Chances are you’re familiar with WordPress plugins, but if not, don’t worry. This article covers what they are, how to use them, and suggests some great plugins to get you started.
What is a WordPress plugin?
A WordPress plugin is a piece of software that can be integrated into your WordPress website to enhance its functionality or extend its existing features, enabling you to create a diverse range of websites, from e-commerce stores to portfolios to directory sites.
Plugins can make minor adjustments to your site or make significant modifications depending on their features. For instance, you could use a plugin like Contact Form 7 to add a simple form to your site, or you could utilise WooCommerce to develop a fully-fledged e-commerce site.
There are also plugins available that can help you build beautiful pages, back up your website, and help improve search engine rankings – the possibilities with plugins are endless.
Although many plugins provide front-end features for your website, some can also provide backend administrative features, making it simpler to carry out maintenance tasks. For instance, these plugins could enable you to scan your website for malware, help optimise your database or make your website faster.
WordPress plugins can be added to your site without changing the core WordPress files. By using access points, known as filter and action hooks, which are provided by the WordPress Plugin API, plugins can “hook into” the source code. At specific times, these access points and methods will call the functions of the plugin and modify the default behaviour of WordPress. This enables you to customise your site with the features you desire, without interfering with the underlying code.
Now that we have a more comprehensive understanding of what plugins are, let us delve deeper into how they function.
How to use plugins on WordPress?
There are several ways to install WordPress plugins, including through the official WordPress plugin directory, your website’s dashboard, or from third-party sites. If you wish to install a plugin from the official directory, log in to your website’s dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New, and use the built-in search bar to find your desired plugin. Once you have located your desired plugin, click Install and Activate.
However, if the plugin you need is not available in the official directory, you can download it as a zip file and save it in the wp-content/plugins folder of your directory via an FTP client. This will automatically install the plugin on your WordPress website.
Once you have installed the plugin, go to the Plugins section in your admin dashboard. From the list of installed plugins on your site, click on the plugin’s “Activate” link to enable it. Keep in mind that some plugins may require additional configuration to function correctly. To configure the plugin settings, go to the plugin’s settings page, which is typically accessible via the WordPress dashboard.
It’s essential to note that using plugins is preferable to editing core WordPress files to add functionality to your site. This is because all the core files, as well as any changes made to them, are overwritten when updating to a new WordPress version. To add the same functionality to your updated website, you must edit the core files again.
However, if you use plugins to add functionality to your site, all you need to worry about is keeping the plugins updated.
Now that you know how to use plugins in WordPress, let’s take a look at some plugins that can provide essential features to your website.
Recommended WordPress Plugins
To improve your website’s performance, we’ve compiled a list of must-have WordPress plugins that can optimize your content, enhance your landing pages, boost your conversion strategy, and encourage repeat visits from your audience.
Yoast SEO plugin is a popular WordPress plugin that optimises website content for search engines and improves website visibility.
Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is a widely-used WordPress plugin that allows website owners to easily create and manage contact forms to enhance user engagement and communication.
WP Rocket is a top-rated WordPress caching plugin that boosts website speed and performance by caching pages, images, and other resources for faster delivery to visitors.
WooCommerce is a popular WordPress plugin that enables website owners to set up and manage an online store, with features such as product listings, shopping carts, and secure payments.
Elementor is a user-friendly WordPress plugin that simplifies website design and allows users to create custom pages and designs without needing coding skills.