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What Are WordPress Plugins?

You have a WordPress website and have heard about plugins, but are not quite sure what a plugin is. What exactly are WordPress plugins? Definition from WordPress.org, WordPress plugins are ways to extend and add to the functionality that already exists in WordPress. Plugins range from adding a contact form to the website to implementing the functionality of converting a simple WordPress site into a powerhouse eCommerce store. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of WordPress plugins and how you can make sure you have the right plugins installed for your WordPress site.

WordPress Plugins – The Good

Plugins are wonderful components to add specific functionality to a WordPress site. For individuals who are not WordPress programmers, plugins are a way to add a component to the site without asking the developer to program. Think of it as an app being installed on an iPhone. Before installing any plugin, it is best to perform due diligence on the plugin and the author who developed the plugin. For example before downloading the plugin and installing the plugin onto the WordPress site, read the reviews that are left by actual users. You can see what customers who use the plugin are saying and if anybody is experiencing any issues with the plugin itself. We’ll provide an example for supportive purposes. You research and find the following plugin, Deprecation Checker. Here’s where you perform your due diligence. You’ll notice a couple of red flags with this plugin. First the plugin is outdated which is indicated by a banner at the top of the page. The banner reads, this plugin hasn’t been updated in over 2 years. It may no longer be maintained or supported and may have compatibility issues when used with more recent versions of WordPress. A superb way of informing users that this plugin is no longer being kept up and should refrain from using.

Second, you’ll notice the plugin is not compatible with WordPress 3.4 or higher. You never want to install a plugin that is not compatible with the most recent WordPress version. As of this writing the most current version of WordPress is 4.2.2. If a plugin is not up to date, the plugin can cause issues within your WordPress site. More on this subject in the next section. Overall this specific plugin is outdated and is not supported by the developer. The plugin should not be installed on a WordPress site and avoided at all cost. Let’s go over the con of plugins and why plugins separate WordPress from other platforms.

WordPress Plugins – The Bad

There are multiple ways of obtaining plugins. There are dedicated repositories for WordPress plugins that you can download for free such as WordPress.org/plugins or premium plugins from third party sites like ElegantThemes, Themeforest, and iThemes. Why are WordPress plugins bad? Let’s start with outdated plugins. Let’s say you download a free plugin and install it on your WordPress site. The plugin is used on a daily basis. Time goes on, the WordPress core gets updated as well as themes. Months pass by and the installed plugin has not been updated for quite some time. Even worse, the developer who made the plugin decides to no longer support the plugin, what is a small business to do in this instance? For starters, do not panic. The good news is most WordPress developers have the ability to comprehend the plugin code and take over the plugin to determine what can be salvaged. If a plugin is poorly coded then chances are you will have to deactivate, then uninstall the plugin, and hire a developer to program a new version of the plugin, which may be costly. The solution is to always download or purchase plugins from developers who plan to stick around for the long haul.

Plugins take up space on the web server the website is hosted on. Managing plugins is no small feat and having multiple plugins not in use can possibly slow down the website’s performance. One other aspect of having multiple plugins not in use can leave a security hole. If plugins are not updated when new releases come out and the plugin is not updated, this leaves a possible vulnerability that hackers can use to access the website. We discussed the importance of keeping plugins updated in another blog post.

Conclusion

WordPress plugins outweigh the good more than the bad. WordPress was able to separate themselves from other web platforms by including this unique feature. By allowing non-website individuals to install plugins without having to pay a developer a fee to program a new feature saves the business owner money. The goal is to make sure you perform due diligence when installing a plugin, making sure the plugin is constantly supported by the developer, and the plugin is keeping up with WordPress changes by staying compatible with the most recent instance of WordPress. Happy plugin hunting!

4 Plugins All WordPress Sites Need Today

According to WordPress.org plugins are ways to extend and add to the functionality that already exists in WordPress. These all range from numerous types of services. Everything from search engine optimization, custom contact forms, to social media sharing and basic website backups. These awesome add-ins can really pack a punch on a WordPress website. We’ll provide 4 must have plugins that all WordPress websites should include. Whether your site is just starting out or has been on the net for awhile, these plugins are sure to help.

#Yoast SEO

The Yoast SEO plugin has been around for quite some time. The plugin provides more than just optimizing title tags and descriptions for search engines. It easily allows webmasters to optimize entire websites for search engines. Services like snippet preview and page analysis that assist optimizing web pages, images titles, meta descriptions, and tons of optimization options in between. The plugin has been downloaded more than 13,000,000+ to this day. The plugin has grown to just more than a SEO optimizing tool, the plugin incorporates other services like video & local optimization as well as a premium version of the plugin. Get started with the free version of the plugin today!

#Contact Form 7

Contact forms are crucial for websites. How else would you collect leads on the web? There are a plethora of contact form plugins that compare to Contact Form 7. From experience working with the plugin, Contact Form 7 is a simple, clean, and functional contact form that integrates well with most WordPress themes. If you were on a WordPress theme recently, there is a solid chance that the form on the page was programmed with Contact Form 7. Speaking of the form, were there is forms, spam will follow. The great feature about about Contact Form 7 the plugin plays nice with Akismet, which is a comment spam prevention service. This will help in keeping spam at ease. Check out the plugin and let us know what you think.

#Shareaholic

Social media is one of the most prominent marketing channels of today. With blogs containing sharing options for the big social networks, every WordPress blog should include the option of sharing content. Not only does this plugin work with the biggest social media network, Facebook, the list includes social channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. This type of link juice will assist in your social media strategy and search engine optimization. Search engines view social signals as a way of ranking websites on the search engine result page. The more content the website’s audience shares, the higher probability the website will rank higher. Take the Shareaholic plugin for a test drive and let the content sharing begin!

#VaultPress

Every website needs to have a secure backup with security monitoring the website on a daily or real time basis. VaultPress is both. A daily or real time back up solution that provides website owner’s peace and comfort. The VaultPress plugin connects your website to VaultPress servers. Backups and security scans take advantage of WordPress and are optimized for WordPress-powered sites. The good news is if something were to happen to your WordPress website, VaultPress would have a clean backup copy. The process of restoring is easy as clicking the restore button. The other plugins mentioned in this post are free, VaultPress on the other hand is a premium plugin. An annual cost of $55 is well worth it for the plugin.