WordPress Plugins Explained

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

WordPress Plugins - Expanding Your Web Site's CapabilitiesOne of the most powerful benefits of building an online presence with WordPress is that you can easily enhance your WP website or blog’s functionality using plugins.

What Are Plugins?

Like most people, you most likely use a device like a smart phone. What happens when you want to access something new on your device like a new application, software or a business tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a little software application that is very easy to install and integrates new features into any mobile phone.

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

(Just as you can find social sharing apps for smart phones …)

A WP plugin is like an app. You simply install and activate a software that adds new functionality to your WordPress website …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

Typically, if you want to add new features to an already-built web site, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the feature or enhancements, this can become quite expensive, particularly if it involves website development.

This is also applicable to developing a new web site. Businesses will often spend up-front on features they may never need.

To minimize expenses, we suggest using a modular strategy to developing a website and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine being able to:

1) Start simply with minimal expense involved. Get a professional web site up and running quickly, then …

2) As you need new features and functionality, simply install new applications with a couple of clicks of the mouse that integrate with your current site, and give your web site a whole new and expanded range of practical features and capabilities, and …

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

Well, this is exactly what a WordPress plugin lets you do!

Benefits Of Plugins

Earlier, we compared WP plugins with apps. Just like many apps are free to download and some cost a little money, the same is true of WP plugins.

In fact, many powerful plugins are freely available for WP users.

WP plugins that cost money are referred to as ’Premium’ plugins. The good news, is that when you compare these to the price of hiring a professional web developer to get the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins are typically very inexpensive.

Also, as WordPress makes its code available to everyone, any web developer can create, rewrite and customize any portion of the code. This has allowed many professional software development companies to create more tools that expand WordPress than you can imagine.

  • Plugins let you get started simply with only a simple website and then expand only when necessary.
  • WordPress plugins allow you to add practically unlimited functionality to your site easily and cheaply.
  • Plugins give your digital business presence practically endless expansion capabilities.
  • Plugins allow anyone to have a website that they can manage themselves.
  • Most plugins normally work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to provide your website with immediate capabilities and functionality.
  • Some plugins offer more extensive features and could require some initial configuration.

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

Like many themes, tens of thousands of plugins are available for WP users … often at $0 cost!

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

A Guide To WP Plugins

As previously mentioned, you will find plugins that can do almost anything you need a site to do.

Plugin categories cover:

  • Web Site Administration
  • Content Management
  • Web Traffic Generation
  • Visitor Interactivity
  • Social Monitoring
  • Media Management Automation
  • Improving Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data & System Reporting Applications
  • Securing Your

For example, you can add features to your website with plugins such as:

  • Contact forms
  • Polls and quizzes
  • Social contests
  • Managing ad banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single-item sales with PayPal buttons, to complete e-commerce with shopping carts, invoicing, recurring payments, coupons, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Private Membership sites
  • Newsletter opt-in forms
  • Sales funnels
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your site’s Search Engine Optimization
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User testimonials
  • Language translation (e.g. you can instantly change your website’s content from English to Spanish)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation menus
  • Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Cloud storage integration
  • Making pages load faster
  • Event management
  • Business directories
  • Automatically sell spots on your site
  • Set client appointments and reminders
  • Set up reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken links and email you reports
  • Redirect URLs
  • Monitor what social media users 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 post content
  • Import information from other CMS platforms
  • Search and replace content
  • Block SPAM
  • Customize visitor discussions (e.g. displaying Facebook comments)
  • Inserting code and code elements into your pages
  • Add and format tables
  • Display animated graphics and advanced text formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve your local search listings on Google
  • Add location maps
  • Post your posts automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and many others
  • Show countdown timers (for scarcity offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And hundreds of other features!

As you can clearly see, WordPress plugins give you endless business flexibility. If you are planning to build a website or blog for your business, or your existing website was not built using WordPress, then consider choosing it in the future.

In case you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible WordPress plugins are, let’s take a look at how you can benefit by simply adding a plugin to your site.

For example, if you want content protection, you can install plugins to make a section of your page inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a full membership site with customized login details for users …

A Beginner's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As mentioned previously, free plugins can be used to enhance your site in so many ways. From installing features that enhance your business, your visitors’ experience and your ability to review website data …

A Newbie's Guide To WP Plugins

To extending your site’s reach and visibility across a number of social sites and search engines …

A Guide To WP Plugins

You can also add sophisticated features to your site using relatively inexpensive premium plugins. For example, you can buy plugins that integrate and automate tasks on your pages such as displaying customer testimonials and booking events …

A Guide To WP Plugins

And also run a custom bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a small fraction of the cost of paying software developers to build the same applications for you …

A Non-Technical User's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also take advantage of native WP commenting features and plugins that will increase your site’s interactivity …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

For example, your visitors can:

  • Leave comments on your blog posts (which can grow into online discussions) using either the native WordPress commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get shared throughout a visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with additional exposure).
  • Bookmark your content on various social sites.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage online with other online users using online forums or even set up a private online social network on your own domain.
  • Engage with your team through live web conferencing and chatroom facilities
  • Call your business directly from their cellphones while visiting your site
  • Get help and support via a dedicated customer help desk
  • And much more …

A Practical Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

You can even integrate complex enterprise-level applications with a WordPress “front end”. This allows you to manage the content that your visitors will see on your web site, while your 3rd-party application handles the technical areas …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

Plugins – Some Useful Information

  • There are many plugins available. Be careful not to overload your site with an excessive amount of plugins, as this will eventually affect your website’s resources and site loading speed. It can also create more maintenance work for you resulting from potential errors.
  • Only keep the plugins that you really use. Delete inactive plugins from your site, as these also utilize resources.
  • Many free plugins normally come with little to no support from the plugin author. When choosing premium WordPress plugins, we recommend that you check some reviews online and see what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of our WordPress 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. The WordPress platform is updated frequently and older plugins that have not been updated can cause errors.
  • Ensure to always update your plugins. Older plugin not only can create issues, they may also have vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most downloaded CMS available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to add instant features to their website without having to spend thousands of dollars on outsourced web development costs.

One last thing on the subject of plugins:

If there is any feature or functionality you want for your web site, you can guarantee that a plugin already exists that will do what you need it to do, and that this plugin will either be available for FREE, or if it’s a paid plugin, that the cost to buy it will be minimal.

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 WP plugin has not been created yet, then one can most certainly be coded for your business at a reasonable cost.

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of WordPress plugins – what they are and how they can help enhance the functionality of your WP site. See our published posts to learn about more popular WordPress 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