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 Enhance Your Web Site's Features And FunctionalityOne of the main benefits of choosing the WordPress platform is that you can quickly and easily expand your WordPress site’s functionality using plugins.

About WordPress Plugins

No doubt, you most likely have a smart phone. What happens when you would like to access something new on your device like a new game or business tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a little piece of software that is really simple and easy to install and instantly integrates new features into any mobile device.

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

(Just as there are social sharing apps …)

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

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

Typically, expanding the functionality of a site involves additional cost. Depending on the complexity of the new feature or enhancement, this could get fairly expensive, especially if website developers have to add new code or edit programs or install scripts to integrate with your existing set up.

This is also applicable when developing a website or business blog. Organizations will often fork out money up front on additional features and options they probably will never need.

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

Imagine being able to:

1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get your business website up and running fast, then …

2) As more features are needed, simply install new applications with only a few clicks of the mouse that integrate with your existing website and blog, giving your site an entirely new range of capabilities and functionality, and also …

3) Cost not a single cent more to install on your web site?

Well, that’s just what a WordPress plugin allows you to do!

Plugins – Benefits

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

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

WP plugins that cost money are referred to as ’Premium’ plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the cost of hiring a professional web developer to add the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins are typically very inexpensive.

Also, as WordPress makes its code publicly available, anybody can create, rewrite and customize any part of the code. This has enabled many third-party software developers to enhance the core software application.

  • Plugins let you get started with just a basic website and expand only if necessary.
  • Plugins let you add practically endless functionality to your site quickly, easily and very inexpensively.
  • WP plugins give you practically endless expanding capabilities.
  • Plugins allow business owners to have a website 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 web site with immediate capabilities, enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins can be a little more advanced and require some configuring.

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

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

You can access thousands of WP plugins from the Free WordPress Plugin Directory

A Guide To WP Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you will find WP plugins that will do just about anything you want done.

WP plugin categories cover:

  • Site Administration
  • Content Distribution
  • Traffic
  • Visitor Interactivity
  • Social Media
  • Media Utilities Automation
  • Improving Sales & Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data Monitoring & Reporting
  • Optimizing Your

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

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Surveys
  • Managing banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single ordering with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce with online shopping carts, payment processing, recurring billing, coupons, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Private Membership sites
  • List-building subscription forms
  • Sales workflow
  • 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 your website’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.
  • Cloud storage management
  • Making pages load faster
  • Event management
  • Niche directories
  • Automatically sell spots on your website
  • Set up appointments and reminders
  • Manage reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks and send you reports
  • Redirect affiliate pages
  • Monitor what social media users are posting about your business
  • Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
  • Add sitemaps
  • Hide pages from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide content on your posts and pages
  • Import data from different CMS platforms
  • Search and replace data
  • Fight SPAM
  • Customize visitor discussions (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
  • Inserting scripts and script elements into your blog’s header or footer
  • Add formatted tables
  • Display animated graphics and advanced content formatting options
  • Add and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google local search
  • Add a map
  • Syndicate your posts automatically on social pages like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others
  • Display countdown timers (for special offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And hundreds of other features!

As it’s clear to see, plugins give you practically endless possibilities. If you plan to build a website or blog for your business, or your existing website was not built using WordPress, then consider choosing it in the future.

If you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using WordPress plugins, let’s take a look at how you can benefit instantly by simply adding a plugin to your web site.

For example, if you want to protect your content, you can use plugins to make an area of a page inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a complete paid membership site with personal login details for every member …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

A Useful Guide To WP Plugins

To increasing your business reach and visibility across multiple social sites and search engines …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

You can also add complex functionality to your website using relatively inexpensive paid WordPress plugins. For example, you can buy plugins that integrate and automate processes on your site such as managing customer testimonials and event registration details …

A Beginner's Guide To WordPress Plugins

And also set up a custom-branded bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring software developers to code custom applications for you …

A Practical Guide To WordPress Plugins

Additionally, you can take advantage of native WP commenting features and plugins that will make your site even more interactive …

A Guide To WP Plugins

For example, your visitors can easily:

  • Post 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 displayed throughout a visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with increased exposure).
  • Bookmark your content on social networks.
  • Contact you via contact forms
  • Engage in online discussions with other online users via online forums or even set up a private online social network on your domain.
  • Engage with members of your team using live chats
  • Call your business from their cellphones when visiting your pages
  • Open support tickets
  • And so much more …

A Practical Guide To WordPress Plugins

Finally you, can even integrate sophisticated “back end” solutions with a WP “front end”. This allows you to manage your business marketing, while your third-party application handles the technological aspects …

A Non-Technical User's Guide To WordPress Plugins

Some Useful Things You Should Know About Plugins

  • There are lots of terrific plugins available. Be careful not to overload your server with too many plugins, as this will invariably begin to affect your site’s resources and site loading times. It also creates more maintenance issues for you resulting from potential conflicts.
  • Only keep the plugins you really use. Delete inactive plugins from your site, as these utilize resources.
  • Many free plugins often come with very little to no support from the plugin developer. 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 providing support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check our plugin reviews for additional information.
  • If you see that an unsupported plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two years), then think carefully before installing it. WordPress is updated often and older plugins can cause problems.
  • Always update your plugins. Outdated plugins not only can create errors and conflicts, they could also have vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malicious software.

A Useful Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most popular digital content management application available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to add new features to their web presence without having to spend thousands of dollars on web development.

One last thing about WP plugins:

Whatever feature or functionality you need for your website, you can guarantee that a someone has probably already authored one that will do exactly what you want it to do, and that this plugin will either be available at no cost, or if it’s a premium plugin, that the price 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 plugin is not available, then a custom plugin that does exactly what you want it to do can probably be coded for your business at a reasonable cost.

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of plugins – what plugins are and how they can enhance the functionality of your business blog. See our published posts to learn more about usingplugins.

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