What are WordPress Plugins? – Everything You Need to Know.
For those of you who are new to the world of WordPress, you may find yourselves puzzled when it comes to what are known as WordPress plugins.
Getting to grips with WordPress can be rather challenging and when you throw plugins into the mix, the whole thing becomes even more complex for those who are not in the web design industry.
These plugins may be confusing at first, but they’re an integral part of the WordPress anatomy and if you’re serious about enhancing your online presence and building yourself a professional, functional, and responsive website, they are something you are going to have to familiarize yourself with.
In this post you’ll find out:
- What are WordPress Plugins
- How Do Plugins Work
- What Can WordPress Plugins Do
- Create An Ecommerce Store
- Create Your Own Forum
- Enhance Security
- Create DIY Landing Pages
- Other Things Plugins Can Do
- Paid or Free WordPress Plugins
- Website Speed
What Are WordPress Plugins, How Do They Work & What Can They Do?
Basically, a WordPress plugin is an app which enables users to customize their WordPress websites and add new layouts, features, and functions. Think of them as the extra functionality on your phone, but on your website.
Currently there are close to 50,000 WordPress plugins available, with several thousand more being made available via third-party websites. For users who need extra functionality, there are also thousands of premium WordPress Plugins which are designed to really enhance the functionality and layout of your website.
These plugins are written in the PHP programming language and have been specially designed to enable them to integrate effortlessly with WordPress.
If you want an idea about what plugins can do for your site, some can simply change the background image and layout, whereas there are others that allow users to transform their websites into fully operational e-commerce stores.
How Do Plugins Work?
Although to some people, it may seem like magic when you see just what these plugins can do, in the real world it’s a lot more mundane and technical.
The great thing about WordPress is the fact that it is deliberately written in such a way that developers are able to customize it and add their own unique code into it. This means that plugins can be developed to provide a whole host of unique functions.
Interestingly, WordPress enables users to utilize custom fields, taxonomies, and WordPress custom types to allow for the use of a whole host of different content, rather than just pages and posts.
Whenever you install a new plugin onto your WordPress site, it will be registered in your own specific WordPress database. You are always in control and just as you can install and uninstall apps on your phone at your own leisure, you can deactivate and active your WordPress plugins whenever you desire.
What Can WordPress Plugins Do?
We’ve given you a couple of examples of what these amazing applications can do, but as there are thousands and thousands of plugins out there to choose from, there are obviously plenty more things to cover.
If you want to customize your blogs and/or websites, WordPress plugins are ideal. Here’s a look at just some of the awesome things these applications can do:
Create An Ecommerce Store
One of the best features of WordPress plugins is the fact that they can let users build their very own ecommerce online store.
Using the ‘WooCommerce’ plugin, this free plugin lets users create a basic, yet sufficient, entry-level ecommerce store to allow you to transform your website into your very own online store.
Create Your Own Forum
Forums are great for engagement and if you make use of the bbPress plugin, you can create your very own forum.
This plugin allows users to create a forum and choose from numerous forum categories and sub-categories. You can also reply to individual topics and posts, and you can even enhance user-engagement by using extensions such as bbPress Notify, which will send an email/alert to members when a new post and/or reply is made.
We live in an age where we reply on websites and the internet more than ever before, and as so much of our personal information is stored online, and because we do so many tasks online, security is paramount.
With WordPress plugins such as Sucuri and iThemes Security, you can add additional security to your site to help protect your site, as well as your visitors/clients, and to provide peace of mind in the process.
Create DIY Landing Pages
If you really want to help your website to stand out, having a quality landing page is vital. A well designed and responsive landing page can convert a visitor to your page into a paying customer, so getting it right is vital.
Due to the fact that the majority of blogs that you find online will utilize WordPress, you can now design a whole host of stunning landing pages using numerous WordPress plugins. Favourites include: Thrive Content Builder, Parallax Gravity, and Optimize Press, though in truth there are many others out there too.
Using any WordPress plugin which is designed to help create DIY landing pages will enable you to create a variety of eye-catching, functional, and responsive landing pages which visitors to your site will find incredibly helpful.
Other Things Users Can Do With Plugins:
- Allow users to start their very own Podcasts
- Create your very own ‘Wiki’ website
- Create an online e-commerce store
- Create a business directory
- Begin a coupon directory
- Create a forum
- Create a social networking page
- Create a multi-lingual website
Paid or Free WordPress Plugins?
One thing you’ll notice straightaway when you start browsing for WordPress plugins, is the fact that there are some plugins which are free, and there are some out there which you will have to pay for. But which is the better option?
Some people assume that free plugins are not going to be very good because, let’s face it, nothing in life worth having comes for free, right? Wrong. There are thousands of plugins out there, as we mentioned before, and a fair few of them are free and pretty awesome in all honesty.
Additionally, these free plugins often have limited functionality which can be unlocked by paying for the premium version.
One thing to note about free plugins however, is the fact that as they’re free, what you see is what you get. There is often no tech support, there’s no warranty, and there is no guarantee that it will do what you need it to do. You may find that the Plugin stops getting updated and becomes obsolete after a few months/years. This can lead to serious security vulnerabilities.
For plugins to enable this extra functionality, extra code is added to your website but you need to monitor if your speed is negatively impacted. Some plugins and themes are notoriously bloated and will affect your seo.
If you have a professional website which sees a lot of traffic and which reflects your business as a whole, paid plugins may be the way to go. These are generally going to be better quality, plus you will also get tech support, warranties, and regular updates.
Please Contact Us and we can help you with selecting reputable plugins for the extra functionality you require.