One of the most useful benefits of choosing WordPress is the ability to quickly and easily expand your WP web site’s functionality using plugins.
Like most people, you most likely have a cell phone. What do you do when you would like to access something new on your device like a new application, software or tool?
You download and install an app!
An app is a software application that is very simple and easy to install and integrates new functionality into your mobile device.
(Just like there are social sharing apps …)
A plugin is similar to an app. You download and install a software that adds new functionality to your website or blog …
(… you can also find social sharing plugins for WP!)
Typically, if you need to expand the functionality of your site, additional cost is involved. Depending on how complex the new features or enhancements are, this cost can be quite significant, especially if it requires editing code.
This also applies when starting a new website or business blog. Businesses sometimes fork out money in advance for features or options they may not ever need.
As part of sound strategic business planning, we recommend a modular strategy when setting up a website and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.
Imagine being able to:
1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get your business website up and running quickly, then …
2) As the need for new capabilities becomes apparent, install new applications with a couple of clicks of the mouse that integrate with your website and blog, and give your website or blog a whole new range of features and functionality, and …
3) Cost not one cent more to add to your site?
Well, this is just what plugins allow you to do!
Benefits & Advantages Of Using WP Plugins
Earlier, we compared plugins with ‘apps’. In the same way that many apps are free to download and some apps cost a little bit of money, so do plugins.
In fact, many useful plugins are freely available for users.
WP plugins that you buy are called Premium plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the price of hiring a professional web developer to get the same functionality on your site, most Premium (i.e. “paid”) plugins are priced quite low.
Also, because WordPress distributes its software as an Open Source application, any person can create, modify and customize any portion of the code. This has allowed thousands of third-party web developers to build more plugins that integrate seamlessly with WordPress than you can imagine.
- WP plugins allow you to get started with only a basic yet professional site and then add new features and enhancements to your site if required.
- WP plugins allow you to add practically unlimited features to any site easily, quickly and very cheaply.
- WP plugins give your site practically endless expansion capabilities.
- WP plugins allow non-technical website owners to own a site that they can self-manage.
- Most plugins will normally work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to give your website instant new enhancements and features.
- Some plugins offer more extensive options and may need some initial configuring.
WP Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Are) Completely FREE!
Just like themes, loads of great plugins are available to WordPress users … often at no cost!
You can view and download thousands of plugins from the Free WordPress Plugin Repository …
As previously mentioned, you will find plugins that will do just about anything you need done.
There are WP plugins for:
- User Administration
- Content Management
- Driving Site Visitors
- Visitor Engagement
- Social Monitoring
- Media Management Automation
- Increasing Website Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data & System Monitoring & Reporting
- Optimizing Your
You can add features to your business online presence with plugins such as:
- Contact forms
- Quizzes and polls
- Social contests
- Display banners
- E-commerce (from setting up single sales with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce with online shopping carts, payment processing, recurring billing, coupon codes, etc …)
- Social media integration
- Private Membership sites
- List-building opt-in forms
- Sales funnels
- Mobile conversion
- Improving your site’s Search Engine Optimization
- Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- User testimonial forms
- Language translation plugins (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your website from English to Norwegian)
- Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
- Custom navigation menus
- Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
- Media integration
- Making pages load faster
- Event management
- Business listing directories
- Automatically sell spots on your blog
- Set client appointments and appointment reminders
- Manage reservations and bookings
- Detect broken links and email you reports
- Redirect URLs
- Monitor what social media users are posting about your business
- Make your pages printable or downloadable as a PDF file
- Add a site map
- Exclude certain from showing on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
- Protect page content sections
- Import information from other publishing platforms
- Perform bulk content edits
- Fight SPAM commenting
- Customize guest comment displays (e.g. display Facebook comments)
- Insert scripts and script elements into your content
- Add formatted tables
- Add animated graphics and advanced font display formatting options
- Add and manage QR codes
- Improve Google local search
- Add location maps
- Publicize your posts automatically on social pages like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and others
- Show countdown timers (for expiring offers, discount coupons, etc …)
- Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
- And so much more!
As you can clearly see, WP plugins give you practically endless possibilities. If you plan to build a website for your business, or your existing site wasn’t built with WordPress, then consider using it in the future.
If you’re still wondering just how powerful and flexible plugins are, let’s take a look at how you can benefit instantly by simply adding a plugin to your site.
For example, if you need content protection, you can use plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on a page or post inaccessible, or transform your WordPress site into a full membership site with customized login details for users …
As mentioned before, you can use free plugins to improve your business site in so many ways. From installing features that will enhance your business, your site’s user experience and your ability to review site metrics …
To extending your business visibility across a number of social media and search engines …
You can also add complex functionality to your site using relatively inexpensive paid plugins. For example, you can buy plugins that integrate and automate tasks on your site such as customer testimonial and event registration management …
And also run a custom-branded bookings and reservations system online … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of paying web developers to code custom applications for you …
Additionally, you can take advantage of built-in WordPress commenting features and plugins that will allow you to engage in various ways 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, giving your site added exposure).
- Share your posts with other web users on social networks.
- Contact you via contact forms
- Engage in online discussions with your team members via online forums or even set up a private online social network on your own domain.
- Engage with your support staff through live webcam conferencing and chatrooms
- Dial your business from their mobile phones while visiting your site
- Get support via a dedicated customer support helpdesk
- And much more …
Finally you, can also integrate complex enterprise applications with a WP “front end”. This allows you to manage the content that your visitors see on your site, while your third-party application handles the technological functions …
Some Useful Things To Know About WP Plugins
- There are many plugins to choose from. Be careful not to overload your server with too many plugins, as this will affect your site’s performance and page loading speed. It can also mean more maintenance issues for you resulting from possible errors.
- Only keep those plugins you really use. Delete any plugins from your site, as these also utilize resources.
- Many free plugins normally receive very little to no support from the plugin developer. When choosing premium plugins, make sure you check some reviews online and see what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check the plugin reviews we provide on this site for additional information.
- If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a very long time (e.g. two or more years), then think carefully before using it. The WordPress core application updates frequently and older plugins that have not been updated can create issues.
- Ensure that you always upgrade your plugins. Outdated plugin not only can create conflicts, they may also contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and malware.
As you can see, plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making it the most powerful, flexible and scalable CMS in the world. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to add instant functionality to their web presence without spending thousands of dollars on outsourced web developers.
One last thing on the topic of WordPress plugins:
If there is a functionality you want for your web site, you can be sure that a WordPress plugin probably exists that will do what you need it to do, and that it will either be available at no cost, or if it’s a premium plugin, that it will be fairly affordable.
And, if by chance this plugin does not exist, then a custom plugin that does just what you need it to do can probably be created for your business for a very reasonable price.
Hopefully now you have a better understanding of plugins – what plugins are and how they can help enhance the functionality of your website. See our related posts to learn more about usingplugins.
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Disclaimer: This site is not associated with WordPress or any of the WP products reviewed on this site. We may derive a financial benefit from sales of products advertised, reviewed or linked to from this site. All images and information used in this review have been sourced from the plugin’s website and/or from websites that provide Goodburst Premium WordPress Services