In 2003, WordPress started as a simple blog tool. Over the years, it evolved into the most popular content management system (CMS). Thanks to its plugins.
What are WordPress plugins?
WordPress plugins are:
“bits of upload software applications to extend and expand the functionality of a WordPress site.”
They integrate and run on top of the existing WordPress software. And allows their users to create any site they want.
“There is a plugin for almost everything”. With more than 48.000 free plugins available on WordPress.org plugin directory. Thousands more available from websites like Github. And thousands of paid premium WordPress plugins.
To name a few functionalities:
- speed up your website
- protect your from spam bots
- Improve SEO
- boost website performance
- create automatic backups
- add contact forms
- add dynamic view pictures or video sites
- create secure online payment gateway
- refine search websites
- create galleries
How are WordPress Plugins written?
The Content Management system allows developers to:
- Add their own code into it WordPress
- Change existing WordPress functionality
- Add new functionality to it
- And store different types of content in the WordPress database.
How do WordPress Plugins work?
The WordPress Database will register each WordPress plugin you install on your website. For each visit, the web server connects to the database to:
- Load the core WordPress Software.
- Load the active WordPress plugins.
- After the WordPress Database has processed all code to the web server, the code will be sent to the user´s browser.
TIP: You can activate and deactivate WordPress Plugins at any time.
Free vs paid plugins
There are thousands of free plugins available. If they work fine for you, then use it. Yet, please keep in mind that warranties or support are not included in free plugins. Plugin authors can stop developing their plugin at any time.
TIP: With the current safety threats on the internet, paid plugins are the best option. Use a combination on both free and paid plugins. Regular update your existing plugins. And get support if needed. To prevent lack of security.
How to find WordPress Plugins and install them?
The two most common ways to finding WordPress Plugins, are:
- Find free plugins within the WordPress Admin area.
- The WordPress Admin Area is the administrative area of a WordPress website. Visit the WP-admin directory in your web browser:
IMPORTANT: You can only activate or deactivate WordPress Plugins, being the WordPress administrator. The administrator has full access to all sections within the WordPress Admin Area. Other users, with roles, such as editor, contributor or author, have limited access. Subscribers only have access to their profile page inside the admin area.
- Click left in the dashboard on “Plugins”.
- Select “Install Plugins”.
- Use the Search box in the upper right corner.
- Enter the name of the selected plugin.
- Select a plugin among the most commonly used or recommended.
- Click “Activate the plugin”.
- Click “Install”.
- Find free and paid plugins within WordPress directory
- Search results inside the WordPress admin area are not always helpful. And limited to free plugins only. Most beginners find it difficult to decide which plugin is best for the job. As an alternative, search the WordPress directory. To find -both free and paid- plugins:
- Go to WordPress.org
- Select “Plugins”
- Use the Search box in the middle
- Enter the plugin name or functionality you want to add
- Click on the plugin name to select
- Click on Download at the specific plugin page. The plugin automatical starts downloading.
IMPORTANT: WordPress searches into the plugin directory. It displays the available plugins in a list. You still need to review the results and select the one that suits best.
4 free "must-have" WordPress Plugins
Four free must-have WordPress plugins, all websites can enjoy:
- EU Cookie Law
- The first free must-have WordPress plugin, is “EU Cookie Law”. It reminds web visitors that websites and web browsers store their data. Web visitors need to give their permission to visit the full website. By accepting cookies. Cookies are:
“data packages. stored in the internet browser. They contain insightful information. About the history and behaviour of visitors interacting with a website”.
Often, website owners use these data to:
- inform customers with uncompleted web orders.
- send relevant advertisements to specific web users.
- Google XML sitemap
- The second free must-have WordPress plugin is “Google XML sitemap”.
A Sitemap is a:
“set of hierarchically arranged list of all the Web pages (URLs).”
- web visitors to find information on a website.
- and search engines to improve site optimisation.
- The format of a Sitemap is an .XML format. To become visible, you should insert this text format into the website. The Plugin Google XML sitemap creates this file automatic. You only need to upload the file to Google Webmaster Tools.
- Google Analytics plugin
- The third free must-have WordPress plugin is “Google Analytics” plugin. This plugin allows you to insert a tracking code on your website, to find out:
- DEMOGRAPHICS: Which people visit your website?
- (UN)POPULAR PAGES: What people do on your website. Which pages do they visit? Where they leave your pages?
- TIME SPEND: And where the spend most of their time?
- WP Super Cache
- The last free must-have WordPress plugin is “WP Super Cache” plugin. This plugin speeds up the page loading time. Thanks to this plugin, WordPress websites run faster, without unnecessary delays. As the loading time for images and complex WordPress Templates elements decreases significantly.
TIP: Sites like WPBeginner.com, offer a thoroughly tested and reviewed WordPress plugins section. To download a WordPress Plugin elsewhere. You will need a PC to upload the package file into the WordPress system.