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 WordPress Plugins To Enhance Your Site's FunctionalityOne of the main advantages of building an online business presence with the WordPress content publishing platform is that you can quickly and easily increase your WP website’s functionality using plugins.

About WordPress Plugins

No doubt, you most likely use a cell phone. What happens when you would like access to something new on your phone like a new software or a business productivity tool?

You download and install an app!

An app is a little piece of software that is easy to install and instantly integrates new functionality into your smart phone.

A Newbie's Guide To WordPress Plugins

(Just like you can find social sharing apps …)

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

A Non-Technical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

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

Generally, if you want to expand the functionality of a website, additional cost is involved. Depending on how complex the new feature or enhancement is, the cost can be fairly significant, particularly if website developers have to create new code or edit code or install scripts to integrate with your current site.

This also applies to creating a new website or business blog. Organizations often invest money in advance in features or customizations they may not need.

As part of sound strategic business planning, we suggest considering a cost-effective strategy when developing a website and WP plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine being able to:

1) Start simply and with minimal expense involved. Get a professional business web site up and running quickly, then …

2) As you need more features, simply install new software modules with a few mouse clicks directly from within your dashboard panel, giving your site a completely new range of features and functionality, and also …

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

Well, that’s just what WP plugins allow you to do!

WordPress Plugins – Benefits

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

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

WP plugins that you buy are referred to as Premium plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the price of paying for web development services to get similar functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins cost very little.

Also, since WordPress distributes its software as an Open Source application, any person can create, edit and customize any part of the WP code. This has allowed many third-party web development professionals to enhance the core WP software application.

  • WP plugins let you start off with a basic web presence and then add new features and enhancements to your site only when required.
  • WP plugins allow you to add almost endless functionality to any website quickly and very cheaply.
  • WordPress plugins give your site virtually endless expanding capabilities.
  • Plugins allow non-technical website owners to have a web presence that they can manage themselves.
  • Most plugins typically work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your web site new capabilities, enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins can be slightly more complex and may need some initial configuration.

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

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

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

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you can find WP plugins that can do just about anything you can imagine.

Plugin categories cover:

  • Web Site Administration
  • Content Management
  • Web Traffic Generation
  • Visitor Interactivity
  • Social Monitoring
  • Media Utilities Automation
  • Improving Website Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data Analysis
  • Securing Your

For example, you can add features to a WP site with plugins like the following:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • Social contests
  • Rotating ad banners
  • E-commerce (from managing single ordering with PayPal buttons, to enterprise scale e-commerce with online shopping carts, payment processing, recurring payments, coupons, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Private Membership sites
  • List-building opt-in forms
  • Sales workflow
  • Mobile integration
  • Improving your site’s Search Engine Optimization
  • Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • Customer feedback forms
  • Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change your website’s content from English to Norwegian)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation
  • Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Media integration
  • Faster page loading
  • Event management
  • Niche directories
  • Automatically sell and manage advertising on your website
  • Set appointments and appointment reminders
  • Manage reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken links and send you reports
  • Redirect website pages
  • Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
  • Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
  • Add sitemaps
  • Exclude pages from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide content on your posts and pages
  • Import data from non-WP applications
  • Perform bulk data replacements
  • Fight SPAM commenting
  • Customize visitor comment displays (e.g. display Facebook comments)
  • Insert HTML and code elements into your posts
  • Add and format tables
  • Add animated graphic elements and advanced text formatting options
  • Add and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google search
  • Add location maps
  • Post your content automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and others
  • Show countdown timers (for scarcity offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display personalized greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And hundreds of other features!

As you can clearly see, WP plugins give you practically endless possibilities. If you are currently planning to build a website or blog, or your existing website isn’t powered by WordPress, then consider choosing it in the future.

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

For example, if you want to publish private content, you can use plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on a post or page inaccessible, or create a complete paid membership site with separate login details for users …

A Newbie's Guide To WordPress Plugins

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

A Practical Guide To WordPress Plugins

To increasing your business reach and visibility across a number of social media and search engines …

A Guide To WP Plugins

You can also add advanced features to your site using inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can install plugins that integrate and automate functionality on your pages like user testimonial and event registration management …

A Non-Technical Guide To WordPress Plugins

And even set up a complete bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of paying web developers to build the same functionality for you …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

Additionally, you can take advantage of built-in WordPress commenting features and plugins that will make your site even more interactive …

A Guide To WP Plugins

For example, your visitors can:

  • Post 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 shared throughout a visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with increased exposure).
  • Share your posts with other online visitors on social networks.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage in online discussions with your support team through online forums or even set up an online social network on your own site.
  • Engage with your support team via live webcam conferencing and chatrooms
  • Call your business directly from their cellphones when browsing your website
  • Get support via a client support helpdesk
  • And so much more …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also integrate sophisticated “back end” applications with a WP “front end”. This lets you manage your business sales and marketing, while the third-party application handles the technical side of things …

A Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

Plugins – Additional Things To Know

  • There are loads of great WordPress plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your server with an excessive amount of plugins, as this will start to affect your site’s performance and site loading times. It can also create more maintenance issues for you as a result of possible conflicts and errors.
  • Install only the plugins you really plan to use. Delete all deactivated plugins from your site, as these use server resources.
  • Many free plugins often come with little to no support from the plugin developer. When choosing premium plugins, make sure you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to offering support, upgrades, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check some of the plugin reviews we publish on this site for more information.
  • If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two years), then think twice before using it. The WordPress software is updated on a frequent basis and older plugins can create issues.
  • Always maintain your plugins updated to the most recent version. Outdated plugin not only can cause errors, they could also contain security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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

One last thing regarding plugins:

Whatever feature you need for your website, you can guarantee that a plugin already exists that will do exactly what you want it to do, and that it will either be available for FREE, or if it’s a premium plugin, that the price 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 plugin does not exist, then a custom plugin that does exactly what you would like it to do can probably be coded for your business at a reasonable cost.

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


"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