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 - Improve Your Site's CapabilityOne of the main features of the WordPress software is that you can quickly expand your WP website or blog’s functionality using inexpensive called plugins.

What Are Plugins?

Like most of us, you most likely use a smart phone. What do you do when you want to access something new on your device like a new game or a productivity tool?

You download and install an app!

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

A Guide To WP Plugins

(Just like you will find social sharing apps …)

A WP plugin is like an app. You download and install a software application that adds new functionality to your site …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

Almost always, adding new features to a site involves additional cost. Depending on how complex the features or enhancements are, the cost can be fairly significant, particularly if web developers have to create new code or modify programs or install programs to integrate into your existing set up.

This is also applicable to setting up a website or business blog. Businesses will often spend money on bells and whistles they may not ever need.

For this reason, we suggest using a cost-effective approach when developing your website and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine being able to:

1) Start simply and with minimal expense involved. Get your business web presence up and running quickly, then …

2) As new features and functionality are required, add new applications with a few clicks of the mouse directly from within your admin section, and give your web site an entirely new and expanded range of possibilities, and also …

3) Cost not one dollar extra to add to your site?

Well, that’s precisely what a plugin enables you to do!

Plugins – Benefits

Earlier, we compared plugins with mobile apps. In a similar way that many apps are free to download and some cost a little bit of money, so do WordPress plugins.

In fact, loads of plugins can be installed on your websites.

Plugins that you have to buy are referred to as Premium plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the price of hiring a professional web developer to add the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins cost very little.

Also, as WordPress distributes its software as an Open Source application, any web developer can create, rewrite and customize any part of the code. This has enabled thousands of professional software developers to create more new applications that expand WordPress than you can possibly imagine.

  • WordPress plugins let you get started with a simple yet professional online business presence and then expand only if required.
  • WordPress plugins allow you to add practically unlimited features to any website easily and really cheaply.
  • WP plugins give your digital presence practically unlimited expanding capabilities.
  • Plugins allow ”non-techies” to have a website that they can self-manage.
  • Most plugins will work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to provide your web site with immediate capabilities and enhancements.
  • Some plugins can be slightly more advanced and could require some initial configuration.

Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Often) 100% FREE!

Like WordPress themes, thousands of plugins are available to WP users … often at no cost!

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

A Beginner's Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you will find plugins that will do almost everything you need done.

There are WP plugins for:

  • User Management
  • Content Management
  • Increasing Site Visitors
  • User Interactivity
  • Social Media
  • Uploading Media Files – Video, Graphics, Podcasts, Multimedia, etc.
  • e-Biz And Online Sales And Advertising Automation
  • Increasing Website Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data Analysis Tools
  • WP SEO

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

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Social contests
  • Rotating banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single sales with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce stores with online shopping carts, payment processing, recurring payments, discount codes, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Private Membership sites
  • List-building opt-in forms
  • Sales funnels
  • Mobile integration
  • Improving your site’s SEO
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • Customer feedback forms
  • Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your site from English to Spanish)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation menus
  • Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Cloud storage management
  • Making pages load faster
  • Event management
  • Business directories
  • Automatically sell advertising on your blog
  • Set appointments and appointment reminders
  • Automate reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks on your pages and send you reports
  • Redirect affiliate pages
  • Monitor social conversations
  • Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
  • Add a site map
  • Hide pages from showing on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide content on your pages and posts
  • Migrate data from different publishing platforms
  • Perform bulk content edits
  • Block SPAM
  • Customize visitor comment displays (e.g. display Facebook comments)
  • Insert code and code elements into your posts, pages and sidebars
  • Add formatted tables
  • Display animated graphics and advanced text formatting options
  • Add and manage QR codes
  • Improve your local search listings on Google
  • Add a map of your business location
  • Post your posts automatically on social pages like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and others
  • Show countdown timers (for scarcity offers, coupons, etc …)
  • Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And hundreds of other features!

As you can clearly see, WP plugins give you virtually endless business flexibility. If you plan to build a web site for your business, or your existing website wasn’t built with WordPress, then consider choosing it in the future.

In case you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using WordPress plugins, let me show you how you can benefit by adding a plugin to your website.

For example, if you want to protect your content, you can install plugins to make an area of a page inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a professional membership site with personal login details for all users …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

As mentioned before, you can use free plugins to improve your web presence in lots of ways. From installing new features that can improve your business, your web users’ experience and your understanding of what is happening on your site …

A Practical Guide To WordPress Plugins

To extending your business reach across social networks and search engines …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

You can also add sophisticated functionality to your site using relatively inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can buy plugins that automate processes on your pages like managing customer testimonials and event bookings …

A Beginner's Guide To WordPress Plugins

And even run a custom-branded bookings and reservations system online … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of paying web developers to build custom applications for you …

A Useful Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

Additionally, you can take advantage of built-in WordPress commenting features and plugins that can let you engage in various ways with web visitors, customers and registered site users …

A Guide To WP Plugins

For example, your web visitors can easily:

  • Leave comments on your blog posts (which can turn into online discussions) using either the native WP commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then displayed throughout your visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with added exposure).
  • Bookmark your posts on social networking sites.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage in online discussions with other online users using online forums or even set up a private community on your own domain.
  • Engage with members of your team through live web conferencing and chatroom facilities
  • Dial your business directly from their mobile phones while browsing your website
  • Get help via a dedicated customer help desk
  • And so much more …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

Finally you, can even integrate sophisticated “back end” applications with a WP “front end”. This allows you to manage the content that your visitors will see on your website, while your third-party application handles the technological side of things …

A Practical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

Some Useful Information About WP Plugins

  • There are lots of plugins available. Be careful not to overload your site with an excessive amount of plugins, as this will start to affect your site’s performance and site loading times. It also means more maintenance work for you resulting from possible errors.
  • Only keep the plugins that you really use. Delete any plugins you don’t need from your site, as these utilize server resources.
  • Many free plugins normally receive very little to no support from the plugin developer. When choosing paid WordPress plugins, ensure that you do a little research first to understand what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to offering support, updates, new features, etc. Be sure to check the plugin reviews we provide on this site for additional helpful information.
  • If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a very long time (e.g. two years), then think carefully before installing it. The WordPress core application changes often and outdated WP plugins can create problems.
  • Ensure to always update your plugins to their most recent software version. Older plugin not only can cause errors, they may also contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malicious users.

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an important component of WordPress and contribute to making it the most preferred content management system available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to expand quickly without spending thousands of dollars on outsourced web development costs.

One last thing about WordPress plugins:

If there is any feature you want for your web presence, you can guarantee that a plugin already exists that will do exactly what you need, and that it will either be available at no cost, or if it’s a paid plugin, that the price 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 chance such a WordPress plugin is not available, then one can most certainly be written for your business for a reasonable price.

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of WordPress plugins – what they are and how they can significantly to improve your blog. See our related posts to learn more about usingplugins.


"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum