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There comes a time in every website owner’s life that they want to add a bit more functionality to their website. Typically if your website is custom coded, it would involve getting in contact with your developer and having them write the new code necessary to make things work.
While that’s all good and dandy, this process can take some time depending on the complexity of what you’re looking to implement. In addition, you’ll likely end up paying the developer more money simply for the time it takes to deliver solid code that integrates nicely with the rest of your site. However, if your website is running on the WordPress CMS (content management system), you’re in luck. WordPress allows for the use of plugins to extend the functionality of any WordPress website.
What Are Plugins?
In a nutshell, plugins are little pieces of code that allow you to extend the functionality of a WordPress website. As the name suggest, these external pieces of code simply “plugin” to an existing website adding on to it’s functionality.
Lets say for example if you want to enable users to start a live chat session on your website with your customer support team. Normally this would have to be implemented by your developer. With WordPress plugins, you can easily add live chat support with only a few clicks. From live chat functionality to adding customized social widgets, plugins help you get things done quickly and efficiently.
Where to Find Plugins
Hands down, the best resource out there for finding and installing new plugins is the WordPress Plugin Directory from WordPress.org. They have literally THOUSANDS of plugins available both free and premium for you to install at a moments notice.
However not all plugins are hosted on the WordPress Plugin Directory. Companies and developers often offer premium plugins that are hosted on their own private websites. These premium plugins typically offer robust and amazing features often missing from their free counterparts.
While most plugins are typically safe to install and try out, it’s good to be cautious before installing random plugins from just any website. If you’re installing a plugin not found in the WordPress Plugin Repository, be sure to do your research to make sure the plugin you want to install is reputable and safe to use.
Picking the Right Plugin
So how do you know which plugin to choose from? When searching the WordPress Plugin Directory, you’re presented with a special rating system which tells you things like the amount of downloads a plugin has gotten, the number of stars people have given the plugin, when the plugin was last updated, as well as if the plugin is compatible with your version of WordPress.
Based upon all that information, it’s easy to tell what plugins are the ones to get. A good rule of thumb is to look at the number of stars a plugin has, in contrast to the amount of downloads a plugin has received. By using these numbers, you can quickly decide which ones are the most trusted and liked among the WordPress community. This also helps you figure out which plugins are safe to install on your website.
With thousands of amazing plugins to choose from, extending your website and making it your own has never been easier.