WordPress Plugins 101
Ah, plugins. Those mystical bits of coding that make magic happen in WordPress. At the mention of the word, most people’s eyes glaze over. And, if you’re not used to being hands-on with WordPress, they can be confusing and scary.
If you want or need to get more control of your website, are ready to get results, or get things working the way you’d like them to work (like finally adding some social media icons so people can share your blog posts, create custom forms, or other amazing things), listen up.
First things first, let’s go over what a plugin IS just in case you aren’t quite sure (if you are… skip this and head straight to the good stuff below!).
Simple explanation: WordPress plugins are bits of software that can be installed within or uploaded to your WordPress site in order to extend and expand the functionality of your website. (Get the more complex definition here.) There are good ones and bad ones, free ones, and premium ones that are usually worth their weight in gold.
There are THOUSANDS of plugins available, and it’s important to only add the ones that are truly necessary onto your site so that your site runs as efficiently as possible. Meaning, if you have too many plugins, your site could load slowly or even crash! In fact, more of the latter happens than anything else. Adding old, outdated (hasn’t been updated in a year or more) plugins to your website could mean disaster if you’re not familiar with how to restore your website should something go terribly wrong.
Here’s a little visual to help explain: Think of your website trying to carry all of those plugins on its back while still trying to get its work done. It’s already pretty busy just trying to do its normal job. When you add plugins into the mix, then more plugins, you could be slowing things down. The more you add, the more work/memory is used which equals slooowness. I mean, your website only has so many hands and can only do so much. It’s not an octopus or however the old saying goes (though your web host has something to do with how fast your website is, too).
There are heavy plugins and light plugins (in terms of how they’re coded). Ones that cause problems and ones that help your website out. So, be selective and only choose plugins you need. But it’s not just slowness you have to worry about. For instance, if you keep outdated plugins on your site and don’t keep them updated or delete them when you no longer need them, you open yourself up to nasty little internet hacking trolls and other bad things like viruses and malware, ewww!
The Good Stuff
While we certainly don’t advocate putting ALL of these plugins on your site. In fact, PLEASE don’t! But, if you’d rather pass go and collect $200 (i.e. not have to waste time testing or taking a chance of crashing your website) by finding out NOW which plugins are reliable, work right, and will help you vs. hurt – this is for you!
These are the babies we use on a regular basis and know they work. Some perform simple functions, some very complex, like membership sections or advanced security, and you can get them in your hot little hands (or website) right now.
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Want more information about a certain plugin? WordPress.org has a plethora of information. Check the reviews and the last updated date for clues on how it works.
Get Your Own Plugin Stylist
If the idea of adding and configuring plugins and keeping them updated and working the way they should has you shaking in your strappy sandals, we can help. We’ll help you figure out which plugins you need PLUS help you get them all set up and purring like a kitten. Your website will be working that internet runway in no time! We can help through ongoing maintenance or website tweaks, getting you squared away and back to business.
Do you have a favorite plugin? Don’t keep that jewel to yourself, please share with us below!