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 - Enhancing Your Web Site's CapabilitiesOne of the most powerful advantages of building an online presence with WordPress is that you can easily increase your WP web site’s functionality using inexpensive called ’plugins’.

What Are WP Plugins?

No doubt, you most likely use a smart phone. What happens when you want access to something new on your phone like a new application, software or productivity tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a piece of software that is really simple and easy to install and integrates new features and functionality into your smart phone.

A Practical Guide To WordPress Plugins

(Just like you will find social sharing apps for mobile phones …)

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

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

Normally, if you decide to expand the functionality of an existing website, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the new feature or enhancement, things can become fairly expensive, especially if website developers need to add new code or modify templates or install programs to integrate into your current site.

This also applies to developing a web site. Companies sometimes invest money in advance in components they probably will never need.

As part of sound strategic business planning, we suggest a sustainable approach to developing your website and WP plugins are ideal for doing this.

Imagine being able to:

1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get a professional web site up and running fast, then …

2) As the need arises, add new applications with a few mouse clicks that integrate with your website, and give your site an entirely new range of practical functionality, and …

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

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

Benefits And Advantages Of Plugins

Earlier, we compared WP plugins with mobile apps. Just like some apps are free to download and some apps cost a little money, the same applies with WordPress plugins.

In fact, loads of plugins can be downloaded and installed on your websites.

Plugins that you buy are referred to as “Premium” plugins. The good news, is that when you compare the cost of a Premium WP plugin to the price of investing in web development services to get the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium plugins cost very little.

Also, because WordPress is an Open Source application, anybody can create, modify and customize any portion of the WP code. This has enabled many third-party software development companies to enhance and contribute to the WPsoftware.

  • Plugins let you get started with only a basic web site and then add new features and enhancements to your site only if required.
  • Plugins allow you to add practically unlimited functionality to your web site quickly and inexpensively.
  • WordPress plugins give your site almost endless expansion capabilities.
  • WP plugins allow ”non-techies” to have a site that they can manage themselves.
  • Most plugins normally work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to give your website instant new enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins offer more advanced options and require some initial configuring.

WP Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Often) 100% FREE!

Like many WP themes, loads of WordPress plugins are available to WordPress users … often at no cost!

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

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As previously mentioned, you can find WP plugins that will do just about anything you need a website to do.

There are plugins for:

  • Web Site Administration
  • Content Management
  • Increasing Web Visitors
  • Visitor Interactivity
  • Social Connectivity
  • Media Management Automation
  • Increasing Website Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data & System Monitoring & Reporting
  • Website Optimization

You can expand a business online presence with plugins like:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • User Surveys
  • Display advertising banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single sales with PayPal buttons, to full scale e-commerce stores with shopping carts, payment processing, recurring billing, coupon codes, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Membership sites
  • List-building opt-in forms
  • Sales workflow
  • Mobile integration
  • Improving your site’s Search Engine Optimization
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User testimonial forms
  • Language translation (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your pages from English to French)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation menus
  • Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Cloud storage integration
  • Faster page loading
  • Managing events & bookings
  • Niche directories
  • Automatically sell advertising on your site
  • Set client appointments and reminders
  • Automate reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks and email you reports
  • Redirect URLs
  • Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
  • Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
  • Add sitemaps
  • Exclude pages from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Protect page content
  • Import content from non-WP platforms
  • Perform bulk data replacements
  • Block SPAM
  • Customize visitor comment displays (e.g. display Facebook comments)
  • Insert code and code elements into your posts
  • Add formatted tables
  • Display animated graphic elements and advanced text formatting options
  • Add and manage QR codes
  • Improve your local search listings on Google
  • Add a map of your business location
  • Publish your posts automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and many others
  • Display countdown timers (for scarcity offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display personalized greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

As it’s clear to see, WP plugins give you practically endless business scalability. If you plan to build a website or blog, or your existing site isn’t built with WordPress, then consider getting a WP site or blog in the future, or you will be missing out on some serious functionality.

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

For example, if you want content protection, you can use plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on your post or page inaccessible, or create a full membership site with personal login details for users …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

As mentioned before, free plugins can be used to improve your web site in so many different ways. From adding functionality that improve your business, your site’s user experience and your ability to analyze website data …

A Practical Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

A Beginner's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also add advanced features to your site using inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can download plugins that integrate and automate features on your pages like managing customer testimonials and event bookings …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

And also set up a complete bookings and reservations system online … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring programmers to code the same functionality for you …

A Basic Guide To WP Plugins

You can also take advantage of native WP commenting features and plugins that can make your site even more interactive …

A Practical Guide To WordPress Plugins

For example, your web visitors can easily:

  • Leave comments on your blog posts (which can grow into online discussions) using either the built-in WordPress commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get shared throughout a visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site increased exposure).
  • Bookmark your content on various social sites.
  • Contact you via contact forms
  • Engage online with other online users via online forums or even set up an online community on your site.
  • Engage with your support staff using live video chats
  • Call your business directly from their mobile phones when browsing your pages
  • Get help and support via a user support helpdesk
  • And much more …

A Guide To WP Plugins

You can even integrate sophisticated enterprise solutions within a WP “front end”. This lets you manage your business marketing, while the 3rd-party application handles the technological functions …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

Some Useful Things You Should Know About Plugins

  • There are loads of plugins available. Be careful not to overload your server with too many plugins, as this will affect your site’s performance and site loading times. It can also mean more maintenance issues for you as a consequence of possible errors.
  • Install only those plugins you really use. Delete inactive plugins from your site, as these also utilize server resources.
  • Many free plugins typically come with little to no support from the plugin author. When choosing premium plugins, make sure you check some reviews online and understand what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to offering support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of the plugin reviews we publish on this site 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 using it on your site. WordPress is updated on a regular basis and outdated plugins can cause issues.
  • Always upgrade your plugins to their most recent version. Older plugins not only can cause conflicts, they could also contain vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

One last thing regarding plugins:

Whatever functionality you need for your web presence, you can guarantee that a someone has probably already developed one that will do exactly what you need, and that this plugin can either be accessed for FREE, or if it’s a paid plugin, that it will be surprisingly affordable.

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 WordPress plugin does not exist, then it can probably be written for you for a reasonable price.

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

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