One of the main benefits of choosing WordPress is the ability to quickly and easily expand your WordPress website’s functionality using plugins.
Like most of us, you most likely have a mobile phone. What happens when you would like access to something new on your device like a new game or business tool?
You download and install an app!
An app is a little piece of software that is really easy to install and immediately integrates new functionality into any mobile device.
(Just like there are social sharing apps …)
A plugin is really similar to an app. You install an application that provides new functionality to your site …
(… there are also social sharing plugins for WP sites!)
Almost always, if you plan to expand the functionality of an existing site, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the features or enhancement, this cost can be significant, particularly if website developers need to add new code or edit code or develop scripts to integrate into your existing site.
This is also applicable when creating a new website or business blog. Companies sometimes invest money in advance in features they may not need.
To reduce expenses, we suggest a cost-effective strategy when setting up a web presence and WP plugins are ideal for doing this.
Imagine if you could:
1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get a professional business web presence up and running quickly, then …
2) As the need for new features becomes evident, install new software modules with just a few mouse clicks that integrate seamlessly with your existing website, giving your site a whole new range of possibilities, and …
3) Cost not one dollar extra to download and install on your site?
Well, this is precisely what plugins let you do!
WP Plugins – Benefits
Earlier, we compared WordPress plugins with smartphone apps. Just like many apps are free to download and some apps may cost a little bit of money, so do plugins.
In fact, loads of wonderful plugins can be downloaded to your site at no cost.
Plugins that you have to pay for 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 get similar functionality on your site, most Premium plugins cost very little.
Also, because WordPress distributes its software as an Open Source application, anyone can create, modify and customize any part of the code. This has enabled thousands of third-party web development professionals to create more applications that “plug into” the WordPress platform than you can possibly imagine.
- Plugins allow you to get started with only a simple web presence and then add new features and enhancements to your site only when necessary.
- WordPress plugins allow you to add almost unlimited features to your online business presence quickly, easily and cheaply.
- WP plugins give you virtually endless expansion capabilities.
- WordPress plugins allow anyone to own a site that they can self-manage.
- Most plugins will typically work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to provide your site with immediate enhancements and features.
- Some plugins are a little more complex and may need some initial configuring.
Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Many Of Them Are) Completely FREE!
Just like themes, tens of thousands of WP plugins are made available for WordPress users … for FREE!
You can download thousands of WordPress plugins from the Free WordPress Plugin Directory …
As mentioned earlier, you can find WordPress plugins that can do almost everything you can think of.
There are WordPress plugins for:
- Website Administration
- Content Management
- Visitor Interactivity
- Social Monitoring
- Media Utilities Automation
- Increasing Sales Conversions And Lead Generation
- Data Monitoring & Reporting
- Site SEO
For example, you can expand your WP site with plugins like:
- Contact forms
- Quizzes and polls
- Social contests
- Rotating banners
- E-commerce (from setting up single-item ordering with PayPal buttons, to full e-commerce with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring payments, coupons, etc …)
- Social media integration
- Membership sites
- Newsletter subscription forms
- Sales workflow
- Mobile integration
- Improving your site’s SEO
- Image galleries (with rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
- User feedback forms
- Language translation (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your pages from English to Portuguese)
- Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
- Custom navigation
- Customer engagement – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
- Cloud storage management
- Making pages load faster
- Managing events
- Business directories
- Automatically sell advertising on your site
- Set appointments and appointment reminders
- Automate reservations and bookings
- Detect broken hyperlinks and email you reports
- Redirect URLs
- Monitor social conversations
- Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
- Add sitemaps
- Exclude specific from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
- Protect post content sections
- Migrate data from non-WP applications
- Perform bulk content replacements
- Block SPAM commenting
- Customize guest commenting (e.g. display Facebook comments)
- Insert code and script elements into your posts and pages
- Add and format tables
- Display animated graphics and advanced font display formatting options
- Create and manage QR codes
- Improve Google local search
- Add a map of your business location
- Post your content automatically on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and many others
- Show countdown timers (for scarcity offers, coupons, etc …)
- Display personal greetings, timed offers, etc …
- And hundreds of other features!
As it’s clear to see, plugins give you endless business scalability. If you plan to build a website or blog, or your existing site wasn’t built using WordPress, then consider getting a WordPress site or blog in the future, or you will be missing out on some serious features.
In case you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using WordPress plugins, let me show you how you can benefit by simply adding an inexpensive plugin to your site.
For example, if you need content protection, you can install plugins to make a section of a post inaccessible, or create a complete membership site with customized login details for users …
As mentioned previously, you can use free plugins to enhance your web site in lots of ways. From installing new features that can improve your business, your website visitors’ experience and your ability to analyze site metrics …
To increasing your business visibility across social media and search engines …
You can also add complex functionality to your website using relatively inexpensive premium plugins. For example, you can download plugins that automate functionality on your pages such as customer feedback and event bookings management …
And even set up a complete bookings and reservations system online … all for a small fraction of the cost of paying programmers to design similar applications for you …
You can also take advantage of built-in WP commenting features and plugins that will make your site even more interactive …
For example, your visitors can easily:
- Post comments on your site (which can turn into online discussions) using either the native WordPress commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which are then shared throughout the visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site increased exposure).
- Share your content with other web visitors on bookmarking sites.
- Contact you via contact forms
- Engage in online discussions with other customers via forums or even set up a private community on your own site.
- Engage with your support staff through live chats
- Call your business directly from their cellphones while browsing your pages
- Open support tickets
- And much more …
You can even integrate complex enterprise-level applications using a WordPress “front end”. This enables you to control your business marketing, while the 3rd-party application handles the technical areas …
Some Useful Things To Know About WP Plugins
- There are so many great WordPress plugins available. Be careful of overloading your server with an excessive amount of plugins, as this can affect your website’s resources and page loading speed. It also creates more maintenance work for you as a consequence of possible errors.
- Only keep those plugins you really use. Delete all deactivated plugins from your site, as these use resources.
- Many free plugins often 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 developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new features, etc. Be sure to check some of 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 twice before installing it. The WordPress core software updates regularly and out-of-date plugins can create errors.
- Ensure to always update your plugins. Outdated plugins not only can cause errors, they may also have vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malicious software.
As you can see, WordPress plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most popular content open source platform available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with easy, simple and inexpensive ways to expand without having to spend thousands of dollars on web development.
One last thing about plugins:
If there is a feature or functionality you need for your website, you can guarantee that a WordPress plugin currently exists that will do just what you want, and that this plugin will either be available at no cost, or if it’s a paid plugin, that it will be fairly affordable.
And, if by any chance this plugin does not exist, then it can certainly be coded 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 business blog.
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