WP Plugged In: An Introduction to WordPress Plugins

At Long Island Web Design and Hosting company, Global Dynamic Services Inc, WordPress plugins are a big topic of conversation.

Whether we’re modifying a premium theme or building a custom site from scratch, plug-ins extend the functionality of WordPress in many ways…manifesting the content management system capabilities, expanding the reach of our blog articles, helping us and our clients track sales and other data, helping us to manage customer relationships, social media outreach and integration, comment subscriptions, and much more.

There are a slew of different types of plugins that you can choose to use with your WordPress site:

There are Premium Plugins that will cost you a couple of bucks, and then there are free plugins. Here are a few common categories you will want to search and implement.

  • Admin Plugins
  • Advertising Plugins
  • Affiliate Program Plugins
  • Backup Plugins
  • Comments Plugins
  • Contact Form Plugins
  • E-Commerce Plugins
  • Email Newsletter Plugins
  • Feed Plugins
  • Media Plugins
  • SEO Plugins
  • Social Media Integration Plugins
  • Video Player Plugins

The best place to find plugins for your WordPress site is at wordpress.org. You can search by plugin name, by popular tags, featured plugins, and most popular.  This is a great place to find a slew of plugins to browse through and choose from. I’ll wait a minute while you open a new window look through.

wordpress.org/extend/plugins

Oh you’re back? Ok, great. So like I was saying, WordPress Plugins are vital for extending the functionality of WordPress past its modest blog awesomeness that you get out of the box and transform it into a robust content management system. What is great too is, not only can you extend and modify your website to your liking with plugins, but each plugin comes with settings that you can modify further! I know right? Pretty sweet.

Plugins go to even depths and layers. There are even ways to create and load your own custom plugins using things such as filter hooks and action hooks, but that conversation is for another time, another post.

When you install WordPress on your root or on your subdomain and you crack it open for the first time, you probably noticed that there are already a couple of plugins already in there or waiting to be installed, Akismet and Jetpack.

Akismet is a web service that helps you to keep your blog spam free.  Any comments that are made on your site are filtered by Akismet and anything that is marked as spam will be set aside for you to review.  The only small catch, is that you have to obtain an API key through the Akismet plug-in page which ranges in price from free to not free.

Jetpack requires a http://www.wordpress.com (yes there’s a WordPress .com and .org) account to activate it. It provides you with a parcel of features including twitter and Facebook widgets, email subscriptions, traffic stats about your blog, an image carousel, and a couple of other cool things.  This is a really cool plugin, if your purpose is just to create a cool blog or EPK; however if your intention is to use WordPress as a business-centric content management system, you would be better served searching for some more robust plugin options.

Speaking of more plugin options, in the next blog post we are going to go into some great category, page and post relational plugins that help you to boost your internal navigation connectivity and increase your site’s Search ranking capability. Also, look out for when we dive into the responsive play ground Twitter Bootstrap provides a WordPress Developer.