A plugin is a collection of code which adds to or changes the functionality of your website. The WordPress plugin system allows this code to be added without making any changes to the WordPress core, hence the term ‘plugin’ rather than something like ‘modification’. WordPress plugins are installed using the WordPress administrator interface and can be installed without knowing a single line of code.
There are thousands of plugins available for WordPress. A base install of WordPress is basically a blog, but with plugins your website can become an online shop, a directory, a career/jobs board or just about any type of website you can think of. The plugin system is the main reason that WordPress is such a flexible platform for building websites.
Plugins come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are free and some are bought, either as a one-off purchase, or a subscription for updates or support. Many plugins are built on a ‘freemium’ model where a basic version is free and additional features are paid for. Some plugins are well coded using WordPress best practices, and some are badly coded. Some are regularly updated and some are stagnant.
Where to find Plugins
Your first port of call when searching for a plugin should be the WordPress plugin repository. Plugins available here are free and have been vetted by the WordPress team. Plugins are also available from a variety of third party websites. Some of these markets for WordPress plugins include:
- CodeCanyon at the massive Envato Markets.
- Tidy Repo
- Many of the best WordPress plugins can be extended with additional plugins. They have specific website marketplaces dedicated to them. Some of these plugins are mentioned in sub-entries to this lexicon.
Roll Your Own
If there isn’t an off the shelf plugin which meets your needs, you can build your own plugin from scratch or extend an existing plugin which gets close to the mark. At Phoenix Web, we can do both for you and provide advice on the best route to take in providing your website the functionality it needs.
Read more about plugins at the WordPress Codex.