About WordPress Plugins
No doubt, you probably own a mobile phone. What happens when you want to access something new on your phone like a new game or a business tool?
You download and install an app!
An app is a little software that is really easy to install and instantly integrates new functionality into your mobile device.
(Just as there are social sharing apps for mobile devices …)
A plugin is really similar to an app. You simply download and install a little software application that adds new functionality to your website or blog …
(… there are also social sharing plugins for WP users!)
Normally, if you decide to expand the functionality of your website, additional cost is involved. Depending on how complex the features or enhancements are, this could become fairly expensive, especially if it involves website development.
This is also applicable when setting up a web site. Business owners sometimes invest in extra features they probably will never need.
For this reason, we suggest a cost-effective strategy to setting up a web site and WP plugins are ideal for doing this.
Imagine if you could:
1) Start simply with minimal cost involved. Get a professional-looking web site up and running fast, then …
2) As the need arises, simply install new software modules with only a couple of clicks of the mouse directly from your dashboard panel, to give your website a whole new range of practical capabilities, and also …
3) Cost not a single dollar extra to install on your site?
Well, this is just what a WordPress plugin enables you to do!
WP Plugins – Benefits & Advantages
We started this article by comparing WordPress plugins with apps. In a similar way that some apps are free to download and some apps may cost a little bit of money, the same applies to plugins.
In fact, thousands of plugins can be downloaded to your website for free.
Plugins that cost money are called “Premium” plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the cost of investing in web development services to get the same functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. ”paid”) plugins cost very little.
Also, as WordPress distributes its software as an Open Source application, anybody can create, edit and customize any portion of the code. This has enabled many third-party software development companies to enhance and contribute to the WPsoftware.
- WordPress plugins let you start off with a basic web site and then add new features and enhancements to your site as necessary.
- WP plugins allow you to add almost unlimited functionality to any site easily, quickly and quite cheaply.
- Plugins give your web site virtually unlimited expansion capabilities.
- Plugins allow non-technical website owners to own a digital presence 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 web site with immediate enhancements and features.
- Some plugins are a little more advanced and require some configuration.
Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Are) Completely FREE!
Like themes, loads of great plugins are available for WordPress users … and many of these great plugins are 100% FREE!
You can download thousands of WordPress plugins from the Free WordPress Plugin Directory …
As mentioned earlier, you can find WP plugins that will do almost everything you can think of.
There are WordPress plugins for:
- User Management
- Content Distribution
- Driving Site Visitors
- Visitor Engagement
- Social Connectivity
- Media Management Automation
- Improving Sales & Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data & System Monitoring & Reporting Applications
- Securing Your WordPress Site
You can enhance your website with plugins like the following:
- Contact forms
- Quizzes and polls
- User Surveys
- Rotating ad banners
- E-commerce (from managing single-item sales with PayPal buttons, to full scale e-commerce stores with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring payments, coupon codes, etc …)
- Social sharing buttons
- Membership sites
- Newsletter opt-in forms
- Sales funnels
- Mobile conversion
- Improving your website’s Search Engine Optimization
- Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- User testimonials
- Instant language translation (e.g. you can instantly change your site’s content 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 integration
- Faster page loading
- Managing events & bookings
- Business listing directories
- Automatically sell and manage advertising on your site
- Set appointments and appointment reminders
- Manage reservations and bookings
- Detect broken hyperlinks on your pages and send you reports
- Redirect web pages
- Monitor social signals
- Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
- Add sitemaps
- Exclude specific from showing on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
- Protect page content sections
- Import information from different publishing applications
- Perform bulk content edits
- Block SPAM
- Customize guest comment displays (e.g. display Facebook posts)
- Insert scripts and script elements into your content
- Add formatted tables
- Display animated graphics and advanced text formatting options
- Create and manage QR codes
- Improve your local search listings on Google
- Add location maps
- Publish your posts automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and others
- Display countdown timers (for expiring offers, coupons, etc …)
- Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
- And so many other features!
As you can clearly see, WP plugins give you endless possibilities. If you are planning to build a web site, or your existing web site was not built with WordPress, then consider using WordPress in the future.
If you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using plugins, let’s take a look at how you can benefit by adding a plugin to your site.
For example, if you want to publish content which is only accessible to some users, you can use plugins to make an area of your post or page inaccessible, or create a professional membership site with customized login details for every user …
As mentioned previously, you can use free plugins to improve your site in so many different ways. From adding features that enhance your business, your visitors’ experience and your understanding of what is happening on your site …
To increasing your site’s visibility across social media and search engines …
You can also add complex functionality to your site using inexpensive paid WordPress plugins. For example, you can buy plugins that integrate and automate functions on your website such as managing customer testimonials and event registration details …
And also set up a custom-branded bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a small fraction of the cost of paying software developers to create similar applications for you …
You can also take advantage of built-in WP commenting features and plugins that will allow you to engage in various ways with web visitors, customers and registered site users …
For example, your visitors can:
- Post comments on your site (which can turn into online discussions) using either the native WP commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then displayed throughout your visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site increased exposure).
- Share your content with other online visitors on social networks.
- Contact you via contact forms
- Engage in online discussions with your team members via forums or even set up a private social network on your own site.
- Engage with members of your team using live webcam conferencing and chatrooms
- Call your business directly from their laptops when browsing your website
- Open support tickets
- And much more …
You can even integrate sophisticated enterprise solutions within a WordPress “front end”. This lets you manage the content that your visitors see on your website, while your third-party application handles the technical side of things …
Some Useful Information About Plugins
- There are lots of great WordPress plugins available. Be careful of overloading your site with an excessive amount of plugins, as this can affect your site’s performance and site loading times. It can also mean more maintenance work for you as a result of potential conflicts and errors.
- Only keep the plugins you really need. Delete any plugins from your site, as these use server resources.
- Many free plugins typically receive little to no support from the plugin developer. When choosing premium WordPress plugins, we recommend that you check around a little and understand what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of our plugin recommendations for more information.
- If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a very long time (e.g. two years), then think carefully before installing it. WordPress updates on a regular basis and out-of-date plugins can cause issues.
- Ensure to always upgrade your plugins to their latest version. Older plugin not only can cause errors, they could also have security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malware.
As you can see, plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most popular content management solution available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to expand quickly without spending thousands of dollars on web developers.
One last thing regarding WordPress plugins:
If there is a feature or functionality you want for your website, you can guarantee that a someone has probably already authored one that will do exactly what you need, and that it will either be available at no cost, or if it’s a paid plugin, that it will be fairly affordable.
(Whatever you need done, there’s a WordPress plugin for that!)
And, if by any chance such a plugin is not available, then it can probably be coded for your business for a reasonable price.
Hopefully, this post has given you a better understanding of WordPress plugins – what plugins are and how they can significantly improve your website. See our published posts to learn about more useful WordPress plugins that we recommend using.
"I was absolutely amazed at the scope and breadth of these tutorials! The most in-depth training I have ever received on any subject!" - Myke O'Neill, DailyGreenPost.com