When it comes to blogging or starting a website, a plugin refers to a piece of software that adds specific functionality to an existing program. A good example would be the customisations options, like ad block and VPN functionality, that can be added to most modern browsers.
However, with the increased popularity of the WordPress platform, plugin is now commonly used as the short version of WordPress plugins.
What are WordPress plugins?
WordPress plugins are pieces of add on software that extends the functionality and adds new features to your WordPress website. They contain code that helps you enhance, customise and modify a WordPress site without having to touch a single line of code. Which is great news for those who want to start and manage their own websites, without having technical web development skills.
Why do you need WordPress plugins?
It is quite rare to see any WordPress website using only its out of the box features. WordPress plugins help you create visually stunning multifunctional websites without changing the core program code.
WordPress plugins can help you design and speed up your website, add special effects and functionality and do so much more. There are over 55099 free WordPress plugins and about twice that number of paid ones. They are all designed to integrate seamlessly with specific versions of WordPress.
Plugins have become so ubiquitous with WordPress that there is a saying along the lines of ‘there’s a plugin for that’which means that there is a plugin available for pretty much anything you want to customise on WordPress.
Free versus paid WordPress plugin
Free WordPress plugins are…well, free to download and use. Although most of them come with advanced paid features you have to unlock. Often, they are available on the WordPress depository and can be downloaded and installed on your plugin page.
Paid WordPress plugins, on the other hand, have to be downloaded from their individual providers and uploaded onto your WordPress website before it can be used. It’s just like any freemiumstyle software where the basic features are supplied for free and any advanced or premium features require a fee.
Which WordPress plugins do you need?
This depends on your needs and what you want to achieve with your website. But some absolute fundamentals are:
- Yoast (to help with your website SEO)
- something to connect your viewers to your subscriber list
- a plugin to ward off the spam comments
- a chatbot to address customer queries live – I use LiveChat
- one for security and one for backup.
Check out this list of recommended WordPress plugins for beginners.
How to install WordPress plugins?
Check out this super handy instructional video on how to install basic WordPress plugins.