WordPress is one of the most popular Content Management Systems being used on the web right now. One of the reasons for its popularity is the wide range of plugins available to users. But what are plugins you may ask?

“Plugins are composed of php scripts that extend the functionality of WordPress.They offer new additions to your blog that either enhance features that were already available or add otherwise unavailable new features to your site.” (WordPress.org).

For instance, let’s say you wanted to include your twitter feed in the footer of your site. Just visit the repository at WordPress.org and search for a twitter feed plugin. Or maybe you want to display the weather for your area? Guess what, there’s a plugin for that too. In fact, there are almost 36,000 plugins at the WordPress.org repository and countless more premium plugins available at places like codecanyon and wpmudev.

Most of the plugins at WordPress.org are free where as premium plugins may run you a few bucks. One thing to look for when finding/installing a plugin, is how many users have downloaded it and how did those users rate it (good/bad). Also make sure it says it works with your version of WordPress (which is hopefully updated to the latest version). Below is a short list of other things to remember when installing a plugin.

Things to remember:

  • ALWAYS keep your plugins up to date
  • Use a plugin that is actively updated and has many positive reviews
  • Installing many plugins can potentially slow your site down
  • Run as lean as you can and only install the plugins you need
  • If you don’t need a plugin, deactivate it and delete it. Leaving a plugin on your server is just one more piece of code, especially if not being updated, for an attacker to expoit your site

If you administer your WordPress website and want to learn more about using plugins, visit codex.wordpress.org/Managing_Plugins. You’ll find everything from the definition of a plugin, to helpful tips on how to effectively troubleshoot your site when you experience problems with your plugins.

Here is a good list of plugins from a recent PC Magazine article that will help to get you started 🙂