What is a WordPress Plugin?

If you are considering WordPress as your platform for web development, you will discover that WordPress plugins are an essential and integral part of the process, which also makes your life easier. In this post, I will show you what is WordPress plugin?

To put it simply, they are chunks of code designed to add or extend the functionality of your website. Be it an online shop website, or a one-time marketing campaign site – they require a specific set of options and functionalities to make it more user-friendly or improve its performance.

Consequently, the choice and variety of WP plugins are truly staggering – with developers working around the clock to create new functionalities for the platform. This in turn, substantially cuts the development time needed for your site, as much of the functionalities are already available on the market.

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Free or Premium?

Before jumping in to download every single plugin that catches your eye – it’s important to identify the specific needs of your site. Is it multilingual? Is it an online shop? Do you need an eCommerce solution?

Free plugins offer excellent solutions at no additional cost for your site. More often than not, they will satisfy are going to provide the functionality you need. However, if you need a more serious site extension – say, a fully integrated online shop, or quick and convenient multilingual support, you should look into some premium plugins.

Not only they are very well integrated with the platform, but their developers usually provide continuous support. The benefit is twofold. Firstly, with a one-time purchase, you’ll save countless hours of very expensive development time. Secondly, the full support means that the plugin will be constantly updated for future versions of the platform – saving you a lot of troubleshooting and code maintenance time.

How to Install a WordPress Plugin?

Plugin installation is relatively easy and straightforward. There are two ways of plugin installation. Via the library directory or manually.

First of all, you can access the library of WordPress plugins in the ‘plugins’ section of your admin dashboard. Press “Add New”. You can quickly search for your desired plugin and install it with few short clicks. Once installed, you can activate the plugin by pressing ‘Activate’.

Sometimes, however, a manual installation is needed if your plugin isn’t in the plugin directory or is developed by a third party. Download the zip file and unpack it the ‘wp-content/plugins’ folder by using your FTP client. Once completed, go to your admin dashboard and manually activate it.

It’s important to note that you should never install a plugin from a source you don’t fully trust as it can potentially ruin your site. Additionally, make sure that it’s compatible with your version of WordPress.

How to choose your WordPress plugins?

Everyone who has any experience working with the platform, sooner or later realizes that plugins also have their own opportunity cost. This cost usually manifests itself by impacting the website performance i.e. slower loading. Thus, it’s important to research the performance ratings and user experience of the plugin you are considering before installing it. However, every high-quality must have WordPress plugins in order to function properly. These can include plugins that improve the front-end user experience or the back-end functionality of the site. The sheer number of available plugins also means that there’s already a solution for any issue you might run into.

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Prabhu Ganesan has provided his Web development and SEO services independently. He is Co-founder of Webicle Media and WPBlogX. He is very much involved in WordPress as it becomes a second nature for him. Find him on twitter @gprabhucbe

1 thought to “What is a WordPress Plugin?”

  1. Thanks for sharing. It would have been better if you would have focused in more detail on the how part.
    It was good but expecting more details. It would be great if taken an example of a simple plugin and explained technically as well.

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