A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

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WordPressOne of the main advantages of building a website using WordPress is the ability to quickly and easily enhance your WordPress website or blog’s functionality using plugins.

About WordPress Plugins

No doubt, you probably own a device like a smart phone. What do you do when you want to access something new on your device like a new application, game or a new business tool?

You download and install an app!

An app is a little piece of software that is very simple and easy to install and immediately integrates new features into a mobile phone.

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

(Just as you can find social sharing apps …)

A WP plugin is like an app. You simply install a little piece of software that adds new functionality to your WordPress site …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

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

Generally, adding a new feature to an already-built web site involves additional cost. Depending on how complex the new feature or enhancement is, things can become quite expensive, particularly if it involves modifying code.

This is also applicable when developing a website or business blog. Companies will often invest up front for added features they may never need.

As part of sound strategic business planning, we suggest considering a cost-effective strategy to developing your web site and WP plugins are ideal for doing this.

Imagine if you could:

1) Start simply with minimal expense involved. Get a professional web presence up and running fast, then …

2) As the need for new features arises, add new software modules with just a couple of mouse clicks that integrate seamlessly with your site, giving your web site an entirely new and expanded range of features and functionality, and …

3) Cost not a single dollar extra to install on your site?

Well, that’s exactly what WP plugins let you do!

WordPress Plugins – Benefits And Advantages

We started this blog post by comparing plugins with apps. In a similar way that some apps are free to download and some may cost a little bit of money, the same applies to WordPress plugins.

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

Plugins that you have to buy are referred to as “Premium” plugins. The good news, is that when you compare it to the price of investing in professional web development services to add the same functionality on your site, most Premium plugins are typically quite inexpensive.

Also, because WordPress makes its source code publicly available, anyone can create, edit and customize any portion of the code. This has enabled many professional software development professionals to enhance the core software application.

  • Plugins let you start off with a basic site and then expand only if required.
  • Plugins allow you to add almost endless functionality to your web presence easily and cheaply.
  • WP plugins give your site virtually unlimited expanding capabilities.
  • WordPress plugins allow “non-techies” to have a website that they can self-manage.
  • Most plugins will work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to provide your site with immediate capabilities, enhancements and functionality.
  • Some plugins provide more extensive features and may require some initial configuration.

WP Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Are) Completely FREE!

Just like WordPress themes, loads of plugins are currently available for WP users … often at $0 cost!

You can access thousands of WordPress plugins from the Free WP Plugin Repository

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you can find plugins that will do almost everything you need a web site to do.

Plugin categories cover:

  • Web Site Administration
  • Content Management
  • Traffic
  • User Interactivity
  • Social Media
  • Media Utilities Automation
  • Improving Website Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data And System Analysis Tools
  • Optimizing Your

You can expand a website with plugins like the following:

  • Contact forms
  • Polls and quizzes
  • User Surveys
  • Managing ad banners
  • E-commerce (from setting up single-item sales with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce stores 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 Search Engine Optimization
  • 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 Italian)
  • 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
  • Faster page loading
  • Managing events & bookings
  • Business directories
  • Automatically sell spots on your website
  • Set appointments and reminders
  • Set up reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks and send you reports
  • Redirect website pages
  • Monitor social conversations
  • Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
  • Add sitemaps
  • Hide specific from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide post content
  • Import content from non-WordPress platforms
  • Perform bulk data replacements
  • Prevent SPAM commenting
  • Customize visitor discussions (e.g. display Facebook comments)
  • Insert scripts and script elements into your posts
  • Add formatted tables
  • Display animated graphics and advanced font display formatting options
  • Add and manage QR codes
  • Improve Google local search
  • Add a map of your business location
  • Post your posts automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and others
  • Display countdown timers (for special offers, discount coupons, etc …)
  • Display personalized greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so much more!

As you can clearly see, WP plugins give you practically limitless possibilities. If you plan to build a web site for your business, or your existing web site was not built with WordPress, then consider getting a WordPress site or blog 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’s take a look at how you can benefit instantly by adding a plugin to your website.

For example, if you want to publish content which is only accessible to some users, you can install plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on a page or post inaccessible, or create a complete paid membership site with separate login details for each user …

A Practical Guide To WordPress Plugins

As mentioned previously, you can use free plugins to enhance your web site in lots of different ways. From adding new features that enhance your business, your web users’ experience and your ability to analyze visitor data …

A Basic Guide To WP Plugins

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

A Non-Technical User's Guide To WordPress Plugins

You can also add complex features to your website using relatively inexpensive paid WordPress plugins. For example, you can install plugins that integrate and automate functionality on your pages like customer testimonial and event bookings management …

A Guide To WP Plugins

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

A Guide To WP Plugins

Additionally, you can take advantage of built-in WordPress commenting features and plugins that will increase user engagement …

A Basic Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

For example, your visitors can easily:

  • Post comments on your site (which can turn into online discussions) using either the built-in WordPress commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get shared throughout a visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with increased exposure).
  • Share your posts with other online users on bookmarking sites.
  • Contact you via contact forms
  • Engage in online discussions with other customers through online forums or even set up a private online social network on your own site.
  • Engage with your team via live video chats
  • Dial your business directly from their laptops while browsing your pages
  • Get help via a dedicated customer helpdesk
  • And so much more …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

You can also integrate sophisticated enterprise-level applications with a WP “front end”. This allows you to control the content that your visitors will see on your web site, while your 3rd-party application handles the technical functions …

A Guide To WP Plugins

Additional Things You Should Know About Plugins

  • There are so many plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your server with too many plugins, as this can inevitably begin to affect your site’s performance and site loading speed. It also means more maintenance work for you as a result of possible conflicts.
  • Install only those plugins that you really plan to use. Delete any plugins you don’t use from your site, as these utilize server resources.
  • Many free plugins normally come with little to no support from the plugin author. When considering paid WP plugins, we recommend that you check some reviews online and understand what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check the plugin reviews we publish on this site for more helpful information.
  • If you see that an unsupported plugin has not been updated for a very long time (e.g. two or more years), then think twice before installing it. WordPress is updated regularly and out-of-date WordPress plugins can cause conflicts.
  • Always update your plugins. Older plugin not only can create issues, they may also contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malware.

A Practical Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As you can see, WP plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most preferred content management system available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to expand quickly without spending thousands of dollars on web development.

One last thing on the subject of WP plugins:

Whatever functionality you want for your website, you can guarantee that a someone has probably already developed one that will do exactly what you need 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 surprisingly inexpensive.

And, if by any chance such a WordPress plugin does not exist, then a custom plugin that does exactly what you would like it to do can probably be developed for your business at a reasonable cost.

Hopefully this information has given you a better understanding of WP plugins – what plugins are and how they can expand your business blog. See our published posts to learn more about usingplugins.

Comments? Questions? Please comment below and feel free to share this article with your friends.

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Need help? Contact us. We’ll be happy to assist you!

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Disclaimer: We are not associated with WordPress although we may derive a financial benefit from sales of products advertised, reviewed or linked to from this site. The product images and information on this page have been supplied from the product or plugin’s website

 

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