WordPress Plugins Explained

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

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WordPress Plugins - Improving Your Web Site's FunctionalityOne of the most powerful features of the WordPress software is that you can easily enhance your WordPress website’s functionality using inexpensive called plugins.

About Plugins

Like most people, you probably have a cell phone. What do you do when you want to access 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 little software application that is very easy to install and adds new features and functionality to any mobile device.

A Newbie's Guide To WP Plugins

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

A plugin is like an app. You install a little piece of software that provides new functionality to your WP site …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

(… there are also social sharing plugins for WP users!)

Normally, if you want to expand the functionality of an already-built site, additional cost is involved. Depending on how complex the feature or enhancement is, things can become quite expensive, especially if web developers need to create new code or modify programs or develop programs to integrate into your current site.

This is also applicable to setting up a website. Organizations often fork out money in advance on bells and whistles they probably will never need.

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

Imagine if you could:

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

2) As the need arises, install new software modules with just a couple of clicks of the mouse directly from your dashboard section, and give your website or blog a completely new range of practical functionality, and also …

3) Cost not a single cent more to add to your website?

Well, this is exactly what plugins let you do!

Benefits Of Plugins

Earlier, we compared plugins with smartphone apps. Just like some apps are free to download and some apps cost a little bit of money, so do plugins.

In fact, loads of plugins can be downloaded to your website at no cost.

Plugins that you purchase are called Premium plugins. The good news, is that when you compare these to the price of paying for professional web development services to add the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins are priced quite low.

Also, because WordPress distributes its software as an Open Source application, anyone can create, edit and customize any part of the code. This has allowed many professional web development professionals to create more new applications that add new functionality to WordPress than you can imagine.

  • Plugins let you start off simply with a simple website and then expand if required.
  • Plugins let you add practically endless features to any web site easily, quickly and quite inexpensively.
  • Plugins give you practically unlimited expansion capabilities.
  • WP plugins allow ”non-techies” 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 website with instant new capabilities and functionality.
  • Some plugins are a little more advanced and could require some configuring.

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

Like WP themes, thousands of great WordPress plugins are currently available to WordPress users … often at $0 cost!

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

A Useful Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As previously mentioned, you will find WordPress plugins that can do almost anything you need done.

Plugin categories cover:

  • Blog Administration
  • Content Syndication
  • Web Traffic Generation
  • User Interactivity
  • Social Connectivity
  • Adding Media – Video, Graphics & Images, Podcasts, Multimedia, etc.
  • e-Commerce And Online Sales And Advertising Automation
  • Increasing Sales And Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data Reporting Tools
  • Website Optimization

You can enhance a business online presence with plugins like:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • User Surveys
  • Managing advertising banners
  • E-commerce (from managing single ordering with PayPal buttons, to enterprise scale e-commerce stores with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring payments, discount codes, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Private Membership sites
  • List-building opt-in forms
  • Sales funnels
  • 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 all content on your website from English to German)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation menus
  • Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Media integration
  • Faster page loading
  • Event management
  • Niche directories
  • Automatically sell advertising on your site
  • Set up client appointments and reminders
  • Manage reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks and email you reports
  • Redirect URLs
  • Monitor social signals
  • Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
  • Add sitemaps
  • Hide pages from showing on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Protect post content
  • Import content from non-WP applications
  • Search and replace data
  • Fight SPAM commenting
  • Customize guest comment displays (e.g. displaying Facebook discussions)
  • Insert scripts and script elements into your posts
  • Add formatted tables
  • Add animated graphic elements and advanced font display formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve your local search listings on Google
  • Add a map of your business location
  • Distribute your posts automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and many others
  • Display countdown timers (for special offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And hundreds of other features!

As it’s clear to see, WordPress plugins give you practically endless possibilities. If you are planning to build a website or blog for your business, or your existing web site isn’t built with WordPress, then consider getting a WordPress site or blog added to your domain, or you will be missing out on some serious functionality.

In case you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using plugins, let’s take a look at how you can benefit instantly by simply installing a plugin on your website.

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

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As mentioned previously, free plugins can be used to improve your web site in so many ways. From adding functionality that can enhance your business, your website visitors’ experience and your ability to review site metrics …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

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

A Non-Technical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also add advanced features to your website using relatively inexpensive paid WordPress plugins. For example, you can purchase plugins that automate features on your pages such as managing customer testimonials and event bookings …

A Beginner's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

And even run a custom bookings and reservations system online … all for a small fraction of the cost of hiring web developers to code custom functionality for you …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

Additionally, you can take advantage of built-in WordPress commenting features and plugins that can allow you to engage even more with your visitors, clients and registered site users …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

For example, your visitors can easily:

  • Post comments on your blog posts (which can turn into online discussions) using either the built-in WordPress commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get displayed throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with added exposure).
  • Bookmark your posts on social networks.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage online directly with other members through forums or even set up a private online social network on your own site.
  • Engage with members of your team through live webcam conferencing and chatroom facilities
  • Call your business directly from their cellphones while browsing your pages
  • Get support via a user help desk
  • And so much more …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

Finally you, can even integrate sophisticated “back end” solutions with a WP “front end”. This allows you to manage your business sales and marketing, while your 3rd-party application handles the technical side of things …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

Plugins – Some Useful Tips

  • There are loads of WordPress plugins to choose from. Be careful of overloading your site with too many plugins, as this can begin to affect your website’s performance and site loading times. It can also mean more maintenance work for you as a consequence of possible conflicts.
  • Only keep those plugins you really use. Delete inactive plugins from your site, as these also use resources.
  • Many free plugins typically receive little to no support from the plugin author. When choosing premium WP plugins, make sure you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to offering support, upgrades, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check some of our plugin recommendations 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. The WordPress software updates on a regular basis and older plugins that have not been updated can create issues.
  • Always upgrade your plugins to the most recent software version. Outdated plugin not only can cause errors and conflicts, they could also have security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Practical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

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

One last thing about plugins:

If there is a functionality you need for your web site, you can guarantee that a someone has probably already developed one that will do just what you want, and that this plugin can either be downloaded at no cost, 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 any chance such a WordPress plugin has not been created yet, then it can most certainly be created for your business at a reasonable cost.

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of plugins – what they are and how they can significantly expand your WordPress website. See our published posts to learn more about using WP plugins.

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