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 Blog's FeaturesOne of the main features of the WordPress software is the ability to quickly and easily enhance your WordPress site’s functionality using plugins.

What Are Plugins?

No doubt, you probably own a smart phone. What happens when you would like to access something new on your device like a new software or 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 into your mobile phone.

A Basic Guide To WordPress Plugins

(Just as there are social sharing apps …)

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

A Useful Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

Almost always, expanding the functionality of an already-built website involves additional cost. Depending on how complex the feature or enhancement is, this cost can be significant, particularly if it involves website development.

This is also applicable to developing a website or business blog. Many business owners tend to fork out money in advance on extra bells and whistles they may simply not need.

To reduce unnecessary expenses, we recommend using a cost-effective approach when setting up a website and WP plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine if you could:

1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get a basic, professional-looking web site up and running quickly, then …

2) As the need arises, simply add new applications with only a few mouse clicks directly from within your WordPress administration section, and give your website a completely new range of possibilities, and also …

3) Cost not a single dollar extra to add to your website?

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

Benefits & Advantages Of Using Plugins

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

In fact, thousands of plugins can be downloaded to your site at no cost.

WordPress plugins that you have to pay for are called Premium plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the cost of hiring a professional web developer to add similar functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins cost very little.

Also, as WordPress makes its source code publicly available, anybody can create, edit and customize any part of the code. This has allowed thousands of professional web development professionals to create more new applications that add new functionality to the WordPress engine than you can possibly imagine.

  • WP plugins allow you to get started with only a basic web presence and expand when necessary.
  • WordPress plugins allow you to add practically unlimited functionality to any site quickly and quite inexpensively.
  • WP plugins give your web site virtually endless expanding capabilities.
  • WordPress plugins allow non-technical website owners to have a website that they can self-manage.
  • Most plugins typically work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your website instant new capabilities and features.
  • Some plugins offer more advanced features and require some initial configuring.

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

Like many themes, tens of thousands of great WP plugins are made available to WP users … for FREE!

You can access thousands of plugins from the Free WordPress Plugin Repository

A Newbie's Guide To WordPress Plugins

As previously mentioned, you can find plugins that can do almost everything you can possibly want a website to do.

There are WP plugins for:

  • Site Management
  • Content Distribution
  • Increasing Web Traffic
  • Visitor Interactivity
  • Social Monitoring
  • Managing Media Files – Videos, Graphics & Images, Podcasts, Multimedia, etc.
  • e-Biz And Online Sales And Marketing Automation
  • Increasing Website Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data & System Analysis
  • Optimizing Your WP Web Site

For example, you can add features to a website with plugins such as:

  • Contact forms
  • Polls and quizzes
  • User Surveys
  • Managing banners
  • E-commerce (from managing single sales with PayPal buttons, to full scale e-commerce with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring payments, coupon codes, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Membership sites
  • List-building opt-in forms
  • Sales funnels
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your site’s Search Engine Optimization
  • Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User testimonials
  • Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change your website’s content from English to Spanish)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation menus
  • Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Offline storage management
  • Faster page loading
  • Managing events
  • Business listing directories
  • Automatically sell advertising on your site
  • Set up appointments and reminders
  • Set up reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks and email you reports
  • Redirect website pages
  • Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
  • Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
  • Add a site map
  • Exclude certain from showing on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Protect content on your posts and pages
  • Import content from different publishing platforms
  • Search and replace content
  • Block SPAM commenting
  • Customize guest comment displays (e.g. displaying Facebook comments)
  • Insert code and code elements into your posts, pages and sidebar menus
  • Add formatted tables
  • Add animated graphics and advanced text formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google search
  • Add a map of your business location
  • Publish your content automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and many others
  • Show countdown timers (for special offers, coupons, etc …)
  • Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And hundreds of other features!

As it’s clear to see, WordPress plugins give you practically endless business scalability. If you plan to build a web site for your business, or your existing site wasn’t built with WordPress, then consider choosing WordPress in the future.

In case you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible plugins are, let’s take a look at how you can benefit instantly by simply installing a plugin on your web site.

For example, if you need to protect your content, you can use plugins to make an area of your post or page inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a complete membership site with separate login details for all users …

A Non-Technical User's Guide To WP Plugins

As mentioned before, free plugins can be used to improve your web presence in lots of different ways. From adding new features that will improve your business, your site’s user experience and your ability to analyze website data …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

To extending your site’s visibility across social networks and search engines …

A Guide To WP Plugins

You can also add sophisticated features to your website using relatively inexpensive premium WP plugins. For example, you can download plugins that automate features on your pages such as customer feedback and event bookings management …

A Useful Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

And even set up a custom bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a small fraction of the cost of hiring software developers to create custom functionality for you …

A Guide To WP Plugins

Additionally, you can take advantage of native WordPress commenting features and plugins that will allow you to engage in various ways with your web visitors, customers and registered site users …

A Useful Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

For example, your web visitors can:

  • Post comments on your site (which can grow into online discussions) using either the native WP commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get displayed throughout a visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with added exposure).
  • Bookmark your content on social networking sites.
  • Contact you via contact forms
  • Engage online directly with other customers through forums or even set up an online social network on your domain.
  • Engage with your staff using live web conferencing and chatroom facilities
  • Dial your business from their smart phones when browsing your pages
  • Get help via a dedicated client help desk
  • And much more …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

Finally you, can even integrate sophisticated third-party solutions using a WP “front end”. This enables you to manage the content that your visitors will see on your site, while the third-party application handles the technical functions …

A Practical Guide To WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugins – Useful Things You Should Know

  • There are so many plugins available. Be careful not to overload your server with an excessive amount of plugins, as this can affect your website’s resources and site loading speed. It can also create more maintenance work for you resulting from potential errors.
  • Install only the plugins you really use. Delete any plugins you don’t use from your site, as these utilize server resources.
  • Many free plugins typically receive very little to no support from the plugin author. When choosing paid plugins, we recommend that you check around a little and understand what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to offering support, updates, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check some of our plugin recommendations for more helpful 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 twice before installing it. WordPress updates frequently and older WordPress plugins can create errors.
  • Always update your plugins to the latest version. Outdated plugins not only can cause issues, they could also contain security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malicious users.

A Guide To WP Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an important element of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most popular digital content publishing platform available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to add instant functionality to their web presence without spending thousands of dollars on web developers.

One last thing about WordPress plugins:

If there is any functionality you need for your web presence, you can guarantee that a WordPress plugin probably exists that will do what you need it to do, and that it can either be downloaded for FREE, or if it’s a premium plugin, that the price 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 has not been created yet, then it can most certainly be developed for your business at a reasonable cost.

Hopefully, this information has given you a better understanding of plugins – what they are and how they can help enhance the functionality of your website. See our related posts to learn about more useful plugins that we recommend using.

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