One of the most unique advantages of choosing WordPress is that you can quickly increase your WP web site’s functionality using inexpensive (even completely free) applications called plugins.
No doubt, you probably own a mobile 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 piece of software that is very simple and easy to install and instantly adds new features and functionality to a smart phone.
(Just as there are social sharing apps …)
A plugin is very much like an app. You simply install and activate an application that adds new functionality to your web site …
(… you can also find social sharing plugins for WordPress!)
Generally, adding a new feature to a site involves additional cost. Depending on how complex the new features or enhancements are, this could become quite expensive, particularly if it involves editing code.
This is also applicable to developing a new web site. Business owners sometimes pay up-front for features or customizations they may simply not need.
To keep your business costs low, we recommend a sustainable strategy when setting up a web site and WP plugins are ideal for doing this.
Imagine being able to:
1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get your website up and running quickly, then …
2) As you need new features, simply add new software modules with a few clicks of the mouse that integrate seamlessly with your existing website and blog, and give your website or blog an entirely new range of useful functionality, and also …
3) Cost not a single cent more to add to your web site?
Well, that’s just what a WP plugin lets you do!
Benefits Of WP Plugins
I began this blog post by comparing WP plugins with smartphone apps. In the same way that some apps are free to download and some may cost a little bit of money, the same applies to WordPress plugins.
In fact, thousands of useful plugins are available at no cost to users.
WP plugins that you buy are called “Premium” plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the cost of paying for web development services to add similar features and functionality on your site, most Premium plugins are typically very inexpensive.
Also, because WordPress makes its code available to everyone, any web developer can create, rewrite and customize any portion of the WP code. This has allowed many professional software development professionals to enhance and contribute to the core software application.
- WordPress plugins let you get started with just a simple site and then expand as necessary.
- WP plugins allow you to add almost endless functionality to your website easily and very cheaply.
- WP plugins give your site practically unlimited expansion capabilities.
- WP plugins allow non-technical users to own a website that they can fully manage.
- Most plugins typically work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to provide your website or blog with new capabilities, enhancements and functionality.
- Some plugins are a little more complex and may require some configuration.
Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Of Them Are) 100% FREE!
Like many WordPress themes, tens of thousands of great WordPress plugins are available to WP users … often at $0 cost!
You can download thousands of WordPress plugins from the Free WordPress Plugin Directory …
As previously mentioned, you can find plugins that can do almost anything you need a site to do.
There are plugins for:
- Web Site Management
- Content Distribution
- Visitor Engagement
- Social Media
- Media Utilities Automation
- Improving Sales And Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data Analysis Applications
- Securing Your WordPress Blog
For example, you can add features to a business online presence with plugins like:
- Contact forms
- Polls and quizzes
- Social contests
- Display banners
- E-commerce (from managing single sales with PayPal buttons, to enterprise scale e-commerce stores with shopping carts, payment processing, recurring payments, discount codes, etc …)
- Social media integration
- Membership sites
- Newsletter opt-in forms
- Sales funnels
- Mobile conversion
- Improving your website’s SEO
- Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- Customer feedback forms
- Instant language translation (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your pages from English to French)
- Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
- Custom navigation menus
- Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
- Offline storage management
- Making pages load faster
- Managing events
- Niche directories
- Automatically sell spots on your website
- Set up client appointments and reminders
- Manage reservations and bookings
- Detect broken links and send you reports
- Redirect URLs
- Monitor social signals
- Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
- Add sitemaps
- Exclude certain from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
- Hide page content sections
- Migrate information from non-WordPress platforms
- Perform bulk data edits
- Block SPAM
- Customize guest comment displays (e.g. display Facebook posts)
- Insert HTML and script elements into your pages
- Add formatted tables
- Add animated graphics and advanced text formatting options
- Create and manage QR codes
- Improve your local search listings on Google
- Add a map
- Distribute your posts automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and 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, plugins give you limitless possibilities. If you plan to build a website or blog, or your existing site isn’t powered by WordPress, then consider getting a WP site or blog built on your domain, or you could be missing out on some serious features.
In case you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible WordPress plugins are, let’s take a look at some practical advantages of installing a plugin on your website.
For example, if you need to publish content which is only accessible to some users, you can install plugins to make a section of your page or post inaccessible, or create a professional membership site with personal login details for each user …
As mentioned previously, you can use free plugins to enhance your site in lots of different ways. From adding features that will enhance your business, your web users’ experience and your understanding of what is happening on your site …
To increasing your business visibility across social networks and search engines …
You can also add complex functionality to your website using relatively inexpensive paid WP plugins. For example, you can buy plugins that integrate and automate processes on your site such as customer feedback and event registrations management …
And even run a custom bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a small fraction of the cost of hiring web developers to design these functionality for you …
Additionally, you can take advantage of native WP commenting features and plugins that will allow you to engage more with your visitors, customers and registered site members …
For example, your visitors can easily:
- Leave comments on your site (which can grow into online discussions) using either the native WordPress commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get shared throughout a visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with added exposure).
- Share your content with other online users on social networks.
- Contact you via contact forms
- Engage online with your support staff via forums or even set up an online community on your own domain.
- Engage with your staff through live video chats
- Call your business directly from their laptops while browsing your pages
- Get help and support via a client support helpdesk
- And much more …
Finally you, can also integrate complex enterprise-level solutions using a WordPress “front end”. This allows you to manage your business sales and marketing, while the third-party application handles the technological side of things …
Additional Things To Know About Plugins
- There are lots of great WordPress plugins available. Be careful not to overload your site with an excessive amount of plugins, as this will affect your site’s performance and page loading speed. It can also mean more maintenance work for you resulting from potential conflicts.
- Only keep those plugins that you really use. Delete inactive plugins from your site, as these use additional resources.
- Many free plugins normally receive very little to no support from the plugin author. When choosing premium plugins, make sure you do a little research first to understand what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check our WP plugin reviews for additional expert information.
- If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a very long time (e.g. two years), then think twice before installing it. The WordPress software updates regularly and outdated WP plugins can cause conflicts.
- Ensure to always upgrade your plugins to the latest software version. Older plugins not only can create problems, they could also contain vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malicious users.
As you can see, plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most preferred content publishing application available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to add new features to their website without spending thousands of dollars on outsourced web development costs.
One last thing regarding WP plugins:
If there is a feature you need for your web site, you can guarantee that a plugin currently exists that will do what you need, 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 any chance such a plugin does not exist, then a custom plugin that does precisely what you would like it to do can probably be developed for you for a very reasonable price.
Hopefully now you have a better understanding of plugins – what plugins are and how they can significantly enhance the functionality of your WordPress website. See our published posts to learn more about using WP plugins.
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Disclaimer: This site is not associated with WordPress or any of the WordPress-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 details used in this review have been supplied from the plugin’s website