One of the most powerful features of WordPress is the ability to easily add new applications that will immediately enhance your website’s functionality.
In WordPress, these applications are called plugins.
WordPress Features Explained – WordPress Plugins
Typically, adding a new feature to your website or enhancing its functionality involves additional cost. Depending on the complexity of the feature or enhancement, this cost can be significant, especially if web developers have to create new code or modify programs or scripts to integrate with your existing site.
When setting up a website, businesses will often either spend money upfront buying features that they may or may not need, or pay extra later for new features, enhancements, and/or customizations.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could:
1) Get your web presence up and running quickly with a simple, easy-to-manage and professional-looking website that communicates exactly what your business is about, and then …
2) As the need arises, easily add new software modules with the click of a mouse button that would integrate seamlessly with your existing website and give your site a whole new range of capabilities and functionality, and also …
3) Cost not a single cent extra to download and install on your site?
Well, that’s exactly what WordPress plugins allow you to do!
If you own a smartphone, then most likely you are familiar with the concept of the “app”. Apps are like software programs that can be instantly downloaded and installed on your phone to give your phone added functionality. Some apps are free to download, and some apps cost a little money.
WordPress plugins are similar to phone apps.
Because WordPress distributes its application as Open Source software and makes its code publicly available, anyone can create, modify and customize any portion of the code to enhance and contribute to the core software application. This has allowed many third-party software developers to create more applications that seamlessly “plug into” the WordPress platform than you can imagine.
WordPress Plugins – Benefits And Advantages
- Plugins let you start off with a basic, simple website and then add new features and enhancements to your site only when required.
- Plugins allow you to add almost unlimited functionality to your website easily and inexpensively.
- Plugins allow non-technical users to have a website that they can fully manage themselves. Most plugins typically work “out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your site new capabilities, enhancements and functionality. Some plugins are a little more complex and require some initial configuration.
WordPress Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And Often 100% FREE!
Just like themes, thousands of plugins are made available for WordPress users … and many of these great plugins are 100% FREE!
You can download thousands of plugins from the Free WordPress Plugin Directory …
As mentioned earlier, you can find plugins that will do just about anything you can imagine.
For example, you can enhance your WordPress site with plugins such as:
- Contact forms
- Polls and quizzes
- Rotating banners (promote different products or advertising on your site)
- E-commerce (from single ordering with PayPal buttons, to full scale e-commerce with shopping carts, invoicing, etc …)
- Social media integration
- Creating full scale membership sites
- Newsletter subscription forms
- Mobile integration
- Improve your site’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- Customer testimonials
- Instant language translation (e.g. instantly change your site’s content from English to German)
- Statistical reporting
- Custom navigation
- Customer interactivity
- Media integration
- Faster page loading
- Event management
- Business directories
- Automatically sell advertising on your site
- Set client appointments and reminders
- Help customers make reservations and bookings
- Detect broken hyperlinks on your pages and send you a report
- Redirect visitors from certain pages to other pages or other websites
- Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
- Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
- Exclude pages from showing on your site
- Protect / hide content on your pages
- Migrate / Import data from different publishing platforms
- Search and replace data
- Prevent SPAM
- Custom visitor commenting (e.g. displaying Facebook comments)
- Insert code and elements into your pages
- Add code to your site’s header or footer
- Add tables
- Add graphic elements
- Provide advanced text formatting options
- Add/Create QR codes
- Improve your local search listings on Google
- Add a map of your business location
- Post your content automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others
- Show countdown timers (for expiring special offers, coupons, etc …)
- Add coupons and special offers
- Display personal (and personalized) greetings
- And hundreds of other features!
As you can see, the possibilities of what you can do with a WordPress site are just about endless when you add plugins.
If you need to protect your content, you can use plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on your page inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a full membership site with separate login details for every member …
You can use free plugins to enhance your site in so many ways. From adding new features that will improve the “user experience” of your site …
To extending your site’s reach across social media networks and search engines …
You can also add complex functionality to your site using inexpensive Premium (i.e. “paid”) WordPress plugins. For example, you can purchase plugins that automate the process of managing customer testimonials and booking events on your site …
And even run a complete bookings and reservations system on your site, all for a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring programmers to create these applications for you …
You can take advantage of the WordPress built-in commenting features and add plugins that will make your site even more interactive and allow you to better engage with your visitors, customers and registered users / members. …
For example, visitors on your site can:
- Leave comments on your site (which can turn into online discussions) using WordPress built-in comments, or Facebook comments (which get shared throughout the visitor’s Facebook pages giving your site additional exposure).
- Share and bookmark your content with other online users on all major social networking and social bookmarking sites.
- Contact you via contact forms
- Engage in online discussions with you and other customers / members of your site through forums
- Engage with you via live chats (text and video/audio)
- Call your business directly from a mobile phone while visiting your site
- Open support tickets via a customer support helpdesk
- And so much more …
You can even integrate complex “Back End” third party applications and solutions with a WordPress “Front End” site. This allows you to manage the marketing content that your visitors see on your site, while your third-party applications handle the “business” end without visitors leaving your site …
WordPress Plugins – Some Useful Tips
- There are many WordPress plugins to choose from. Be careful of overloading your site with too many plugins, as this can start to affect your site’s performance and loading times. It also means more maintenance and more possibilities of conflicts and errors arising.
- Only keep the plugins you really need and use. Delete any plugins you don’t need from your site.
- Free plugins often come with little to no support from the plugin developer. Even when choosing paid plugins, check around to see what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to offering support, upgrades, etc.
- If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a very long time (e.g. two years), then think twice before downloading it or continuing to use it.
- Always keep your plugins up-to-date. Outdated plugins can cause errors and may have vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious users.
As you can see, WordPress plugins are an important feature of WordPress.
Hopefully this information has given you a better understanding of WordPress plugins – what they are and how they can significantly enhance the functionality of your WordPress site or blog.
View my Top WordPress Plugins for Beginners here.