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what is a plugin

What Is A Plugin – WordPress Plugins Tutorial

WordPress blogging platform is popular because it is so versatile and easily modifiable. This versatility is achieved with plugins, a term you hear a lot when you become a blogger. Today’s WordPress plugins tutorial is an overview of these “miracle workers”. You’ll learn what is a plugin, what does it do, where do plugins come from and where to find and how to choose plugins you need for your WordPress blog.

Initially, I was going to lump all of this information on one page. But I realized that it would have made this WordPress tutorial too long. To make it easier for you I decided to split up the WordPress Plugins tutorial into 3 sections.

  1. What is a plugin – Overview (you are here now)
  2. How to install WordPress plugins, how to delete and update them
  3. Must have plugins on a new WordPress blog

You can get to each tutorial by clicking the link above, or by clicking the ” Next Tutorial ” link on the bottom of this post.

 

WordPress Plugins Tutorial Part 1

What Is A Plugin – Overview

When you first start blogging, the notion of plugins may be very intimidating. I know exactly how you feel. My aim, in this WordPress plugins tutorial, is to explain to you what is a plugin in simple terms and show you that WordPress plugins are really nothing to be afraid of, even if you are not a techie person.

In the context of blogging, a plugin is a software program, or a combination of several programs or scripts, that are written / designed specifically for WordPress. They are used to enhance and often simplify the features and the functions of the WordPress platform. They allow you a multitude of customizations, usually with only a click of a button.

Thousands of modifications can be done with free or premium plugins. Chances are that if you are looking for a specific function or a feature to improve your WordPress blog, there already exists one or several plugins that will do it. They are simple to install and, if need be, configure.

All plugins are registered at the WordPress Plugin Repository/Directory. At the time of writing this tutorial, there were over 35,935 of them registered and over 842,372,061 downloaded in the WordPress Repository.

Because of the ever changing technical aspects of the WordPress platform, plugins must be kept updated to keep up with these technical changes. Some of the them are not kept up to date and they may become a security risk to your blog. Always make sure that the developer of these scripts, keeps up with WordPress updates.

 

A plugin adds behind-the-scenes information to your WordPress blog. It may be considered “light” or “heavy”, depending on the amount of information that is added and also on the way it is coded. A poorly coded or an overly “heavy” one may cause to significantly slowdown your site.

Before you consider installing any plugins on your WordPress blog, read what other bloggers say about them and check their review at WordPress.org. (The review and a date of the last update is always provided by WordPress.org on the plugin’s installation page).

Some bloggers go crazy over plugins and install many on their blog. Too many will slow down your WordPress blog significantly. This is not desirable by search engines and your visitors. Please limit the number of installs.

A vast majority of plugins are completely free to use. Others, you may have to purchase. The ones you have to buy are called premium plugins. Often a premium one will offer a free version, which is basically a less functional version but it is still usable. Weigh the options carefully.

As well, a majority of developers allow you to upload the same plugin on multiple WordPress blogs. Some premium plugins (not all) will charge according to the type of usage. Usually, 3 levels are charged.

  • Single Use – allows a one site installation
  • Unlimited Use – allows it to be used on unlimited sites
  • Developer – allows installation on unlimited sites as well as your client’s sites

Always only choose the option that best suits your needs and your budget. You can always upgrade to a higher leveled option.

Well, this concludes WordPress plugins tutorial Part 1. To recap, you have learned what is a plugin and you also found out that there is nothing scary about these magical tools. Use them but don’t abuse them! Now let’s go over to the next WordPress tutorial to learn how to delete some of the default plugins you don’t need and how to install new ones.

Next WordPress Plugins Tutorial: How To Install and Delete plugins

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