What Are WordPress Plugins and How Do They Help?

By Courtney | Technology

A WordPress plugin is essentially a small program, or combination of programs, that sits on top of your WordPress installation with the purpose to increase the functionality of your website in some way. Translation: Plugins allow your WordPress website to have more features and to do more than it could when you first installed it.

Most plugins integrate seamlessly with WordPress so there’s no messing with code. That’s another great thing about plugins, they don’t actually affect your original WordPress install. They reside separately and just interact with WordPress.

How did plugins get started?

The development of plugins came about by WordPress users and programmers who wanted to increase the function of WordPress without having to alter the code within WordPress itself. Basically, programmers and users said “I wish WordPress could do this extra thing” – and then created plugins 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 add-ons to the WordPress code and now WordPress can do more than the original creators ever dreamed it could simply due to these plugins.

The vast majority of plugins are free and it is important to understand that they do not always come with technical support services. When choosing a plugin, it is wise to evaluate the following:

  • How long it has been since that plugin was last updated?
  • Does the plugin homepage still exists?
  • Is the plugin compatible with your current version of WordPress?
  • How many times has the plugin been download?
  • If people seeking support on the plug-in have received answers to their questions?
  • Are the plugin reviews positive?

Marie-Claude from Solopreneur Design suggested checking to see if a pro version is available because “they are much less likely to be abandoned and pose a security risk because vulnerabilities are not patched”.

There is a plugin for virtually anything you want to accomplish in WordPress. If you want to monitor your visitor statistics, increase interaction with your visitors, add a photo gallery, automatically backup your database or anything else you have a desire to do with your site, you can most likely find a plugin to use.

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  • Marie-Claude says:

    I choose plugins with a Pro version, they are much less likely to be abandoned and pose a security risk because vulnerabilities are not patched.

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