WordPress – There is a Plugin For That

WordPress – There is a Plugin For That

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There are a tremendous amount of plugins available for landscape professionals who are outsourcing or building a website on the WordPress content management system (CMS).

As a small business owner, you have enough to do besides trying to figure out how to build a WordPress website.

But if you are hiring someone to do build or maintain your website, our goal is to give you enough information to be knowledgeable with your vendors.

If you have ever downloaded an app to your iPhone or Android phone, you know what a plugin can do for you in WordPress. Like an app, a plugin can provide the user additional functionality for their website. As of the date of this article, there are over 40,000 plug ins that have been downloaded over one billion times.1  

When you download a plugin, you are installing code written by a developer that may or may not be compatible with the theme you installed for your website.  See our previous article on getting started with WordPress to learn a little bit more about themes. Once you start to discover how many different types of plugins exist, it can be very tempting to download a number of plugins.

But be careful! Plugins, like themes, can have issues, not only on their own, but how they behave with one another.

Remember, WordPress is an open source software based on PHP, which is a "popular general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited to web development."2  Once you start installing plugins into your WordPress site, you are installing sections of code that can be problematic.

For example, the plug in may or may not be compatible with your theme. Second, the authors of the code may not be very good at writing the code, and the level of support that the writers of the code provide can range from great - to horrible.

Remember, WordPress is one of the largest content management systems used today on the internet. Given the friendly and cost effective nature of WordPress, there are a lot of developers, marketeers and companies playing in the WordPress sandbox. Finding the right plugins for your website will take some research, and turning to people with experience would be helpful.

We already know there is a plugin for just about any functionality you can think of, but what are some of the functional areas on your website where you would use a WordPress plugin?

  • Forms - When you want a person to fill out any basic type of form where they provide you information.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - A critical component to your website is making sure that the search engines are getting the right information about your website, your posts and pages, location and so much more.
  • Mail Services - Popular web mail programs like Mail Chimp, Constant Contact and more.
  • Marketing and Lead Generation - Programs that can help you capture and follow-up on leads you generate through your website.
  • Social Programs - Make sure you are integrating your social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest into your website.

These are just a few of the areas where you might want to explore using WordPress Plugins for your website. Again, even if you are outsourcing your website to another company, you might want to take some time to go to the official WordPress Plugin Repository and browse through the plugins. Be sure to try out the search option and type in subjects like "stock, weather, photos or mail" and you will start to see the tremendous amount of plugins that are available.

Another important consideration about plugins is concerning how fast your website loads and if it enhances the experience for visitors to your website. Today, the search engines rank sites more on user experience instead of "key words." So having high quality content, fast load times for your website and more is critical. You want to make sure plugins don't "start stepping on one another." In other words, a plugin developer, may or may not be considerate of what else is on your WordPress site.

The WordPress community has lowered the barrier of entry for web based companies.  The total the cost of the development of websites to a lower cost threshold is real. Your business can implement much more functionality than ever before, but like any other technology, you need to do some research and make sure you or your vendor is making the right choices for your site.

1  Source: WordPress.org [September 15, 2015]

2 Source: PHP.Net (September 15, 20115)

 

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