One of the main advantages of using WordPress is that you can quickly and easily enhance your WP website or blog’s functionality using plugins.
What Are WP Plugins?
Like most of us, you probably use a device like a cell phone. What do you do when you would like to access something new on your phone like a new application, game or a productivity tool?
Why, simple … you download and install an app!
An app is a software that is really easy to install and integrates new functionality into a mobile phone.
(Just like there are social sharing apps …)
A plugin is very much like an app. You simply download and install a software application that provides new functionality to your site …
(… there are also social sharing plugins for WordPress sites!)
Typically, expanding the functionality of your website involves additional cost. Depending on the complexity of the new feature or enhancements, this cost can be fairly significant, particularly if it involves programming code.
This also applies when developing a new web site. Many companies tend to pay for extra features they probably will never need.
To minimize business costs, we recommend a modular approach when growing your web presence and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could:
1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get your web site up and running quickly, then …
2) As new features and functionality are needed, add new software modules with only a couple of clicks of the mouse that integrate with your website, and give your site a whole new range of useful capabilities, and also …
3) Cost not a single cent more to add to your web site?
Well, that’s precisely what a WP plugin enables you to do!
WP Plugins – Benefits & Advantages
We started this blog post by comparing WP plugins with mobile apps. Just like many apps are free to download and some apps may cost a little money, the same applies with plugins.
In fact, thousands of plugins can be downloaded to your website for free.
Plugins that you purchase are called Premium plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the price of paying for web development services to add similar functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins are priced quite cheaply.
Also, because WordPress distributes its software as an Open Source application, anybody can create, rewrite and customize any portion of the code. This has enabled many third-party web developers to build more plugins that add new features to the WordPress application than you can probably imagine.
- WordPress plugins allow you to start off with a simple website and then expand as necessary.
- WordPress plugins allow you to add almost endless functionality to your website quickly and cheaply.
- WP plugins give your website virtually unlimited expansion capabilities.
- WordPress plugins allow anyone to have a site that they can manage themselves.
- Most plugins typically work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to give your website or blog instant new capabilities and functionality.
- Some plugins are a little more advanced and could require some initial configuring.
WP Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Of Them Are) 100% FREE!
Like many WordPress themes, loads of WP plugins are currently available for WordPress users … and many of these great plugins are 100% FREE!
You can access thousands of WordPress plugins from the Free WP Plugin Repository …
As previously mentioned, you can find plugins that can do almost everything you need your web site to do.
There are plugins for:
- Website Management
- Content Management
- Increasing Site Traffic
- User Engagement
- Social Media
- Uploading Media Files – Videocasts, Graphics & Images, Audio, Multimedia, etc.
- e-Biz And Online Sales Automation
- Improving Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data Analysis Tools
- Securing Your
For example, you can add features to your business online presence with plugins such as:
- Contact forms
- Polls and quizzes
- Social contests
- Display banners
- E-commerce (from setting up single-item ordering with PayPal buttons, to complete e-commerce with online shopping carts, payment processing, recurring payments, coupons, etc …)
- Social media integration
- Private Membership sites
- List-building opt-in forms
- Sales workflow
- Mobile integration
- Improving your website’s SEO
- Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- Customer feedback 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 menus
- Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
- Media management
- Faster page loading
- Managing events
- Niche directories
- Automatically sell and manage spots on your website
- Set up appointments and appointment reminders
- Help customers make reservations and bookings
- Detect broken hyperlinks and send you reports
- Redirect URLs
- Monitor social conversations
- Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
- Add sitemaps
- Exclude specific from showing on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
- Hide page content sections
- Migrate information from non-WordPress applications
- Search and replace content
- Prevent SPAM
- Customize visitor discussions (e.g. display Facebook comments)
- Inserting code and code elements into your website’s header or footer
- Add and format tables
- Add animated graphics and advanced font display formatting options
- Add and manage QR codes
- Improve Google search listings
- Add a map of your business location
- Post your content automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and many others
- Display countdown timers (for expiring offers, coupons, etc …)
- Display personalized greetings, timed offers, etc …
- And so many other features!
As it’s clear to see, WordPress plugins give you practically endless business flexibility. If you are currently planning to build a website or blog, or your existing website wasn’t built with WordPress, then consider using it in the future.
In case you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible plugins are, let me show you some practical uses of installing an inexpensive plugin on your website.
For example, if you want to protect your content, you can install plugins to make a section of a post or page inaccessible, or create a complete paid membership site with separate login details for all users …
As mentioned previously, you can use free plugins to enhance your web site in so many ways. From adding functionality that enhance your business, your site’s user experience and your ability to analyze visitor metrics …
To extending your business reach and visibility across multiple social networks and search engines …
You can also add complex functionality to your site using inexpensive premium plugins. For example, you can install plugins that integrate and automate functions on your pages like managing customer testimonials and event registration details …
And also set up a custom bookings and reservations system online … all for a small fraction of the cost of hiring software developers to create the same functionality for you …
Additionally, you can take advantage of native WP commenting features and plugins that can let you engage more with web visitors, clients and registered site members …
For example, your web visitors can easily:
- Post comments on your blog posts (which can turn into online discussions) using either the native WP commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then shared throughout your visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site added exposure).
- Share your content with other web users on various social sites.
- Contact you via contact forms
- Engage online directly with other members using online forums or even set up a private online social network on your own site.
- Engage with your team via live chats
- Call your business directly from their smart phones when browsing your pages
- Get support via a client help desk
- And much more …
Finally you, can also integrate complex enterprise solutions with a WP “front end”. This lets you manage the content that your visitors see on your website, while your 3rd-party application handles the technical areas …
Plugins – Some Useful Tips
- There are loads of fantastic plugins available. Be careful not to overload your server with too many plugins, as this will affect your website’s resources and page loading speed. It can also create more maintenance issues for you resulting from potential errors.
- Install only those plugins that you really need to use. Delete inactive plugins from your site, as these use extra server resources.
- Many free plugins normally receive very little to no support from the plugin author. When considering premium WP plugins, make sure you check around a little and see what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, updates, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check our 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 carefully before installing it. WordPress is updated often and older plugins that have not been updated can cause errors.
- Always upgrade your plugins. Outdated plugins not only can cause problems, they may also contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malicious software.
As you can see, plugins are an important part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most powerful, flexible and scalable content management system available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to add instant features to their web presence without having to spend thousands of dollars on web development costs.
One last thing regarding WP plugins:
If there is a feature or functionality you need for your web presence, you can be sure that a someone has probably already created one that will do what you need it to do, and that this plugin will either be available for FREE, or if it’s a premium plugin, that the cost to purchase it will be quite reasonable.
And, if by any chance this plugin is not available, then one can most certainly be created for you at a reasonable cost.
Hopefully now you have a better understanding of plugins – what they are and how they can significantly to improve your WP website. See our related posts section to learn more about using WP plugins.
Do you have any comments or questions about this post? Please tell us what you think below or take a moment to share this article with your friends.