One of the main benefits of using the WordPress content publishing platform is the ability to easily expand your WP site’s functionality using plugins.
What Are Plugins?
Like most of us, you probably have a mobile phone. What do you do when you want to access something new on your device like a new game or a business tool?
You download and install an app!
An app is a software application that is simple and easy to install and adds new features and functionality to your smart device.
(Just like there are social sharing apps for smart phones)
A plugin is like an app. You install and activate a little piece of software that adds new functionality to your website .
(you can also find social sharing plugins for WordPress)
Generally, if you plan to add new features to an existing site, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the features or enhancements, the cost can be quite significant, particularly if web developers have to create new code or modify code or install scripts that integrate into your current site.
This also applies when developing a website. Companies tend to spend money up-front on components they may not need.
For this reason, we recommend a cost-effective approach when setting up your website and WordPress plugins are ideal for doing this.
Imagine being able to:
1) Start simply with minimal cost involved. Get your business website up and running quickly, then …
2) As you need more features and functionality, just install new applications with a few mouse clicks directly from within your WP admin section, and give your website or blog a whole new and expanded range of features and functionality, and also …
3) Cost not a single dollar more to install on your website?
Well, that’s precisely what a WordPress plugin lets you do!
Plugins – Benefits
I began this article by comparing WP plugins with mobile apps. In the same way that many apps are free to download and some may cost a little bit of money, so do plugins.
In fact, loads of powerful plugins can be installed on your sites.
Plugins that cost money are referred to as “Premium” plugins. The good news is that when you compare these to the cost of hiring a professional web developer to add similar features and functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. paid) plugins are priced quite low.
Also, because WordPress makes its source code available to everyone, any web developer can create, rewrite and customize any portion of the code. This has enabled many third-party software development companies to create more tools that expand the WordPress platform than you can imagine.
- WP plugins allow you to get started with a basic site and then expand only if necessary.
- WordPress plugins allow you to add almost endless functionality to your site quickly, easily and inexpensively.
- Plugins give you practically endless expanding capabilities.
- WP plugins allow business owners to have a digital presence that they can fully manage.
- Most plugins will normally work “right out of the box” and only require to be installed and activated to give your website instant new capabilities and enhancements.
- Some plugins offer more extensive options and could require some initial configuration.
Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Of Them Are) 100% FREE!
Like WordPress themes, loads of WordPress plugins are made available for WP users … often at $0 cost!
You can download thousands of WP plugins from the Free WordPress Plugin Repository …
As previously mentioned, you can find plugins that can do almost anything you can think of.
There are plugins for:
- User Management
- Content Syndication
- Visitor Engagement
- Social Sharing
- Inserting Media Files – Video, Graphics, Audio, Multimedia, etc.
- e-Biz And Online Sales And Advertising Automation
- Increasing Website Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data Analysis
- Website Optimization
You can enhance a website with plugins like the following:
- Contact forms
- Quizzes and polls
- Rotating banners
- E-commerce (from managing single ordering with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce with shopping carts, invoicing, recurring payments, discount codes, etc …)
- Social sharing buttons
- Membership sites
- Newsletter opt-in forms
- Sales funnels
- Mobile conversion
- Improving your site’s Search Engine Optimization
- Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- User testimonials
- Automatic language translation (e.g. you can instantly change your website’s content from English to Spanish)
- Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
- Custom navigation menus
- Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
- Cloud storage management
- Making pages load faster
- Event management
- Niche directories
- Automatically sell advertising on your website
- Set up appointments and reminders
- Automate reservations and bookings
- Detect broken links on your pages and send you reports
- Redirect visitors from broken pages to other pages on your site or other websites
- Monitor what other sites are posting about your business
- Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
- Add site maps
- Exclude specific from showing on areas of your site (e.g. site maps, feeds, etc.)
- Protect content on your posts and pages
- Migrate data from non-WordPress applications
- Search and replace content
- Fight SPAM commenting
- Customize visitor comment displays (e.g. display Facebook discussions)
- Insert HTML and code elements into your site’s header or footer
- Add tables
- Display animated graphic elements and advanced content formatting options
- Create and manage QR codes
- Improve Google search listings
- Add a map
- Publish your content automatically on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and others
- Display countdown timers (for scarcity offers, coupons, etc …)
- Display personalized greetings, timed offers, etc …
- And so many other features!
As it’s clear to see, plugins give you practically limitless business flexibility. If you are planning to build a website, or your existing web site wasn’t built with WordPress, then consider using WordPress in the future.
In case you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using plugins, let me show you how you can benefit instantly by installing a plugin on your web site.
For example, if you want to protect your content, you can use plugins to make a section of a page inaccessible, or create a complete paid membership site with customized login details for all users …
As mentioned before, you can use free plugins to enhance your site in so many different ways. From installing features that improve your business, your website visitors’ experience and your ability to analyze site metrics …
To increase your business visibility across a number of social sites and search engines …
You can also add advanced functionality to your site using relatively inexpensive premium WP plugins. For example, you can download plugins that automate features on your pages such as user testimonial and event bookings management …
And even run a complete bookings and reservations system online … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring programmers to build custom applications for you …
Additionally, you can take advantage of native WordPress commenting features and plugins that will let you engage in various ways with visitors, customers, and registered site users …
For example, your visitors can easily:
- Post comments on your blog posts (which can grow into online discussions) using either the native WordPress commenting function, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then displayed throughout your visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site additional exposure).
- Share your posts with other online visitors on social networking sites.
- Contact you using contact forms
- Engage online with your team via online forums or even set up a private social network on your site.
- Engage with your team via live chats
- Call your business directly from their laptops when visiting your pages
- Open support tickets
- And so much more …
You can even integrate sophisticated “back end” solutions using a WordPress “front end.” This lets you control your business sales and marketing, while the third-party application handles the technical functions …
Additional Things To Know About WP Plugins
- There are so many great WordPress plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your site with an excessive amount of plugins, as this can inevitably affect your site’s performance and site loading times. It also creates more maintenance work for you as a result of potential conflicts.
- Only keep those plugins that you plan to use. Delete any plugins from your site, as these use resources.
- Many free plugins normally come with very little to no support from the plugin developer. When considering paid plugins, ensure that you check around a little and understand what kind of reputation the plugin developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check the plugin reviews we publish on this site for more information.
- If you see that an unsupported plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two or more years), then think carefully before installing it. The WordPress core software is updated on a frequent basis, and older plugins that have not been updated can create errors.
- Make sure to always keep all plugins up-to-date. Older plugins not only can cause problems but they could also contain security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malicious users.
As you can see, WP plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most popular content management system available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to expand quickly without spending thousands of dollars on outsourced web development.
One last thing regarding WordPress plugins:
Whatever feature you want for your web presence, you can be sure that a someone has probably already authored one that will do exactly what you need it to do, and that it will either be available for FREE, or if it’s a premium plugin, that the price will be quite reasonable.
And, if by chance this WP plugin has not been created yet, then it can certainly be developed for you for a reasonable price.
Hopefully, this post has given you a better understanding of WordPress plugins – what plugins are and how they can expand your website. See our published posts to learn more about using plugins.
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