What Are WP Plugins?
No doubt, you most likely have a mobile phone. What do you do when you want access to something new on your phone like a new game or tool?
Why, simple … you download and install an app!
An app is a software application that is simple and easy to install and adds new features and functionality to any mobile phone.
(Just like you can find social sharing apps for smart phones …)
A WP plugin is very similar to an app. You install and activate a software that adds new functionality to your web site …
(… you can also find social sharing plugins for WP sites!)
Generally, if you need to expand the functionality of a site, additional cost is involved. Depending on how complex the feature or enhancement is, this can become quite expensive, particularly if web developers need to add new code or edit templates or install programs that integrate with your existing site.
This also applies to creating a website or business blog. Business owners often invest up front for bells and whistles they probably will never need.
To reduce your costs, we suggest a modular approach when growing a website and WordPress plugins are ideal for doing this.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could:
1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get a basic, professional business website up and running fast, then …
2) As you need new features or functionality, add new applications with just a couple of mouse clicks directly from within your administration panel, and give your website or blog a completely new range of possibilities, and …
3) Cost not one dollar extra to add to your website?
Well, that’s just what a WordPress plugin allows you to do!
Plugins – Benefits
Earlier, we compared plugins with apps. In the same way that many apps are free to download and some apps cost a little money, the same applies to plugins.
In fact, loads of great plugins are available at no cost to users.
Plugins that you purchase are referred to as Premium plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the cost of investing in professional web development services to add similar functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins cost very little.
Also, because WordPress makes its code publicly available, any person can create, modify and customize any part of the WordPress code. This has allowed many third-party web developers to build more tools that expand the WordPress software than you can possibly imagine.
- WordPress plugins allow you to start simply with just a simple yet professional web site and then expand only if necessary.
- Plugins let you add almost unlimited functionality to your site quickly, easily and inexpensively.
- Plugins give you virtually endless expanding capabilities.
- WP plugins allow non-technical users to have a website that they can fully manage.
- Most plugins will typically work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to provide your web site with immediate capabilities and enhancements.
- Some plugins offer more advanced options and could require some initial configuring.
Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Of Them Are) 100% FREE!
Like many WordPress themes, loads of great plugins are available to WP users … and many of these great plugins are 100% FREE!
You can access thousands of plugins from the Free WP Plugin Directory …
As previously mentioned, you can find plugins that will do almost everything you could possibly need your website to do.
WordPress plugin categories cover:
- Site Administration
- Content Management
- Driving Site Visitors
- Visitor Engagement
- Social Connectivity
- Inserting Media – Video, Graphics, Audio, Multimedia, etc.
- e-Commerce And Online Sales And Marketing Automation
- Improving Website Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data And System Analysis Applications
- Website SEO
For example, you can enhance your website with plugins like:
- Contact forms
- Quizzes and polls
- Managing ad banners
- E-commerce (from setting up single sales with PayPal buttons, to full scale e-commerce with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring billing, coupons, etc …)
- Social media integration
- Private Membership sites
- Newsletter subscription forms
- Sales workflow
- Mobile integration
- Improving your website’s Search Engine Optimization
- Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- Customer testimonials
- Language translation (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 engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
- Cloud storage management
- Faster page loading
- Event management
- Business listing directories
- Automatically sell and manage spots on your site
- Set appointments and reminders
- Manage reservations and bookings
- Detect broken links and email you reports
- Redirect URLs
- Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
- Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
- Add sitemaps
- Exclude pages from showing on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
- Hide post content
- Import content from non-WP applications
- Perform bulk data edits
- Block SPAM
- Customize guest comment displays (e.g. displaying Facebook discussions)
- Inserting scripts and code elements into your pages
- Add and format tables
- Add animated graphics and advanced content formatting options
- Add and manage QR codes
- Improve Google local search
- Add a map of your business location
- Post your posts automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and others
- Display countdown timers (for scarcity offers, coupons, etc …)
- Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
- And so much more!
As it’s clear to see, plugins give you endless possibilities. If you plan to build a website for your business, or your existing site isn’t built with WordPress, then consider choosing it in the future.
In case you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible plugins are, let’s take a look at how you can benefit by simply adding a plugin to your website.
For example, if you want content protection, you can use plugins to make a section of a page inaccessible, or create a complete membership site with personal login details for all users …
As mentioned previously, you can use free plugins to enhance your website in so many different ways. From adding new features that improve your business, your site’s user experience and your ability to review site data …
To extending your business reach across many social networks and search engines …
You can also add complex features to your site using relatively inexpensive premium plugins. For example, you can purchase plugins that integrate and automate features on your pages such as customer testimonial and event registration management …
And also run a complete bookings and reservations system online … all for a small fraction of the cost of hiring web developers to code similar applications for you …
Additionally, you can take advantage of built-in WP commenting features and plugins that can make your site even more interactive …
For example, your web visitors can:
- Post comments on your site (which can grow into online discussions) using either the built-in WordPress commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get displayed throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with increased exposure).
- Share your content with other web visitors on social networks.
- Contact you via contact forms
- Engage online directly with other users through forums or even set up an online community on your own site.
- Engage with your team using live chats
- Call your business directly from their smart phones when visiting your website
- Open support tickets
- And so much more …
Finally you, can also integrate sophisticated enterprise applications using a WP “front end”. This enables you to manage the content that your visitors will see on your web site, while the third-party application handles the technological side of things …
WordPress Plugins – Additional Information
- There are many plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your server with an excessive amount of plugins, as this will begin to affect your website’s resources and site loading times. It also means more maintenance work for you resulting from potential conflicts and errors.
- Only keep the plugins that you really use. Delete any plugins you don’t need from your site, as these utilize additional server resources.
- Many free plugins typically come with little to no support from the plugin developer. When considering premium plugins, ensure that you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check our WP plugin recommendations for additional useful information.
- If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a very long time (e.g. two years), then think carefully before using it. The WordPress platform changes frequently and older plugins that have not been updated can cause problems.
- Make sure that you always maintain your plugins updated. Older plugin not only can cause conflicts, they may also contain security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malware.
As you can see, WordPress plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most powerful, flexible and scalable CMS in the world. 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 costs.
One last thing about plugins:
Whatever functionality you need for your website, you can be sure that a plugin already exists that will do just what you want, and that it can either be downloaded for FREE, or if it’s a paid plugin, that the price will be minimal.
(Whatever you need done, there’s a WordPress plugin for that!)
And, if by any chance this WordPress plugin does not exist, then a custom plugin that does precisely what you need it to do can probably be created for your business for a reasonable price.
Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of plugins – what they are and how they can enhance the functionality of your WP site. See our published posts to learn about more popular 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