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 WordPress Blog With PluginsOne of the main benefits of WordPress is that you can quickly expand your WP web site’s functionality using inexpensive called ’plugins’.

What Are WordPress Plugins?

No doubt, you probably own a device like a cell phone. What do you do when you want access to something new on your device like a new application, software or business tool?

You download and install an app!

An app is a little software application that is easy to install and instantly adds new functionality to any smart device.

A Practical Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

A WP plugin is really similar to an app. You install an application that provides new functionality to your WP web site …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

(… there are also social sharing plugins for WordPress sites!)

Normally, if you plan to add new features to an existing web site, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the new feature or enhancement, things could get quite expensive, particularly if it involves editing code.

This is also applicable when creating a website. Organizations tend to invest up-front in additional components they may not need.

For sound, strategic business planning reasons, we recommend considering a cost-effective strategy to setting up a web site and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine if you could:

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

2) As more features are required, you can install new software modules with just a couple of clicks of the mouse directly from within your dashboard panel, to give your site a whole new and expanded range of useful features, and also …

3) Cost not one cent extra to add to your website?

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

Plugins – Benefits

We began this article by comparing plugins with ’apps’. Just like many apps are free to download and some may cost a little bit of money, so do WordPress plugins.

In fact, loads of plugins can be downloaded and installed on your sites.

WordPress plugins that you have to buy are referred to as “Premium” plugins. The good news, is that when you compare the cost of purchasing a Premium plugin to the price of paying for professional web development services to get similar functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins are priced quite cheaply.

Also, since WordPress makes its code publicly available, anybody can create, rewrite and customize any portion of the code. This has enabled thousands of professional software developers to create more new plugins that add new functionality to WordPress than you can imagine.

  • WordPress plugins let you start off with only a simple yet professional web presence and add new features and enhancements to your site if necessary.
  • Plugins allow you to add almost endless functionality to your website quickly and cheaply.
  • WordPress plugins give your web site virtually unlimited expansion capabilities.
  • Plugins allow business owners to own a website that they can manage themselves.
  • Most plugins will typically work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to provide your site with instant new capabilities, enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins are a little more complex and require some configuration.

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

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

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

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you will find WP plugins that can do just about anything you want done.

There are plugins for:

  • Web Site Administration
  • Content Distribution
  • Web Traffic Generation
  • Visitor Engagement
  • Social Engagement
  • Adding Media Files – Videocasts, Graphics & Images, Audio, Multimedia, etc.
  • e-Commerce And Online Sales & Advertising Automation
  • Increasing Website Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data & System Monitoring & Reporting Applications
  • Optimizing Your WP Web Site

For example, you can enhance your WordPress site with plugins like:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Surveys
  • Display ad banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single sales with PayPal buttons, to full scale e-commerce with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring billing, discount codes, etc …)
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Membership sites
  • Newsletter subscription forms
  • Sales workflow
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your website’s Search Engine Optimization
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • Customer testimonials
  • Language translation (e.g. you can instantly change your site’s content from English to German)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation menus
  • Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Media integration
  • Making pages load faster
  • Event management
  • Business directories
  • Automatically sell and manage spots on your website
  • Set appointments and reminders
  • Manage reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken links on your pages and send you reports
  • Redirect web links
  • Monitor social conversations
  • Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
  • Add a site map
  • Exclude specific from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide content on your pages and posts
  • Migrate content from other publishing applications
  • Perform bulk content replacements
  • Prevent SPAM
  • Customize guest commenting (e.g. displaying Facebook comments)
  • Insert HTML and script elements into your posts
  • Add formatted tables
  • Display animated graphics and advanced text formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google search
  • Add a map of your business location
  • Publicize your content automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and many others
  • Display countdown timers (for special offers, coupons, etc …)
  • Display personalized greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so many other features!

As it’s clear to see, plugins give you virtually limitless possibilities. If you are planning to build a website or blog, or your existing web site isn’t built with WordPress, then consider choosing it in the future.

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

For example, if you need to publish private content, you can install plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on your post or page inaccessible, or create a full paid membership site with customized login details for users …

A Guide To WP Plugins

As mentioned previously, free plugins can be used to improve your business site in lots of different ways. From adding functionality that improve your business, your web users’ experience and your ability to review site data …

A Newbie's Guide To WordPress Plugins

To increasing your site’s reach across a number of social networks and search engines …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

You can also add advanced features to your site using inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can buy plugins that automate functions on your site such as displaying customer testimonials and booking events …

A Guide To WP Plugins

And even set up a custom-branded bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of paying programmers to create similar functionality for you …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

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

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

For example, your visitors can:

  • Leave 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, providing you with added exposure).
  • Share your posts with other web visitors on various social sites.
  • Contact you via contact forms
  • Engage online with other members using online forums or even set up an online community on your own site.
  • Engage with your team using live video chats
  • Dial your business from their mobile phones when browsing your pages
  • Open a support ticket
  • And much more …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

Finally you, can also integrate sophisticated enterprise-level solutions within a WordPress “front end”. This lets you manage your business sales and marketing, while the 3rd-party application handles the technological aspects …

A Non-Technical Guide To WordPress Plugins

Some Useful Things To Know About WordPress Plugins

  • There are many amazing plugins available. Be careful of overloading your site with an excessive amount of plugins, as this can affect your site’s resources and page loading speed. It also creates more maintenance issues for you resulting from potential conflicts.
  • Install only those plugins you really need. Delete any plugins from your site, as these use server resources.
  • Many free plugins typically come with little to no support from the plugin author. When choosing premium plugins, ensure that you do a little research first to 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 expert information.
  • If you see that an unsupported plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two years), then think carefully before using it. The WordPress application is updated on a frequent basis and out-of-date WP plugins can create problems.
  • Always maintain all plugins upgraded to the latest software version. Outdated plugin not only can create errors, they may also contain vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malicious users.

A Beginner's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As you can see, WP plugins are an important feature of WordPress and contribute to making it the most used content management system in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to add instant features to their web presence without spending thousands of dollars on outsourced web development costs.

One last thing on the topic of WP plugins:

If there is any feature you want for your web presence, you can be sure that a someone has probably already authored one that will do just what you want, and that it can either be accessed for FREE, 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 chance such a plugin does not exist, then it can probably be developed 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 expand your business blog. See our published posts to learn about more popular plugins that we recommend using.

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"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