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 Blog With PluginsOne of the main features of the WordPress platform is the ability to easily increase your WordPress web site’s functionality using applications called ’plugins’.

About Plugins

No doubt, you probably use a mobile phone. What happens when you would like to access something new on your phone like a new software or tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a little software application that is simple and easy to install and immediately adds new functionality to any smart phone.

A Non-Technical User's Guide To WP Plugins

(Just like there are social sharing apps for mobile devices …)

A plugin is similar to an app. You install a software application that adds new functionality to your site …

A Basic Guide To WP Plugins

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

Almost always, expanding the functionality of an existing web site involves additional cost. Depending on the complexity of the new features or enhancements, the cost can be significant, especially if it involves website development.

This also applies when developing a website or business blog. Organizations tend to spend up front on extra bells and whistles they probably will never need.

As part of sound strategic business planning, we suggest a cost-effective approach when growing a website and WP plugins are ideal for doing this.

Imagine if you could:

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

2) As new features are required, install new software modules with a couple of clicks of the mouse directly from within your WP dashboard area, giving your website or blog a completely new range of capabilities and functionality, and also …

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

Well, that’s precisely what plugins let you do!

Benefits Of Plugins

Earlier, we compared WP plugins with mobile apps. In the same way that many apps are free to download and some apps may cost a little money, the same is true of plugins.

In fact, thousands of fantastic plugins can be downloaded to your website for free.

Plugins that cost money are referred to as Premium plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the cost of investing in web development services to add the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins cost very little.

Also, as WordPress makes its code publicly available, anybody can create, modify and customize any portion of the WP code. This has allowed many professional web developers to enhance and contribute to the core software application.

  • Plugins allow you to start off with only a basic site and expand when required.
  • WordPress plugins allow you to add practically unlimited functionality to any website easily and inexpensively.
  • WordPress plugins give you almost endless expansion capabilities.
  • Plugins allow business owners to have a site that they can manage themselves.
  • Most plugins will normally work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your website instant new capabilities and enhancements.
  • Some plugins are a little more complex and may need some configuring.

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

Just like themes, loads of great WP plugins are currently available for WP users … for FREE!

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

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As previously mentioned, you will find WP plugins that will do almost anything you could think of.

There are WP plugins for:

  • Blog Management
  • Content Syndication
  • Increasing Site Visitors
  • User Engagement
  • Social Monitoring
  • Media Management Automation
  • Increasing Sales And Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data And System Analysis
  • Securing Your

You can enhance a WordPress site with plugins like:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Surveys
  • Managing ad banners
  • E-commerce (from managing single ordering with PayPal buttons, to complete e-commerce with shopping carts, payment processing, recurring billing, coupon codes, etc …)
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Membership sites
  • List-building subscription forms
  • Sales workflow
  • Mobile integration
  • Improving your website’s Search Engine Optimization
  • Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • User testimonial forms
  • Language translation (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your pages from English to Norwegian)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation
  • Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Cloud storage integration
  • Faster page loading
  • Event management
  • Business listing directories
  • Automatically sell and manage spots on your website
  • Set client appointments and reminders
  • Manage reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks on your pages and email you reports
  • Redirect users from missing pages to other pages on your site or other websites
  • Monitor what social media users are posting about your business
  • Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
  • Add sitemaps
  • Hide certain from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Protect post content sections
  • Import content from different publishing platforms
  • Perform bulk content edits
  • Block SPAM
  • Customize visitor commenting (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
  • Insert HTML and script elements into your posts
  • Add formatted tables
  • Display animated graphic elements and advanced text formatting options
  • Add and manage QR codes
  • Improve your local search listings on Google
  • Add a map
  • Distribute your posts automatically on social pages like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and many others
  • Show countdown timers (for special offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

As it’s clear to see, plugins give you practically endless business scalability. If you are currently planning to build a website or blog for your business, or your existing site wasn’t built with WordPress, then consider using it in the future.

If you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible plugins are, let me show you how you can benefit instantly by simply adding an inexpensive plugin to your web site.

For example, if you need content protection, you can use plugins to make an area of a post or page inaccessible, or create a full paid membership site with separate login details for every user …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As mentioned before, you can use free plugins to enhance your site in lots of ways. From installing features that enhance your business, your visitors’ experience and your understanding of what is taking place on your site …

A Basic Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

To increasing your business reach and visibility across various social sites and search engines …

A Useful Guide To WordPress Plugins

You can also add sophisticated functionality to your website using inexpensive premium WP plugins. For example, you can purchase plugins that automate processes on your site like user testimonial and event bookings management …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

And even set up a complete bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring programmers to build the same applications for you …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

Additionally, you can take advantage of native WP commenting features and plugins that will let you engage better with visitors, clients and registered site users …

A Useful Guide To WP Plugins

For example, your visitors can easily:

  • Post comments on your site (which can turn into online discussions) using either the native WP commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get displayed throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with increased exposure).
  • Bookmark your content on social networking sites.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage online directly with other customers via forums or even set up a private online social network on your domain.
  • Engage with members of your team via live webcam conferencing and chatroom facilities
  • Dial your business from their smart phones when visiting your website
  • Get help via a dedicated user helpdesk
  • And so much more …

A Practical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can even integrate sophisticated “back end” solutions using a WordPress “front end”. This allows you to manage the content that your visitors will see on your web site, while the third-party application handles the technological functions …

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

Useful Things You Should Know About Plugins

  • There are lots of WordPress plugins to choose from. Be careful of overloading your server with an excessive amount of plugins, as this will begin to affect your website’s performance and site loading speed. It can also create more maintenance work for you resulting from possible errors.
  • Only keep the plugins that you really use. Delete any plugins you don’t use from your site, as these use server resources.
  • Many free plugins typically come with very little to no support from the plugin developer. When choosing paid plugins, ensure that you do a little research first to understand what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to offering support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check our WP plugin reviews for additional 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 installing it. WordPress is updated regularly and older plugins that have not been updated can create issues.
  • Make sure that you always keep your plugins updated. Older plugins not only can cause errors and conflicts, they may also have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

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

One last thing about WordPress plugins:

Whatever functionality you want for your web presence, you can be sure that a plugin probably exists that will do what you want it to do, and that this plugin will either be available at no cost, or if it’s a premium plugin, that it will be surprisingly 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 any chance this WordPress plugin has not been created yet, then it can probably be coded for your business at a reasonable cost.

Hopefully, this post has given you a better understanding of WordPress plugins – what plugins are and how they can to improve your blog. See our related posts to learn about more great WordPress plugins that we recommend using.


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