WordPress Plugins Explained

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

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Add New Features And Functionality To Your Website With PluginsOne of the main advantages of choosing the WordPress web site publishing software is that you can quickly and easily enhance your WordPress website’s functionality using plugins.

What Are WordPress Plugins?

Like most of us, you most likely use a mobile phone. What happens when you would like to access something new on your device like a new application, game or a productivity tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a piece of software that is easy to install and immediately integrates new functionality into your smart device.

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

(Just as you will find social sharing apps …)

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

A Non-Technical Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

Almost always, expanding the functionality of your website involves additional cost. Depending on how complex the new features or enhancements are, this cost can be significant, particularly if it involves website development.

This also applies to starting a website or business blog. Organizations sometimes pay upfront for extra components they may never need.

As part of sound strategic business planning, we recommend a modular approach to growing your web site and WP plugins are ideal for doing this.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could:

1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get a professional website up and running quickly, then …

2) As you need more features, just add new software modules with a few mouse clicks directly from within your WordPress administration section, giving your website or blog a completely new range of useful functionality, and …

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

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

WordPress Plugins – Benefits And Advantages

Earlier, we compared plugins with ’apps’. Just like many apps are free to download and some may cost a little bit of money, the same applies to WordPress plugins.

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

WP plugins that you purchase are referred to as “Premium” plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the cost of investing in web development services to get the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. ”paid”) plugins cost very little.

Also, because WordPress distributes its software as an Open Source application, any person can create, modify and customize any portion of the WordPress code. This has enabled many professional web development companies to create more new tools that add new functionality to WordPress than you can probably imagine.

  • WP plugins let you start off simply with just a simple web presence and then expand only as required.
  • WordPress plugins allow you to add almost unlimited features to any web site quickly and inexpensively.
  • Plugins give you practically unlimited expansion capabilities.
  • WP plugins allow anyone to have a digital presence that they can fully manage.
  • Most plugins normally work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your website instant new enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins can be a little more complex and may require some configuration.

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

Like WP themes, thousands of great WordPress plugins are currently available to WordPress users … and many of these great plugins are 100% FREE!

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

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

As mentioned earlier, you will find WP plugins that can do almost anything you need done.

Plugin categories cover:

  • Web Site Management
  • Content Syndication
  • Web Traffic Generation
  • Visitor Engagement
  • Social Connectivity
  • Inserting Media – Video, Graphics & Images, Podcasts, Multimedia, etc.
  • e-Biz And Online Sales Automation
  • Increasing Sales And Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data And System Monitoring & Reporting
  • Securing Your WordPress Website

You can enhance a website with plugins like:

  • Contact forms
  • Polls and quizzes
  • Social contests
  • Rotating banners
  • E-commerce (from managing single-item ordering with PayPal buttons, to complete e-commerce stores with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring billing, coupon codes, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Private Membership sites
  • Newsletter opt-in forms
  • Sales funnels
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your website’s Search Engine Optimization
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User testimonials
  • Instant language translation (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your site from English to Italian)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation
  • Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Offline storage integration
  • Making pages load faster
  • Managing events & bookings
  • Niche directories
  • Automatically sell and manage advertising on your site
  • Set up appointments and reminders
  • Automate reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks on your pages and send you reports
  • Redirect URLs
  • Monitor social signals
  • 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.)
  • Hide content on your pages and posts
  • Migrate data from non-WP platforms
  • Search and replace content
  • Prevent SPAM
  • Customize visitor commenting (e.g. display Facebook comments)
  • Insert code and code elements into your posts
  • Add and format tables
  • Display animated graphics and advanced content formatting options
  • Add and manage QR codes
  • Improve your local search listings on Google
  • Add business location maps
  • Publish your posts automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and many others
  • Display countdown timers (for scarcity offers, coupons, etc …)
  • Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

As you can clearly see, WP plugins give you practically endless business flexibility. If you plan to build a website, or your existing website wasn’t built using WordPress, then consider getting a WordPress site or blog in the future, or you will be missing out on some serious features.

In case you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using plugins, let me show you how you can benefit instantly by installing an inexpensive plugin on your website.

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

A Useful Guide To WordPress Plugins

As mentioned previously, free plugins can be used to improve your web presence in so many ways. From adding new features that improve your business, your site’s user experience and your understanding of what is taking place on your site …

A Practical Guide To WP Plugins

To extending your business visibility across many social sites and search engines …

A Basic Guide To WordPress Plugins

You can also add advanced functionality to your website using inexpensive paid WordPress plugins. For example, you can set up plugins that automate processes on your website such as user testimonial and event bookings management …

A Practical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

And even run a custom-branded bookings and reservations system online … all for a small fraction of the cost of hiring programmers to build the same applications for you …

A Practical Guide To WP Plugins

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

A Basic Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

For example, your visitors can easily:

  • Post comments on your site (which can turn into online discussions) using either the built-in WordPress commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get shared throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with additional exposure).
  • Bookmark your posts on social networking sites.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage in online discussions with your team using online forums or even set up an online social network on your site.
  • Engage with your support staff through live chats
  • Dial your business from their mobile phones when browsing your site
  • Open a support ticket
  • And much more …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also integrate complex enterprise-level applications with a WP “front end”. This allows you to control the content that your visitors will see on your web site, while the third-party application handles the technological aspects …

A Guide To WP Plugins

Useful Tips About Plugins

  • There are lots of great WordPress plugins to choose from. Be careful of overloading your server with an excessive amount of plugins, as this can affect your website’s performance and page loading speed. It also means more maintenance work for you as a consequence of possible conflicts.
  • Only keep those plugins that you really plan to use. Delete all deactivated plugins from your site, as these utilize extra server resources.
  • Many free plugins often receive little to no support from the plugin author. When choosing premium plugins, we recommend that you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of the plugin reviews we publish here for additional expert information.
  • If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a very long time (e.g. two or more years), then think twice before installing it. WordPress updates on a frequent basis and older plugins that have not been updated can cause conflicts.
  • Always maintain your plugins up-to-date. Older plugin not only can create errors, they may also have vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Useful Guide To WP Plugins

As you can see, WordPress plugins are an important component of WordPress and contribute to making it the most preferred CMS available. 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.

One last thing about WordPress plugins:

If there is any feature you want for your website, you can be sure that a WordPress plugin already exists that will do exactly what you want, and that this plugin can either be accessed at no cost, or if it’s a paid 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 one can probably be written 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 website. See our related posts section to learn about more great plugins that we recommend using.


"Learning WordPress has been a huge stumbling block for me. I've been looking for something that covers absolutely everything but doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Thank you so much ... you have just provided me with what I have been looking for! Truly appreciated!" - Tanya