It seems like there is a plugin for just about everything you could possibly want to do with your WordPress website. This is a good thing. Plugins give your site utility beyond the standard functions of your chosen theme. This begs the question: How do WordPress plugins work?
WordPress is an open-source code that offers its software free under a license that allows anyone and everyone to study, change, and distribute changes and additions to anyone and for any purpose. This is why there are so many plugins available. WordPress developers can build the plugins without having to pay for a WordPress license or pay a royalty for each sale.
How Do You Use A WordPress Plugin?
Another advantage of the plethora of options is the ease of use. WordPress makes it incredibly easy to install and activate a plugin. The first step is to choose and download your target plugin. Next, go to the plugins manager on your WordPress site system. Upload and install the plugin. You can either activate it at the same time or later.
The only other step is to make sure it is configured correctly. The plugins work by adding discrete packages of unique code into predefined sections of the main WordPress code. Think of the out-of-the-box WordPress theme like a straight off the lot Honda.
It’s pretty basic.
However, install a new stereo system, new rims, new wheels, and a bright paint job and you’ve got yourself one hell of a ride.
What Utility Do WordPress Plugins Have?
There are some main categories of WordPress plugins. Each has its own functionality to the website, the user, and the operator (you). You will most likely need at least one from each category to ensure the efficient and effective runtime of your website.
1. Back-end WordPress Plugins
Think of the back-end for a WordPress site as the area that helps the site run better but the user never sees it.
This could relate to extra site security, faster loading time, and the ability for the theme to accept more types of functions.
For example, CreativeMinds has a header and footer script that allows the site’s header and footer to accept additional scripts.
2. Front-End WordPress Plugins
Think of the front-end for a WordPress site as what the user sees when they browse your site. This could mean adding text, graphics, images, videos, maps, forms, or anything that affects the layout or content of the website.
CreativeMinds built a glossary for WordPress sites that users can browse to find information on different topics.
3. User Experience WordPress Plugins
The user experience is exactly what it sounds like.
It is the experience the user has while on your site. It is not just what the user sees but how they experience the site. This could mean that the user can fill in forms, play a game, buys
merchandise, or anything where the user interacts with the site.
A good example is the Table of Contents WordPress Plugin. It automatically adds a TOC to ease navigation of pages or posts.
This benefits not only user experience, but also SEO, as it reminds you to use headers properly.
4. Security WordPress Plugins
While technically not necessary (i.e. your site WILL run without them), security plugins are a no-brainer. You just can’t risk it.
There are many options to choose from, including all-in-one mega tools and really specific software. We’ll mention a specific one:
CreativeMinds built a WordPress security plugin that allows for two-factor authentication (2FA) when users log into their account on the site.
5. SEO WordPress Plugins
Moving beyond the must-have Yoast, there are many tools to help ranking your site better. That’s what SEO plugins do: they help you adjust your content so Google pays more attention to it.
A great example is SEO Keyword Hound. It tracks how your chosen keywords fare compared to your competitors for each page. So much data equals so much potential!
Is There Any Coding I Need To Do?
You only need to code if you know how to code and want to alter the plugin or built a new one. The WordPress plugins come ready on installation and don’t require anything sophisticated beyond basic options and preference manipulation and selection.