One of the great things about WordPress is the plugin repository. A plugin is a piece of software that adds functionality to your website. Most are free. The Plugin Repository is like a special library of software. With a traditional HTML/CSS website, you could expect to pay high prices for custom development in order to book appointments online, collect subscriber information, or even show videos.
With WordPress, you can add lots of features easily with plugins.
Adding plugins is so easy compared with having a developer build you a proprietary piece of software that it can be easy to overlook the issues. Here are some concerns you might encounter:
- The number of plugins in the Repository is heading toward 50,000. Finding the right plugin for your needs can be tough. Needles in haystacks come to mind.
- Adding plugins can create compatibility issues. Since plugins, themes, and websites are built by many different people, they will not all play nicely together. Adding a plugin could cause problems with your theme, your design, or other plugins.
- You need to keep plugins updated. You have to keep your WordPress version updated, you may need to update your theme, and you must update your plugins, too. The more plugins you have, the more updates you need to keep track of.
WordPress experts generally agree that having a bunch of good plugins won’t slow down your website. Some plugins, however, can be resource hogs.
Plugins aren’t always a DIY thing, and you may want help from your webmaster or your web firm. Go ahead and explore, though. Most plugins are described in nontechnical terms that let you determine what you want to try out, even if you plan to have someone else handle the details.
The new look at the Repository
You can browse through the tens of thousands of plugins, but you’ll usually get better results by deciding what you want to do (make a gallery, for example, or book appointments) or choosing a general area (ecommerce or healthcare). Use the search box to limit the number of plugins you need to comb through.
The new look is more attractive and, to my mind, more readable. You can see the ratings, number of installs, and WordPress version from the main page.
Click through and you’ll see more about the specific plugin you’re curious about.
Here we’re seeing a HIPAA-compliant scheduler and billing plugin. If you’ve used the Repository before, you’ll notice that the Description, Installation, Screenshots and other tabs are no longer at the top of the page. You’ll scroll down to find them.
All in all, I think the new Repository is more user-friendly, and everything is still easy to find.
Grab a cup of coffee and spend a little time exploring.