Plugins – Extending the functionality of your website

What is a Plugin?

A plugin is an extension of your WordPress website basic functionality. It allows your website to do more things other than displaying text, photos, and videos.

A plugin adds more capabilities to your page.

What capabilities? well, that depends entirely on you:

  • Are you a real estate agent? You can add a plugin that allows you to manage your properties and display them to your visitors.
  • Do you do haircuts? You can add a plugin that allows you to manage your appointments!
  • Would you like to receive email messages sent directly from your website? You can add a plugin for that too!

Plugins are made by developers all around the world, they do it for free so they can make a name for themselves, or, they could sell you their plugin to earn a profit.

Types of plugins

Same as themes, plugins can be paid or free, and the differences are similar than in themes:

  1. Cost. There are free plugins, and there are paid plugins. Paid plugins can be purchased for a flat fee or for a monthly or annual subscription, that includes the support you may need in the future. There are hundreds or thousands of plugins developers and their terms and conditions as well as the cost of their plugins vary. You can check these Paid plugins in Code Canyon (link will open a new tab).
  2. Support. You will receive more support from the creator of the plugin if you buy it, than using a free plugin.
  3. By category or market. Since there are thousands of plugins out there, is very difficult to categorize them any other than by the purpose of the plugin itself. There are a little more than 50,000 plugins existing in the official WordPress Plugin Repository (link will open a new tab), so there are plenty to choose from!

Choosing the right plugin for your website

I have mentioned that depending on what you want your website to do, is the plugin you need to look for.

But, if there are many different choices, how do I know which one is better?

That’s the million dollar question, but if you check the following list, it will be so much easier to decide what plugin to install on your website:

  • Popularity: In the WordPress Plugin Library you can see the number of times downloaded, reviews and rankings of each plugin, these are great indicators on how the plugin is doing for other people who used it.
  • Date of last update: Plugins that are permanently updated by their authors are better because it means they are being monitored and if any errors arise, their authors are available to repair them quickly. I personally recommend you to stay away from plugins that have 1 year or more from its last update.
  • Compatibility with the latest versions of WordPress: Same as before, if a plugin is being maintained regularly, it means their authors are dedicating time to keep a good product available for the users.

Keep in mind that Plugins can be added and removed easily from your WordPress website, so you can test and then delete the ones you don’t need anymore. This is one of the main features I ? from WordPress!

Paid vs Free Plugins

Most of the time, paid is better, right?

Wrong! Sometimes free is better! :). As rule of thumb, you should check first if there are free plugins that accomplish the task you are requiring. If you can’t find anything that suits you, then look for a paid plugin, but do a research first on the type of support the company that sells the plugin offers, this is very important if you are going to pay.

You’re doing good… keep going!

 

How to install a plugin?

The process is similar than with themes, and there are 2 processes, different for free and paid plugins.

Installing a free plugin from the WP plugin library

  1. Go to your website WP Dashboard and log in.
  2. In the list of options on the left side, look for the Plugins option and select Add New.

  3. Once the selection interface appears, you will see a list of the most popular plugins. In the top right side, there is the Search box, you can type in the keywords of what you need and automatically will show you the results.
  4. In the search results, you can either click on the name of the plugin to see its full details, or click on Install Now to add it to your website.
  5. After installed, click on Activate so the plugin is active on your website.

  6. You’re done!

Installing a paid plugin purchased on an external website

To begin, you must have at hand the compressed file (.zip file) of the plugin you purchased. This will be provided by the company you used to buy the plugin.

  1. Go to your website WP Dashboard and log in.
  2. In the list of options on the left side, look for the Plugins option and select Add New.
  3. Once the selection interface appears, you will see a list of the most popular plugins. In the top, next to the title Add Plugins, there is a button named Upload Plugin, click on it.
  4. Click the button Choose file and look for the plugin file in your computer. Then click Install Now.

  5. After installed, click on Activate so the plugin is active on your website.
  6. You’re done!

Perfect! Now you know how to extend the functionality of your WordPress website! Isn’t that awesome?

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