WordPress is a powerful web publishing platform. That statement almost goes without saying.
Because it is open source there is a tremendous amount of support for the platform freely available out there. And you can really add functionality to your WordPress site by adding plugins.
What Plugins Are
Plugins are simply smaller programs that interact with a bigger program to do something that the original program couldn’t do alone.
The beauty of plugins is that they are modular. They are normally easily activated and deactivated which means that the desired functionality can be turned on and off as desired.
So in theory you can add them, take them away, mix and match without causing problems with the original program.
I say in theory because, as with anything computer related, your mileage may vary if you know what I mean. Sometimes they might produce unexpected and very undesirable results. Those are the fun times.
But I digress.
With WordPress as your web publishing platform, plugins are usually fairly straight forward. The first task is to find the plugin you want.
For example this morning I added the ability for one client to easily insert Amazon.com affiliate links to his blog. For another I went and found a polling plugin that will allow the client to solicit input from their readers.
A good starting point is the plugin page of the WordPress Codex. The lists can be a bit overwhelming though. And the tricky part is that some of the plugin names don’t really offer clues to what the plugin actually does.
This is where Google can really be your friend. Searching for the functionality you want can really help save time. And be sure to check out what some bloggers who are actually using the plugin are saying.
One important note. Plugins are often specific to whatever version of WordPress you are running. It is not unusual to update to a new version of WordPress and have plugins stop working all together. Or worse.
On some of my blogs I’ve upgraded only to have the entire site shut down. Often the culprit was a plugin that was not compatible with the new version.
For example if you are using the latest version, check out the WordPress 2.3 plugin compatibility page.
Once you find the plugin you want, just download it, unzip it, FTP it to the plugin folder on your server, and activate it in the plugin section of your WordPress control panel.
For some folks that’s a breeze.
For the rest of you, that’s one of the many reasons you need us here at SuccessCREEations.
Plugins. A great way to add functionality to your site.