No doubt, you most likely have a device like a smart phone. What happens when you want access to something new on your phone like a new application, game or a business tool?
Why, simple … you download and install an app!
An app is a little software application that is really easy to install and adds new functionality to your smart device.
(Just like there are social sharing apps …)
A plugin is very much like an app. You install and activate a software that adds new functionality to your site …
(… you can also find social sharing plugins for WP!)
Normally, adding a new feature to your website involves additional cost. Depending on the complexity of the features or enhancements, this can become quite expensive, especially if it involves modifying code.
This also applies to creating a website or business blog. Many businesses sometimes fork out money up front on additional components they may never need.
For this reason, we recommend using a sustainable strategy when setting up your web site and WordPress plugins are ideal for doing this.
Imagine being able to:
1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get a website up and running fast, then …
2) As more features become necessary, you can install new software modules with only a couple of clicks of the mouse that integrate seamlessly with your current site, to give your web site a whole new range of useful features, and …
3) Cost not one cent extra to download and install on your site?
Well, this is precisely what a WP plugin enables you to do!
Benefits & Advantages Of WP Plugins
We started this blog post by comparing WP plugins with smartphone apps. In the same way that some apps are free to download and some apps may cost a little bit of money, the same is true of plugins.
In fact, many plugins can be downloaded to your website for free.
WP plugins that cost money are referred to as ’Premium’ plugins. The good news, is that when you compare these to the cost of paying for professional web development services to get similar functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins cost very little.
Also, as WordPress makes its source code publicly available, anyone can create, modify and customize any part of the code. This has enabled thousands of professional web development professionals to enhance and contribute to the core software application.
- WordPress plugins allow you to get started with a simple web site and then expand only if required.
- WP plugins let you add practically endless features to any website quickly and quite cheaply.
- Plugins give your site practically endless expansion capabilities.
- Plugins allow ”non-techies” to own a website 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 or blog with instant new capabilities and functionality.
- Some plugins are slightly more complex and could require some initial configuration.
Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Are) Completely FREE!
Just like themes, loads of plugins are available for WP users … and many of these great plugins are 100% FREE!
You can view and download thousands of plugins from the Free WP Plugin Repository …
As mentioned earlier, you can find WP plugins that can do just about everything you could think of.
There are WordPress plugins for:
- User Administration
- Content Syndication
- Visitor Engagement
- Social Engagement
- Media Management Automation
- Improving Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data And System Reporting Tools
- Website Security
You can expand your business online presence with plugins like the following:
- Contact forms
- Quizzes and polls
- Rotating advertising banners
- E-commerce (from setting up single sales with PayPal buttons, to complete e-commerce stores with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring payments, discount codes, etc …)
- Social media integration
- Membership sites
- List-building opt-in forms
- Sales workflow
- Mobile integration
- Improving your website’s Search Engine Optimization
- Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- Customer testimonials
- Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your website from English to Portuguese)
- Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
- Custom navigation
- Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
- Cloud storage integration
- Making pages load faster
- Managing events & bookings
- Business listing directories
- Automatically sell spots on your site
- Set up appointments and appointment reminders
- Help customers make reservations and bookings
- Detect broken links and send you reports
- Redirect URLs
- Monitor social conversations
- Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
- Add sitemaps
- Hide pages from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
- Protect post content
- Migrate data from non-WordPress applications
- Search and replace content
- Block SPAM
- Customize guest discussions (e.g. displaying Facebook comments)
- Insert code and code elements into your site’s header or footer
- Add tables
- Display animated graphic elements and advanced text formatting options
- Create and manage QR codes
- Improve your local search listings on Google
- Add a map
- Post your content automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and many others
- Show countdown timers (for scarcity offers, coupons, etc …)
- Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
- And so many other features!
As you can clearly see, plugins give you practically limitless possibilities. If you plan to build a web site, or your existing website isn’t powered by WordPress, then consider using it 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 web site.
For example, if you want content protection, you can install plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on a post or page inaccessible, or create a professional paid membership site with separate login details for every member …
As mentioned before, free plugins can be used to enhance your web presence in lots of ways. From installing features that can improve your business, your visitors’ experience and your ability to analyze visitor metrics …
To increasing your site’s reach across many social sites and search engines …
You can also add complex features to your site using inexpensive premium WordPress plugins. For example, you can purchase plugins that integrate and automate functionality on your pages like user testimonial and event registrations management …
And also set up a custom-branded bookings and reservations system online … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring programmers to create similar applications for you …
Additionally, you can take advantage of native WP commenting features and plugins that will allow you to engage better with your web visitors, customers and registered site users …
For example, your web visitors can:
- Leave comments on your site (which can turn into online discussions) using either the native WordPress commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get displayed throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site added exposure).
- Share your posts with other web users on bookmarking sites.
- Contact you using contact forms
- Engage in online discussions with other users through online forums or even set up an online social network on your own site.
- Engage with your support staff through live web conferencing and chatroom facilities
- Dial your business directly from their smart phones while visiting your site
- Get help via a customer helpdesk
- And so much more …
Finally you, can even integrate complex third-party solutions with a WP “front end”. This enables you to manage the content that your visitors see on your site, while the 3rd-party application handles the technical aspects …
Plugins – Some Useful Things To Know
- There are many WordPress plugins available. Be careful not to overload your server with too many plugins, as this can start to affect your site’s performance and page loading times. It also means more maintenance issues for you resulting from possible conflicts and errors.
- Only keep the plugins you really use. Delete any plugins you don’t use from your site, as these use server resources.
- Many free plugins normally come with little to no support from the plugin author. When considering paid plugins, we recommend that you check some reviews online and understand what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check our WP plugin reviews for additional information.
- If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two or more years), then think twice before using it. The WordPress core software changes regularly and out-of-date WordPress plugins can cause errors.
- Ensure to always keep your plugins upgraded to the most recent version. Older plugin not only can create errors and conflicts, they could also have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malicious users.
As you can see, WP plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most preferred content open source software available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to expand quickly without spending thousands of dollars on web development costs.
One last thing about plugins:
Whatever functionality you want for your web presence, you can guarantee that a plugin probably exists that will do just what you want it to do, and that this plugin can either be downloaded at no cost, or if it’s a paid plugin, that it will be surprisingly affordable.
(Whatever you need done, there’s a WordPress plugin for that!)
And, if by any chance this plugin does not exist, then one can probably be written for your business for a very reasonable price.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of plugins – what plugins are and how they can enhance the functionality of your blog. See our related posts section to learn more about using WordPress plugins.
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