins

And even set up a complete bookings and reservations system online … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of paying programmers to build these applications for you …

A Basic Guide To WP Plugins

You can also take advantage of built-in WP commenting features and plugins that will let you engage in various ways with your visitors, customers and registered site members …

A Practical Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

For example, your web visitors can:

  • Leave comments on your site (which can turn into online discussions) using either the native WordPress commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then shared throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with increased exposure).
  • Share your content with other web visitors on social media.
  • Contact you via contact forms
  • Engage in online discussions with other users via forums or even set up a private online community on your own domain.
  • Engage with members of your team using live video chats
  • Call your business directly from their laptops when visiting your website
  • Open a support ticket
  • And much more …

A Newbie's Guide To WP Plugins

Finally you, can also integrate complex “back end” applications within a WP “front end”. This lets you manage the content that your visitors will see on your site, while your third-party application handles the technical areas …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugins – Additional Information

  • There are loads of plugins available. Be careful not to overload your server with an excessive amount of plugins, as this can eventually begin to affect your website’s performance and page loading speed. It can also mean more maintenance issues for you resulting from potential errors.
  • Install only the plugins that you really use. Delete inactive plugins from your site, as these use additional resources.
  • Many free plugins normally receive little to no support from the plugin developer. When considering premium WP plugins, ensure that you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check the plugin reviews we publish here for more useful 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 carefully before installing it on your website or blog. The WordPress software is updated on a regular basis and older plugins can cause issues.
  • Ensure that you always keep all plugins updated. Outdated plugin not only can create conflicts, they could also have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malicious software.

A Useful Guide To WordPress Plugins

As you can see, WordPress plugins are an important part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most downloaded content management system in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to add instant functionality to their website without spending thousands of dollars on web development costs.

One last thing on the topic of WordPress plugins:

If there is a feature or 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 want, and that this plugin will either be available for FREE, or if it’s a premium plugin, that the price to purchase it will be 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 such a plugin has not been created yet, then one can probably be coded for you at a reasonable cost.

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

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