One of the main features of the WordPress platform is that you can quickly and easily enhance your WordPress web site’s functionality using applications called plugins.
About WordPress Plugins
No doubt, you most likely have a device like a mobile phone. What do you do when you want access to something new on your phone like a new application, game or tool?
You download and install an app!
An app is a piece of software that is simple and easy to install and immediately adds new functionality to a mobile device.
(Just as you will find social sharing apps for smart phones …)
A WordPress plugin is similar to an app. You install and activate an application that adds new functionality to your WordPress web site …
(… you can also find social sharing plugins for WordPress!)
Typically, adding new features to an existing site involves additional cost. Depending on the complexity of the new features or enhancement, things could get fairly expensive, especially if web developers have to add new code or edit code or install scripts to integrate into your current site.
This also applies to creating a website. Companies sometimes invest up-front in extra bells and whistles they probably will never need.
As part of sound strategic business planning, we recommend a cost-effective approach to developing a website and WP plugins are ideal for doing this.
Imagine being able to:
1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get your web site up and running quickly, then …
2) As you need more features and functionality, simply install new software modules with just a couple of clicks of the mouse that integrate seamlessly with your existing web site, giving your website an entirely new range of useful capabilities, and …
3) Cost not one cent more to download and install on your web site?
Well, this is exactly what WP plugins allow you to do!
Benefits And Advantages Of WP Plugins
Earlier, we compared plugins with smartphone apps. In a similar way that some apps are free to download and some may cost a little money, the same applies to WordPress plugins.
In fact, loads of plugins can be installed and activated on your websites.
WP plugins that you buy are called Premium plugins. The good news, is that when you compare it to the cost of hiring a professional web developer to get similar features and functionality on your site, most Premium plugins are typically quite inexpensive.
Also, since WordPress is an Open Source application, any person can create, edit and customize any portion of the code. This has enabled thousands of third-party web developers to create more plugins that work with the WordPress application than you can possibly imagine.
- WordPress plugins let you start simply with only a simple website and then add new features and enhancements to your site when required.
- WordPress plugins allow you to add practically endless functionality to your website easily, quickly and cheaply.
- WordPress plugins give your site almost unlimited expansion capabilities.
- WordPress plugins allow non-technical users to own a website that they can self-manage.
- Most plugins will normally work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to give your website or blog immediate capabilities and enhancements.
- Some plugins can be a little more complex and could require some configuring.
Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Are) Completely FREE!
Just like WP themes, tens of thousands of great plugins are currently available for WP users … and many of these great plugins are 100% FREE!
You can download thousands of plugins from the Free WordPress Plugin Repository …
As previously mentioned, you will find WP plugins that will do just about everything you need done.
Plugin categories cover:
- Blog Administration
- Content Syndication
- Driving Web Visitors
- Visitor Interactivity
- Social Monitoring
- Media Management Automation
- Increasing Website Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data & System Reporting Tools
- WordPress SEO
You can enhance a WP site with plugins like:
- Contact forms
- Quizzes and polls
- User Surveys
- Managing banners
- E-commerce (from setting up single-item sales with PayPal buttons, to complete e-commerce with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring payments, coupon codes, etc …)
- Social media integration
- Membership sites
- List-building opt-in forms
- Sales funnels
- Mobile conversion
- Improving your website’s SEO
- Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- User testimonial forms
- 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
- Business listing directories
- Automatically sell and manage advertising on your blog
- Set up client appointments and reminders
- Manage reservations and bookings
- Detect broken links and send you reports
- Redirect users from broken pages to other areas on your site or other websites
- Monitor social signals
- Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
- Add sitemaps
- Hide specific from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
- Hide content on your posts and pages
- Import information from other publishing applications
- Search and replace data
- Fight SPAM
- Customize guest commenting (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
- Insert HTML and script elements into your blog’s header or footer
- Add formatted tables
- Display animated graphics and advanced content formatting options
- Create and manage QR codes
- Improve your local search listings on Google
- Add business location maps
- Post your posts automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and others
- Display countdown timers (for scarcity offers, discount coupons, etc …)
- Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
- And so much more!
As you can clearly see, plugins give you virtually endless business scalability. If you are currently planning to build a website for your business, or your existing site isn’t built with WordPress, then consider using WordPress in the future.
In case you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using WordPress plugins, let’s take a look at some practical uses of adding a plugin to your site.
For example, if you need to publish content which is only accessible to some but not all users, you can use plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on a page inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a full membership site with customized login details for each member …
As mentioned before, free plugins can be used to enhance your website in lots of ways. From adding features that can improve your business, your visitors’ experience and your ability to review site metrics …
To increasing your site’s reach across many social media and search engines …
You can also add sophisticated features to your site using inexpensive premium plugins. For example, you can purchase plugins that automate features on your website such as customer testimonial and event registration management …
And even run a custom-branded bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a small fraction of the cost of hiring programmers to create similar applications for you …
You can also take advantage of native WordPress commenting features and plugins that can increase your site’s interactivity …
For example, your visitors can:
- Leave comments on your site (which can grow into online discussions) using either the built-in WordPress commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then displayed throughout your visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with increased exposure).
- Bookmark your posts on bookmarking sites.
- Contact you using contact forms
- Engage in online discussions with other online users using forums or even set up an online community on your own site.
- Engage with members of your team using live chats
- Dial your business from their cellphones when visiting your pages
- Open support tickets
- And much more …
Finally you, can also integrate complex enterprise-level applications with a WP “front end”. This lets you manage your business marketing, while the third-party application handles the technological functions …
Some Useful Things To Know About Plugins
- There are so many plugins available. Be careful not to overload your server with an excessive amount of plugins, as this will invariably begin to affect your site’s resources and site loading speed. It also creates more maintenance work for you as a consequence of potential conflicts.
- Only keep the plugins you really use. Delete all inactive plugins from your site, as these utilize server resources.
- Many free plugins typically receive little to no support from the plugin developer. When considering premium WP plugins, ensure that you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to providing support, updates, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of the plugin reviews we provide on this site for more helpful information.
- If you see that an unsupported plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two years), then think carefully before using it on your website or blog. WordPress updates frequently and older plugins can cause problems.
- Ensure that you always upgrade your plugins to the most recent software version. Older plugins not only can cause conflicts, they could also have security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malware.
As you can see, WP plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most popular content management system available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to expand without having to spend thousands of dollars on outsourced web development.
One last thing on the subject of plugins:
If there is any functionality you want for your web site, you can be sure that a plugin probably exists that will do exactly what you need it to do, and that it will either be available at no cost, or if it’s a premium plugin, that the cost will be reasonable.
And, if by chance this WP plugin is not available, then one can probably be developed for your business for a very reasonable price.
Hopefully now you have a better understanding of plugins – what they are and how they can help improve your blog. See our published posts to learn about more great plugins that we recommend using.
Have we helped you become a better website owner? Feel free to post a comment below and take a moment to share this article with your friends.
If you need help installing a plugin, contact me!
Disclaimer: We are not associated with WordPress or any of the WordPress-related products reviewed on this site. We may derive a financial benefit from sales of products advertised, reviewed or linked to from this site. The product images and information used in this review have been sourced from the plugin’s own website and/or from sites that provide Premium WordPress Services