What Are WordPress Plugins?
No doubt, you most likely have a device like a cell phone. What do you do when you would like to access something new on your phone like a new application, software or a business productivity tool?
You download and install an app!
An app is a little piece of software that is very easy to install and integrates new functionality into any mobile device.
(Just as you will find social sharing apps …)
A plugin is very much like an app. You install and activate a little software application that provides new functionality to your WordPress website or blog …
(… you can also find social sharing plugins for WP users!)
Normally, if you plan to expand the functionality of your website, additional cost is involved. Depending on how complex the features or enhancements are, this cost can be significant, especially if it requires website development.
This is also applicable when developing a new website or business blog. Many business owners tend to spend money upfront on components they probably will never need.
To keep costs to a minimum, we recommend considering a sustainable strategy when growing a web site and WP plugins are ideal for doing this.
Imagine being able to:
1) Start simply with minimal cost involved. Get a professional website up and running quickly, then …
2) As the need for new capabilities arises, add new applications with a couple of mouse clicks that integrate seamlessly with your web site, giving your website or blog an entirely new and expanded range of possibilities, and …
3) Cost not one dollar extra to add to your site?
Well, this is exactly what plugins let you do!
Plugins – Benefits
I started this blog post by comparing WordPress plugins with apps. Just like many apps are free to download and some apps may cost a little bit of money, the same applies with WordPress plugins.
In fact, many fantastic plugins can be downloaded to your site at no cost.
WP plugins that cost money are called “Premium” plugins. The good news, is that when you compare these to the price of investing in professional web development services to add the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium plugins cost very little.
Also, as WordPress makes its source code available to everyone, anybody can create, rewrite and customize any part of the code. This has enabled thousands of professional software development companies to build more plugins that enhance the WordPress software than you can imagine.
- Plugins let you get started with a simple web site and then expand as required.
- Plugins let you add practically unlimited features to your website easily, quickly and cheaply.
- WordPress plugins give your site virtually endless expanding capabilities.
- WP plugins allow ”non-techies” to have a site that they can manage themselves.
- Most plugins will work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to provide your website with immediate capabilities and functionality.
- Some plugins provide more advanced options and may need some configuration.
WordPress Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Often) Completely FREE!
Just like WordPress themes, loads of plugins are available for WordPress users … often at no cost!
You can download thousands of plugins from the Free WordPress Plugin Directory …
As mentioned earlier, you will find plugins that can do almost everything you could imagine.
There are plugins for:
- Blog Administration
- Content Syndication
- Web Traffic Generation
- Visitor Interactivity
- Social Engagement
- Managing Media Files – Videocasts, Images, Audio, Multimedia, etc.
- e-Commerce And Online Sales Automation
- Increasing Sales And Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data & System Reporting Applications
- Optimizing Your
For example, you can expand your business online presence with plugins like the following:
- Contact forms
- Polls and quizzes
- Social contests
- Managing ad banners
- E-commerce (from managing single-item ordering with PayPal buttons, to complete e-commerce with shopping carts, payment processing, recurring billing, coupons, etc …)
- Social sharing buttons
- Membership sites
- Newsletter opt-in forms
- Sales workflow
- Mobile integration
- Improving your website’s SEO
- Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- User testimonial forms
- Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your pages from English to Spanish)
- Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
- Custom navigation menus
- Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
- Media management
- Making pages load faster
- Event management
- Business listing directories
- Automatically sell spots on your website
- Set up appointments and reminders
- Manage reservations and bookings
- Detect broken hyperlinks on your pages and email you reports
- Redirect users from broken pages to other pages on your site or other websites
- Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
- Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
- Add a site map
- Exclude pages from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
- Protect content on your posts and pages
- Import information from other publishing platforms
- Perform bulk content replacements
- Fight SPAM
- Customize visitor commenting (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
- Insert code and script elements into your posts, pages and sidebar menus
- Add and format tables
- Display animated graphic elements and advanced font display formatting options
- Create and manage QR codes
- Improve Google local search
- Add a map
- Post your posts automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and others
- Show countdown timers (for scarcity offers, discount coupons, etc …)
- Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
- And hundreds of other features!
As you can clearly see, WordPress plugins give you endless business scalability. If you plan to build a web site, or your existing website was not built with WordPress, then consider getting one added to your domain, or you will be missing out on some serious functionality.
In case 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 website.
For example, if you need to protect your content, you can install plugins to make a section of a post inaccessible, or create a full membership site with personal login details for each user …
As mentioned before, you can use free plugins to enhance your web site in lots of different ways. From adding new features that will improve your business, your site’s user experience and your understanding of what is taking place on your site …
To extending your site’s reach and visibility across social networks and search engines …
You can also add advanced features to your website using inexpensive paid WP plugins. For example, you can purchase plugins that automate functions on your site like customer testimonial and event bookings management …
And also run a custom-branded bookings and reservations system online … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of paying programmers to create the same applications for you …
You can also take advantage of native WP commenting features and plugins that will let you engage in various ways with visitors, customers and registered site users …
For example, your web visitors can:
- Post comments on your blog posts (which can grow into online discussions) using either the built-in WP commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then displayed throughout a 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 directly with other online users through forums or even set up an online community on your own domain.
- Engage with members of your team via live video chats
- Call your business directly from their laptops when browsing your website
- Get help and support via a dedicated client help desk
- And much more …
Finally you, can also integrate complex “back end” applications within a WP “front end”. This allows you to control your business sales and marketing, while the third-party application handles the technical functions …
Plugins – Useful Information
- There are lots of awesome plugins available. Be careful of overloading your server with an excessive amount of plugins, as this can start to affect your website’s performance and page loading times. It can also create more maintenance work for you as a result of potential conflicts and errors.
- Install only those plugins that you really use. Delete any plugins you don’t use from your site, as these also consume resources.
- Many free plugins typically receive little to no support from the plugin author. When considering premium plugins, ensure that you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to providing support, updates, new features, etc. Be sure to check our plugin reviews 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 on your site. The WordPress software updates frequently and outdated WP plugins can cause conflicts.
- Make sure to always keep your plugins up-to-date. Older plugins not only can cause issues, they may also contain security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malicious users.
As you can see, WordPress plugins are an important component of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most powerful, flexible and scalable 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.
One last thing regarding WP plugins:
If there is any feature or functionality you want for your website, you can guarantee that a someone has probably already developed one that will do what you need, and that it can either be downloaded at no cost, or if it’s a premium plugin, that it will be fairly inexpensive.
(Whatever you need done, there’s a WordPress plugin for that!)
And, if by chance such a WordPress plugin has not been created yet, then it can probably be developed for you for a very reasonable price.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of WP plugins – what they are and how they can significantly improve your business blog. See our related posts section to learn more about usingplugins.
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