What is a WordPress Plugin?

wordpress pluginsA plug-in is a small program, or combination of programs, that sits on top of your WordPress installation and increases the functionality of your website in some way. (Translation: Plug-ins allow your blog to have more features and to do more than it could when you first installed it.) Most plug-ins are written in the PHP scripting language and add an additional feature or function to your website.

Plug-ins integrate seamlessly with WordPress so there’s no messing with your WordPress code. That’s another great thing about plug-ins. They don’t actually affect your original WordPress install. They reside separately and interact with WordPress.

How did plug-ins get “invented”?

The development of plug-ins came about by programmers who wanted to increase the function of WordPress without having to alter the code within WordPress itself. Basically, programmers said “I wish WordPress could do this extra thing” – and then created plug-ins to make it happen. Of course other developers got excited by this and it spread. More and more developers jumped on board and created these small add-ons to the WordPress code and now WordPress can do more than the original creators ever dreamed it could simply due to these little plug-ins.

The vast majority of plug-ins are free and therefore it is important to understand that they do not come with technical support services. When choosing a plug-in, it is wise to evaluate the following:

• How long it has been since that plug-in was updated.
• What version – or versions – of WordPress is the plug-in compatible with.
• Whether the plug-in homepage still exists.
• If people seeking support on the plug-in have received answers to their questions.
• The overall tone of the discussions on the plug-in download page.

There is a plug-in for virtually anything you want to accomplish in WordPress. Visit your dashboard and look for the menu item “plug ins” to find or search for the plug ins you want.  If you want to monitor your visitor statistics, increase interaction with your visitors, add a photo gallery, automatically back up your database or anything else you have a desire to do with your site, you can most likely find a plug-in to use, and like we said, most of them are free. I do try to help the developers for ones I rely on and make a donation, after all they are helping my blog look and work better.

Some of the essential plug-ins we use on our WordPress sites are:

  • All in One SEO Pack
  • Contact form 7
  • WordPress Database backup
  • Tweetmeme Button

What are your favourite plug-ins? Please share them here!

If you need help with plug-ins on your WordPress Blog/Website, please contact us – Jane is our WordPress Specialist and we can help you add the plug-ins to your site to make it work better for you!

Comments

    • says

      Jeanette, I can’t believe I forgot that!!! Thanks. You would find them in your main dashboard under a menu item named plugins. Then you can search for the specific ones or look through the list of available ones.

      • says

        You can also search for plugins in a search engine such as google. Most people that write them have a website with the plugin available for download. Sometimes they even have a support forum on their site you can read through for tips.

        The bulk of plugins available are free… but sometimes when a person spends quite a bit of time creating the plugin they will have it available for sale on their site. You install these via the same method Kathy explained but upload it from your computer.

    • Kathy Colaicovo says

      To see the plugins you have – simply go to your dashboard and click on the left tab – plugins

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