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What are WordPress Plugins-How Do They Work

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As a beginner with WordPress you may be wondering what are WordPress plugins?

I was quickly introduced to the wonderful world of plugins with a very unique situation.

One day searching for a plugin to do a particular function I found it, and installed it.

Using this plugin was a way to improve my website speed and performance.

I installed and activated the plugin-and what do you know? It crashed my website.

PRO TIP Do your homework on any plugin you plan to install!

My website crashed. I was completely at a loss. I had very little experience with WordPress and now my site is no longer loading.

Needless to say I rushed a call to my web hosting company and after about an hour or so on the phone they were able to get my website back online.

During the call I learned some very helpful tips on using plugins and I was given some great recommendations for ways to improve my website performance.

What Are WordPress Plugins?

A plugin is a software that adds a feature or functionality to your WordPress website.

If you have a WordPress.com website you won’t be able to use plugins. You will need to have a WordPress.org self-hosted website.

Just like the apps we use on our cellphone that completely enhances our smartphones,

A plugin will give you new features without having prior knowledge of coding or being a website developer.

Plugins are great tools for WordPress website builders. How many plugins are there?

This number continues to climb, but at the time of writing this article there are over 50,000 available plugins in he WordPress directory.

There are also independent developers that code plugins and sale them through other channels.

Just like the popular cell phone phrase “there’s an app for that”

There is certainly a plugin for that when it comes to your websites functionality.

So lets jump into this!

Whats the deal with plugins? What are the best plugins? Should i be paying for a plugin or stick with the free versions?

All these questions and more will be answered in this post.

My reader-the goal is to help you find the best plugins that give your website any added functionality you are looking for and that are safe and won’t cause harm to your website.

What are Plugins Used For

WordPress plugins are bits of software that adapt to WordPress settings and allow you to create almost any kind of function within WordPress.

Some of the ways I have used plugins:

  • Create a contact form for my website
  • Focus on SEO
  • Create a signup bar for collecting emails
  • Provide security against potential hacks
  • Set up my online store with Woocommerce plugin
  • Display my Pinterest account on my sidebar

When your designing your website if you are looking for a particular function try a plugin. You will certainly find it there.

How WordPress Plugins Work

Plugins are designed to work with the WordPress software. They intergrate with WordPress and add features.

They can be downloaded to your website and stored in your WordPress database.

When a visitor goes to your website all of the requests needed to deliver your website are served.

This includes plugins. The server requests the plugin and it shows up in the visitors web browser.

How Do I Find Plugins

Inside your WordPress dashboard is the easiest way to find plugins.

In the left pane tick plugins and then Add New then you can search for the plugin using the search tool.

what are wordpress plugins

What I have found is that when you start typing a name of a plugin like “simple” it will start showing results with the word simple in it.

You would simply find your plugin click to install then click to activate it.

what are wordpress plugins

You can also download plugins from the web. If you have purchased a plugin from a developer they would provide you with a download link where you can download a zip file to your computer.

How Do I Enable Plugins

To enable a plugin simply download the desired plugin and tick install.

After a few seconds the plugin will install and you will see an option to activate.

Tick the activate option and the plugin will be enabled

Here is the golden question

Are Plugins SafeHow Many Plugins Can I Use

I have been asked this question several times and decided to do some serious research.

What I discovered was you can use as many plugins that you want on your site.

The problem will be using poorly coded plugins that can cause conflicts or loading issues.

One major issue to be aware of is WordPress does updates to there software on a regular basis.

This is done to prevent potential security hacks and improve performance. With free plugins they may not always be kept up to date.

This can create problems such as potential security issues to your website.

For this reason you may want to limit the number of plugins you install unless you can verify the plugin receives regular updates and stays compatible with WordPress.

What Plugins Do I Need For WordPress

Related Reading: Best WordPress Plugins For Bloggers

While you may have different needs based on your website the basic plugins you should install would be:

Updraft Plus-This plugin will do backups of your website

Wordfence Security-This is a security plugin to prevent hackers from harming your website.

WP Fastest Cache-This is a free plugin that helps to optimize your website and improve performance.

Yoast-For bloggers the Yoast SEO plugin will give you a basic structure to follow when writing your blog posts. This structure is to help your blog get noticed by SERP’s.

AskimetThis plugin reduces the spam attempts made by hackers.

Contact Form 7-Creating a contact us page for your web visitors to leave an email or message is easy to do with this plugin.

SMUSH-Adding images to your website will enhance user experience.

These images will need to be compressed (optimized) to help your website load time.

SMUSH does a good job at automatically compressing images on the fly.

When Should I Use A Paid Plugin

When it comes to plugins we use both free and premium. If I can find a free plugin that has regular updates then I will install it.

The potential security exploits are not worth it and you will have a bigger issue if your site is ever hacked.

Make sure to do your homework on a plugin to ensure the safety of your website.

The reason why I would use a paid plugin would be for the security aspect and a feature that the free plugins don’t offer.

How do I get support for free WordPress plugins?

With a good free plugin the plugin developer will usually provide documentation on what the plugin updates have been and what potential bugs they fixed.

You can also visit the WordPress.org website and search the plugin.

You will be able to find support information on that page. The issue with some of the free plugins out there is the developer may create the plugin and not provide frequent updates.

This can be detrimental to your website on many different levels. Be aware of using free plugins and make sure to check for any online threads that may have a history of issues with a plugin.

How Do I Remove A Plugin

Removing an unwanted or unused plugin is simple. From your WordPress dashboard scroll down to the plugins-installed plugins and tick.

Once in the plugin area scroll down to the plugin you wish to delete and tick deactivate.

After it is deactivated you will want to delete the plugin from your database.

Now over to you

Im curious what are some of your go to plugins to improve your WordPress website?

Do you believe its okay to use a large number of plugins yes or no? Leave a comment below. This would be great for our readers to learn about.

If you are newer to WordPress and have questions about specific plugins, or-

looking to learn the basics of what are WordPress plugins send us an email we love to hear from our readers. [email protected]

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