What are WordPress Plugins?

What is a WordPress Plugin
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Written by Simon

Last Updated 17/12/2023

There are over 50,000 different types of WordPress plugins available to install on your website. These range from sliding banners to e-commerce stores and even ones that can turn your website into an e-learning platform. But not all plugins are created equally…some are free and some you’ll need to purchase or subscribe to.

Recommended Reading: 5 Free Plugins to Build a WordPress Website

What Are WordPress Plugins And How Do They Work?

Plugins are lines of code that are designed to create a specific feature or improve your WordPress site’s functionality. These plugins work only with a self-hosted WordPress website.

WordPress plugins are written in the PHP language. PHP is a containing code well-suited for website development and allows you to embed it with HTML.

Interesting article on PHP: php.net

What Do Plugins Do?

Advantages of using WordPress plugins

Don’t panic if all this talk of PHP and HTML has left you a little spun around! 

The beauty of WordPress plugins is that you don’t need any prior coding knowledge. Another key advantage of a plugin is that once installed, you can use it for some time and decide that you don’t need it anymore.

Instead of searching through lines of code to remove this feature, you can deactivate the plugin, and it disappears! As always, there are some exceptions to the rules. With this in mind, you can easily change your site functionality with a button click. Want to sell products? There’s a plugin for that. Want to create a social networking website like Facebook? There’s a plugin for that too! Every day, developers are creating new features, and the possibilities seem endless.

Disadvantages of using plugins

There are of course several drawbacks to using WordPress plugins. 

The biggest issue you’re likely to face is that as you begin to install more and more, it will begin to “bloat” your website. This means that there is a lot of extra code that you might not be using and this could drastically slow your website’s load time. To combat this, web designers need to be tactical. They try to strike a balance between your website’s functionality and its load time. A longer-loading website will lose visitors.

As these plugins are written by separate developers, this can occasionally cause conflicts between these plugins, potentially causing your site to stop working.

Finally, the main thing to watch out for is your website’s security. Unapproved plugins can have hidden ‘backdoors’ that could leave your site open to a cyber hack. 

Recommended Reading: Installing a Free Website Security System

Fear not, it’s not all doom and gloom! As long as you only use plugins from trusted developers and keep them up-to-date, you should be golden. We’ll explain later in this article how to keep your plugins up to date, and even a free plugin that will give your website security.

Recommended Reading: How to Install a Plugin

Recommended Reading: How to Update a Plugin

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