What is a WordPress Plugin? Complete Guide

Plugins are the cornerstones of a WordPress website. Plugins can be explained as software that contains various functions that can be used on your WordPress page. They are used to expand the functionality or add new features to your website. And rather than having to code your website to create these features, you have thousands of plugins to choose from that are already developed by other people that you can download to your site and get started within a matter of minutes.

There are thousands of free plugins for WordPress, many of which have extended paid versions. Paying for a plugin can really be worth the investment if you need the extra features and tools that come with it.

There are endless plugins to choose from for WordPress – all with different features, functions, and designs. The plugins come with a number of features that enhance your website, either by adding new features or expanding existing ones.

It’s important to note that a plugin is not the same as a WordPress theme. A theme has to do with the layout of your website while a plugin only complements the theme by adding particular functions, for example, a contact form. You can create a WordPress website without using plugins, but if you want to get the most out of your site and add additional functions and features, you need to install one or two plugins. The best part is that you do not need any programming skills to install and use a plugin, so there is no reason not to use them. This is also part of why plugins have become so popular and a cornerstone of building a WordPress website.

Guide to WordPress plugins

A great benefit of WordPress is the large number of plugins that you can install. If you are missing a certain feature and function, someone else has probably already thought about it and developed a solution that you can also use for your site.

A WordPress plugin can be explained as a car. To start with, you may have a car with the most basic features. A plugin will help you add things like a GPS, CD player, seat heater, and so on.

There are a lot of different things you want to keep in mind when choosing WordPress plugins. Perhaps most importantly keep safety and performance in mind when deciding to use different plugins. It is necessary that you are careful when choosing your plugins and make sure that it is something you actually need, otherwise it can affect your website very negatively.

It is not uncommon for security flaws to be found in WordPress plugins. After all, since WordPress uses so-called open-source code, the plugins are developed by private individuals and companies, and not by WordPress themselves. Basically can create their own extension with almost any function and upload it to WordPress.

At worst, these security flaws may lead to websites being ‘hacked’ if the plugins are not removed or updated in time. WordPress does not remove extensions for you, it is something you have to do yourself. However, you can choose to update your extensions automatically – something you should also consider if you want to do as it can cause compatibility issues.

Although plugins undergo a verification process before being published by WordPress, there are no guarantees.

Things to keep in mind when choosing WordPress plugins

Since there are thousands of different WordPress plugins to choose from, it can be difficult to know which you should choose. Obviously, the starting point is looking for a plugin that does what you need it to do, for example, add a contact form. Here are the most important things to think about:

  • Keep the plugins up to date and check that the developer is still working on it. A good tip is to look at the most recent date the plugin was last updated to ensure compatibility with your version of WordPress.
  • Avoid plugins that risk colliding with each other or that are superfluous – in other words, plugins that do the same thing. For example, two firewall plugins can cause problems as their functions collide with each other. Opt for one plugin that does what you need it to do. As WordPress develops, more features are added to the system. Therefore, make sure that you do not use plugins that are redundant for WordPress or your theme.
  • Look at the creator’s reviews. This is a great way to get an idea of what people think about the plugin. Does it do what is promises or are people experiencing problems with it? If you are unfamiliar with a plugin, you should carefully read the descriptions and instructions as well as look at reviews to form an opinion about it and its performance.
  • Even though extensions for WordPress are extremely good and helpful, plugins can negatively affect your site’s performance, in particular the speed of your website. Therefore, you want to use as few extensions as possible. If you don’t need a plugin any longer, disable it.
  • Many times, your theme relies on various plugins such as construction tools. Review the functionality you get with your theme before complementing it with additional extensions.
  • The WordPress library is full of extensions, but it doesn’t contain all. Sometimes the plugin is offered directly by the developer instead. In addition, many paid versions of extensions usually come from sites other than WordPress.
  • You will most likely not need the extensions included in your WordPress installation by default. In that case, deactivate and delete them.
  • Always be careful about which extensions you choose to download. Three important criteria to keep in mind to maintain the security of your WordPress site are that the extension is available from a trusted source (eg wordpress.org), that it has received good reviews from previous users, and that it has been updated by the creator during it. last six months. These are three good guidelines to follow to make sure you end up with high-quality plugins.
  • Keep in mind that many extensions are old and out of date and others are broken and do not work on your WordPress page. Therefore, make sure to check the source of the extension and previous reviews and be sure to update your extensions when the creator releases new versions and updates.

How to install a WordPress plugin

Plugins are very easy to install on your site as anything else in WordPress. To download a WordPress plugin, simply log in to your administration panel by adding / wp-admin at the end of your site URL. Navigate to “Extensions> Add New”. Here you can search for add-ons either by their name or description or by taking a look at the most popular, interesting, or most recommended plugins.

To install extensions in WordPress, start by logging in and selecting “Extensions”> “Add new” in the menu on the left.

If you’re looking for a specific plugin, enter the name in the search box and click “Search”. A list of extensions that matched your search appears. By clicking on “More details” on one of the search options, you can see more information about the extension.

Click “Install Now” on the “Related Posts for WordPress” extension.

Activate WordPress plugin

When the installation is complete, activate the extension by clicking on “Activate”. If you want, change the settings for the plugin. When an extension is activated, you will, depending on how advanced the extension is, be given the opportunity to edit its settings under “Extensions> Installed extensions> Related Posts for WordPress, Settings”. By navigating there, you can change the default settings for the extension and edit relevant information.

Remove a WordPress plugin

Just like downloading a WordPress plugin, removing a WordPress plugin is very easy to do.

If you don’t want or need the plugin anymore, simply navigate to “Extensions/plugins> Installed plugins” and deactivate the plugin. Once an extension has been deactivated, you can then remove it from the same location if you wish.

If you have a plugin that is so broken that you can not enter the administration panel at all to disable it, you can navigate to your blog’s basic directory in your FTP program and then go to wp-content / plugins /. Here you can find all your installed plugins. Remember that if you rename the name of an extension folder here, WordPress will no longer be able to find it. In this way, it is deactivated automatically. If you do not know which plugin is broken, you can always rename the entire folder to something else, then all extensions will be disabled.

Is there a limit to how many WordPress plugins I can have installed?

No, there is no technical limit to how many WordPress plugins you can have installed on your website, but as mentioned, you want to only use as many plugins as you actually need, and remove those that you don’t use anymore. This is because with a lot of different plugins, the risk of security breaches increases, and equally so the risk that the plugins will not work properly in case you have multiple plugins that are meant to do basically the same thing.

In addition, having a lot of plugins will lead to things like slow loading speed or your site crashing, thus negatively affecting the user experience. As a general guideline, you should not install more than 20 plugins. Ideally 10 at max.

What are the best WordPress plugins?

The answer to that question is that the best plugin for your WordPress site depends on what functions and features you need.

There are thousands of WordPress plugins available and all of them have different designs, features, functions, and constructions. Frankly, the best plugin is the one that does what you want it to do, is safe, is regularly updated, and does not have any bugs or issues. This is what the steps discussed above will help you find.

Some of the most popular WordPress plugins today are:

  • Yoast SEO
  • MonsterInsights
  • Redirection
  • LiveChat

Where can I find WordPress plugins?

To help you find the plugins you need for your WordPress site, WordPress has created a plugin directory with which you can filter and find the perfect WordPress plugins for your needs. Here, WordPress continues to add new plugins every week, and you’ll be able to scroll through them to find one you like.

Many plugins are free but often come with paid versions/premium versions for upgrades regarding its features.

Free or paid (premium) plugin?

Most WordPress plugins are free to use but often offer paid versions/upgrades that allow you to access more functions and features. There are also those that cost money just to download. The great thing about the upgrade possibility is that you can download it and see how it works on your website. Then if you feel you want to take the next step to improve the features it offers, you can then make the decision to upgrade its functionality.

In general, free plugins have generic documentation, and support is provided via a forum. If you choose a premium plugin that costs money, you usually get regular updates and a support team that is constantly working to fix the bugs and problems in the plugin that users report.

Free WordPress plugins usually provide only the most necessary features you need but if you want and need more advanced features, it’s probably time to upgrade it.

If you choose a free WordPress plugin, you need to be extra careful when looking at developers and reviews, otherwise, you may download a poor plugin that can even be dangerous for your website.

Is it safe to install a WordPress plugin?

As discussed, there may be potential security risks with installing WordPress plugins, but if you follow the tips above, you greatly reduce the risk.

The fact of the matter is that there is no plugin that is 100 percent secure. However, if you look for the things above, you can feel pretty confident when downloading a plugin. Especially if it is from a well-known developer or company.

Before downloading the plugin, it can be good to do research. Google the developer/company and if you do not get anything, do not install their plugin.

You will probably be able to find reviews (and potential warnings) from other users. It can also be good to look at how long they have been working as developers. If there is no previous history, you may want to avoid downloading the plugin unless they have a very good reputation.

You can see how many web pages have the current plugin installed. This is usually a good testimony to whether the plugin is good and safe because if it is a large number, it is probably a reliable plugin.

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