It is a fact that one-third of the world’s websites are powered by WordPress Powerful Builder for Elementor. Nearly all websites from whether they are small personal blogs, or they are major retailer’s complex websites, (Sony, the New York Post, Time Inc., and NBC) use WordPress as their CMS. It is the only platform that enables users to download, install, and integrate for free. The platform also has some unique features and offerings that make it the most commonly used and popular CMS today.
And it is definitely an understatement to say that they are popular. Not only they are popular, but they are also world-famous. WordPress offers many functional plugins to make your site stand out, and they are available for download for free. Estimated, they have been downloaded more than one billion times.
WordPress powers over 33,8% of websites, making it one of the most popular CMS’s. Nowadays, it has over 60% of the market share. What makes it so popular? WordPress is an easy and cheap tool that helps you create your website even if you don’t know much about programming or web design. All you have to pay for is a domain name and hosting.
What is a Plugin?
A plugin is a piece of software that can be installed on your website to add or expand its functionality. Plugins can be uploaded to your website and quickly configured to give you functionality that would otherwise take developers a long time to create from scratch. They are what the name implies, something you can “plug” into a site to increase its capabilities without having to write a bunch of custom code.
Benefits of WordPress Plugins
Another thing that spikes the popularity of WordPress is the variety of plugins you can use. They are excellent for extending functionality, optimizing it to be more user-friendly, and adding new features. So, what are the benefits of using WordPress along with its various plugins?
WordPress Plugin Pros
The popularity of plugins is not by chance. They offer several benefits to developers and website administrators, including:
- They save time. The main reason so many developers use plugins is because they save a lot of development time, which in turn can save on a website’s overall budget. With over 55,000 plugins currently in WordPress.org’s library, developers have access to plugins for virtually anything they need. This can range from adding complex functionality like e-commerce or multi-language capabilities to smaller updates like giving site administrators the ability to add Google Analytics tracking to a site without touching the code.
- They offer some flexibility. Plugins provide developers the flexibility to customize site features and functionality. Most plugins allow some settings to be turned on and off and styles such as fonts, colors, and sizes to be changed to match the rest of the site. And, if you ever want to get rid of a plugin, it is a straightforward process to remove it from your site.
- They can be very reliable. Plugins have become so essential to WordPress development that many of them are created and managed by reputable companies who regularly update them to fix bugs and improve security. Many plugins offer different levels of functionality depending on your needs, with a free version for the basic functionality and a paid version for more advanced features.
Cons of WordPress Plugins
While plugins sound like a developer’s dream, there are some downsides to consider too. Those include:
- They can leave your site vulnerable. Not all plugins are regularly updated or built to the highest standards and these plugins can leave your site vulnerable to hacks. According to WP White Security, it is estimated that 54% of known WordPress vulnerabilities come from plugins. This is such a big concern that the team at Mightybytes dedicates time to researching every plugin we use, and updating our clients’ plugins twice a month through our hosting service so all security patches are put in place quickly. These actions help to reduce the risk of plugin vulnerabilities.
- They limit functionality. Part of the trade-off with using a plugin is that you are limited to what the plugin offers and which settings it lets you change. The good news is there are so many options out there you can usually find something that fits what you need.
- They can conflict with each other. Since plugins are so convenient it can be easy to rely on them too much. Unfortunately that isn’t a good idea. It is not unheard of for plugins to have compatibility issues with other plugins on your site. This could result in broken functionality or even your site going down. We recommend using only the plugins you really need and testing the site each time you add a plugin to make sure they all get along.
Although this list may make plugins seem intimidating, we side with the vast majority of WordPress developers in thinking that the benefits far outweigh potential risks. As long as you research and maintain plugins properly, you should have minimal issues with them on your site.
How to Choose a Plugin
Deciding which plugins to use on your site is a very important process that you and your web developers need to go through. There are a few steps you should take order to make an informed decision:
- Research, research, research. Visit the WordPress.org plugin library and search by name or keyword to find plugin options. Each plugin will have information about its functionality, along with support tickets and technical information. You’ll want to choose a plugin that is reputable so pay attention to the user reviews and 5-star rating.
- Check if your plugin is blacklisted. Some hosting services have a list of banned plugins that they won’t allow on the sites they host. This is commonly done for plugins that have known security risks. By preventing you from using these plugins on your site, your hosting provider is protecting your site and any other site hosted on your server.
- Free vs. Premium: If the plugin offers different levels of access, decide whether you want the free version or the paid version. Learn more about the payment schedule so you know whether this is a one-time purchase or an annual payment. We recommend that our clients pay for all their plugins directly with the provider so they have total control over the plugins at all times.
- Test the plugin first. Before you commit to a plugin, test it on a staging site to see if it works like you expected and if there are any conflicts with other plugins you already have installed. Don’t skip this step. Although in most cases there won’t be any problems, you never know what could break your site so don’t risk it.
For more tips and guidance on this, read our post on how to choose a WordPress plugin.
The owners select WordPress as their website’s CMS because there is a huge selection of WordPress plugins available online. These WordPress plugins are fantastically used to extend the existing functionality of your website. The benefits of WordPress plugins are the reason for the popularity of the WordPress platform.