WordPress Plugins Explained

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

Adding New Functionality To Your Site With PluginsOne of the main features of WordPress is that you can easily enhance your WP website’s functionality using plugins.

What Are Plugins?

Like most people, you probably have a device like a smart phone. What do you do when you want to access something new on your device like a new game or a new tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a software that is simple and easy to install and instantly integrates new functionality into a smart device.

A Guide To WP Plugins

(Just like there are social sharing apps …)

A plugin is very much like an app. You simply download and install a software application that provides new functionality to your website or blog …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

Normally, expanding the functionality of a website involves additional cost. Depending on the complexity of the new feature or enhancement, things can become quite expensive, particularly if it requires programming code.

This also applies to starting a new website. Business owners sometimes fork out money for additional components they probably will never need.

For this reason, we suggest a cost-effective strategy when setting up your web site and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine if you could:

1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get your business web presence up and running quickly, then …

2) As the need becomes evident, add new software modules with only a few clicks of the mouse directly from your WordPress dashboard section, and give your site a whole new and expanded range of practical capabilities, and also …

3) Cost not one dollar more to add to your web site?

Well, this is just what plugins allow you to do!

Benefits And Advantages Of Plugins

We began this blog post by comparing WordPress plugins with apps. Just like some apps are free to download and some apps cost a little bit of money, so do WP plugins.

In fact, many plugins can be installed and activated on your websites.

WP plugins that you purchase are referred to as “Premium” plugins. The good news, is that when you compare these to the price of hiring a professional web developer to add the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. ”paid”) plugins are priced quite cheaply.

Also, because WordPress is an Open Source application, anybody can create, rewrite and customize any part of the code. This has enabled many professional web developers to enhance and contribute to the WPsoftware.

  • WP plugins let you start off with only a basic website and then add new features and enhancements to your site only as necessary.
  • WordPress plugins allow you to add almost endless features to your web site easily, quickly and inexpensively.
  • Plugins give your web site practically unlimited expanding capabilities.
  • Plugins allow ”non-techies” to have a digital presence that they can manage themselves.
  • Most plugins will work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your website or blog new capabilities and functionality.
  • Some plugins provide more advanced features and could require some configuring.

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

Like themes, tens of thousands of great plugins are available for WordPress users … for FREE!

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

A Newbie's Guide To WordPress Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you can find WP plugins that can do just about anything you need your site to do.

There are plugins for:

  • User Management
  • Content Distribution
  • Traffic
  • Visitor Interactivity
  • Social Engagement
  • Media Utilities Automation
  • Increasing Website Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data & System Reporting Tools
  • WordPress Optimization

You can add features to a business online presence with plugins such as:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Social contests
  • Rotating ad banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single-item sales with PayPal buttons, to complete e-commerce stores with online shopping carts, payment processing, recurring payments, coupon codes, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Membership sites
  • List-building opt-in forms
  • Sales workflow
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your site’s Search Engine Optimization
  • Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User testimonial forms
  • Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change your website’s content from English to Norwegian)
  • 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
  • Event management
  • Business listing directories
  • Automatically sell and manage spots on your site
  • Set up client appointments and reminders
  • Automate reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks and send you reports
  • Redirect users from old pages to other areas on your site or other websites
  • Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
  • Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
  • Add sitemaps
  • Hide specific from showing on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide page content sections
  • Migrate content from other publishing applications
  • Perform bulk content edits
  • Fight SPAM commenting
  • Customize visitor comment displays (e.g. display Facebook comments)
  • Insert HTML and script elements into your website’s header or footer
  • Add and format tables
  • Add animated graphics and advanced text formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve your local search listings on Google
  • Add a map
  • Post your posts automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and many others
  • Show countdown timers (for special offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so many other features!

As it’s clear to see, WP plugins give you limitless business flexibility. If you plan to build a web site, or your existing site isn’t powered by WordPress, then consider using it in the future.

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

For example, if you want to publish private content, you can use plugins to make a section of your post or page inaccessible, or create a complete paid membership site with customized login details for users …

A Practical Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

A Beginner's Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

To increasing your site’s visibility across a number of social sites and search engines …

A Useful Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

And also run a complete bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring software developers to design the same applications for you …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

A Basic 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 WP commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then displayed throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site additional exposure).
  • Share your posts with other online users on various social sites.
  • Contact you via contact forms
  • Engage in online discussions with your team via online forums or even set up a private social network on your domain.
  • Engage with your support team via live web conferencing and chatroom facilities
  • Dial your business directly from their mobile phones while browsing your pages
  • Open a support ticket
  • And so much more …

A Newbie's Guide To WP Plugins

You can even integrate sophisticated enterprise solutions with a WP “front end”. This enables you to control your business marketing, while the 3rd-party application handles the technical functions …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

Plugins – Some Useful Things You Should Know

  • There are loads of great plugins to choose from. Be careful of overloading your site with too many plugins, as this will inevitably affect your site’s performance and site loading times. It also creates more maintenance work for you resulting from possible conflicts.
  • Install only those plugins you really plan to use. Delete any plugins you don’t use from your site, as these use resources.
  • Many free plugins often come with very little to no support from the plugin developer. When considering premium WordPress plugins, we recommend that you do a little research first to understand what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to offering support, updates, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of our plugin recommendations for additional helpful information.
  • If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two or more years), then think twice before using it. WordPress changes often and older plugins that have not been updated can cause issues.
  • Ensure to always maintain all plugins up-to-date. Older plugin not only can cause problems, they could also have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malicious users.

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As you can see, WP plugins are an important component of WordPress and contribute to making it the most used CMS in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to add instant features to their website without spending thousands of dollars on web development.

One last thing about WP plugins:

If there is a feature or functionality you want for your web presence, you can guarantee that a plugin already exists that will do what you want, and that it will either be available for FREE, or if it’s a paid plugin, that the price 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 any chance such a plugin is not available, then a custom plugin that does precisely what you want it to do can most certainly be developed for you at a reasonable cost.

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

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