WordPress is the most popular blogging software in the world and there are many reasons for this. Since we’ve covered what WordPress is before, we will assume that you already understand its purpose and the value it offers. What really makes WordPress great, aside from other obvious factors such as its being open source and very easy to work with, is the ability to customize how it functions using plugins. This is probably one of the most important aspects of the software and it has definitely convinced a lot of people that it is the right choice for their blogging needs.
You can do a lot of things if you have the right plugins and that’s what we want to talk about today. We’re going to explain what WordPress plugins are and why they matter to those in business online today, as well as how you can start using them yourself. We will also talk about what to do if you encounter frustrating problems you need to fix. We’ll delve into the world of custom plugins, as well, and even let you know about things you should watch out for when you are trying to find the right WordPress plugins to meet your needs. By the end, you should have a good idea of what these software tools can do for you and just how you can benefit from them if you decide to start using them for your own WordPress site.
The Definition of a WordPress Plugin
The firsts thing you need to know is that the concept of a plugin actually applies to a lot of different kinds of software. WordPress, like other kinds of software out there such as web browsers, has its own plugin architecture. This means that the people who developed the software (in this case, WordPress) specifically designed it to be able to accept plugins made by other programmers.
Plugins are components of software designed to add specific features not present in the primary program itself. In other words, WordPress plugins are there to add additional functions to WordPress and make it do things it otherwise was not designed to do. The genius to this approach is that the developers of WordPress do not have to try to meet all of the unique needs of their varied user base.
They can include core functions in WordPress itself, leaving the plugin architecture in place so that other developers (known as 3rd party developers) can come in and help expand what WordPress is able to do. This streamlining has allowed those developing WordPress to focus on what matters most and let the 3rd party developers serve individual niches that make sense for them. That’s why WordPress is such a popular blogging platform.
Number of WordPress plugins
There are literally tens of thousands of different plugins for WordPress and this is because the software is so well designed in terms of plugin support. As long as the developers keep up to date when WordPress moves to a new version and make sure their plugin works fine, everything should still work from one version to the next. WordPress plugins are made using the PHP coding language which is considered relatively easy to learn for those who program and this has also helped WordPress to become a leader simply by making it easy for those who wanted to help expand WordPress’ functionality by developing their own plugin.
No matter what you want to do with WordPress, there is likely to be a plugin out there that will help you do it. After all, WordPress today is more than just a blogging package, it can be an entire CMS (Content Management System) and, when it comes to that, it is a particularly lean and powerful choice. That’s why so many people decide to go with WordPress when they are making a site that they want to be easy to deal with and still good at handling all of their needs.
Why WordPress Plugins Matter for Businesses and Marketers
For those doing any kind of business on the web, WordPress and its many plugins make an excellent choice. For one thing, WordPress remains open source and that means it isn’t going to cost you anything at all to download and start using it. In addition to that, there is the fact that with plugins you can do a lot of commerce oriented things that would not be possible with a typical WordPress installation. If you can think of a function, there is most likely already a plugin designed to handle it, but you do need to remember that often plugins designed for marketers will include either a one time fee or a subscription.
That said, plugins make it super simple to customize your WordPress installation. If you want to set up a store, you can do that. If you want to list auctions from sites like eBay, that can be done, too. If you simply want to make an incredible blog with a lot of fantastic features, you can do that, too. It’s not very hard at all to get a great plugin that will work well for just about any set of needs. Typically, those in business would have had to invest a large sum of cash to build a site that was robust and still scalable, but with WordPress that isn’t necessary. You can get all the functionality you need either free or for a very low price.
There are plugins that can help you improve your SEO, plugins to help lower your load time, plugins that can help you back up data to cloud servers and lots more. If you are serious about building a nice site or blog for your business, or to market just about anything under the sun, then give WordPress some consideration. The number of doors that the right plugins can open for you make it well worth using this software for your needs.
How to Find and Install WordPress Plugins
Since there are so many plugins out there, you might get confused as to where you ought to start looking for the right ones. WordPress itself does have an official repository and you can find many, many plugins there which is a good place to start looking for what you want. A basic web search can reveal a lot more of them to you, as well. There are a lot of Internet marketing oriented plugins out there that may not be easy to find, but at forums dedicated to business and other sites, you will be able to find them.
Installing WordPress plugins is usually a fairly simple affair. As long as you already have WordPress set up, then all you will really need to do is download the plugin package, open it to read its instructions, upload it as you’re told to and follow the rest of the installation instructions. Most all WordPress plugins come with a guide that will show you everything you need to do to make the plugin work, step by step. Make absolutely certain that you read this guide carefully and follow the instructions you are given because each WordPress installation is a bit different and the developers may have specific concerns they address in the guide which, if you follow their advice, can help make sure your plugins work smoothly the way they should.
Getting Help for Problems with WordPress Plugins
There are going to be times when you hit a snag installing or using your plugins. This is totally normal and not any reason to get worried, in most cases, because the better designed plugins will have a way to contact someone for support. Usually, if there will be a forum somewhere that will allow you to look through previous problems and how they were solved or to ask your own questions. This will make it pretty simple for you to get the help you need and it is usually how things work, but you should know that this is not always the case.
Most plugins for WordPress are free and developers do not always keep developing them from one version to the next. People move on from projects or another plugin comes about that is more popular and has more features and so forth. This means that at any time you could see your favorite WordPress plugin go more or less obsolete. That’s why you should not build your entire business online around a free WordPress plugin or make it overly dependent on a free plugin.
Commercial plugins are a different story because you are, after all, a paying customer at that point. You can expect good technical support and someone to be there if you have questions or issues you need solved. For those who plan to rely more heavily on a plugin, getting a commercial version that will be updated from one WordPress version to the next is most likely going to be the smartest choice. The better support will probably be worth the money and make life a little bit simpler for you which means you can focus more on your business – that’s the important thing.
Can You Get Custom Made WordPress Plugins?
Yes, this is certainly possible although it may cost more than the average commercial plugin. If you want proprietary development, which means it is a plugin made solely for your use, then you do have to compensate the person or company that made it for you and this is not always cheap. It will depend on what you want done, but if you go this route then you should definitely make sure you ask around to get a good price on what you want done and then budget accordingly.
Sometimes, custom plugins can make things simpler for you and give you the functionality you want with less hassle and that is always a good thing. They also mean that others can not copy what you have because they can’t get a hold of your custom plugin. This isn’t the right way to go for every business, primarily due to the costs involved, but it can be a smart choice in many situations where the existing plugins out there are just not meeting your particular set of needs.
Can You Make Money Building WordPress Plugins?
If you have the skills needed to program plugins in PHP for WordPress then there is definitely an income opportunity here. Those who want to work freelance will generally find no shortage of opportunities to get hired. Of course, you will want to find a way to make sure you get paid for your efforts, but there are definitely a lot of people who can use and benefit from customized WordPress plugins.
Additionally, you might consider developing paid plugins that are available to the general public at a relatively low-cost. Some people do this and it does bring them income. Some even form companies dedicated to developing professional grade WordPress plugins. So, yes, there is a market for plugins that are not free that is worth exploring for those who have an inclination towards programming.
Things to Be Cautious About When It Comes to WordPress Plugins
As great as WordPress plugins can be, you do want to be careful when choosing which ones you plan to use. You should always make sure that you research what other people are saying about a given plugin whenever possible. You want to know that it is safe to use and does not create any issues or have security problems. When things are free, this is part of due diligence so make sure you do your part to ensure the integrity of your own site.
Additionally, be sure that you do not build your business around any one plugin and that you realize you may need to change in the future. WordPress is being continually upgraded and so are most plugins. This means that maintenance is going to be necessary. As long as you have a forward thinking approach like this, you should find plugins to be a powerful, effective way to be able to improve the performance of your WordPress site.