In the last article, we saw What is Theme in WordPress? What are the Best WordPress Themes?. Right after this, a familiar and new term in the WordPress world is the word “WordPress Plugins.” In this post article, we will look at What is a Plugin in WordPress? Also, we will look at sub-topics related to Plugins like where you can find WordPress Plugins and some must-have plugins in WordPress websites to grow your website/blog.
So let’s quickly jump into the main topic, i.e. What is a WordPress plugin? or What is a Plugin in WordPress?
What is A Plugin in WordPress?
WordPress Plugins are small bits of code/programs to increase the functionality of your WordPress website. These plugins increase the features on your website.
- Say you want to have a live chat feature on your website, you can install a Live Chat plugin like Tawk.To Live Chat, WP Live Chat plugin for WordPress – Tidio, etc.
- Suppose you want a slider on your website with some cool visual effects and animation. In that case, you can install the Smart Slider 3, Slider Revolution plugin or similar slider plugins.
- Say you want to give a feature to your users, where they can choose the language they want to read your website. You can install Translate Plugins like Translate WordPress with GTranslate, Loco Translate, etc.
The plugins available in the WordPress Plugin Directory make it easier for everyone, especially beginners since they don’t have to do the coding to add features to their websites.
The coders see the market gap and features required by customers and develop those plugins. The plugins are generally available to use for free from the plugin directory.
What are the Default or Pre-Installed Plugins in WordPress?
The most common and most comfortable way to install WordPress is the One Minute App Installers like Softaculous, Installatron available in the cPanel panels provided with your hosting. So when you install WordPress, two default plugins come pre-installed on your site.
The first one is Akismet, and it prevents spammers from publishing malicious content and attacking your site through the comments. It’s an excellent feature to have on your site.
The second one is Hello Dolly, which adds some lyrics to your admin screens, which as per me isn’t very useful.
Some Hosting companies have their own default set of plugins pre-installed on your website. These are not compulsory to use. You can delete it if you don’t find it useful, or replace it with your choice of plugins.
Where to Find WordPress Plugins? Free vs Paid WordPress Plugins
Free Plugin in WordPress
WordPress.org: The best place to get free plugins is the official WordPress Plugin directory. Approximately 58000 plugins are available to choose from and to customise on your website. All the plugins go through security checks and are marked safe and secure to use.
Reasons Why Developers Make The WordPress Plugins For Free
- The developer wants to contribute to the community. Yes, there are lots of developers who like to give something back to the community. Plugin Development can be a form of giving back.
- The plugin available in the plugin directory is a free version, and there is a premium version of the same with added functionality and features. The plugin developer would expect you would try the free version and then go with the premium paid version of the plugin.
- The developer sells add-ons for that plugin—add-ons as in extra features as different plugins. The Best example for the same is WooCommerce. WooCommerce is a plugin which helps to get eCommerce features in your site. There are more than 100+ extensions or add-ons for WooCommerce for free as well as paid.
Note: I would recommend you to download only from wordpress.org or trusted websites. Please don’t fall for free offers from some random websites as they might have an evil motive and that might be the reason they are providing it for free. These plugins may have some malicious codes which may break your site, and there are cases where they couldn’t even recover the contents, once it got hacked.
Premium or Paid Plugin in WordPress
There are many marketplaces and websites where you can look for a premium or paid WordPress plugins. Many individual companies create plugins and have premium products mentioned on their site. Some Sites like – Yith, WPMU DEV, etc
Some of the larger sites where you can purchase your Premium WordPress Plugins are as follows:
- Code Canyon: Choose from over 7,500 WordPress Plugins. Explore items created by their global community of independent developers, companies. Code Canyon Team assures you about the quality and the security of the plugin as they’re hand-reviewed and goes through a rigorous check. The best part is they offer updates and also a money-back guarantee for mostly all plugins.
- MOJO MarketPlace
- Template Monster
- WooCommerce Extensions Store
Must-Have Plugins in WordPress
Every website is different and unique, and every website has its requirement for features and functionalities. But there are some plugins which is a must for any website. Below are my recommendations, and I recommend this because this helps you to make your website secure, faster, safer. It also helps to get integrated into the basic functionalities needed in any website. You can keep this as a part of the initial setup after installing WordPress.
A Security Plugin
Every day roughly 30,000 websites get hacked daily. So a Security Plugin is the first and foremost thing required in today’s world. We Recommend you install Wordfence which includes a firewall and malware scanner in the Free version. You can also enable Google ReCAPTCHA v3 on your login and registration pages.
The Wordfence also has a premium version which consists of a real-time IP blacklist, premium support, country blocking, more frequent scans, spam and spamvertising checks.
If you need tighter security, then enable Two-factor authentication (2FA), one of the most secure forms of remote system authentication available with Wordfence Login Security.
A Backup Plugin
Yes, backup is the next important thing. It’s by my own experience am saying, the backup can be a lifesaver at some times. Sometimes the hack is so worse that you don’t get any data, and you are stuck with nothing.
In the next scenario, Say you want to migrate your site, or you encounter a compatibility issue between some plugins or themes. And you are stuck with your website being down.
At this point, the best option is to hit the restore button and get your life back on track.
The best plugin to manage backups is the UpdraftPlus plugin available in the plugin directory for Free. It automatically schedules daily backups for you and saves a copy of the files and database backup into the cloud. You can also hit the restore button from the files backup at the cloud to restore your site wholly.
You get cloud options like Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon S3, etc. to save your copy of files and database.
The plugin also has a Premium Version if you need more features like:
- Migrate/Clone to another domain names
- Send backups to multiple remote destinations.
- Multisite/multi-network compatible
- Personal support and many other features.
You can check the comparison between UpdraftPlus free and UpdraftPremium.
A Performance Plugin
No one likes a website that takes time to load. To increase the website performances and load times, you can use a Performance Cache Plugin. The Cache Plugins improve the user experience and also search engine results rankings.
The one I recommend is a Premium Plugin, i.e. WP Rocket – Caching Plugin for WordPress. It works for small, medium and large sites. From a simple beginners blog to an online store.
The non-technical WordPress users can easily use this plugin for the following features:
- Cache your website’s dynamically generated pages.
- Enable lazy loading for faster loading times.
- Improve user-end browser caching.
- Integrate your caching solution with a Content Delivery Network (CDN) like Cloudflare without even leaving your WordPress dashboard
You can check here the features and Comparison between WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. You can buy the WP Rocket plugin here.
A Page Builder Plugin
It is the page builders available in the market that gives you the ability to craft custom designs for your website pages in WordPress.
My Recommendation is Elementor. Elementor is useful for controlling every aspect of your web design workflow from one place. It’s a 100% Visual Design Builder and so you can speed up the process and build sites faster. It is also the right choice for those who wish to have a custom design for their website. With Elementor page builder, you can create custom header and footer, custom popups, landing pages, website archives, shop pages, custom blog and blog archive pages as well.
Elementor also has a premium version which includes additional widgets, premium prebuilt templates, premium support and updates.
An SEO Plugin
In the above steps, you saw some of the must-have plugins like a security plugin, a backup system, a page builder. Now the next must-have plugin is a WordPress SEO Plugin to rank better on search engines.
I recommend you to go with RankMath SEO; it can be used from an entry-level user to a high-end website to get your rankings better on search engines.
The best part what I like about the RankMath SEO WordPress plugin is:
- Easy to Follow Setup Wizard that sets up SEO for WordPress perfectly
- Clean, & Simple User Interface which helps you to preview how your post will appear in the SERPs, preview rich snippets, and in social channels.
- Built With Performance In Mind and Advanced SEO Analytics Module.
- Google Analytics Integration to see all your website metrics with meaningful insights.
- Rank Tracker to track your keywords and their search engines positions.
- The Most Advanced Schema Generator and Custom Schema Builder.
- Article Schema, Product Schema, Recipe Schema, Events Schema, Video Schema, Local Business Schema, FAQ Schema Block and HowTo Schema Block.
- XML Sitemap, News Sitemap for Submitting Websites on Google News, Video Sitemap For Video Websites and many more.
- Industry-Leading Support.
Also, apart from the above free features, the RankMath SEO WordPress plugin offers a Premium version i.e. RankMath Pro with more features and functionality. You can check the Pricing & 88+Features of RankMath Pro Here.
With this detailed article and with all the necessary information I hope you have got an idea of what is a plugin in WordPress? and how you can add these WordPress plugins to increase the functionality of your website.
Just make sure you don’t add all the plugins that you see on the Internet. Install plugins from the Plugin Directory or trusted sources like CodeCanyon marketplace.
Also, the list of must-have plugins in WordPress has been updated above. You can add these plugins as a part of your initial setup after installing WordPress. Make sure you add only one of the similar plugins. For example either install WP Rocket or WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache, since all three are cache plugins. If you add all three or two plugins of the same nature, there are chances it may break your site.
I will be writing more helpful articles, which explains different plugins. These WordPress plugins and WordPress tools can help you and can make a massive difference to your website functionality. Don’t forget to visit this blog periodically and subscribe to get an email about the latest posts as soon as it is published.
If you feel there are some plugins that are must-have plugins for WordPress, then share your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, please share it with your community on social media to share the knowledge you have learned.