WordPress Plugins Explained

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

WordPress Plugins - Expanding Your Website's Features And FunctionalityOne of the main benefits of WordPress is that you can quickly and easily increase your WordPress web site’s functionality using inexpensive called plugins.

About WP Plugins

Like most of us, you probably use a device like a smart phone. What happens when you would like access to something new on your phone like a new game or a business productivity tool?

You download and install an app!

An app is a little software that is very simple and easy to install and adds new features to your mobile device.

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

(Just as there are social sharing apps …)

A plugin is really similar to an app. You download and install an application that adds new functionality to your WordPress site …

A Newbie's Guide To WP Plugins

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

Typically, if you plan to add a new feature to a site, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the feature or enhancements, this could become fairly expensive, especially if it requires editing code.

This is also applicable to setting up a new web site. Many businesses will often invest up-front for added bells and whistles they probably will never need.

To keep your business expenses low, we recommend a modular strategy to developing your web site and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could:

1) Start simply and with minimal expense involved. Get a professional-looking website up and running quickly, then …

2) As new features or functionality are required, simply install new applications with a couple of clicks of the mouse that integrate with your existing website, and give your website or blog an entirely new range of possibilities, and …

3) Cost not one cent extra to install on your site?

Well, this is just what WP plugins allow you to do!

Benefits Of WP Plugins

I began this post by comparing WordPress plugins with apps. In the same way that many apps are free to download and some apps may cost a little bit of money, so do plugins.

In fact, many plugins can be downloaded to your site at no cost.

WordPress plugins that you have to pay for are called Premium plugins. The good news, is that when you compare it 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 typically very inexpensive.

Also, since WordPress makes its source code publicly available, anybody can create, modify and customize any part of the code. This has enabled many professional software developers to create more plugins that plug seamlessly into the WordPress application than you can possibly imagine.

  • WP plugins allow you to get started with a simple site and expand only when necessary.
  • Plugins let you add almost unlimited features to any site quickly, easily and very cheaply.
  • Plugins give your web site almost unlimited expansion capabilities.
  • Plugins allow business owners to have a site that they can fully manage.
  • Most plugins will typically work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to provide your website or blog with instant new capabilities, enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins can be a little more advanced and may require some initial configuring.

Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Often) 100% FREE!

Like many themes, tens of thousands of great WordPress plugins are made available for WordPress users … for FREE!

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

A Non-Technical Guide To WordPress Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you can find WordPress plugins that can do almost anything you want done.

There are WP plugins for:

  • Web Site Management
  • Content Management
  • Traffic
  • Visitor Interactivity
  • Social Monitoring
  • Adding Media – Videos, Graphics & Images, Audio, Multimedia, etc.
  • e-Biz And Online Sales Automation
  • Improving Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data Reporting Tools
  • Optimizing Your

You can add features to a business online presence with plugins such as:

  • Contact forms
  • Polls and quizzes
  • Surveys
  • Display banners
  • E-commerce (from managing single-item ordering with PayPal buttons, to full scale e-commerce with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring billing, discount codes, etc …)
  • Social media integration
  • Membership sites
  • List-building opt-in forms
  • Sales workflow
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your site’s SEO
  • Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • Customer testimonials
  • Language translation (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your site from English to Portuguese)
  • 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
  • Faster page loading
  • Managing events
  • Niche directories
  • Automatically sell and manage advertising on your website
  • Set client appointments and appointment reminders
  • Manage reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken links on your pages and send you reports
  • Redirect visitors from missing pages to other pages on your site or other websites
  • Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
  • Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
  • Add a site map
  • Hide pages from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide page content
  • Migrate data from non-WordPress platforms
  • Search and replace content
  • Prevent SPAM commenting
  • Customize guest comment displays (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
  • Inserting code and script elements into your posts
  • Add tables
  • Display animated graphic elements and advanced content formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google local search
  • Add business location maps
  • Publish your posts automatically on social pages like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others
  • Display countdown timers (for special offers, coupons, etc …)
  • Display personalized greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

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

In case you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible WP plugins are, let’s take a look at some practical advantages of installing an inexpensive plugin on your website.

For example, if you want to protect your content, you can use plugins to make an area of your post inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a complete paid membership site with personal login details for users …

A Guide To WP Plugins

As mentioned previously, free plugins can be used to enhance your business site in lots of different ways. From installing features that improve your business, your web users’ experience and your ability to review website data …

A Guide To WP Plugins

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

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

You can also add advanced functionality to your site using inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can download plugins that integrate and automate tasks on your site such as displaying customer testimonials and booking events …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

And also set up a custom bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of paying programmers to code similar functionality for you …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

You can also take advantage of native WordPress commenting features and plugins that can allow you to engage better with visitors, clients and registered site members …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

For example, your visitors can easily:

  • Post comments on your site (which can grow into online discussions) using either the native WordPress commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then displayed throughout a visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site added exposure).
  • Share your posts with other online visitors on bookmarking sites.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage online with your team members using forums or even set up a private online community on your own site.
  • Engage with members of your team via live chats
  • Call your business directly from their smart phones while browsing your website
  • Open a support ticket
  • And much more …

A Basic Guide To WP Plugins

Finally you, can also integrate complex enterprise-level applications using a WP “front end”. This allows you to control your business sales and marketing, while your third-party application handles the technological functions …

A Basic Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

Additional Information About WP Plugins

  • There are loads of great WordPress plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your site with too many plugins, as this will inevitably affect your site’s resources and site loading speed. It can also mean more maintenance work for you resulting from possible conflicts.
  • Only keep those plugins that you really need. Delete any plugins from your site, as these utilize resources.
  • Many free plugins often come with very little to no support from the plugin developer. When considering premium plugins, make sure you check some reviews online and see what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to offering support, updates, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check our plugin reviews for more helpful information.
  • If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a very long time (e.g. two years), then think twice before using it on your website. WordPress updates frequently and older plugins that have not been updated can create problems.
  • Ensure that you always update your plugins. Older plugin not only can create conflicts, they could also have vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Guide To WP Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an important part of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most popular website management solution 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 web developers.

One last thing on the topic of WP plugins:

Whatever feature you need for your web presence, you can guarantee that a WordPress plugin currently 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 paid plugin, that it will be reasonably inexpensive.

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 plugin does not exist, then it can probably be created for your business for a very reasonable price.

Hopefully, this information has given you a better understanding of plugins – what plugins are and how they can help expand your WordPress web site. See our related posts section to learn more about using WP plugins.

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"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group

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For a white label version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.
Originally published as WordPress Plugins Explained.