When you first start looking into building a WordPress website, ‘what is a WordPress plugin’ is probably a question that comes up quickly.
Don’t worry though, once you’ve read this post then all will become clear.
I’m going to tell you:
- What a WordPress plugin is
- What WordPress plugins can do
- Where to find WordPress plugins
- How to choose the best WordPress plugins
- Just how much WordPress plugins cost
What is a WordPress Plugin?
The standard WordPress software is fantastic, but it has limited capabilities. It was created for blogging, so if all you want to do is start writing blog posts, you have everything you need.
If however, you want to sell things, have sign up forms, create a membership area or even just make the site secure, you will need to add extra functionalities – like ‘plugging in’ extra software, hence the term ‘plugin’.
What Can Be Done With WordPress Plugins
In short… ANYTHING.
It’s almost impossible to list everything that WordPress plugins can allow your WordPress website to do, but here is a quick summary of some of the most popular:
Selling Things on Your Website
If you want to sell physical or virtual products and services via WordPress, then the best option is to add a product listing and shopping cart plugin.
This blog post by eCommerce Platforms reviews some of the most popular eCommerce platforms and is a great resource..
Adding Security to Your WordPress Website
Security measures are an absolute must for every website, but as WordPress is open-source software and therefore very vulnerable to attacks, a security plugin is an absolute must.
This post by security experts Infosec provides a comprehensive breakdown of the most popular security plugins and so it should help you decide which one to use.
Creating a WordPress Membership Site
Membership sites are becoming increasingly popular. One of the most popular ways to be in control of your members, what they see and how they interact with your business is to host your membership site on your own WordPress website.
Blogging Wizard has a written a fantastic article that goes into detail about what you should be looking for in a membership plugin, including a breakdown of some of the most popular membership plugins.
Where to Find the Best WordPress Plugins
There are a few ways to find WordPress plugins, and several tricks you need to know in order to choose the best ones.
The WordPress Plugin Repository
This is a library of plugins that you can access from your website dashboard or via the WordPress website. It list free plugins, although many can be upgraded to the premium version for extra features.
There are also many marketplaces for free and premium plugins such as Code Canyon.
My preferred method is to Google! There are hundreds of blog posts (like the ones above) who will list and review the plugins that offer the functionalities you’re looking for, taking away a lot of your work.
How to Choose the Best WordPress Plugins
There are thousands of WordPress plugins, so how you can be sure you’re choosing the best one?
How recently was it updated?
If a plugin hasn’t been updated in more than a couple of months then it might not be the best option. Heavy weight plugins should be updated regularly. If it’s being neglected, there’s a good chance the level of support will be poor and it might even break your site.
Is it compatible with the latest version of WordPress?
If the plugin hasn’t been tested with the latest version of WordPress, you’re risking plugin conflicts, poor functionality and a broken site.
What are the reviews like?
The reviews can reveal a lot of information about how good a plugin is. Take a good look and you’ll learn a lot that the plugin authors might not tell you.
How good is the plugin support?
If support questions from people already using the plugin are going ignored, or if they’re answered with stroppy or unhelpful replies, consider looking elsewhere.
How Much WordPress Plugins Costs
There aren’t any standard costs for WordPress plugins, many are free, but there are also thousands from $10 – $1000. The cost is often tied to how complex the plugins are.
Some will have a one off cost, others will have monthly or annual subscriptions, but all costs will be very well laid out before you’re able to make a purchase. Many of the bigger plugins will also provide money back periods, so you can check they work with your site!
What is a WordPress plugin – Conclusion
Plugins are what make WordPress such a successful website platform. When it comes to what you can create with WordPress, the sky is the limit, thanks to plugins.
The trick is to make sure you’re choosing good quality plugins which enhance your site, rather than slowing it down. Hopefully, this blog post has given you some useful tips to help you do that!
What’s your favourite plugin? Tell me in the comments!