One of the most unique features of the WordPress platform is that you can quickly and easily increase your WordPress site’s functionality using inexpensive (even 100% free) software called ’plugins’.
What Are WordPress Plugins?
Like most people, you probably own a smart phone. What do you do when you would like access to something new on your phone like a new software or a new business productivity tool?
Why, simple … you download and install an app!
An app is a little software that is simple and easy to install and immediately integrates new features into a mobile phone.
(Just as there are social sharing apps for mobile devices …)
A WP plugin is like an app. You simply install and activate a software application that adds new functionality to your web site …
(… there are also social sharing plugins for WordPress users!)
Typically, if you want to expand the functionality of a web site, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the new feature or enhancements, this can get quite expensive, especially if it requires website development.
This is also applicable when starting a website. Many business owners will often fork out money upfront for extra bells and whistles they probably will never need.
As part of sound strategic business planning, we recommend a modular approach when growing a website and WordPress plugins are ideal for doing this.
Imagine being able to:
1) Start simply and with minimal cost involved. Get a basic, professional business web presence up and running fast, then …
2) As new features are required, install new software modules with a couple of clicks of the mouse that integrate with your current web site, giving your web site a completely new range of useful functionality, and also …
3) Cost not one dollar extra to install on your website?
Well, this is precisely what a WP plugin lets you do!
Plugins – Benefits
Earlier, we compared WordPress plugins with apps. In the same way that some apps are free to download and some apps may cost a little bit of money, so do plugins.
In fact, many plugins are available at no cost to users.
WP plugins that cost money are called “Premium” plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the cost of investing in web development services to get similar functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins are priced quite low.
Also, because WordPress makes its source code publicly available, anybody can create, modify and customize any portion of the code. This has enabled thousands of third-party software developers to build more new plugins that “plug into” WordPress than you can probably imagine.
- Plugins let you get started with only a simple yet professional online business presence and then add new features and enhancements to your site as required.
- Plugins allow you to add practically unlimited functionality to your online business presence easily, quickly and cheaply.
- WP plugins give your online business presence almost endless expanding capabilities.
- WP plugins allow non-technical users to own a website that they can manage themselves.
- Most plugins will normally work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your website or blog immediate capabilities and enhancements.
- Some plugins provide more advanced features and could require some configuration.
WordPress Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Often) 100% FREE!
Like many WP themes, loads of great plugins are made available for WordPress users … often at $0 cost!
You can view and download thousands of WP plugins from the Free WordPress Plugin Directory …
As mentioned earlier, you can find WordPress plugins that can do just about everything you could think of.
There are plugins for:
- Web Site Administration
- Content Management
- Visitor Interactivity
- Social Engagement
- Managing Media Files – Videocasts, Images, Audio, Multimedia, etc.
- e-Biz And Online Sales And Advertising Automation
- Increasing Sales And Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data Monitoring & Reporting
- Web Site SEO
You can add features to your business online presence with plugins like the following:
- Contact forms
- Polls and quizzes
- Social contests
- Managing banners
- E-commerce (from setting up single sales with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce stores with shopping carts, payment processing, recurring billing, discount codes, etc …)
- Social sharing buttons
- Membership sites
- List-building subscription forms
- Sales funnels
- Mobile conversion
- Improving your site’s SEO
- Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- Customer testimonials
- Language translation (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your website from English to German)
- Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
- Custom navigation menus
- Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
- Media integration
- Faster page loading
- Event management
- Business listing directories
- Automatically sell and manage spots on your site
- Set up client appointments and appointment reminders
- Manage reservations and bookings
- Detect broken hyperlinks and send you reports
- Redirect visitors from missing pages to other pages on your site or other sites
- 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. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
- Hide post content sections
- Migrate content from different CMS applications
- Search and replace data
- Prevent SPAM commenting
- Customize visitor commenting (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
- Insert code and script elements into your pages
- Add formatted tables
- Add animated graphics and advanced content formatting options
- Add and manage QR codes
- Improve your local search listings on Google
- Add a map
- Syndicate your content automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and many others
- Show countdown timers (for scarcity offers, coupons, etc …)
- Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
- And so much more!
As it’s clear to see, plugins give you endless business scalability. If you are planning to build a website or blog for your business, or your existing site wasn’t built using WordPress, then consider getting one in the future, or you could be missing out on some serious functionality.
In case you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible plugins are, let me show you some practical uses of adding a plugin to your website.
For example, if you need to protect your content, you can install plugins to make an area of your post inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a complete membership site with personal login details for all users …
As mentioned previously, free plugins can be used to improve your web presence in lots of ways. From installing features that can improve your business, your site’s user experience and your understanding of what is taking place on your site …
To increasing your site’s reach across various social networks and search engines …
You can also add sophisticated features to your site using inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can download plugins that automate functionality on your site such as user testimonial and event bookings management …
And even set up a custom-branded bookings and reservations system online … all for a small fraction of the cost of paying programmers to create the same applications for you …
Additionally, you can take advantage of native WP commenting features and plugins that can make your site even more interactive …
For example, your web visitors can easily:
- Leave comments on your site (which can grow into online discussions) using either the built-in WordPress commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get shared throughout your visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site added exposure).
- Share your posts with other online visitors on bookmarking sites.
- Contact you using contact forms
- Engage online with your team members using online forums or even set up a private social network on your own site.
- Engage with your staff via live video chats
- Dial your business directly from their cellphones when browsing your site
- Get help and support via a dedicated client helpdesk
- And much more …
You can also integrate sophisticated “back end” solutions using a WP “front end”. This lets you manage your business sales and marketing, while your third-party application handles the technological functions …
Some Useful Tips About Plugins
- There are loads of plugins to choose from. Be careful of overloading your server with an excessive amount of plugins, as this can start to affect your website’s performance and site loading speed. It can also create more maintenance issues for you resulting from potential conflicts and errors.
- Install only the plugins you really use. Delete any plugins you don’t need from your site, as these also utilize server resources.
- Many free plugins often come with little to no support from the plugin author. When considering premium WP plugins, make sure you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to offering support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of our WP plugin reviews for more information.
- If you see that an unsupported plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two years), then think twice before using it. WordPress is updated often and older plugins that have not been updated can create errors.
- Always upgrade your plugins. Outdated plugin not only can cause issues, they could also have security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malware.
As you can see, plugins are an important component of WordPress and contribute to making it the most downloaded website management software available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to add new features to their website without spending thousands of dollars on web developers.
One last thing on the topic of plugins:
If there is a feature you want for your web site, you can be sure that a plugin currently exists that will do just what you need, and that this plugin can either be accessed at no cost, or if it’s a paid plugin, that it will be reasonably affordable.
(Whatever you need done, there’s a WordPress plugin for that!)
And, if by chance this WordPress plugin does not exist, then it can probably be created for you at a reasonable cost.
Hopefully, this information has given you a better understanding of WP plugins – what plugins are and how they can improve your business blog. See our published posts to learn more about using WordPress plugins.
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