What are WordPress plugins? how do you work (2023)

Newbies often ask us what WordPress plugins are and how they work.

Plugins are an important part of the WordPress ecosystem and are essential to creating great websites with WordPress.

In this beginner's guide, we explain what WordPress plugins are and how they work.

What are WordPress plugins? how do you work (1)

What are WordPress plugins?

WordPress plugins are applications that allow you to add new features and functionality to your websiteWordPress-Website.

In other words, they work just like smartphone apps.

There are now around 60,000 free plugins availableDirectory of WordPress.org plugins.More content is available on third-party sites such as Github.

What are WordPress plugins? how do you work (2)

Plus there are thousandsPremium-WordPress-PluginsSold by individual developers and companies like us.

In 2003, WordPress was introduced as a simple support toolStart blogging.Over the years it has evolved into a powerful content management system and application framework largely thanks to plugins.

What can WordPress plugins do?

WordPress plugins are small software applications that are embedded and run on WordPress software. This allows you to create almost any type of website with WordPress, not just blogs.

For example, you can:

(Video) What Are WordPress Plugins - And How To Use Them?

  • Start an online store with WordPressUse the WooCommerce plugin
  • Create a task board with WordPressUse the task manager plugin
  • Create a business directoryBest Directory Plugins for WordPress
  • Start a coupon websiteLike RetainMeNot
  • Create your photography websiteUsing the Envira Gallery plugin
  • Create a wikiUsing the Knowledge Base plugin
  • Start your own podcast siteUse WordPress
  • … AndMore.

There's a popular saying in the WordPress community: "There's a plugin for that."

Anything you want to do with your WordPress site is possible. If the feature is not available in standard WordPress, a plugin must be available.

There are WordPress plugins that can do thisImprove SEO,performance improvement,Add contactAndsocial media buttons, creationcustom theme,etc.

Add-ons can be small and provide only a small function, e.gAdd image to sidebar.

Or they can also be very large and act as their own platform, e.g.WordPress-E-Commerce-PluginAndAdd WordPress Member.

Many feature-rich plugins have their own plugins to extend them, just like you extend WordPress.

How do WordPress plugins work?

WordPress is written in such a way that other developers can add their own code. The WordPress plugin API provides a powerful set of hooks and filters that developers can use to modify existing WordPress features or add new ones.

WordPress also allows developers to store dataWordPress database.Plugins can use WordPressContent type,Taxonomy, Andcustom fieldIt allows users to save different types of content, not just posts and pages.

Every WordPress plugin installed on your site is registered in the WordPress database. You can turn them on and off at any time.

What are WordPress plugins? how do you work (3)

On each visit, WordPress connects to the database, loads the core software, and then loads your active plugins. All code is processed on your server and then sent to the user's browser.

(Video) How to use plugins on WordPress.com

How do I find and install WordPress plugins?

You can find free WordPress plugins at WordPress.orglist of pluginsOr you can find them directly in your WordPressmanagement sector.

I just arrivedPlugins » Add Newand search by typing the name of the plugin or functionality you want to add.

What are WordPress plugins? how do you work (4)

WordPress searches the plugin directory and displays the available plugins in the list.

You need to check the results and click the "Install Now" button next to the plugin you want to install.

What are WordPress plugins? how do you work (5)

Learn more in our step-by-step guide for beginnersHow to install a WordPress plugin.

However, the search results in the WordPress admin panel are not always useful, as they are limited to free plugins. In addition, the number of plugins can be very high. Many beginners struggle to decide which plugin is best for the job.

Another option is to look for plugin suggestions and tutorials on sites like WPBeginner.com. we have oneWordPress-PluginsIn this section you will find the best WordPress plugins that we have thoroughly tested and reviewed.

You can also find the plugins we use on our own websiteDesign for WPBeginnerand check out these must-have business page plugins:

  • 24 Essential WordPress Plugins for Business Websites
  • 32 Best WooCommerce Plugins for Your Store (Most Free)
  • 6 Best Drag & Drop WordPress Page Builders Compared
  • 14 Best WordPress SEO Plugins and Tools You Should Be Using
  • Compare the 5 Best Contact Form Plugins for WordPress
  • The 11 Best Analytics Solutions for WordPress Users

More frequently asked questions about WordPress plugins

Why can't I see or install plugins on my WordPress blog?

You're probably using WordPress.com. You can only install WordPress plugins on self-hosted WordPress.org sites.

(Video) How I Use All WordPress PRO Plugins Absolutely FREE | No Kidding

See our guide to the difference between the twoSelf-hosted WordPress.org vs free WordPress.com.

Are there too many plugins?

A common misconception among users is that too many plugins will slow down their website.

However, it is never the number of installed plugins that slows down your website. It's always poorly coded plugins that slow down performance.

See our guide for more informationHow many WordPress plugins should you install?.

Should I install a plugin that hasn't been tested with my version of WordPress?

The short answer is: It depends on the plugin.

Just because a plugin author hasn't updated their README file doesn't mean the plugin hasn't been tested and doesn't work with the latest version of WordPress.

Sometimes free plugin authors don't update their plugin files for every new version of WordPress. They just feel they don't need to update the plugin if it still works.

You can find instructions for installing these plugins in our guideInstalling plugins that have not been tested with your WordPress version.

(Video) How Many WordPress Plugins Should You Install? (How many is too many...?)

What's the best way to choose between free and paid plugins?

There are thousands of free plugins out there, and chances are you'll find one that offers the same functionality as a paid one. If it works for you, use it.

For more information on choosing a free plugin, check out our guideHow to choose the best WordPress plugins.

Please note that free plugins are provided without any warranty and without any promise of support. Plugin authors can stop developing plugins at any time.

If you feel you need a lot of support and want regular updates, a paid plugin is a better option.

See our guide for more informationWhen is it worth buying a premium WordPress plugin?.We use a mix of free and paid plugins on all of our sites.

How do I get support for free WordPress plugins?

It offers free WordPress plugins with no support promise. However, most good plugins offer limited free support through the official WordPress support forums.

Just visit the plugin page and click on the support tab to post your question.

What are WordPress plugins? how do you work (6)

For more information on this topic, we recommend that you take a look at our guideHow to properly request and receive WordPress support.

(Video) How To Add WordPress Plugins To Your Website [2023]

We hope this article helped you understand what WordPress plugins are and how they work. You may also want to knowHow to increase your blog traffic, and check out our listThe most common WordPress errors and how to fix them.

If you liked this article, please subscribe to oursYoutube KanalFor WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us in the following waysTwitterAndFacebook.


What are WordPress plugins? how do you work? ›

A WordPress plugin is a piece of software that “plugs into” your WordPress site. Plugins can add new functionality or extend existing functionality on your site, allowing you to create virtually any kind of website, from ecommerce stores to portfolios to directory sites.

What is the function of WordPress plugin? ›

Plugins add extra code to your WordPress website, thus making it more functional. As a result, it enables you to customize your website as per your need. Unfortunately, adding a plugin to your site is heavier than you may think. Data in WordPress is stored in the WordPress database.

Can you use WordPress without plugins? ›

Plugins are an integral part of the entire WordPress experience, and you can't really build a successful project without them. They can be immensely helpful in creating an interactive, functional website that keeps visitors interested and gives them the features they need.

What are the basic plugins for WordPress? ›

11 Must-Have WordPress Plugins That Are Essential in 2023
  • A backup & security plugin like Jetpack. ...
  • A contact form builder like WPForms. ...
  • An anti-spam plugin like Akismet. ...
  • An SEO plugin like Yoast SEO. ...
  • A lead generation plugin like OptinMonster. ...
  • A WordPress CRM like Jetpack CRM. ...
  • An eCommerce plugin like WooCommerce.
Apr 13, 2023

Should I use plugins in WordPress? ›

Plugins can help you improve SEO, increase security, manage users, and more. It would be quite difficult to grow your business without using WordPress plugins on your website.

Which plugin is mostly used in WordPress? ›


WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress used by over 5 million websites. It comes with all the powerful features that you need to create an online store.

Why do people use plugins? ›

Plugins are software that adds capabilities to an existing program without impacting that program's code. These pieces of software effectively "plug in" to existing operational frameworks, allowing users to get the features they want.

What is the difference between plugin and extension in WordPress? ›

Extensions are designed to extend/modify the functionality of your website while plugins perform a particular task or set of tasks. Plugins typically provide added functionality, such as allowing users to log in to a website or adding e-commerce capabilities to a website.

Do you have to pay for plugins on WordPress? ›

An official marketplace of free plugins is available on WordPress.org and in the WordPress admin dashboard. In addition, plugins are available for purchase from third-party developers and can be uploaded into WordPress.

Do you write code in WordPress? ›

Without a doubt, WordPress excels as both a code and a no-code tool. If you want to dive into creating websites exclusively with WordPress, you don't need to be able to write code, as you can get a lot done with the no-code part of WordPress.

What are your top 5 WordPress plugins? ›

40+ Best WordPress Plugins in 2023
  • Elementor – Best Page Builder Plugin.
  • WooCommerce – Best WordPress eCommerce Plugin.
  • Spectra – Best Free WordPress Page Builder.
  • Wordfence – Best WordPress Security Plugin.
  • AIOSEO – Best WordPress SEO Plugin.
  • WPForms – Best WordPress Form Builder Plugin.

Where are WordPress plugins stored? ›

All WordPress plugins you download and install on your site are stored in /wp-content/plugins/ folder.

What is the difference between WordPress theme and plugin? ›

While plugins control what your WordPress website does, WordPress themes enable you to change how your site looks. This includes design elements such as the page layout, colors, and fonts. While you can have multiple plugins activated at once, you can only have one active theme at any one time.

Do professionals use plugins? ›

A: Professionals use a range of vocal plugins, including pitch correction tools like Antares Auto-Tune, compressors like Waves SSL G-Master Buss Compressor, equalizers like FabFilter Pro-Q 3, and reverbs like ValhallaDSP ValhallaRoom.

How do I add plugins to WordPress? ›

Starting with free plugins:
  1. Go to “Plugins” in your WordPress dashboard. Start by going to your admin panel – http://your-domain.com/wp-admin/ and click on “Plugins” in the sidebar menu:
  2. Click on “Add New” ...
  3. Find your plugin via search. ...
  4. Install your plugin. ...
  5. Activate the plugin.
Mar 19, 2023

How many WordPress plugins do you use? ›

A good rule of thumb is to never exceed 20 plugins. If your site is hosted on shared or budget cloud hosting, try not to use more than 5 plugins. Only use the plugins that you know you need and update plugins regularly to fix any holes in their security.

What are two examples of commonly used plugins? ›

Examples include the Adobe Flash Player, a Java virtual machine (for Java applets), QuickTime, Microsoft Silverlight and the Unity Web Player.

Do I need plugins for my website? ›

Why are plugins important? Plugins are the building blocks of your WordPress site. They bring in important functions to your website, whether you need to add contact forms, improve SEO, increase site speed, create an online store, or offer email opt-ins. Whatever you need your website to do can be done with a plugin.

What are the two types of plugins? ›

There are two general types of plugins in Gradle, script plugins and binary plugins. Script plugins are additional build scripts that further configure the build and usually implement a declarative approach to manipulating the build.

What does a plugin do to your website? ›

The main advantage of using plug-ins is the ability to expand the functionality of your website quickly and easily. Webmasters can usually download and install them within minutes. Developers also update plug-ins frequently, sometimes several times year, as they make performance and security improvements.

Should I delete WordPress plugins? ›

Why You Need to Uninstall a WordPress Plugin? There are thousands of WordPress plugins available, and you can easily install any WordPress plugin on your site. However, it is also vital that you uninstall any WordPress plugins that you don't want to use. WordPress plugins are like apps that you can run on your site.

How do you tell if a plugin is being used? ›

Open up the page source for the website and press Ctrl + F to search the code quickly. Type in wp-content/plugins/ and start the search. You will find all the plugins used on the site. Some add-in have comments.

How do you tell if a plugin is being used in WordPress? ›

Search for "wp-content/plugins" to discover the plugins used on a WordPress site. You can do a quick Google search with the title you've found and find the link to it from there.

Are plugins the same as libraries? ›

A "plugin" is a piece of code that's meant to be integrated with a specific application, and cannot be reused elsewhere. A "library" is some code that's meant to be used by other programmers for a specific purpose, but could be useful for many different applications. For example, AdBlock for Google Chrome is a plugin.

Is WordPress still relevant 2023? ›

As you can see, WordPress is still very much relevant in 2023 and will likely remain so for years to come. Its flexibility, user-friendly interface, SEO-friendliness, security, and continuous development make it a top choice for website owners and developers worldwide.

Is it easy to learn WordPress? ›

WordPress is fairly easy to learn, but you're bound to have questions when you first start. Fortunately, the internet is full of resources to help you master this popular CMS. The best way to learn the platform depends on your skill level, your learning preferences, and how much you're willing to pay.

Do I have to pay WordPress to use my own domain? ›

With the purchase of any WordPress.com annual plan, you may register a new domain for free for one year. You may also connect a domain from another provider for free with any WordPress.com plan. If you are not ready to add a custom domain, you can create your site and add a domain later.

What is not a good reason to use WordPress? ›

The number of spam comments on a WordPress site is 24 times higher than the number of legitimate comments. If it's that easy for spammers to know your site is WordPress, it's just that easy for malicious bots to find out as well. As it turns out, the majority of WordPress websites are hacked by bots.

What is the weakness of WordPress? ›

Unfortunately, WordPress websites can be slow to perform due to the added plugins and oversaturated databases and codebases. Each plugin adds time and some can even double your website loading time.

Do I own my WordPress website? ›

WordPress.org, often called self-hosted WordPress, is the free, open-source WordPress software that you can install on your own web host to create a website that's 100% your own. WordPress.com is a for-profit, paid service that is powered by the WordPress.org software.

What is the difference between a website and WordPress? ›

The main difference between Website Builders and WordPress is that Website Builders are all-in-one solutions, while WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that requires separate hosting, installation, and customization.

What code to learn for WordPress? ›

If you're going to work with WordPress at all, HTML is the one language you're going to need a working knowledge of. Even though WordPress is moving into more visual editing of content, themes, and styles, being proficient in HTML is never going to completely disappear. HTML is pretty basic, though.

Do I need WordPress business for plugins? ›

Plugin installation is only available on the Business and eCommerce plans. However, all WordPress.com sites have many features available in plugins already built in.

What is the difference between WordPress posts and pages? ›

WordPress Page

WordPress Pages are similar to posts in that they have a title and body text, but they are different. A WordPress page contains content that is typically more generic than posts. Unlike posts, pages don't come with dates attached to them. And they're usually in a static part of your WordPress site.

Are WordPress plugins stored in the database? ›

A WordPress database stores all the data that makes up a WordPress website, including login credentials, pages, posts, themes, and plugins.

How do I access my WordPress files? ›

Access Files from WordPress Dashboard

By default, WordPress allows you to modify the Theme and Plugin files. Well, simply just go to your WordPress Dashboard. If you wish to make changes to your Theme, then navigate to wp-admin -> Appearance -> Editor. Afterward, you will be able to view the files inside your Theme.

What are the functions of plugins in a website? ›

The main advantage of using plug-ins is the ability to expand the functionality of your website quickly and easily. Webmasters can usually download and install them within minutes. Developers also update plug-ins frequently, sometimes several times year, as they make performance and security improvements.

Why do we need plugins? ›

Plugins are used to extend or add functionality to your website. For example, if you want to sell products or take donations on your site, you're going to need a plugin to handle that.

What is the difference between a WordPress plugin and a theme? ›

Plugins enable you to add features that bring more functionality to your site. Meanwhile, themes help you modify the appearance of your pages. These tools can be located from the WordPress.com plugins and WordPress.com themes directories, and you can install them directly from your dashboard.

What are two uses of plugins? ›

In other words, plugins are where much of the real action is performed, plugins are used to: create jar files, create war files, compile code, unit test code, create project documentation, and on and on.

What is the difference between a post and a page in WordPress? ›

WordPress Page

WordPress Pages are similar to posts in that they have a title and body text, but they are different. A WordPress page contains content that is typically more generic than posts. Unlike posts, pages don't come with dates attached to them. And they're usually in a static part of your WordPress site.


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