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 Extend Your Site's Features And FunctionalityOne of the main features of WordPress is the ability to quickly and easily increase your WP web site’s functionality using inexpensive called ’plugins’.

Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a little software application that is really easy to install and integrates new features and functionality into your mobile device.

A Non-Technical User's Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

A WP plugin is quite similar to an app. You install and activate an application that provides new functionality to your WP site …

A Non-Technical User's Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

Typically, if you want to expand the functionality of an already-built site, additional cost is involved. Depending on how complex the feature or enhancement is, things could get fairly expensive, especially if web developers need to add new code or modify programs or install scripts that integrate with your current site.

This also applies when setting up a new website. Companies often invest money on components they may simply not need.

To save money and keep your expenses to a minimum, we recommend a modular approach to growing your website and WP plugins are ideal for doing this.

Imagine being able to:

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

2) As the need for new capabilities or functionality becomes apparent, install new applications with a couple of mouse clicks that integrate seamlessly with your current website or blog, giving your website a whole new and expanded range of features and functionality, and also …

3) Cost not one dollar extra to add to your web site?

Well, that’s precisely what a WordPress plugin enables you to do!

WP Plugins – Benefits & Advantages

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

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

Plugins that you purchase are called Premium plugins. The good news, is that when you compare it to the price of hiring a professional web developer to add similar functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins are priced quite low.

Also, because WordPress makes its code publicly available, any person can create, modify and customize any portion of the code. This has enabled many professional software development companies to build more applications that add new functionality to the WordPress application than you can imagine.

  • Plugins let you get started with a simple yet professional site and then expand only when required.
  • WordPress plugins allow you to add practically endless functionality to any website quickly, easily and cheaply.
  • Plugins give your website practically endless expanding capabilities.
  • WP plugins allow anyone to have a website that they can self-manage.
  • Most plugins will work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to give your web site immediate capabilities, enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins can be slightly more advanced and may need some configuration.

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

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

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

A Newbie's Guide To WordPress Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you will find WordPress plugins that can do almost everything you need done.

There are plugins for:

  • Blog Administration
  • Content Distribution
  • Driving Web Visitors
  • Visitor Engagement
  • Social Monitoring
  • Media Utilities Automation
  • Increasing Website Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data & System Analysis Applications
  • Securing Your WordPress Web Site

For example, you can enhance a business online presence with plugins like the following:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Social contests
  • Rotating banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single sales with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce stores with shopping carts, invoicing, recurring payments, discount codes, etc …)
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Membership sites
  • Newsletter subscription forms
  • Sales workflow
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your website’s SEO
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • Customer testimonial forms
  • Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change your site’s content from English to Norwegian)
  • 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
  • Making pages load faster
  • Event management
  • Business directories
  • Automatically sell and manage advertising on your site
  • Set up appointments and reminders
  • Automate reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks and email you reports
  • Redirect users from specified pages to other areas on your site or other websites
  • Monitor what social media users are posting about your business
  • Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
  • Add sitemaps
  • Hide specific from showing on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide content on your posts and pages
  • Import information from non-WordPress applications
  • Perform bulk data replacements
  • Prevent SPAM commenting
  • Customize guest discussions (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
  • Insert scripts and code elements into your pages
  • Add formatted tables
  • Display animated graphics and advanced content formatting options
  • Add and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google search results
  • Add business location maps
  • Post your content automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and others
  • Show countdown timers (for scarcity offers, coupons, etc …)
  • Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And hundreds of other features!

As you can clearly see, WordPress plugins give you limitless business flexibility. If you are planning to build a website or blog for your business, or your existing web site wasn’t built using WordPress, then consider getting one added to your domain, or you will be missing out on some serious features.

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

For example, if you want to publish content which is only accessible to some but not all users, you can install plugins to make an area of a page or post inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a professional membership site with customized login details for all users …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As mentioned previously, you can use free plugins to improve your business site in so many ways. From installing functionality that can enhance your business, your website visitors’ experience and your ability to analyze visitor metrics …

A Basic Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

To extending your site’s reach and visibility across various social media and search engines …

A Guide To WP Plugins

You can also add complex features to your website using relatively inexpensive premium WP plugins. For example, you can set up plugins that integrate and automate processes on your website such as user feedback and event registration management …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

And also set up a complete bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a small fraction of the cost of paying software developers to build the same functionality for you …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

Additionally, you can take advantage of built-in WordPress commenting features and plugins that can let you engage even more with visitors, clients and registered site members …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

For example, your web visitors can easily:

  • Leave comments on your blog posts (which can turn into online discussions) using either the native WP commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then displayed throughout your visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with additional exposure).
  • Share your posts with other web users on social networking sites.
  • Contact you via contact forms
  • Engage online directly with other members through forums or even set up an online community on your domain.
  • Engage with members of your team via live chats
  • Dial your business from their mobile phones while visiting your site
  • Get help via a dedicated user support helpdesk
  • And much more …

A Practical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

Finally you, can also integrate sophisticated third-party solutions within a WP “front end”. This enables you to manage the content that your visitors see on your web site, while your 3rd-party application handles the technological aspects …

A Guide To WP Plugins

Useful Information About Plugins

  • There are many amazing plugins available. Be careful of overloading your site with too many plugins, as this can affect your site’s resources and page loading times. It can also create more maintenance issues for you as a result of potential conflicts.
  • Install only those plugins that you really need to use. Delete any plugins you don’t use from your site, as these utilize extra server resources.
  • Many free plugins often come with very little to no support from the plugin developer. When choosing paid plugins, ensure that you check some reviews online and understand what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, updates, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of our plugin recommendations for more helpful 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 is updated regularly and older WP plugins can cause issues.
  • Ensure to always maintain your plugins updated to their most recent version. Outdated plugins not only can cause issues, they may also have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malicious users.

A Basic Guide To WordPress Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most popular content management system in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to expand quickly without spending thousands of dollars on web development costs.

One last thing about plugins:

Whatever feature or functionality you need for your web site, you can guarantee that a WP plugin probably exists that will do exactly what you want, and that it will either be available for FREE, or if it’s a premium plugin, that the price will be quite 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 plugin is not available, then a custom plugin that does just what you would like it to do can most certainly be developed for you for a reasonable price.

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

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