One of the main benefits of building a website with the WordPress content management software is that you can quickly increase your WordPress website or blog’s functionality using applications called ‘plugins’.
What Are WP Plugins?
Like most of us, you most likely use 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 business tool?
You download and install an app!
An app is a software that is very simple and easy to install and integrates new functionality into any mobile device.
(Just as there are social sharing apps for mobile devices …)
A plugin is really similar to an app. You simply install and activate a software application that provides new functionality to your WordPress site …
(… there are also social sharing plugins for WordPress users!)
Almost always, expanding the functionality of an already-built site involves additional cost. Depending on how complex the feature or enhancement is, things can become fairly expensive, especially if it involves programming code.
This also applies to creating a website or business blog. Businesses sometimes invest upfront in features or options they may not need.
For sound, strategic business planning reasons, we suggest considering a modular strategy when setting up a web site 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 presence up and running quickly, then …
2) As new features are required, install new software modules with only a couple of mouse clicks that integrate with your current site, and give your site an entirely new range of possibilities, and also …
3) Cost not a single dollar more to download and install on your site?
Well, this is precisely what plugins allow you to do!
Plugins – Benefits And Advantages
I began this post by comparing WP plugins with smartphone apps. Just like many apps are free to download and some may cost a little money, so do WP plugins.
In fact, many plugins are freely available for users.
Plugins that cost money are referred to as Premium plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the price of hiring a professional web developer to get the same functionality on your site, most Premium plugins are priced quite cheaply.
Also, because WordPress is an Open Source application, any web developer can create, edit and customize any part of the code. This has enabled many third-party web developers to build more new applications that expand the WordPress platform than you can imagine.
- Plugins allow you to get started simply with just a basic web site and add new features and enhancements to your site only if necessary.
- WordPress plugins let you add almost unlimited functionality to any site quickly and cheaply.
- Plugins give you almost endless expanding capabilities.
- Plugins allow anyone to own a website that they can manage themselves.
- Most plugins will work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to provide your website or blog with instant new capabilities, enhancements and functionality.
- Some plugins can be slightly more complex and could require some configuration.
WP Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Of Them Are) Completely FREE!
Like many WordPress themes, tens of thousands of WP plugins are available to WordPress users … often at no cost!
You can access thousands of plugins from the Free WordPress Plugin Directory …
As mentioned earlier, you can find WP plugins that can do just about everything you could imagine.
There are WP plugins for:
- Website Administration
- Content Distribution
- Online Traffic Generation
- User Engagement
- Social Media
- Media Management Automation
- Improving Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data & System Analysis Tools
- Website SEO
For example, you can enhance a website with plugins like:
- Contact forms
- Quizzes and polls
- Display ad banners
- E-commerce (from managing single-item ordering with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring payments, discount codes, etc …)
- Social sharing buttons
- Membership sites
- List-building subscription forms
- Sales funnels
- Mobile integration
- Improving your site’s Search Engine Optimization
- Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- Customer testimonials
- 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
- Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
- Media management
- Making pages load faster
- Event management
- Business listing directories
- Automatically sell advertising on your site
- Set client appointments and appointment reminders
- Set up reservations and bookings
- Detect broken hyperlinks on your pages and email you reports
- Redirect users from specified pages to other pages on your site or other websites
- Monitor social conversations
- Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
- Add a site map
- Exclude pages from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
- Protect content on your posts and pages
- Import information from non-WP applications
- Perform bulk content replacements
- Fight SPAM commenting
- Customize visitor comment displays (e.g. display Facebook comments)
- Inserting code and code elements into your posts
- Add and format tables
- Add animated graphics and advanced font display formatting options
- Create and manage QR codes
- Improve Google search
- Add business location maps
- Post your posts automatically on social pages like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and others
- Show countdown timers (for scarcity offers, discount coupons, etc …)
- Display personalized greetings, timed offers, etc …
- And so much more!
As it’s clear to see, plugins give you limitless business flexibility. If you are planning to build a website or blog for your business, or your existing website wasn’t built using WordPress, then consider using WordPress in the future.
If you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible plugins are, let’s take a look at how you can benefit by adding an inexpensive plugin to your web site.
For example, if you need content protection, you can use plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on a post inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a complete paid membership site with separate login details for each user …
As mentioned before, you can use free plugins to improve your web site in so many different ways. From adding functionality that enhance your business, your web users’ experience and your understanding of what is happening on your site …
To extending your business visibility across social networks and search engines …
You can also add sophisticated functionality to your site using inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can install plugins that automate functions on your site such as customer testimonial and event registrations management …
And also run a complete bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring programmers to build custom functionality for you …
You can also take advantage of native WordPress commenting features and plugins that will increase visitor engagement …
For example, your visitors can easily:
- Post comments on your site (which can grow into online discussions) using either the native WP commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get shared throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site added exposure).
- Bookmark your content on various social sites.
- Contact you using contact forms
- Engage in online discussions with other members via forums or even set up an online social network on your own domain.
- Engage with members of your team via live chats
- Dial your business directly from their smart phones when browsing your pages
- Open a support ticket
- And so much more …
Finally you, can even integrate sophisticated third-party solutions within a WordPress “front end”. This allows you to manage the content that your visitors will see on your web site, while the third-party application handles the technological aspects …
Useful Things To Know About Plugins
- There are many plugins available. Be careful not to overload your site with an excessive amount of plugins, as this will affect your site’s resources and page loading times. It can also mean more maintenance work for you as a result of possible conflicts and errors.
- Only keep the plugins you really plan to use. Delete all deactivated plugins from your site, as these utilize resources.
- Many free plugins often come with very little to no support from the plugin developer. When considering premium 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 features, etc. Be sure to check some of the plugin reviews we provide here for more 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. WordPress is updated regularly and older plugins that have not been updated can cause conflicts.
- Always maintain all plugins updated. Outdated plugins not only can create issues, they could also have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malware.
As you can see, plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most powerful, flexible and scalable web open source software 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 development costs.
One last thing on the subject of WordPress plugins:
If there is any feature or functionality you want for your web presence, you can guarantee that a someone has probably already developed one that will do exactly what you need, and that it can either be accessed for FREE, or if it’s a premium plugin, that the price will be reasonable.
And, if by any chance such a plugin is not available, then it can probably be written for you for a reasonable price.
Hopefully now you have a better understanding of WP plugins – what they are and how they can enhance the functionality of your web site. See our related posts section to learn more about using WP plugins.
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Disclaimer: This site is not associated with WordPress or any of the WP products written about on this site. We may derive a financial benefit from sales of products advertised, reviewed or linked to from this site. The product information used in this review have been supplied from the plugin’s own website and/or from sites that provide Premium WP Services