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 - Improving Your Web Site's CapabilitiesOne of the most powerful benefits of WordPress is that you can easily enhance your WP site’s functionality using plugins.

Understanding WP Plugins

Like most of us, you probably have a device like a mobile phone. What do you do when you want to access something new on your phone like a new application, software or business tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a software application that is very simple and easy to install and integrates new features and functionality into any smart device.

A Non-Technical User's Guide To WP Plugins

(Just as you will find social sharing apps for mobile devices …)

A plugin is very much like an app. You simply install an application that adds new functionality to your WordPress site …

A Non-Technical User's Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

Generally, if you want to add a new feature to your website, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the new feature or enhancement, this could get quite expensive, particularly if web developers need to create new code or edit code or install programs to integrate with your current site.

This is also applicable when setting up a web site. Companies often spend up-front on features or options they may not ever need.

To keep your business costs low, we suggest a modular approach to growing your web presence and WP plugins are ideal for doing this.

Imagine being able to:

1) Start simply and with minimal cost involved. Get a professional website up and running quickly, then …

2) As you need more features and functionality, simply install new software modules with a few mouse clicks that integrate with your existing website and blog, to give your web site an entirely new range of features and functionality, and also …

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

Well, this is just what WP plugins let you do!

WordPress Plugins – Benefits & Advantages

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

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

WP plugins that you have to buy are called ’Premium’ plugins. The good news, is that when you compare these to the cost of investing in professional web development services to get the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium plugins are generally quite inexpensive.

Also, since WordPress makes its code publicly available, anybody can create, edit and customize any portion of the code. This has allowed thousands of third-party web developers to enhance the core WP software application.

  • WP plugins let you start off with only a simple yet professional website and then expand only when necessary.
  • WP plugins allow you to add almost unlimited functionality to your web site easily and very inexpensively.
  • WP plugins give your site virtually unlimited expansion capabilities.
  • Plugins allow ”non-techies” to own a site that they can self-manage.
  • Most plugins will work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your web site immediate capabilities and functionality.
  • Some plugins can be a little more advanced and could require some configuration.

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

Like WP themes, loads of WordPress plugins are made available for WP users … for FREE!

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

A Practical Guide To WP Plugins

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

WP plugin categories cover:

  • Blog Administration
  • Content Syndication
  • Traffic
  • Visitor Interactivity
  • Social Media
  • Media Utilities Automation
  • Increasing Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data And System Analysis Tools
  • WP SEO

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

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • User Surveys
  • Display ad banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single-item ordering with PayPal buttons, to enterprise scale e-commerce stores with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring payments, discount codes, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Private Membership sites
  • Newsletter subscription forms
  • Sales funnels
  • Mobile integration
  • Improving your site’s Search Engine Optimization
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • Customer testimonials
  • Language translation (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your site from English to German)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation menus
  • Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Cloud storage integration
  • Faster page loading
  • Event management
  • Business directories
  • Automatically sell and manage spots on your site
  • Set client appointments and appointment reminders
  • Manage reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken links on your pages and email you reports
  • Redirect affiliate pages
  • Monitor social signals
  • Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
  • Add sitemaps
  • Exclude specific from showing on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Protect post content sections
  • Migrate data from non-WordPress applications
  • Search and replace data
  • Prevent SPAM commenting
  • Customize visitor comment displays (e.g. displaying Facebook discussions)
  • Inserting code and script elements into your posts and pages
  • Add and format tables
  • Display animated graphic elements and advanced content formatting options
  • Add and manage QR codes
  • Improve your local search listings on Google
  • Add a map of your business location
  • Publicize your posts automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and many others
  • Display countdown timers (for expiring offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so many other features!

As you can clearly see, plugins give you practically limitless possibilities. If you are currently planning to build a website, or your existing web site was not built using WordPress, then consider using it in the future.

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

For example, if you need content protection, you can install plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on your page or post inaccessible, or create a complete paid membership site with separate login details for all users …

A Non-Technical User's Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

A Guide To WP Plugins

To increasing your business visibility across social media and search engines …

A Guide To WP Plugins

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

A Guide To WordPress 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 create these functionality for you …

A Practical Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

You can also take advantage of native WordPress commenting features and plugins that will increase your site’s interactivity …

A Beginner's Guide To WP Plugins

For example, your web visitors can:

  • Leave comments on your blog posts (which can grow into online discussions) using either the native WP commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get shared throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with increased exposure).
  • Share your posts with other online visitors on various social sites.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage online with your team members via online forums or even set up a private online community on your own site.
  • Engage with members of your team via live video chats
  • Dial your business directly from their smart phones when browsing your website
  • Get help via a dedicated user helpdesk
  • And much more …

A Useful Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

You can even integrate complex enterprise-level applications using a WP “front end”. This allows you to control your business sales and marketing, while the 3rd-party application handles the technical areas …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

Plugins – Some Useful Information

  • There are lots of great WordPress plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your site with too many plugins, as this can affect your site’s resources and page loading speed. It can also create more maintenance work for you as a result of potential conflicts and errors.
  • Install only those plugins you really plan to use. Delete any plugins from your site, as these also use server resources.
  • Many free plugins normally come with very little to no support from the plugin author. When choosing premium WordPress plugins, make sure you do a little research first to understand what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of our plugin recommendations for additional 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. The WordPress core software is updated regularly and older plugins that have not been updated can cause errors.
  • Always keep your plugins updated to the latest software version. Older plugin not only can create errors and conflicts, they could also contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malicious users.

A Useful Guide To WordPress Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most downloaded CMS available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to add new features to their website without spending thousands of dollars on outsourced web development costs.

One last thing on the subject of WP plugins:

If there is any functionality you want for your website, you can guarantee that a plugin currently exists that will do what you need it to do, and that this plugin can either be downloaded at no cost, or if it’s a paid plugin, that it will be fairly inexpensive.

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 is not available, then it can probably be coded for your business at a reasonable cost.

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


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