For reasons I only partially understand, the powers-that-be at WordPress have decreed that many potentially beneficial features and functions – some of which are almost essential to optimum website performance – must take the form of plugins, rather then being integral (at least optionally) to the content management system (WordPress) or the graphical interface (the ‘theme’).

Consequently, website creators like me must install at least a handful of (usually free) plugins in every site they build. Sometimes dozens more need to be added if the client wants a feature-filled site. (There are other ways of doing some things besides plugins, but they can be an unnecessary hassle.)

The plugins I routinely install include ones that improve the site’s visibility to search engines and buttress its security (because even the smallest site will be subjected to frequent hacking attempts, or at least be probed for vulnerabilities).

Wordfence (logo)
The security plugin installed on this website

Anything beyond the simplest way of displaying images tends to require a plugin. So does any kind of contact form. Or a Google map, or anything else that needs an API key. And for sites with any degree of complexity, I usually install one or more plugins that help speed up page loading times. Also, I’m fond of a text styling plugin called wp-Typography.

But such basic amenities only scratch the surface of the plugin panoply. There are tens of thousands of plugins out there, serving almost every conceivable purpose, both behind the scenes and ‘on stage’.

If you’ve ever seen some nifty feature on a website somewhere – and maybe thought, “I’d like that on my site!” – it can probably be achieved with a plugin. For example …

You might want to proclaim a USP

… all on one line. Well, there’s a plugin for that effect (which is nicely used here, for example).

Admittedly some of this visual trickery could become tiresome if overused. But the occasional little gimmick shouldn’t do any harm, unless you want your site to be deadly serious from start to finish.

If there’s some specific kind of feature you’d like added to your site, you could peruse WordPress’s library of free plugins – all 56,262 of them, last time I checked. Many of these can be ugraded to deluxe versions for a small fee. And there are another 7,000 paid-for plugins here. Or you can ask me to do your searching for you 🙂