WordPress plugins are bits of software / PHP code that can be uploaded to extend and expand the functionality of your WordPress site.
Note: One of the primary advantages of using the self-hosted version of WordPress from WordPress.org is the ability to upload and use plugins on your WordPress site.
Free vs Premium WordPress Plugins
There are tons, literally tons, of WordPress plugins available for free download from the WordPress.org Plugin Directory. There are also premium or paid Wordpress plugins.
Why would you want to pay for a plugin? Well, there are several reasons:
- While there are thousands of plugins available for free from the plugin directory, paid plugins usually offer a full-time support staff and developers that work on maintaining the security and compatibility of plugins with the latest version of WordPress as well as with other themes and plugins.
- Most of the time, plugins get along with the core of WordPress and with other plugins, but sometimes a plugin's code will get in the way of another plugin, causing compatibility issues. With a paid plugin, it's just nice to know you have support staff that can help you out if anything goes wrong.
You might be asking what types of things plugins can do. Well, if you can imagine it, there's probably a plugin for that. All you need to do is take a stroll through the WordPress plugin directory to see all of the possible ways plugins can extend or enhance your WordPress site.