What is a WordPress Plugin and How do they Work?

What is a WordPress Plugin and How do they Work?

A WordPress plugin is composed of a PHP script to extend the functionality of WordPress, that is, to add extra features and attractions for your viewers. Some popular ones are the “cloud tag”, “Categories”, “Search” and “Email for Updates”. Each plugin offers something original to the website to give to the audience, and also so each site has it’s own original flare. Plugins can be installed in three different ways:

  • Using the Administration Panel (wp-admin) Search. This is the easiest way to install a WordPress plugin, but the plugin must be in the proper directory. Free plugins and guidelines are in this directory. First you go to “New”, find the plugin you’re looking for and click “Install”.
  • Upload a Plugin in the WordPress Administration Panel. If the plugin you want isn’t already there, you can upload it on your own, which first involves downloading it from the source, in a *.zip file and going to the WordPress Admin Panel and Clicking Plugin > Add New and then “Upload”. Don’t forget to activate the plugin after it installs. Then you must configure it for your site.
  • The third way to install a plugin is to upload it directly via FTP (File transfer protocol) which requires FTP software on most operating systems. You first connect to your host and find the wp-admin directory, and then upload the files there. This is not recommended for beginners. To upload the files, simply drag and drop them from one side of the screen (your computer) to the other side (the server). Once uploaded, use your browser to go to WordPress admin and activate your plugin, like you did in the second technique.

The more you use WordPress plugins, the less you have to have to edit the theme template files, which is a bonus because it is much easier to fix this way, just in case. Sometimes you have to put a small piece of code, generally starting with <?php on your page to include the plugin. This is simple and much easier than editing the theme. Other plugins are known as Widgets and can be dragged and dropped to where you want them to appear.

WordPress is a very powerful blogging tool, great for beginners and experts alike. WordPress plugins are a definite great add-on to the WordPress software, making it easy for any level of blogger to make a smart, professional website.

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