What are WordPress plugins?

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WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world, used by millions of websites globally. One of the reasons for this is that WordPress is incredibly flexible. Even better, many of the features can be added or changed without you needing to touch, or even know, any code – we call these simple additions WordPress Plugins.

This means that you can usually manage your website yourself, even if you don’t have web design skills. Although if you prefer to hand it over to a web designer or virtual assistant then there are many available who would be happy to help you.

If you're new to WordPress you'll need to know about WordPress plugins and the recommended ones that you should install on your website. Find out here >

To add features to your site you’ll need to get familiar with WordPress plugins.

Plugins are small pieces of code that you can add to your site to perform a wide range of functions, from adding features like social media sharing buttons and contact forms, to more technical stuff like security or search engine optimization. You name it, there’s a plugin for it!

Some plugins are free and others you will need to pay for. You can browse through a list of plugins in the WordPress plugins directory, wordpress.org/plugins. As WordPress has an open source license, anyone can develop and sell a plugin and you’ll find many available to buy to meet almost any need. Before you download or buy a plugin, check the reviews it has and the date of its most recent update. Old and poor quality plugins can create problems with your site, so these are best avoided. You can read reviews in the WordPress plugins directory or just search online using the keywords ‘[plugin name] review’.

So which plugins are you likely to need on your new WordPress site? Here are some suggestions:

Managing your site

Jetpack is a very popular plugin for traffic information, contact forms, social media buttons and more. Akismet is the best-known plugin for managing spam comments, which are very common on blogs.

Backup and security

The worst can sometimes happen, so it’s best to be prepared. Plugins such as UpDraft or ManageWP will back up your website automatically on a schedule defined by you. One of my favorites, Wordfence, is a plugin that will protect your site from hackers and spambots.

Search Engine Optimization

Want to optimize your content for search engines before you publish? Then check out Yoast SEO – it’s what I use, it’s what I install for all of my clients… it’s simply the best.

Forms and landing pages

You can get a basic contact form from Jetpack, as mentioned above, but you may also need more sophisticated forms such as Gravity Forms that encourage visitors to opt-in to your mailing list. Landing pages are web pages that can be used offer visitors a free gift in return for their email address or act as the entry point to your website. Thrive Leads is an example of a landing page plugin.

There is an amazing choice of WordPress plugins available, so decide what you need your website to do and you’re sure to find a plugin that fits.