WordPress Plugins Explained

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

Using WP Plugins To Expand Your Site's CapabilityOne of the main advantages of choosing WordPress is that you can quickly and easily enhance your WordPress web site’s functionality using applications called plugins.

Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a software that is simple and easy to install and integrates new features and functionality into any smart phone.

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

A plugin is very much like an app. You simply install and activate a software application that provides new functionality to your website …

A Non-Technical Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

Typically, if you decide to add a new feature to an already-built site, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the features or enhancements, the cost can be significant, especially if it involves website development.

This also applies when developing a new web site. Companies tend to pay for components they may not ever need.

For this reason, we suggest a cost-effective strategy when setting up a web presence presence and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine being able to:

1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get a professional business website up and running quickly, then …

2) As the need for new features or functionality arises, install new software modules with a few clicks of the mouse directly from within your WordPress administration area, giving your website a completely new and expanded range of possibilities, and also …

3) Cost not a single cent more to download and install on your web site?

Well, that’s precisely what WordPress plugins allow you to do!

Benefits And Advantages Of Using WP Plugins

I began this post by comparing WP plugins with ’apps’. In a similar way that many apps are free to download and some cost a little bit of money, the same is true with plugins.

In fact, many plugins are available at no cost to users.

Plugins that you buy are referred to as ’Premium’ plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the cost of hiring a professional web developer to get the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium plugins are generally quite inexpensive.

Also, since WordPress distributes its software as an Open Source application, any person can create, rewrite and customize any part of the code. This has allowed many third-party web developers to create more new plugins that enhance WordPress than you can probably imagine.

  • WP plugins allow you to start off with only a simple yet professional online business presence and then expand when required.
  • WordPress plugins let you add practically unlimited functionality to any website quickly and inexpensively.
  • Plugins give your website virtually endless expanding capabilities.
  • WordPress plugins allow business owners to own a site that they can fully manage.
  • Most plugins typically work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to provide your web site with new capabilities and functionality.
  • Some plugins provide more extensive features and may require some configuration.

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

Just like themes, tens of thousands of great WP plugins are made available to WordPress users … for FREE!

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

A Practical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As previously mentioned, you will find plugins that will do almost everything you can imagine.

WP plugin categories cover:

  • User Management
  • Content Syndication
  • Online Traffic Generation
  • Visitor Engagement
  • Social Connectivity
  • Media Management Automation
  • Improving Website Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data & System Reporting
  • Site Optimization

You can enhance a WordPress site with plugins like the following:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Surveys
  • Managing banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single-item sales with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce stores with shopping carts, invoicing, recurring billing, coupon codes, etc …)
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Membership sites
  • List-building subscription forms
  • Sales workflow
  • Mobile integration
  • Improving your website’s SEO
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User testimonials
  • Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change your site’s content from English to Spanish)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation
  • Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Offline storage integration
  • Making pages load faster
  • Event management
  • Business listing directories
  • Automatically sell and manage spots on your blog
  • Set appointments and reminders
  • Help customers make reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks and send you reports
  • Redirect URLs
  • Monitor social signals
  • Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
  • Add a site map
  • Exclude pages from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
  • Protect content on your pages and posts
  • Import content from different publishing applications
  • Perform bulk content edits
  • Prevent SPAM commenting
  • Customize visitor comment displays (e.g. displaying Facebook comments)
  • Inserting HTML and script elements into your site’s header and footer
  • Add formatted tables
  • Display animated graphics and advanced font display formatting options
  • Add and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google local search
  • Add a map of your business location
  • Post your content automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and others
  • Show countdown timers (for special offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so many other features!

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

In case you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using WP plugins, let me show you how you can benefit instantly by simply installing an inexpensive plugin on your website.

For example, if you need content protection, you can install plugins to make a section of a post inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a professional paid membership site with separate login details for users …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

As mentioned before, free plugins can be used to enhance your web presence in so many different ways. From adding features that can enhance your business, your web users’ experience and your understanding of what is taking place on your site …

A Practical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

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

A Beginner's Guide To WP Plugins

You can also add sophisticated features to your website using inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can download plugins that integrate and automate processes on your site such as user feedback and event registrations management …

A Newbie's Guide To WP Plugins

And also run a complete bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of paying programmers to create the same applications for you …

A Practical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also take advantage of native WP commenting features and plugins that can make your site even more interactive …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

For example, your web visitors can easily:

  • Post comments on your site (which can grow into online discussions) using either the native WP commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get shared throughout your visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site added exposure).
  • Bookmark your posts on social media.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage in online discussions with your team using forums or even set up an online community on your own site.
  • Engage with your support staff through live video chats
  • Call your business directly from their mobile phones when visiting your site
  • Get help and support via a dedicated customer help desk
  • And so much more …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

You can even integrate complex “back end” applications using a WordPress “front end”. This enables you to control the content that your visitors see on your site, while the 3rd-party application handles the technological areas …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

Useful Information About Plugins

  • There are many plugins available. Be careful not to overload your site with too many plugins, as this will start to affect your website’s resources and site loading times. It can also mean more maintenance work for you resulting from potential conflicts.
  • Install only the plugins you really use. Delete inactive plugins from your site, as these utilize server resources.
  • Many free plugins typically come with very little to no support from the plugin developer. When choosing premium WordPress plugins, make sure you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of our plugin reviews for more information.
  • If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a very long time (e.g. two or more years), then think carefully before using it. The WordPress platform is updated on a regular basis and older plugins that have not been updated can create errors.
  • Make sure to always update your plugins to their most recent version. Outdated plugins not only can cause errors, they may also have security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Basic Guide To WP Plugins

As you can see, WordPress plugins are an important part of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most preferred online open source solution in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to expand quickly without having to spend thousands of dollars on outsourced web development costs.

One last thing about WP plugins:

If there is a functionality you want for your website, you can guarantee that a WP plugin already exists that will do what you want, and that this plugin can either be downloaded for FREE, or if it’s a premium plugin, that the cost 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 chance this WordPress plugin is not available, then it can probably be coded for you for a very reasonable price.

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of plugins – what plugins are and how they can enhance the functionality of your web site. See our related posts section to learn more about usingplugins.


"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now