WordPress Plugins Explained

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

Adding New Functionality To Your Blog With PluginsOne of the most powerful features of WordPress is the ability to quickly and easily enhance your WP website or blog’s functionality using applications called plugins.

What Are Plugins?

No doubt, you most likely use a device like a mobile phone. What do you do when you would like access to something new on your device like a new application, game or tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a little software that is really simple and easy to install and adds new functionality to a mobile phone.

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

(Just as there are social sharing apps for mobile phones …)

A WP plugin is similar to an app. You simply download and install a software application that provides new functionality to your WordPress website or blog …

A Newbie's Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

Generally, expanding the functionality of a web site involves additional cost. Depending on the complexity of the features or enhancements, this can get quite expensive, particularly if website developers need to create new code or modify code or develop scripts that integrate into your current set up.

This also applies when setting up a website or business blog. Organizations often spend money for added features or customizations they may probably never need.

To save money and keep costs to a minimum, we recommend a sustainable strategy when developing a web presence presence and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine being able to:

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

2) As more features become necessary, simply add new applications with just a couple of mouse clicks directly from your WordPress dashboard area, giving your site an entirely new range of possibilities, and …

3) Cost not one cent more to download and install on your site?

Well, this is just what a WP plugin lets you do!

Benefits And Advantages Of Plugins

I began this blog post by comparing plugins with apps. In the same way that some apps are free to download and some cost a little bit of money, so do WordPress plugins.

In fact, loads of fantastic plugins can be downloaded to your website for free.

Plugins that you buy are called “Premium” plugins. The good news, is that when you compare it to the cost of hiring a professional web developer to get the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. ”paid”) plugins are priced quite low.

Also, because WordPress makes its source code publicly available, any web developer can create, edit and customize any part of the WP code. This has enabled thousands of third-party web development companies to build more tools that integrate seamlessly with WordPress than you can possibly imagine.

  • WordPress plugins allow you to get started simply with a simple web site and add new features and enhancements to your site if necessary.
  • WP plugins let you add almost endless functionality to any web site easily and inexpensively.
  • Plugins give you practically endless expansion capabilities.
  • WP plugins allow business owners to own a digital presence that they can self-manage.
  • Most plugins will typically work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your website or blog instant new capabilities, enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins are slightly more advanced and may require some initial configuring.

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

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

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

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

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

There are plugins for:

  • Site Management
  • Content Management
  • Driving Web Traffic
  • Visitor Interactivity
  • Social Monitoring
  • Media Utilities Automation
  • Increasing Website Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data Monitoring & Reporting Applications
  • Optimizing Your

For example, you can add features to your WP site with plugins like the following:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Surveys
  • Managing ad banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single-item sales with PayPal buttons, to full scale e-commerce with shopping carts, invoicing, recurring billing, coupon codes, etc …)
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Membership sites
  • List-building subscription forms
  • Sales funnels
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your website’s SEO
  • Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User feedback forms
  • 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 engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Media management
  • Making pages load faster
  • Event management
  • Niche directories
  • Automatically sell advertising on your site
  • Set up appointments and reminders
  • Help customers make reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks and send you reports
  • Redirect users from specific pages to other pages on your site or other websites
  • Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
  • Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
  • Add sitemaps
  • Hide pages from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide page content sections
  • Migrate content from non-WP applications
  • Search and replace content
  • Block SPAM
  • Customize visitor commenting (e.g. displaying Facebook comments)
  • Inserting HTML and script elements into your posts, pages and sidebars
  • Add tables
  • Add animated graphic elements and advanced content formatting options
  • Add and manage QR codes
  • Improve your local search listings on Google
  • Add business location maps
  • Distribute your content automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and many others
  • Display countdown timers (for expiring offers, coupons, etc …)
  • Display personalized greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so many other features!

As you can clearly see, plugins give you practically limitless possibilities. If you are currently planning to build a website or blog for your business, or your existing web site was not built with WordPress, then consider getting one in the future, or you could be missing out on some serious features.

In case you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using WordPress plugins, let me show you some practical advantages of installing an inexpensive plugin on your site.

For example, if you want to publish private content, you can use plugins to make an area of your post inaccessible, or create a complete paid membership site with personal login details for all users …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As mentioned previously, you can use free plugins to enhance your website in so many different ways. From adding new features that enhance your business, your site’s user experience and your understanding of what is taking place on your site …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

A Beginner's Guide To WP Plugins

You can also add advanced functionality to your website using inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can set up plugins that integrate and automate tasks on your pages like displaying customer testimonials and event registration details …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

And even run a complete bookings and reservations system online … all for a small fraction of the cost of hiring web developers to build custom functionality for you …

A Non-Technical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also take advantage of built-in WP commenting features and plugins that can increase your site’s interactivity …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

For example, your web visitors can:

  • Post comments on your blog posts (which can grow into online discussions) using either the native WP commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get displayed throughout your visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site increased exposure).
  • Share your content with other web visitors on various social sites.
  • Contact you via 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 members of your team via live webcam conferencing and chatroom facilities
  • Call your business from their laptops when visiting your pages
  • Get help via a customer help desk
  • And so much more …

A Basic Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also integrate sophisticated enterprise applications within a WP “front end”. This lets you control your business marketing, while the 3rd-party application handles the technical aspects …

A Useful Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

WP Plugins – Some Useful Tips

  • There are loads of fantastic plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your server with too many plugins, as this will inevitably begin to affect your site’s performance and site loading speed. It also means more maintenance work for you as a consequence of potential conflicts and errors.
  • Only keep those plugins you really need to use. Delete any plugins you don’t need from your site, as these utilize server resources.
  • Many free plugins often receive little to no support from the plugin author. When choosing premium WP plugins, make sure you check around a little and see what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to providing support, updates, new improvements, 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 years), then think carefully before using it on your site. WordPress changes often and older plugins that have not been updated can create issues.
  • Always upgrade your plugins. Older plugins not only can cause errors, they could also contain vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Useful Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As you can see, WordPress plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most used content management system available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to add instant functionality to their web presence without spending thousands of dollars on outsourced web development.

One last thing regarding plugins:

If there is a feature or functionality you want for your website, you can be sure that a WP plugin already exists that will do just what you need, and that it can either be downloaded 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!

(Whatever you need done, there’s a WordPress plugin for that!)

And, if by any chance this plugin has not been created yet, then it can most certainly be written for you at a reasonable cost.

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


"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group