You might catch yourself saying this when thinking of adding a plugin to your website. The types of WordPress plugins that are out there can range anywhere from countdown timers to popup alerts to automated scripting. The world is your oyster in terms of how you want the interaction to play out between your website and its intended audience.
All of that sounds amazing, but what does it actually entail to have a WordPress plugin on your website? Or to refine the question even more: what is a WordPress plugin?
Essentially, a WordPress plugin is just a group of files lumped together within a hierarchy of folders that runs a series of commands alongside your website with how it already behaves. It is an extension of your website designed to improve its presence and performance.
That’s it. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no cat-in-the-hat magic trick to the process. Nobody is hiding behind a tall curtain monitoring your every move. It is all just a bunch of coding done by either a single person or group of people collaborating together to bring all parties involved the best plugin experience imaginable.
With 54,905 (and counting) plugins that are being hosted on WordPress’ plugin platform, you can just about find any plugin that can be tailored to your website’s wants and needs.
And the best part?
It’s practically free! Free to download. Free to install. Free to activate. No monthly subscriptions. No credit card information to input. No account set up. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
However, even though the plugin is showcasing itself on the WordPress market as free, plugin authors will restrict certain aspects of the plugin unless you upgrade to a full/pro version. What that implies is if you want any of the extra features that come bundled in with the plugin, then you will have to purchase a full/pro license of the plugin through the author’s website (not through WordPress’ plugin platform).
Now that does not mean that the authors are waiting to flip a switch and hold you ransom for the plugin that you installed on your website. No no no. Let’s say for example that you install a free popup plugin. You assign the popup an image, type up some text to display, designate the page(s) the popup is allowed to show up on, and even allocate how much time should pass before the popup should, well, popup. The only caveat to the free popup plugin is the restricted access you have to create multiple popup objects. You can update the popup and its overall default settings, but in order to create additional uniquely-designed popup objects, you must first pay for the upgrade.
Think of it as a freemium service much like how apps are set up in the app stores now. You don’t necessary need the extra features of the app for the app to work and to play with, but it would certainly be nice to have them.
Each website is its own unique case study. If the situation calls for the need to purchase a full/pro license, then by all means go for it! You are not only supporting the people behind the plugin, but the ability for those people to financially keep working on forthcoming updates so that they can make their plugin along with its design and functionality a seamless and bug-free experience.
Not only that, but as an incentive to its buyers, authors will typically bundle ongoing support and plugin updates for a certain period of time when purchasing their product. Once that allotted amount of time passes and the full/pro license expires, the option of renewing a new license and continuing to receive support and plugin updates is up to you. You can continue using the plugin and not receive any further updates or support, or you can purchase a new license and both you and the developers can keep supporting each other. And the beauty about this exchange of goods and services is that it’s at your own leisure!
Now that you know what a plugin is and what it can do for your WordPress website, let’s take it one step further and create your very own WordPress plugin!
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