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What are WordPress plugins and what are they for?

Plugins add certain features to the WordPress kernel.

As you probably already know WordPress is a content manager that allows us to create a website and / or a blog in a simple and fast. But the core of WordPress has its limitations: we can not create an online store, we can not create a contact form, a forum, and so on.

Plugins are therefore modules that when installed in WordPress allow us to add certain features such as: create a contact form on the website, create an online store, add a forum to the website, social network icons to share on the blog, use a cache to increase the loading speed of the website, and so on.

In its origins WordPress was made with the aim of creating a tool that would be able to create blogs. Subsequently incorporated the possibility of creating what in wordpress are called “pages” and that refers to the inner pages of any website (page of who we are, services, contact, etc.).

But it has really been the impressive amount of quality and free plugins that has revolutionized the world of web design and has made WordPress the most widely used platform in the world by opening a colossal gap with Joomla and Drupal who are their closest pursuers.

1.- Free and paid plugins

There are free and paid plugins. There are also some plugins that are distributed for free but have limited functionality. In order to obtain more functionalities it is necessary to upgrade to the Premium version of the plugin upon payment of this upgrade.

In WordPress there are many high quality free plugins that are periodically updated.

The main problem that a free plugin can have is that the author does not have to support his product, nor does he have to update it to the latest versions of WordPress, since he is distributing it for free.

A non-updated plugin can cause a web page to stop working when we update the WordPress kernel. This way we have to resort to restoring the last backup or removing the plugin.

2.- Where to look for free WordPress plugins

In the official page of wordpress.org you can find thousands of free plugins with all kinds of features. To do this go to the official website of wordpress.org and in the top menu click on the tab “plugins”.

As for the payment plugins you can find in different web pages like Codecanyon, Woothemes, Elegant themes, etc.

3.- Elements to take into account in a WordPress plugin

First of all we must take into account if the plugin is compatible with the version of WordPress we have installed on our website.

We should also look when the last update was made. It is not recommended to install plugins that have not been updated for a long time. We must install plugins whose authors update to the different versions of WordPress.

We can take a look at the ratings that are made of the plugin if you search in wordpress.org as well as the number of downloads and active installations.

The evolution of the downloads that appear in the “stats” tab will also give us a hint about the success of the plugin.

4.- Ways to install a plugin in WordPress

There are 3 different ways to install a WordPress plugin:

  • The easiest way to install free plugins is to search for the plugin through the WordPress administration panel and install it from there.
  • There is a second way of downloading the plugin from your official website and then uploading it from the administration panel of our WordPress website.
  • The third way is to upload the plugin via FTP to the folder wp-content/plugins and decompress it if you have uploaded it compressed.