If you want to build a website with WordPress, you should be familiar with WordPress plugins. Plugins are an important part of the WordPress ecosystem and are required for creating great WordPress websites. They will make your life much easier by allowing you to do things that the standard WordPress setup does not allow you to do. They enable users to add new features without changing a single line of code.

This article will explain how WordPress plugins work, what they can do, and how to use them.

What are WordPress Plugins?

WordPress plugins are apps that allow you to extend the functionality and features of your WordPress website. As the name implies, you ‘plug in’ a piece of software to add new functionality or extend existing functionality on your site without needing to know how to code. Depending on the features of the plugin, it can make minor or major changes to how your site looks and functions.

WordPress is built in such a way that other developers can add their own code to it. The WordPress plugin API provides a robust set of hooks and filters that allow developers to modify or add new functionality to existing WordPress functionality.

Plugins can also be thought of as extensions for your web browser. All you have to do is download an extension, install it, and you’re done. This is also one of the most important advantages of plugins: the ability to quickly add or remove them from your site without disrupting basic operations.

How do WordPress Plugins Work?

Plugins extend the functionality of the core WordPress code by utilizing the existing structure. WordPress plugins are written in PHP, WordPress’ programming language. As a result, they can be seamlessly inserted and integrated into your website’s code.

Some plugins add general functions to your site to make it more secure and searchable, while others cater to specific needs, such as wishlist pages and featured products for an eCommerce site. Some of these specialized functions can be added by selecting specific WordPress themes, but these features usually relate to customizing the site’s structure. For instance, a theme for restaurants will have a plugin for a slideshow or gallery.

WordPress developers can also store data in the WordPress database. Plugins can make use of WordPress content types, taxonomies, and custom fields, allowing users to store more than just posts and pages.

Each WordPress plugin that you install on your site is saved in your WordPress database. You can turn them on and off whenever you want.

Reasons to Use WordPress Plugins

There’s a Plugin for every need

One of the primary benefits of using WordPress as your CMS is that it is supported by a large community of talented developers. As a result, website owners now have access to an incredibly diverse range of top WordPress plugins. There are over 54,000 plugins listed in the official WordPress directory. As a result, there is always a plugin to meet any requirement.

Most other website builders provide far fewer options. Frequently, you will have whatever functionality is built into the website. If you want to go beyond this functionality, you will need to hire a developer to do so. Adding safe and secure online payments to a website, for example, can be extremely expensive.

Because of the security implications of handling financial data, you must exercise extreme caution when developing a solution. Not the case with plugins. WordPress e-commerce plugins, such as WooCommerce, enable you to provide safe and secure online shopping on your website.

Easy to Integrate into Website

The beauty of plugins is that you don’t have to write or add code to integrate them into your WordPress website. The WordPress plugin includes hooks and filters that allow developers to extend its functionality. When you add a WordPress plugin to your website, it is registered in the database. Simply download and activate the plugin from your WordPress dashboard.

Finding and installing plugins for your WordPress website is a breeze. There are two main approaches to this. The first is to go to the WordPress dashboard and click Plugins, then Add New. You can find plugins that meet your needs by using the search field.

For example, if you wanted to find a plugin that allows you to add a cookies consent form you would type “cookies consent” into the search bar. You will then be shown a list of plugins that will allow you to add that functionality to your website.


WordPress’s entire foundation is the fact that its CMS, or “Content Management System,” is free, open source, and accessible to the public. This means that any code written for WordPress is open to the public.

Because of the abundance of information available, evaluating WordPress plugins is much easier. The number of active installations in the WordPress plugin directory is one way to gauge a plugin’s popularity.

A plugin with tens or hundreds of thousands of active installations is far less likely to cause issues than one with fewer active installations. If tens of thousands of people have installed a particular plugin on their WordPress website, any issues are likely to have been identified.

With WordPress, all of the functionality developed for these plugins, including their coding, is available for anyone to see, use, customize, improve, and even sell.

WordPress plugins can save you a lot of time when it comes to customizing and making your WordPress website perform the way you want it to. Aesthetics and appearance are one thing, but finding the appropriate plugins to make your website perform exactly the way you want it is another.

Finding the proper plugin is simple using the WordPress.org search box or your own WordPress dashboard, where you can navigate to the plugin area, type in the function you require in the search bar, and you will be presented with a variety of options.

Free and Low Cost

With WordPress plugins, there is almost always a free WordPress plugin that can achieve your desired result. Even with premium (paid) plugins, there is frequently a free basic version available. This free version will usually suffice for your initial needs.

Using the free version is also a good way to see if the plugin can provide the functionality you require. If you are satisfied that the plugin meets your requirements, you may wish to upgrade to the premium version.

Even when there isn’t a free version, WordPress plugins are typically a low-cost option. The development costs of a plugin are shared by all plugin purchasers. In contrast, if you hire a developer to achieve your desired functionality, you will bear the full cost of development.

How to Install WordPress Plugins

There are two ways to install plugins depending on where you get your WordPress plugins. Free WordPress plugins can be found directly from your WordPress admin area or by visiting the WordPress plugin directory

Method 1: Installing WordPress Plugins from the WordPress admin Area

  • Go to Plugins > Add New
  • Search for the plugin or functionality you want to add.
  • WordPress will search the plugin directory and present a list of accessible plugins. After reviewing the results, click the ‘Install Now’ option next to the plugin you wish to install.

Method 2: Installing WordPress Plugins from the WordPress plugin directory or Third-party websites

Search results within the WordPress admin area, on the other hand, are not always useful because they are limited to free plugins only. Furthermore, the sheer quantity of plugins available can be daunting. Many newcomers struggle to determine which plugin is best for the job.

You can seek reviews or options for WordPress plugins that provide the functionality you’re looking for, in order to make an informed decision of which one to go for.

Sometimes, you may need to get a paid plugin, which you wouldn’t find in the WordPress admin area. Thus you may need to download plugins from third-party websites which usually come in a .zip file. However, be cautious because many cybercriminals use plugins to attach harmful code to websites. Before installing WordPress plugins, always ensure that the plugin provider is reliable.

Here’s how to install:

  • Download the ZIP file of a plugin from a trusted source.
  • Go to Plugins > Add New.
  • Click on the Upload Plugin button.
  • Drag and drop or choose the ZIP file that you have downloaded on your computer.
  • Click the Install Now button and wait until the upload is complete.
  • Click on Activate Plugin.

How to Update a WordPress Plugin?

It is critical to maintaining your WordPress site updated. This includes updating WordPress to the most recent version as well as refreshing your themes and plugins.

Updating WordPress plugins is more than just obtaining new features. It’s also one of the most important strategies to keep your website secure. Previous versions of a WordPress plugin may have flaws that have been addressed and repaired in subsequent releases.

To update a plugin:

  • Navigate to Plugins > Installed Plugins is where you’ll find it. A table will appear listing the plugins you’ve installed on your site.
  • To manually update a plugin, click the Update Now button in the yellow notification window.
  • To manually update multiple plugins, tick the checkboxes next to the plugins you want to update. Then, from the Bulk actions drop-down menu, choose Update and click Apply.
  • Toggle automatic updates for each plugin by clicking Enable auto-updates in the Automatic Updates column.

How to Uninstall a WordPress Plugin?

There will be occasions when you want to uninstall a plugin or two – for example, certain free WordPress plugins may not be updated on a regular basis, posing security hazards to your site. Others may slow down your site, or you may no longer believe they are required on your site.

To uninstall a plugin:

  • Navigate to Plugins > Installed Plugins.
  • Find the plugin you wish to disable or remove in the plugins table.
  • Click Deactivate. This step just disables the plugin and does not remove it from your site.
  • Select Delete to remove the plugin from your site altogether.

Are too many Plugins bad for Your Website?

A widespread fallacy among WordPress users is that having too many plugins will cause their website to slow down. However, the quality and effectiveness of a WordPress plugin have a greater impact on site speed than the number of plugins installed.

High-quality plugins are designed to use as few resources as possible. Low-quality plugins, on the other hand, tend to consume resources that aren’t required, which might have a detrimental influence on site performance.

Poorly coded WordPress plugins are always the culprits of bad performance. You may install dozens of high-quality plugins without any problems. Installing one or two low-quality (poorly coded) plugins, on the other hand, will cause your load speeds to plummet drastically. Use plugins that have been shown to work efficiently to maintain optimal site speed.

A bloated theme is another common problem that causes bad website speeds or performance. Themes with too many features and poorly-optimized code can frequently slow down a website. When choosing a theme, it’s always a good idea to go with something light.

WordPress Compatibility Conflict

Sometimes a plugin causes problems on your site rather than adding new functionality. You may experience compatibility issues as a result of a variety of factors. A new plugin, for example, may cause compatibility difficulties with your WordPress theme or the current WordPress version you are running if they are not tested properly or the code was written poorly.

Other plugins on your site may be incompatible with the new one as well. They might not get along because they were designed for different WordPress versions, or because some of their functions overlap. New plugins may not work effectively with other plugins on your site in some circumstances due to bad coding or design. This occurs when the developer fails to adhere to WordPress development best practices.

If you’re having issues with your site after installing a new plugin, try deactivating it first. If you are unsure which plugin is creating issues, you can manually deactivate and reactivate plugins one by one to see which is producing errors on your site.

Once you’ve identified the culprit, navigate to the Support Tab on the plugin’s WordPress page. You can search for other people who have experienced the same issue and what they did to remedy it, or you can share your concerns by creating a thread. If you paid for the plugin, see if there is a support team that can assist you with troubleshooting.

Plugin Safety

Never assume your safety is assured. Some plugins may be poorly coded, while others may be incompatible with one another or with your theme. Hackers can potentially cause issues on a website by using improperly written WordPress plugins. It is critical to only get plugins from trusted sites to avoid these issues.

When in doubt, look for plugin reviews and pay attention to how late it’s been updated. It’s also a good idea to test plugins on a staging version of your site before deploying them.

Hopefully, this article helped you understand what are WordPress plugins and how they work. WordPress plugins enhance the operations of your website and offer additional features that can be tailored to your specific requirements. There are thousands of free ones available, however, paid plugins provide more features and support.

When selecting the finest plugin for your website, it is best to read as much information about the plugin as possible. Browse internet forums and solicit recommendations from others. Knowing a plugin before combining it with others in your WordPress can help you avoid future compatibility issues.

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