One of the main advantages of choosing WordPress for your website is the ability to increase your site’s functionality using plugins.
What Are WordPress Plugins?
No doubt, you most likely use a smart phone.
Think about what happens when you want access to something new on your phone like a new software or a business productivity tool?
You download and install an app!
An app is a software that is simple and easy to install and integrates new features and functionality into a smart phone.
(Just like there are social sharing apps for smart phones …)
A plugin is like an app. You install and activate a little piece of software that provides new functionality to your WP web site …
(… you can also find social sharing plugins for WP users!)
Generally, adding a new feature to a web site involves additional cost. Depending on the complexity of the new features or enhancements, this cost can be fairly significant, particularly if web developers have to create new code or modify code or install scripts to integrate with your existing site.
This is also applicable when creating a website. Business owners sometimes invest in components they probably will never need.
For this reason, I recommend a sustainable approach to developing a your website. Using WordPress and WordPress plugins make for an way to help you achieve this.
Imagine being able to:
1) Start with minimal expense involved. Get a basic, professional business web presence up and running quickly, then …
2) As you need new features or functionality, install new software modules with a few mouse clicks directly from your WP admin section, giving your site a completely new and expanded range of useful functionality, and also …
3) Cost not one dollar extra to install on your site?
Well, this is what plugins let you do!
Benefits Of Using Plugins
Earlier, I compared plugins with apps. In a similar way that many apps are free to download and some apps cost a little bit of money, so do plugins.
In fact, many plugins are available at no cost to WordPress users.
WordPress plugins that cost money are called ‘Premium’ plugins. When compared to the price of investing in professional web development services to get the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. “paid”) plugins cost very little.
Since WordPress is an Open Source application, anybody can create, modify and customize any portion of the WP code. This has allowed thousands of third-party web developers to create more new tools that expand the WordPress software than you can imagine.
- Plugins let you get started with a basic web site and expand when necessary.
- WordPress plugins let you add almost unlimited features to your web site easily, quickly and cheaply.
- WordPress plugins give your website almost endless expanding capabilities.
- Plugins allow “non-techies” to have a website that they can manage.
- Most plugins will typically work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to provide your website with instant new capabilities and functionality.
- Some plugins provide more advanced options and may require some initial configuration.
Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Are) Completely FREE!
Just like themes, tens of thousands of WordPress plugins are made available to WordPress users … for FREE!
You can access thousands of plugins from the Free WordPress Plugin Directory …
You will find plugins that can do almost everything you could want a website to do.
WP plugin categories cover:
- Website Administration
- Content Syndication
- Online Traffic Generation
- Visitor Engagement
- Social Engagement
- Media Management Automation
- Improving Sales And Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data Reporting Tools
- Securing Your
For example, you can add features to a website with plugins such as:
- Contact forms
- Quizzes and polls
- User Surveys
- Managing ad banners
- E-commerce (from setting up single ordering with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce stores with shopping carts, invoicing, recurring billing, coupon codes, etc …)
- Social media integration
- Private Membership sites
- List-building opt-in forms
- Sales funnels
- Mobile conversion
- Improving your site’s SEO
- Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- Customer testimonials
- Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change your site’s content from English to Portuguese)
- Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
- Custom navigation
- Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
- Media management
- Faster page loading
- Managing events & bookings
- Niche directories
- Automatically sell and manage advertising on your blog
- Set appointments and reminders
- Automate reservations and bookings
- Detect broken hyperlinks and send you reports
- Redirect URLs
- Monitor what social media users are posting about your business
- Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
- Add sitemaps
- Exclude certain from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
- Hide content on your posts and pages
- Migrate information from non-WordPress applications
- Perform bulk content edits
- Prevent SPAM
- Customize guest comment displays (e.g. display Facebook posts)
- Inserting scripts and script elements into your pages
- Add and format tables
- Display animated graphic elements and advanced content formatting options
- Create and manage QR codes
- Improve your local search listings on Google
- Add business location maps
- Syndicate your posts automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr 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 limitless business flexibility. If you are planning to build a web site, or your existing web site isn’t powered by 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 some practical advantages of installing an inexpensive plugin on your web site.
For example, if you want content protection, 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 customized login details for all users …
As mentioned previously, free plugins can be used to improve your business site in lots of different ways. From installing functionality that will improve your business, your site’s user experience and your ability to analyze site data …
To increasing your site’s reach and visibility across various social media and search engines …
You can also add complex functionality to your website using inexpensive premium WordPress plugins. For example, you can install plugins that automate functions on your website like user feedback and event bookings management …
And even run a custom bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a small fraction of the cost of paying web developers to code custom functionality for you …
You can also take advantage of built-in WordPress commenting features and plugins that can allow you to engage more with web visitors, clients and registered site members …
For example, your visitors can:
- Leave comments on your blog posts (which can grow into online discussions) using either the native WordPress commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then shared throughout a visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site added exposure).
- Share your content with other online visitors on various social sites.
- Contact you via contact forms
- Engage in online discussions with your team using forums or even set up a private online community on your site.
- Engage with your support team using live chats
- Call your business directly from their cellphones while visiting your site
- Get help and support via a client helpdesk
- And so much more …
You can also integrate complex enterprise solutions within a WordPress “front end”. This lets you control the content that your visitors will see on your web site, while the 3rd-party application handles the technological areas …
Additional Tips About WordPress Plugins
- There are many great WordPress plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your site with too many plugins, as this can affect your website’s resources and site loading speed. It also creates more maintenance work for you as a result of possible errors.
- Install only the plugins that you really use. Delete any plugins you don’t use from your site, as these utilize resources.
- Many free plugins typically come with little to no support from the plugin developer. When considering paid plugins, ensure that you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to offering support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check our WP plugin recommendations for more useful information.
- If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two or more years), then think twice before using it. WordPress updates on a regular basis and older plugins that have not been updated can create problems.
- Always maintain your plugins upgraded to their latest software version. Older plugins not only can cause errors, they may also have vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malware.
As you can see, WordPress plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most powerful, flexible and scalable content management system in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to add instant functionality to their website without having to spend thousands of dollars on outsourced web developers.
One last thing on the topic of plugins:
If there is a functionality you need for your website, you can be sure that a WordPress plugin currently exists that will do exactly what you want, and that this plugin will either be available at no cost, or if it’s a premium plugin, that it will be reasonably affordable.
And, if by chance such a WP plugin does not exist, then it can most certainly be created for you for a reasonable price.
Hopefully now you have a better understanding of plugins – what plugins are and how they can help expand your web site. See our related posts section to learn about more useful WordPress plugins that we recommend using.