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What is a WordPress plugin?

A default installation of WordPress really gives you only the bare bones of a website. It needs both a theme and additional plugins to really come to life. While a theme affects the visual styling of a website, a plugin will add functionality.

Why does WordPress use plugins?

The range of functions that websites use, and need, is vast. There are tens of thousands of plugins that fulfil these needs. If a basic installation of WordPress included all these plugins it would have too many to be used and downloaded efficiently. There are also competing plugins with similar functions, and the website owner can choose which to use.

How does a WordPress plugin work?

A plugin is a collection of code files that are either installed via the WordPress plugin directory in the admin control panel, or can be uploaded onto the installation and activated. Most offer a settings panel that allows you to adjust or customise the functionality.

Examples of WordPress plugins

WordPress plugins can add a very basic function or a very complex one such as an ecommerce store. One of the most popular plugins for WordPress is Yoast which assists with search engine optimisation.

How to manage WordPress plugins

The first rule of thumb is to only install plugins that add essential functionality to your website. It’s critical to only use plugins from reliable developers. The WordPress plugin directory tells you how many times a plugin has been installed, shows a rating from users and whether it is effectively maintained. It is also important to keep all the plugins updated. If not, an outdated plugin could be a security risk for your site.

How many is too many?

As there are so many available, it’s easy to be gung-ho with WordPress plugin installation. But is there a limit on the number that should be used? Once again, it’s more important to use reliable plugins than limit the number.

From event calendars to site security, the variety of plugins is endless and one of the reasons WordPress is so widely used.

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