Beginner users frequently ask us what WordPress plugins are and how they work. Plugins are essential part of the WordPress ecosystem and are needed for producing quality WordPress websites. This beginner’s guide will explain what WordPress plugins are and how they work.

What Exactly Are WordPress Plugins?

WordPress plugins are applications that allow you to extend the features and functionality of your WordPress website. In the same way that apps work on your smartphone.

The plugin directory currently contains over 48,000 free plugins. Thousands more can be found on third-party websites such as Github.

On top of that, there are thousands of premium WordPress plugins available for purchase from individual developers and businesses such as ours.

WordPress began in 2003 as a simple tool to assist you in starting a blog. It has evolved into a powerful content management system and application framework over the years, owing primarily to plugins.

What Functions Do WordPress Plugins Have?

WordPress plugins are small software applications that integrate with and operate on top of the WordPress software. This enables you to use WordPress to create almost any type of website (not just blogs).

  • Using the WooCommerce plugin, you can create an online store with WordPress.
  • Using the Job Manager plugin, create a job board in WordPress.
  • Create a business directory using the best WordPress directory plugins.
  • Create a coupon website similar to RetainMeNot.
  • Create a photography website with the Envira Gallery Plugin.
  • Using the Knowledge base plugin, create a Wiki website.
  • Create your own podcast website with WordPress.
  • … and a lot more.

In the WordPress community, there is a saying that goes, “There is a plugin for that.”

It is possible to do whatever you want with your WordPress site. If the feature isn’t available by default in WordPress, there’s almost certainly a plugin for it.

WordPress plugins can be used to improve SEO, increase performance, add contact forms, social media buttons, create galleries, and much more.

Plugins can be small and only provide a single feature (like adding an image to sidebar).

They can also be quite large and serve as their own platform (Example: WordPress eCommerce plugins or WordPress membership plugins).

More feature-rich plugins can have their own addon plugins to extend them, similar to how WordPress can be extended.

What Is the Process of Using WordPress Plugins?

WordPress was designed in such a way that other developers can add their own code to it. The WordPress plugin API does provide a comprehensive series of hooks and filters which allow developers to change or add new features to existing WordPress features.

WordPress also provides developers with the ability to store data in the WordPress database. Plugins can make use of WordPress content types, taxonomies, and custom fields, allowing users to store more than just posts and pages.

Each WordPress plugin that you install on your site is stored in your WordPress database. You could also turn them on and off when you want.

WordPress plugins that have been installed When you visit WordPress, it connects to the database, load the core software, and then loads your active plugins. All of this code is processed on your server before being sent to the user’s browser.

How Do I Find and Install WordPress Plugins?

You can find free WordPress plugins by visiting the plugin directory or directly from your WordPress admin area.

Simply go to the Plugins » Add New page and search for the plugin or functionality you want to add.

When you search for plugins in the WordPress admin area, WordPress will search the plugin directory and display a list of available plugins. After reviewing the results, select the install now button next to the plugin you would like to install.

Moreover, search results within the WordPress admin area may not always be useful since they are limited to free plugins only. Most beginners struggle to determine which plugin is best for the job.

Another option is to search for plugin recommendations and tutorials on websites such as We have a section dedicated to WordPress plugins where you can find the best WordPress plugins that we have thoroughly tested and reviewed.

WordPress plugins can also be found in our editor’s pick of the best WordPress plugins for business websites.

More WordPress Plugins FAQs

I can’t see or install plugins on my WordPress blog.

You are most likely using WordPress plugins can only be installed on self-hosted websites. See our comparison of self-hosted vs. free blogs.

What is an excessive number of WordPress plugins?

A common misconception among users is that having too many plugins can cause their website to slow down. It is NEVER too many plugins that cause your site to slow down. Poorly coded plugins are always the culprits of poor performance.

Should I install plugins that haven’t been tested for my WordPress version?

When a new version of WordPress is released, the authors of free plugins may fail to update their plugin files. Simply because they do not see the need to update it if it works.

How do I decide between free and paid plugins?

There are thousands of free plugins available, and there is a good chance that a free plugin will provide the same functionality as a paid plugin. Use if it did work well enough for you.

Please keep in mind that free plugins are provided “as is,” with no warranties or guarantees of support. The author of a plugin has the option to stop working on it at any time.

If you think you’ll need a lot of help and want regular updates, paid plugins are a much better option.

On all of our websites, we use a mix of free and paid plugins.

How do I get help with free WordPress plugins?

WordPress plugins are provided for free with no guarantee of support. Most good plugins, on the other hand, provide limited free support for their plugins via the official WordPress support forums. To ask a question, go to the plugin’s page and select the support tab.

We hope this article has given you a better understanding of what WordPress plugins are and how they work. You might also be interested in our beginner’s guide to selecting the best WordPress plugin.

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