Plugins are arguably the best thing about WordPress. They give you a ton of freedom and make building a functional website so much easier.
Plugins are small pieces of software you can add to the core WordPress. You do this either to enhance an already existing function of WordPress or to add an entirely new one.
But what are plugins exactly? How do they work?
That might sound confusing so we’ll explain it in plain English. If you want to add anything to a traditional, custom-coded website, you need to either insert or write the code yourself or pay someone to do it. With WordPress, you only need to install the right plugin.
You want your Twitter feed displayed in the banner? There’s a plugin for that. Perhaps you need to do image optimization? There’s a plugin for that too.
There are over 55,000 plugins in the official WordPress directory and the vast majority of them are active. You can find a plugin for just about anything there. A statement to how useful plugins are is that they collectively got over 1.5 billion downloads in 2016 alone.
One of the most important questions concerning plugins is whether to go for free or paid ones. This is a big debate even among the experienced WordPress users. We’ll give you an outline.
Whichever paid plugin you find, there’s usually a free one with the same functionality. You’re not getting anything extra by paying for a plugin.
However, the price, or rather lack thereof, is the issue with free plugins. You’re not paying the developers anything so they don’t have any responsibilities towards you. If you have trouble with their plugin, they are within their rights to deny you customer support.
That being said, the developers of most quality plugins attempt to provide support to the best of their abilities. You just have to contact them through the forums. Just know that they are under no obligation to help you.
Our recommendation is to experiment with plugins. You can try out all the free ones you think might come useful.
If you need extra customer support, you can experiment with paid plugins. Many offer a money back guarantee so you don’t really risk losing money if the plugin’s not working out.
Too many plugins
One final thing to be wary of is installing too many plugins. Plugins require server resources to run. If you leave too many plugins running simultaneously, your server might not be able to handle it. This leads to longer load times, security issues, and sometimes server crashes.
This doesn’t mean you should delete all plugins. On the contrary, some plugins can even improve website performance. Just remove the ones you’re not using and you will be fine. Use plugins wisely and your website will only benefit from it.
That covers the basics of plugins. If you wish to learn more about WordPress, the infographic below is a great resource to get you started.