Have you ever asked yourself: “What is a WordPress Plugin?” Well when you first get your WordPress website installed, it will come with a standard set of features.  But when you add WordPress plugins, then your website becomes unique to you, and gives your site the ‘bells and whistles’ to make it really sing.

So what is a ‘Plugin’? A WordPress plugin is extra software code that you can easily add to your website from within your admin area that give you extra functionality, such as extra Search Engine Optimization or a streamlined way to print out your web pages. 

Here is a Plugin Analogy…

When you buy a car, you get the standard features.  But if you want a sun roof, CD player, chrome wheels,  then those are extra options. And each person who buys a car can customize their car with these options.  Same holds true with plugins.

WordPress Plugin -  iphone with apps analogy Plugins can also be thought of like the ‘apps’ for your Smart Phone. By adding the apps that you like, you can make your Smart Phone do what *you* want it to do over and above the basic functions, making your device very different from others’. You know how people say, “There is an app for that.” Well, I often hear people say, “There is a plugin for that,” in the world of WordPress!

Many plugins are free, in fact most of the one’s I use are free.  But sometimes you may want to pay for a premium plugin that is more advanced and complex than some simple free ones. One of my favorite premium plugins is a fantastic one called WishList Member.  Wishlist member is a plugin that will turn your website into a private membership site.  It’s the membership plugin I’m using for my students in the Website Creation Workshop Program.

Watch this Short Video Explaining a WordPress Plugin (4 min)

The beauty of WordPress is that it makes it easy to add plugins to your site, and you don’t have to pay a programmer to install it for you. 

WordPress Plugin: add Fun and Functionality

And most of the time, if there is something you’d like your WordPress website to do, you can find a plugin that will do it.


Some plugins add fun: like snow falling on your site, or some add functionality: like putting your website under construction. There are many different plugins to do many different things on your website.

Definition of a WordPress Plugin:

The following quote is from WordPress.org, giving their definition of a WordPress plugin:

“Plugins are ways to extend and add to the functionality that already exists in WordPress.

The core of WordPress is designed to be lean and lightweight, to maximize flexibility and minimize code bloat. Plugins then offer custom functions and features so that each user can tailor their site to their specific needs.

WordPress Plugins are available from several sources. The most popular and official source for WordPress Plugins is the WordPress.org repo.”

Just like WordPress itself and WordPress themes, it’s imperative that your WordPress plugins are always up-to-date as outdated plugins can cause security and performance issues. Please be sure to take these simple extra steps when it comes to plugins:

Guidelines for Using WordPress Plugins:

  1. Choose plugins that are well rated and actively maintained by the plugin authors. Sometimes plugin authors unfortunately abandon the plugin they designed or not fix vulnerabilities quick enough. WordPress’ official plugin repository provides ratings, last update dates, reviews, and some other useful information that help you evaluate plugins, so be sure to look at the key data before installing any plugins.
  2. When an update becomes available for a plugin you use, install it in a timely manner. WordPress shows any available updates clearly in the admin panel and provides an easy way to install updates (It’s a click of a button!).
  3. Keep only the plugins that you actually use. Old plugins that you don’t use and forget to update tend to become a culprit of website vulnerabilities.

Here are just a few of the many WordPress Plugins I like:

Yoast Duplicate Post by Yoast: https://wordpress.org/plugins/duplicate-post/
Instant Images by Darren Cooney: https://wordpress.org/plugins/instant-images/
Foo Gallery by FooPlugins : https://wordpress.org/plugins/foogallery/

WishList Memberhttp://christinasresources.com/wishlist  (my link for it)
Gravity Forms: https://www.christinasresources.com/gravityforms (my link for it)

If you find a plugin that is free, that you really love, then consider supporting these wonderful plugin authors who give their time to contribute to WordPress by making a donation.

If you are already using WordPress, then what plugins do you like?  Leave a comment below…

And if you don’t yet have a WordPress website, get on the notification list for the next WordPress training course here

(this article was originally published in Feb 2010)

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