WordPress Plugins Explained

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

Add New Features And Functionality To Your Site With PluginsOne of the main features of the WordPress web site management software is that you can quickly and easily expand your WP site’s functionality using inexpensive called ’plugins’.

About Plugins

Like most people, you probably own a cell phone. What happens when you want access to something new on your phone like a new game or a new business productivity tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

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

A Practical Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

(Just like you can find social sharing apps for mobile devices …)

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

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

Generally, if you need to expand the functionality of your site, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the new feature or enhancement, this cost can be quite significant, especially if website developers have to add new code or edit programs or develop scripts to integrate with your existing set up.

This also applies when creating a website. Businesses will often invest up-front in extra components they probably will never need.

For this reason, we suggest a sustainable approach to developing your web presence presence and WP plugins are ideal for doing this.

Imagine if you could:

1) Start simply with minimal expense involved. Get a basic, professional-looking web presence up and running fast, then …

2) As more features are required, simply install new software modules with a few mouse clicks directly from within your WP admin section, and give your web site an entirely new and expanded range of useful capabilities, and also …

3) Cost not a single cent more to add to your site?

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

WordPress Plugins – Benefits And Advantages

We began this blog post by comparing WordPress plugins with mobile apps. Just like some apps are free to download and some apps cost a little money, the same applies with plugins.

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

Plugins that you have to buy are referred to as “Premium” plugins. The good news, is that when you compare the price of purchasing a Premium plugin to the price of hiring a professional web developer to get similar features and functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins are typically quite inexpensive.

Also, since WordPress makes its code publicly available, any web developer can create, edit and customize any part of the WP code. This has enabled thousands of professional software developers to create more applications that expand the WordPress software than you can probably imagine.

  • WordPress plugins let you start off with only a basic web site and expand when necessary.
  • WP plugins let you add almost endless functionality to your web presence easily and very inexpensively.
  • Plugins give your site practically unlimited expansion capabilities.
  • WP plugins allow non-technical website owners to have a digital presence that they can self-manage.
  • Most plugins typically work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your website immediate capabilities and features.
  • Some plugins provide more advanced options and could require some initial configuration.

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

Just like themes, thousands of great plugins are made available to WP users … often at $0 cost!

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

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you can find plugins that will do just about everything you could imagine.

Plugin categories cover:

  • Web Site Management
  • Content Distribution
  • Traffic
  • Visitor Interactivity
  • Social Monitoring
  • Media Management Automation
  • Improving Sales And Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data And System Monitoring & Reporting Applications
  • Optimizing Your

For example, you can expand your business online presence with plugins like:

  • Contact forms
  • Polls and quizzes
  • Surveys
  • Managing banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single ordering with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring payments, discount codes, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Private Membership sites
  • List-building opt-in forms
  • Sales funnels
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your site’s Search Engine Optimization
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • Customer feedback forms
  • Instant language translation (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your site from English to French)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation
  • Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Media management
  • Faster page loading
  • Event management
  • Business directories
  • Automatically sell spots on your site
  • Set up appointments and appointment reminders
  • Set up reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken links on your pages and email you reports
  • Redirect visitors from broken pages to other areas on your site or other websites
  • Monitor social conversations
  • Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
  • Add a site map
  • Hide pages from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide post content
  • Import data from other CMS applications
  • Perform bulk content replacements
  • Prevent SPAM
  • Customize guest commenting (e.g. display Facebook discussions)
  • Insert code and script elements into your posts and pages
  • Add formatted tables
  • Display animated graphics and advanced text formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google local search
  • Add a map
  • Post your posts automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and many others
  • Display countdown timers (for special offers, coupons, etc …)
  • Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And hundreds of other features!

As you can clearly see, plugins give you limitless possibilities. If you plan to build a web site, or your existing website wasn’t built with WordPress, then consider choosing WordPress in the future.

If you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible WP plugins are, let me show you some practical uses of adding a plugin to your site.

For example, if you need to publish content which is only accessible to some users, you can install plugins to make a section of your page inaccessible, or create a complete paid membership site with customized login details for every user …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As mentioned previously, free plugins can be used to enhance your website in so many ways. From installing features that can enhance your business, your website visitors’ experience and your understanding of what is taking place on your site …

A Guide To WP Plugins

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

A Guide To WP Plugins

You can also add sophisticated functionality to your site using relatively inexpensive paid WordPress plugins. For example, you can download plugins that automate tasks on your website like managing customer testimonials and booking events …

A Beginner's Guide To WP Plugins

And also set up a custom-branded bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring web developers to build similar functionality for you …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

You can also take advantage of built-in WordPress commenting features and plugins that will increase user engagement …

A Guide To WP Plugins

For example, your visitors can:

  • Post comments on your site (which can grow into online discussions) using either the built-in WP commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get shared throughout your visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with additional exposure).
  • Share your content with other online visitors on social media.
  • Contact you via contact forms
  • Engage in online discussions with other customers using forums or even set up an online social network on your site.
  • Engage with members of your team through live web conferencing and chatroom facilities
  • Dial your business from their cellphones when browsing your website
  • Open a support ticket
  • And much more …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

A Practical Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

Plugins – Additional Tips

  • There are so many useful plugins available. Be careful of overloading your site with an excessive amount of plugins, as this will begin to affect your site’s resources and page loading times. It can also create more maintenance issues for you as a consequence of potential errors.
  • Install only the plugins you really need to use. Delete any plugins from your site, as these also use server resources.
  • Many free plugins often come with little to no support from the plugin author. When choosing paid WP plugins, ensure that you check some reviews online and understand what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to providing support, updates, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of the plugin reviews we provide on this site for additional information.
  • If you see that an unsupported plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two years), then think carefully before installing it on your site. The WordPress platform is updated regularly and outdated plugins can create errors.
  • Always update your plugins to their most recent version. Older plugins not only can create errors, they may also have security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

As you can see, WP plugins are an important feature of WordPress and contribute to making it the most preferred content management system available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to add new functionality to their web presence without having to spend thousands of dollars on web development costs.

One last thing on the subject of WP plugins:

If there is a functionality you want for your web presence, you can guarantee that a WordPress plugin probably exists that will do what you want it to do, and that this plugin can either be accessed at no cost, or if it’s a premium plugin, that the cost will be reasonable.

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 WordPress plugin does not exist, then it can probably be created for your business at a reasonable cost.

Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of plugins – what they are and how they can help to improve your WP site. See our published posts to learn more about usingplugins.


"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)