A Beginner’s Guide To WordPress Plugins
One of the most useful benefits of the WordPress content publishing software is that you can quickly and easily enhance your WordPress website or blog’s functionality using WordPress plugins.
What Are WordPress Plugins?
No doubt, you probably use a mobile phone. What happens when you would like access to something new on your phone like a new game or a tool?
You download and install an app!
An app is a software application that is very easy to install and immediately integrates new functionality into your smart device.
(Just as you will find social sharing apps …)
A WordPress plugin is very much like an app. You simply install and activate an application that adds new functionality to your WordPress site …
(… there are also social sharing WordPress plugins!)
Typically, if you want to expand the functionality of a website, additional cost is involved. Depending on how complex the features or enhancements are, this could get fairly expensive, especially if it involves modifying code.
This is also applicable to creating a website. Businesses often invest money in advance in features they probably will never need.
For this reason, we suggest considering a sustainable strategy when developing your presence online presence and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.
Imagine if you could:
1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get your website up and running quickly, then …
2) As the need for new features becomes apparent, add new applications with only a few clicks of the mouse directly from your WordPress administration section, giving your web site an entirely new range of features and functionality, and also …
3) Cost not a single dollar more to add to your web site?
Well, this is just what WordPress plugins allow you to do!
Benefits & Advantages Of Using WordPress Plugins
Earlier, we compared WordPress plugins with mobile apps. Just like many apps are free to download and some apps cost a little bit of money, so do plugins.
In fact, loads of WordPress plugins can be installed and activated on your sites.
Plugins that you buy are called “Premium” WordPress plugins. The good news, is that when you compare these to the price of investing in professional web development services to get the same functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins cost very little.
Also, because WordPress is an Open Source application, anybody can create, edit and customize any portion of the code. This has allowed many professional software development professionals to build more new plugins that add new functionality to WordPress than you can possibly imagine.
- WordPress plugins allow you to start off with only a basic web presence and expand as necessary.
- Plugins let you add practically unlimited features to any web presence easily, quickly and cheaply.
- WordPress plugins give you virtually endless expanding capabilities.
- WordPress plugins allow anyone to own 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 give your web site immediate enhancements and features.
- Some plugins are slightly more advanced and may need some configuration.
WordPress Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Often) 100% FREE!
Like themes, loads of plugins are made available to WP users … often at $0 cost!
You can access thousands of WordPress plugins from the Free WordPress Plugins Directory …
As previously mentioned, you will find plugins that will do just about everything you could imagine.
There are WordPress plugins for:
- Blog Administration
- Content Management
- Web Traffic Generation
- User Engagement
- Social Monitoring
- Adding Media – Videos, Graphics & Images, Podcasts, Multimedia, etc.
- e-Commerce And Online Sales Automation
- Increasing Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data Analysis Applications
- Securing Your WordPress Blog
For example, you can expand your WordPress site with plugins like the following:
- Contact forms
- Polls and quizzes
- Social contests
- Managing banners
- E-commerce (from managing single ordering with PayPal buttons, to complete e-commerce stores with shopping carts, invoicing, recurring payments, discount codes, etc …)
- Social media integration
- Membership sites
- Newsletter subscription forms
- Sales workflow
- Mobile integration
- Improving your site’s Search Engine Optimization
- Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- Customer testimonial forms
- Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change your site’s content from English to Italian)
- 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
- Business listing directories
- Automatically sell advertising on your blog
- Set up appointments and appointment reminders
- Help customers make reservations and bookings
- Detect broken links and email you reports
- Redirect website pages
- Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
- Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
- Add sitemaps
- Hide specific from showing on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
- Protect page content sections
- Migrate information from non-WP applications
- Perform bulk data edits
- Block SPAM
- Customize guest commenting (e.g. display Facebook posts)
- Insert HTML and code elements into your blog’s header and footer
- Add and format tables
- Add animated graphic elements and advanced text formatting options
- Create and manage QR codes
- Improve Google local search
- Add a map
- Syndicate your content automatically on social pages like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others
- Display countdown timers (for expiring offers, coupons, etc …)
- Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
- And hundreds of other features!
As it’s clear to see, plugins give you practically endless possibilities. If you are currently planning to build a website, or your existing site wasn’t built with WordPress, then consider using it in the future.
If you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using plugins, let me show you how you can benefit instantly by installing an inexpensive plugin on your website.
For example, if you need to protect your content, you can install plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on a post or page inaccessible, or create a full paid membership site with customized login details for all users …
As mentioned before, you can use free plugins to improve your site in so many ways. From adding functionality that will enhance your business, your site’s user experience and your ability to analyze site data …
To extending your business reach and visibility across various social networks and search engines …
You can also add sophisticated features to your site using inexpensive paid WordPress plugins. For example, you can purchase plugins that automate functions on your website like customer feedback and event bookings 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 build the same applications for you …
Additionally, you can take advantage of native WP commenting features and plugins that can enhance your site’s interactivity …
For example, your visitors can:
- Leave comments on your site (which can turn into online discussions) using either the built-in WP commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then displayed throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site additional exposure).
- Bookmark your posts on social networking sites.
- Contact you via contact forms
- Engage online directly with other customers through online forums or even set up a private online social network on your site.
- Engage with your support team through live web conferencing and chatrooms
- Dial your business directly from their devices while browsing your pages
- Open a support ticket
- And much more …
You can also integrate sophisticated enterprise solutions using a WordPress “front end”. This allows you to control your business marketing, while your 3rd-party application handles the technical aspects …
WordPress Plugins – Some Useful Things To Know
- There are lots of plugins available. Be careful of overloading your site with too many plugins, as this will affect your website’s performance and site loading speed. It also creates more maintenance issues for you resulting from potential conflicts and errors.
- Only keep the plugins you really need to use. Delete all unnecessary plugins from your site, as these also utilize server resources.
- Many free plugins normally come with little to no support from the plugin author. When considering premium WP plugins, we recommend that you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to offering support, updates, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check some of our plugin recommendations for more useful information.
- If you see that an unsupported plugin has not been updated for a very long time (e.g. two years), then think twice before installing it on your site. The WordPress application changes on a frequent basis and older plugins can create conflicts.
- Ensure that you always update your plugins to their latest 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 powerful, flexible and scalable website publishing platform in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to expand without having to spend thousands of dollars on outsourced web developers.
One last thing regarding WordPress plugins:
If there is any feature you need for your website, you can guarantee that a someone has probably already created one that will do what you want, and that this plugin can either be downloaded at no cost, or if it’s a paid plugin, that it will be reasonably affordable.
And, if by chance this WP plugin does not exist, then it can most certainly be written for your business at a reasonable cost.
Hopefully this information has given you a better understanding of plugins – what they are and how they can to improve your blog. See our related posts to learn more about using plugins.
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