One of the main features of the WordPress web content management software is the ability to quickly expand your WordPress website or blog’s functionality using inexpensive (and often completely free) applications called ‘plugins’.
No doubt, you most likely own a device like a cell phone. What do you do when you want to access something new on your device like a new application, game or business tool?
You download and install an app!
An app is a little piece of software that is simple and easy to install and adds new functionality to your smart phone.
(Just as there are social sharing apps for smart phones …)
A plugin is really similar to an app. You install a software that adds new functionality to your WordPress website or blog …
(… you can also find social sharing plugins for WP users!)
Almost always, if you want to add new features to an already-built website, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the new features or enhancements, the cost can be fairly significant, particularly if website developers have to add new code or modify programs or install scripts to integrate with your existing site.
This is also applicable to developing a website. Business owners sometimes invest money in additional features or customizations they probably will never need.
To minimize business costs, we suggest a cost-effective strategy when setting up a website and WordPress plugins are ideal for doing this.
Imagine being able to:
1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get a basic, professional website up and running quickly, then …
2) As the need becomes apparent, add new software modules with a couple of mouse clicks that integrate seamlessly with your current web site, giving your website a completely new and expanded range of capabilities and functionality, and also …
3) Cost not one dollar extra to add to your web site?
Well, that’s just what a plugin enables you to do!
Plugins – Benefits And Advantages
Earlier, we compared WordPress plugins with ‘apps’. Just like some apps are free to download and some apps cost a little money, so do WordPress plugins.
In fact, loads of fantastic plugins can be installed and activated on your websites.
WP plugins that you buy are referred to as “Premium” plugins. The good news, is that when you compare these to the price of hiring a professional web developer to get the same features and functionality on your site, most Premium plugins are priced quite low.
Also, since WordPress distributes its software as an Open Source application, anybody can create, modify and customize any part of the WP code. This has allowed many third-party web development professionals to create more tools that enhance the WordPress software than you can probably imagine.
- WordPress plugins let you start off with a basic web presence and expand only if necessary.
- WP plugins let you add almost unlimited functionality to your web site quickly and really inexpensively.
- Plugins give your web site virtually unlimited expansion capabilities.
- WordPress plugins allow business owners to own a web presence that they can fully manage.
- Most plugins typically work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to give your web site immediate capabilities and enhancements.
- Some plugins provide more advanced features and require some configuration.
WP Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Of Them Are) 100% FREE!
Like themes, thousands of great WordPress plugins are available for WP users … often at $0 cost!
You can access thousands of plugins from the Free WP Plugin Repository …
As previously mentioned, you can find WordPress plugins that can do almost everything you need your site to do.
Plugin categories cover:
- User Management
- Content Syndication
- User Interactivity
- Social Media
- Adding Media – Videocasts, Graphics & Images, Audio, Multimedia, etc.
- e-Biz And Online Sales And Advertising Automation
- Improving Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data And System Monitoring & Reporting Applications
- Optimizing Your WordPress Web Site
For example, you can expand a business online presence with plugins like:
- Contact forms
- Polls and quizzes
- Managing ad banners
- E-commerce (from managing single-item sales with PayPal buttons, to complete e-commerce with online shopping carts, payment processing, recurring billing, coupons, etc …)
- Social sharing buttons
- Membership sites
- List-building subscription forms
- Sales funnels
- Mobile integration
- Improving your website’s SEO
- Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- User testimonial forms
- Automatic language translation (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your website from English to Italian)
- Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
- Custom navigation
- Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
- Offline storage integration
- Making pages load faster
- Event management
- Business directories
- Automatically sell advertising on your website
- Set up appointments and appointment reminders
- Set up reservations and bookings
- Detect broken links on your pages and send you reports
- Redirect URLs
- Monitor social conversations
- Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
- Add sitemaps
- Hide specific from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
- Protect content on your posts and pages
- Migrate data from other publishing applications
- Perform bulk data replacements
- Prevent SPAM commenting
- Customize guest commenting (e.g. displaying Facebook posts)
- Inserting HTML and script elements into your site’s header and footer
- Add and format tables
- Add animated graphic elements and advanced font display formatting options
- Create and manage QR codes
- Improve Google search
- Add a map of your business location
- Post your posts automatically on social pages like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and others
- Display countdown timers (for scarcity offers, coupons, etc …)
- Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
- And so much more!
As you can clearly see, plugins give you virtually limitless possibilities. If you plan to build a web site, or your existing site isn’t powered by WordPress, then consider getting a WP site or blog in the future, or you will be missing out on some serious features.
If you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible WordPress plugins are, let’s take a look at some practical uses of installing an inexpensive plugin on your website.
For example, if you need to protect your content, you can use plugins to make a section of your post inaccessible, or create a complete membership site with separate login details for each member …
As mentioned previously, you can use free plugins to enhance your web site in lots of ways. From adding new features that can enhance your business, your site’s user experience and your understanding of what is happening on your site …
To increasing your site’s reach across various social networks and search engines …
You can also add complex features to your site using inexpensive premium WordPress plugins. For example, you can install plugins that automate functions on your website such as user feedback and event registration management …
And even run a custom bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of paying web developers to code custom applications for you …
You can also take advantage of built-in WordPress commenting features and plugins that can let you engage in various ways with your visitors, clients and registered site members …
For example, your web visitors can:
- Post comments on your blog posts (which can turn into online discussions) using either the built-in WordPress commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then displayed throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, providing you with additional exposure).
- Bookmark your content on various social sites.
- Contact you via contact forms
- Engage in online discussions with your team through online forums or even set up a private online community on your domain.
- Engage with members of your team through live video chats
- Call your business from their devices while visiting your website
- Open support tickets
- And so much more …
You can even integrate sophisticated “back end” applications with a WP “front end”. This enables you to manage the content that your visitors see on your site, while the third-party application handles the technological side of things …
WP Plugins – Some Useful Things You Should Know
- There are so many WordPress plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your server with an excessive amount of plugins, as this will start to affect your site’s performance and page loading speed. It can also create more maintenance work for you as a result of possible errors.
- Install only the plugins you really need to use. Delete any plugins you don’t need from your site, as these also consume server resources.
- Many free plugins often receive very little to no support from the plugin author. When considering paid WP plugins, ensure that you do a little research first to see what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to offering support, updates, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of the plugin reviews we publish on this site 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 using it. The WordPress core application updates on a frequent basis and older plugins that have not been updated can create problems.
- Always update your plugins to the most recent software version. Older plugin not only can create errors, they could also have security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malware.
As you can see, WordPress plugins are an important part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most popular content management system in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to add instant features to their website without spending thousands of dollars on outsourced web developers.
One last thing regarding plugins:
If there is a functionality you want for your web site, you can guarantee that a WordPress plugin probably exists that will do what you need, and that this plugin can either be downloaded at no cost, or if it’s a premium plugin, that it will be reasonably affordable.
And, if by any chance such a WP plugin has not been created yet, then a custom plugin that does just what you need it to do can most certainly be written for you for a very reasonable price.
Hopefully now you have a better understanding of WordPress plugins – what they are and how they can significantly improve your website. See our related posts to learn about more useful WP plugins that we recommend using.
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This article was written by Renee Shupe from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.