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What is a plugin? 11 things you need to know

Written by Kristen Wright on May 19, 2017

Last updated July 27, 2020

Plugins are tools (snippets of software) that extend what you can do with your WordPress website, without having to manually write or modify code.

There’s virtually no limit to what you can do with WordPress plugins; if you want it, there’s probably a plugin for it, from e-commerce to SEO, from design features to social media, from security to spam prevention. There are over 50,000 free plugins available in the WordPress.org repository and hundreds of other premium plugins available in the commercial market.

what is a supplement

Why are plugins used?

Plugins are used to extend or add functionality to your website. For example, if you want to sell products or accept donations on your site, you’ll need a plugin to handle that. Other plugins that most WordPress websites need include WordPress Backup Plugin, WordPress Security Plugin, WordPress Forms Plugin, WordPress SEO Plugin, to name a few.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already using WordPress. WordPress is an excellent content management system (CMS) for websites, powering 37% of all websites on the internet. Even with all this power, WordPress alone can’t do it all. This is where plugins come into play. But just because you can do something with a plugin doesn’t mean you should.

What is a plugin? 11 things you need to know

These 11 things to know about WordPress plugins will help you navigate the choices and decisions you need to make about using plugins and creating a lightweight, secure, yet creative and functional WordPress site. These best practices will serve as a guide to avoiding pitfalls so you can continue to do business with your business.

1. Less is more with plugins

Plugins are great resources because they allow your site to do things it couldn’t otherwise. But, the more plugins you have, the higher the risk of problems occurring on your site. Plugin issues can be random and unexpected, or more specific issues related to plugins or WordPress updates. Plugins can also conflict with other plugins or even themes.

Additionally, each active plugin will slow down your site to some extent. Imagine that each active plugin slows down the site by 5 milliseconds (some more and some less). If you have 20 active plugins, that means each page will take a tenth of a second longer to load than if there were no active plugins.

If you’re asking “Do I have too many plugins installed?”, then you probably have them. If you’re asking “Do I have too many plugins installed?”, then you probably have them. Remember to keep a reasonable number of plugins installed on your website.

2. Keep your plugins up to date

Developers provide updates to their plugins for:

  1. Add new features
  2. Fix security vulnerabilities and fix bugs
  3. Keep up with the ever-evolving WordPress core.

If you don’t update your plugins when the developer provides it, you open yourself up to potential frustrations and potential security vulnerabilities. If you don’t update your plugins when the developer provides it, you open yourself up to potential frustration and potential security vulnerabilities. As plugin developers, we can honestly tell you that we don’t update plugins just for fun, but ultimately we want to make sure our plugins are running at their peak performance levels. And that’s what we want for you and your site: maximum performance!

Si administra varios sitios de WordPress , mantenerse al día con las actualizaciones de complementos puede ser tedioso. Use un servicio como iThemes Sync para ejecutar actualizaciones en varios sitios de WordPress, ver las actualizaciones disponibles y mucho más. También puede realizar un montón de otras tareas de administración de WordPress desde un panel.

3. Si no está utilizando un complemento, elimínelo

Many people keep a library of inactive plugins sitting on their site. Since you have the option of deactivating a plugin, it may seem tempting to leave it on your server. But even disabled plugins can pose a major WordPress security risk, so if you aren’t using the plugin, remove it entirely. You can always reinstall the plugin if you change your mind later.

4. Plugins Should Serve a Specific Purpose

There are tons of cool plugins that do fun things. But since plugins slow your site, and could pose some security issues, it’s important to make sure the plugin serves a genuine purpose–and isn’t installed just because it’s cool.

Cool is OK, of course, but probably not a strong enough reason to use a plugin. Cada complemento que use debe hacer algo importante para mejorar la experiencia de su visitante en su sitio.Each plugin you use should do something important to enhance your visitor’s experience at your site. The way you use plugins affects your site’s design, and ultimately affects your brand.

5. Avoid Overlapping Plugins

Plugins that overlap in services are just taking up valuable space and bandwidth, and potentially posing additional security risks. You simply don’t need 4 plugins that handle redirections, 6 plugins that create SEO, and 8 different social networking sharing plugins. In addition to slowing your site down, it’s just more you have to keep up with. And who wants that?

6. Use Trusted Plugins From Reputable Sources

Only install plugins that come from either the WordPress Plugin Repository or from a trusted premium plugin developer (for example: iThemes, Gravity Forms or Easy Digital Downloads). Since plugins have the potential to create security gaps in your site, you want to be sure they have been vetted by knowledgeable developers who stand behind their work with professional supportSince plugins have the potential to create security gaps in your site, you want to be sure they have been vetted by knowledgeable developers who stand behind their work with professional support. Trusted plugin providers will provide updates to address any bugs or security issues, as well as updates to keep pace with the latest version of WordPress.

7. Ask People You Trust

The WordPress community is a rich resource of people who love what they do, have tested and tried many different plugins, and are eager to help out and share advice. Use their knowledge and experience if you have questions about a plugin. For example, you could ask people on Twitter whether they like one plugin or another. Use the hashtag #WordPress and you’re sure to get more advice than you expected!

8. Consider Coding Minor Plugin Functions

If a plugin only performs a minor function, the code may be better off residing on the theme’s functions.php file rather than within a stand-alone plugin. Plugins are great because they provide the coding for you, but if the function is really simple, why not save your plugin “bandwidth” for more critical functions?

Just remember that if you place the functionality in the theme file, it stays with the theme. If you change themes, that functionality goes away, too. Make a note to remember these details and recreate it for your new theme. Another (advanced) option is to code an all-inclusive plugin that has your common functions and just use that.

Learning how to write code in your theme files can seem daunting, but with the right guidance, it doesn’t have to be difficult. The WordPress Developer Course shows you how to edit your functions.php file as a way of minimizing the number of plugins you use.

9. When Your Site Stops Working … It’s Usually Because of a Plugin

If some part of your site just all of a sudden isn’t “working like it did before,” then it’s likely a conflict between plugins or between a plugin and your theme. If some part of your site just all of a sudden isn’t “working like it did before,” then it’s likely a conflict between plugins or between a plugin and your theme. If you’ve recently added a plugin, you can bet a plugin conflict is the source of the problem. This doesn’t mean you can’t use the plugin–but you’ll have to figure out what’s going on so you can make an informed choice about how to proceed.

The best way to “find the problem” is to deactivate all your plugins … and slowly (one-by-one) reactivate the plugins to find the plugin causing the issue. Once you know which plugin is the culprit, you can then evaluate the importance of that particular plugin.

10. Always Use These Must-Have Plugins

From our experience, these plugins are vital to every WordPress site. They perform exceptional functions that would be challenging for even the intermediate WordPress user to code into their functions.php file. Because they come from reputable and trusted sources and have been individually developed by professional plugin developers, you can rest assured they are secure and safe. This is a very basic list of must-have plugins:

  • A WordPress Backup Plugin – BackupBuddy is an absolute MUST-have plugin because having a solid WordPress backup strategy is critical to running a WordPress website. Out of the box, WordPress doesn’t offer a built-in backup solution, so you’ll need to find your own. While hosts offer backup services, we still recommend using a plugin so you own your data and can easily access your backup files. BackupBuddy backs up your entire WordPress installation – not just the database – AND allows you to migrate or restore your site with just a few clicks. With BackupBuddy, you can literally be back up and running within seconds of a crashed site.
  • A WordPress Security Plugin – iThemes Security offers 30+ ways to secure and protect your WordPress site. WordPress security is a hot topic these days, as WordPress now powers nearly 37% off all websites. WordPress itself isn’t insecure, but there are several WordPress security best practices that the iThemes Security plugin can help with to make your website more secure.
  • Un complemento de formulario de contacto de WordPress : hay toneladas de opciones de complementos de formulario de contacto de WordPress, pero Gravity Forms es el más antiguo y establecido. Puede usar Gravity Forms para formularios de contacto simples y avanzados, pero también para formularios de pedido y otros elementos esenciales para recopilar información. Incluso incluye complementos para algunos programas de correo electrónico, comercio electrónico y más. Otro generador de formularios de WordPress a considerar es Ninja Forms.
  • Un complemento SEO de WordPress : Yoast SEO es un complemento que optimiza su sitio de WordPress para los motores de búsqueda. No solo puede establecer datos de SEO específicos para cada página o publicación, sino que también puede anular cualquier título y establecer cualquier meta descripción o palabra clave que desee. Funciona desde el primer momento para principiantes, incluso optimizando sus títulos automáticamente, o los usuarios avanzados pueden configurar los ajustes más avanzados.

11. Obtienes lo que pagas

A veces, con los complementos, se trata de “obtienes lo que pagas”. If you use a free plugin, remember that you haven’t paid for all the hard work the developer did – work that makes your site better. Si usa un complemento gratuito, recuerde que no pagó por todo el arduo trabajo que hizo el desarrollador, trabajo que mejora su sitio. Tampoco ha pagado por la manutención, así que sea razonable con lo que espera o solicita.

Con complementos premium, recibirá actualizaciones y soporte según los términos de su licencia (a menudo una licencia anual). Asegúrese de conocer los términos y definitivamente aproveche el excelente soporte que se ofrece.

Solo sepa que la comunidad de WordPress es cercana. Se correrá la voz sobre cómo trata a un desarrollador, por lo que aún recomendamos practicar el respeto en todas sus interacciones.

Más recursos sobre complementos de WordPress

Los complementos de WordPress ofrecen un montón de posibilidades para ampliar su sitio web de WordPress. Armado con este conocimiento sobre cómo y cuándo usar complementos, estará en camino de tomar decisiones informadas sobre qué complementos descargar, instalar y usar en su sitio web de WordPress.

Descargue el PDF de la lista de verificación: La lista de verificación de mantenimiento esencial de WordPress

Descargar ahora

  • Tutorial: ¿Qué son los complementos de WordPress? 
  • Tutorial: Instalación de complementos de WordPress
  • Tutorial: Administrar complementos con iThemes Sync
  • Publicación: Cómo actualizar los complementos de WordPress

Kristen Wright

Kristen Wright

Kristen ha estado escribiendo tutoriales para ayudar a los usuarios de WordPress desde 2011. Como directora de marketing aquí en iThemes, se dedica a ayudarlo a encontrar las mejores formas de crear, administrar y mantener sitios web de WordPress efectivos. Kristen también disfruta escribir un diario (¡vea su proyecto paralelo, The Transformation Year !), hacer caminatas y acampar, hacer ejercicios aeróbicos, cocinar y aventuras diarias con su familia, con la esperanza de vivir una vida más presente.

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Solución: se necesita un complemento para mostrar este contenido: Mozilla Firefox

miguel miguel miguel by Miguel

March 5, 2017 – Updated on March 30, 2022

in Tech Tips


Share on Facebook Compartir en Reddit

Download this tool to Recover Deleted Photos

When you visit a web page that uses Flash and the plugin is missing, you will see the message “A plugin is required to display this content”

Step 1: Make sure Mozilla Firefox is up to date.

Step 2: Download and install the latest version of Java

Step 3: Download and install the latest version of Adobe Flash Player

Step 4: Restart Firefox and check if the issue is resolved.

Video tutorial:

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miguel miguel miguel


I started this tech blog in 2011 to write down the processes I followed to fix my clients’ systems and network. Now I’m writing some tips and tricks to help others with technology issues that one may encounter.

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