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WordPress Plugin Unplugged Part 1 [Beginner’s Guide]

Wordpress Plugin Unplugged

What is WordPress Plugin and Why Use It for Marketing

Using plugins for business solutions? WordPress powers one fourth of all websites and its intelligent plugins have won over online marketers worldwide. But the next WordPress plugin you download can also be a serious threat to your website. Have a quick peek at WordPress Plugin guidelines before jumping to the business blogging bandwagon.

Wordpress Plugin Unplugged

WordPress Plugin Unplugged

Suppose you have a bookshop. Nice, vibrant collection of books stacked in well-lit shelves, solid tie-up with book vendors and a lucrative location to set up the basic store. You’re good to go. But, will it help your books sell?
A store doesn’t sell itself. To grow, you need more. Limiting marketing choices to bare minimum, business cannot survive. In this case, to adapt to trends, you need a few “add-ons”. Comfortable couches. Magazines/journals. Wi-Fi and light lunches. These ‘extras’ draw customers and increase sales. In a website, this “add-on” is a plugin to flex your marketing muscles in similar way. Plugin is a top feature that keep WordPress a class apart from any other CMS.
Why Use WordPress Plugin—for Online Business
Some things in life cannot be extended to a better version. For the rest, there’s a WordPress Plugin. It’s basically a piece of software that you can install or uninstall from a site’s admin area to add functions to a WordPress Blog/Site.
Plugins enable you to customize a site so you can virtually do anything. Avoiding spammy comments from your blog posts? Use Akismet. Want to leave a sweet note to your customers after their first buy on your website for repeated visit? Wrap it up with a MailChimp. Allowing your users read a page even without internet connection? Use WP offline browser. Even a simple WooCommerce email plugin can send follow-up mails to customer based on purchase history.
A whopping 29,000+ WordPress Plugins are emerging every day to enhance functionality of websites. Plugins neither make a site code-heavy nor tamper with the original install. Big brands like ebay Inc, ESPN Product Blog and Ford Social use WordPress plugins for their power-packed features.
But, how sure are you about the reliability, security and functionality of the plugin you’re going to use?

Does It Make My Website Slow?

40% of online shoppers decide not to visit a site again unless it loads quickly. Can plugins hamper your sales and conversion rate?
Yes and No.
Contrary to the popular belief, WordPress plugins usually don’t slow a site down.
Despite the database queries and some extra scripts, the site still remains clean enough to load easily. But at times after logging in, the dashboard including the other things in there, may take more than a minute to load. Behind every plugin-crammed sluggish website, it’s either TOO MANY plugins, or just misconfigured plugins.
How do you know? To identify the root of the problem, run a plugin performance profiler report and take out trashes interfering with your website’s speed. Inactive plugins, no matter how many you have, don’t have the slightest effect on your website’s speed. (Note: Update your inactive plugins regularly, it may cause security threats even when lying low).
Too many WordPress plugins may lead to a lousy performance. How many plugins should you install? It depends solely on the number of plugins you NEED for your website. The Grey Parrots is built on 2 widely used WordPress plugins—Google XML Sitemaps, Google Analytics and 7 other off-the-shelf customized plugins. Look how good the website’s doing.

Keep the plugins you really need like SEO plugin, twitter plugin, contact and WordPress maintenance plugin etc. what you basically NEED to drive sales and engagement. Do away with the rest.

Which Plugin—Paid or Free

Hosting a WordPress website allows free plugin download from the official WordPress directory. But only because most WordPress plugins are free, doesn’t mean you should plunge into them. Think of them as the iOS apps that look enticing, but we can do without.
Premium plugins in vast majority, come from a ‘healthy’ source and coded ethically. For example, when you download a WooTheme plugin, it won’t impair the speed, or pose security threat.
Be it paid plugins, or the free plugins, check whether it’s updated, supported by current version of WordPress and come from a well-reputed team of developers.

When Did It All Begin? The First WordPress Plugin Ever Created

The first WordPress plugin demo was created by Matt Mullenweg. Business was not the first thing on his mind while doing so. Mullenweg had flair for music and he wanted to encapsulate a whole generation’s hopes attached to digital progress. It resulted in “Hello, Dolly” plugin, which randomly shows a lyric from Louis Armstrong’s song Hello Dolly in the admin’s screen’s upper right side.
Despite having little to do with marketing or blogging, “Hello Dolly” has hit almost 500,000 downloads which is to say, people still like this plugin!
WordPress is now world’s most popular open-source blogging tool (CMS Usage statistics) and its invention is credited to Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. Mullenweg was busy crafting CNET when WordPress was released. The first WordPress plugin API was released along with version 1.2 Mingus in 2004. Plugin came first, followed by built-in galleries, tag management and dashboard widgets one by one. By the year 2008, WordPress was fairly built into a seasoned e-Commerce store.

How a WordPress Plugin Works

WordPress plugins are key weapons in an online marketer’s arsenal. It requires a few simple steps to download, install, configure and maintain WordPress Plugins. It’s a bit tricky for greenhorn, but, not unmanageable.
Here’s a step by step guide to install WordPress plugins. When installing WordPress Plugin on your own, first, download the most updated version of the plugin. Access your website’s server using an FTP program. The plugin files are to be uploaded to the /wp-content/plugins folder. Next, go to the admin panel of your WordPress site and check the Plugins menu. Can you spot the Plugin on list? Yes? Click activate. If not, upload the file again.
3 things I recommend to keep your plugins clean to fast-track your day-to-day work.

  1. Automate a maintenance plugin to keep your WordPress site error-free. It saves time for you to go get some air and walk your dog as your site maintains itself.
  2. Backup the database and files offsite, just in case.
  3. Do a regular code checkup by WordPress service providers to get rid of vulnerable plugins.

When Not to Use WordPress Plugin

Choose a plugin for marketing website with care and caution. Avoid it in following circumstances.

  1. When you don’t need a particular plugin. Double check your site and examine the plugin list.
  2. When you can substitute it with code snippets
  3. When your WordPress theme doesn’t provide an in-built option to accept the plugin.
  4. When the plugin is bug infested and not monitored by an expert WordPress website developer.
  5. When you’re a PHP novice and trying to wield your new tech skills on business web page.
  6. When on a meagre marketing budget. As I have said before, old, creepy, WordPress plugins that have been updated, like a year ago, do not deserve a place in your site. Unless you have the resources to keep a site up-to-date, avoid inserting tons of plugins.

    Plugin overuse

    Plugin overuse

  7. When facing PHP memory limit errors.
  8. When it’s not compatible with your WordPress version.
  9. When a plugin hails from unsecure source.

3 Common mistakes to Avoid While Using plugins

WordPress security issues continue to bug millions of users. Even when a plugin is pre-installed, if it has security flaw, there’s little the core can do about it. Recently, rogue hackers broke into thousands of websites exploiting flaw in RevSilder WordPress plugin.
So, should you just uninstall all your existing plugins and then go hide yourself in a cocoon? Of couse not. By avoiding these common mistakes you’ll fly your marketing kite online safe and sound.

  • Googling “Free WordPress plugin” is not recommended since they invite a lot of malware authors. Try WordPress official directory instead.
  • Not installing a scalable plugin. Would you create an ad for your business without market research? Plugin is an equally powerful tool for marketing so, use a plugin only after testing and re-testing.
  • Ignoring the mass of database queries, scripts and styles the new plugin adds to the weight of already existing assets. It’s complicated for a non-techie. Ask a WordPress developer instead.
  • Downloading crack versions. NEVER. DO. THAT. These are typically scripted by lesser known authors exposing your website/blog to malware and hacks.

If you have queries related to how to market your product/service using WordPress plugins or you want to find a list tailored to your specific business requirements, feel free to contact The Grey Parrots.
What are your tips to install plugin on your WordPress sites? Do you have an idea of your own? Please share below!

Sushobhan Pal

Football, WordPress, Food, Music

Sushobhan Pal is a WordPress enthusiast, consultant, developer, serial blogger, a passionate biker and electronic gadgets freak. His passion led him to cofound this website. Outside the IDEs, he loves to share his ideas, experiences and meticulously earned knowledge of WordPress, Ecommerce, Moodle. Apart from the bike, his tinkering with electronic gadgets has contributed profusely to our local e-waste recycling center.

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