One of the main benefits of building a website using the WordPress content publishing software is the ability to easily increase your WordPress website’s functionality using applications called ‘plugins’.
About WordPress Plugins
No doubt, you most likely have a device like a smart phone. What happens when you want access to something new on your phone like a new software or a new tool?
Why, simple … you download and install an app!
An app is a software program that is simple and easy to install and adds new features and functionality to a smart phone.
A plugin is quite similar to an app. You simply install a software program (the plugin) that provides new functionality to your WordPress website.
Almost always, if you decide to expand the functionality of an existing traditional website, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the new feature or enhancements, this cost can be significant, especially if website developers need to create new code or modify code or develop scripts that integrate with your current set up.
This also applies when setting up a website or business blog. Many organizations often invest up front for additional components they probably will never need.
To keep expenses to a minimum, we recommend using a cost-effective strategy to setting up your web site and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.
Imagine being able to:
- Start simply with minimal expense involved. Get a professional-looking web presence up and running fast, then …
- As the need becomes evident, install new software modules with just a few mouse clicks directly from your dashboard panel, and give your site a whole new and expanded range of useful features, and …
- Cost not one dollar more to add to your website or very minimal cost?
Well, this is exactly what WP plugins allow you to do!
Plugins – Benefits
We started this article by comparing plugins with apps. In a similar way that many apps are free to download and some cost a little money, so do plugins.
In fact, many plugins can be downloaded to your website at no cost.
WordPress plugins that cost money are referred to as ‘Premium’ plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the cost of hiring a professional web developer to add the same functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins are priced quite low.
Also, since WordPress makes its code publicly available, any web developer can create, edit and customize any portion of the WP code. This has allowed many professional software developers to enhance and contribute to the core WordPress software.
- WP plugins allow you to get started simply with a simple yet professional website and then add new features and enhancements to your site only as required.
- Plugins let you add practically unlimited features to your website easily and inexpensively.
- Plugins give you practically unlimited expansion capabilities.
- WordPress plugins allow business owners to own a site that they can manage themselves.
- Most plugins will normally work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to provide your website or blog with immediate capabilities, enhancements and functionality.
- Some plugins can be a little more advanced and could require some initial configuring.
Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Of Them Are) 100% FREE!
Just like themes, tens of thousands of plugins are available to WordPress users … often at $0 cost!
You can download thousands of plugins from the Free WP Plugin Directory …
As previously mentioned, you can find WordPress plugins that can do almost everything you want done.
Plugin categories cover:
- Web Site Administration
- Content Management
- Increasing Web Visitors
- Visitor Engagement
- Social Media
- Managing Media – Videocasts, Images, Podcasts, Multimedia, etc.
- e-Commerce And Online Sales Automation
- Improving Sales & Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data And System Monitoring & Reporting
- WordPress Security
You can enhance a WordPress site with plugins such as:
- Contact forms
- Polls and quizzes
- Social contests
- Managing advertising banners
- E-commerce (from setting up single-item sales with PayPal buttons, to full scale 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 website’s SEO
- Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- User feedback forms
- Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your website from English to German)
- 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
- Making pages load faster
- Managing events & bookings
- Business listing directories
- Automatically sell and manage advertising on your blog
- Set appointments and appointment reminders
- Automate reservations and bookings
- Detect broken links on your pages and send you reports
- Redirect users from broken pages to other areas on your site or other websites
- Monitor what social media users are posting about your business
- Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
- Add sitemaps
- Exclude pages from showing on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
- Protect content on your posts and pages
- Migrate information from different CMS applications
- Search and replace content
- Block SPAM commenting
- Customize visitor commenting (e.g. displaying Facebook discussions)
- Insert HTML and script elements into your content
- Add and format tables
- Display animated graphics and advanced text formatting options
- Add and manage QR codes
- Improve your local search listings on Google
- Add a map
- Distribute your content automatically on social pages like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and many others
- Display countdown timers (for special offers, coupons, etc …)
- Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
- And so many other features!
As you can clearly see, WordPress plugins give you practically limitless possibilities. 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.
In case you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using WordPress plugins, let’s take a look at how you can benefit instantly by adding an inexpensive plugin to your website.
For example, if you need to publish private content, you can install plugins to make a section of a page or post inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a full paid membership site with personal login details for each user.
As mentioned before, you can use free plugins to improve your business site in lots of 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 a number of social networks and search engines.
You can also add advanced functionality to your site using inexpensive premium plugins. For example, you can install plugins that automate functionality on your website such as customer testimonial and event registrations management.
And also set up a custom bookings and reservations system online … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring software developers to code this functionality for you.
You can also take advantage of built-in WordPress commenting features and plugins that can allow you to engage better with visitors, clients and registered site users.
For example, your visitors can easily:
- Leave comments on your site (which can turn into online discussions) using either the native WordPress commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then displayed throughout your visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with additional exposure).
- Bookmark your content on social networks.
- Contact you via contact forms
- Engage in online discussions with your team via online forums or even set up a private online social network on your own domain.
- Engage with members of your team via live web conferencing and chatroom facilities
- Call your business from their devices while browsing your website
- Open a support ticket
- And so much more …
You can also integrate sophisticated “back end” applications using a WordPress “front end”. This enables you to control the content that your visitors see on your web site, while the third-party application handles the technological areas.
Additional Information About WordPress Plugins
- There are lots of WordPress plugins available. Be careful not to overload your site with too many plugins, as this can invariably begin to affect your site’s resources and page loading speed. It can also mean more maintenance issues for you as a result of possible conflicts.
- Only keep those plugins you really need to use. Delete any plugins from your site, as these also utilize server resources.
- Many free plugins often receive very little to no support from the plugin developer. When choosing paid plugins, make sure you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to offering support, updates, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check some of our plugin recommendations 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 carefully before installing it. WordPress changes often and older plugins that have not been updated can create errors.
- Ensure you always keep all your plugins upgraded to their latest software version. Older plugins not only can create issues, they could also have vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malicious users.
As you can see, WP plugins are an important part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most downloaded CMS in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to expand quickly without spending thousands of dollars on outsourced web development costs.
One last thing on the topic of WP plugins:
Whatever feature or functionality you need for your web presence, you can be sure that a WP plugin currently exists that will do just what you want, and that it will either be available for FREE, or if it’s a premium plugin, that it will be surprisingly affordable.
And, if by chance this plugin has not been created yet, then one can probably be written for you at a reasonable cost.
Hopefully now you have a better understanding of WordPress plugins – what they are and how they can help to improve your business blog or website. See our published posts to learn about more great WP plugins that we recommend using.
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Disclaimer: This site is not associated with WordPress or any of the WP-related products reviewed on this site. We may derive a financial benefit from sales of products advertised, reviewed or linked to from this site. All images used in this review have been sourced from the plugin’s website and sites that provide Premium WordPress Services.