Plugins extend the functionality of WordPress by adding extra software. The functionality can be relatively simple like the plugin used on this site to enable the user to add or remove social media icons in the right hand floating menu bar. Or it can be much more extensive such as adding email marketing tools or a membership database. Some of the most popular plugins provide;
The plugins providing simple functionality are often free but the more complex functionalities incur a fee. For example an advanced form builder may cost you £45 per annum plus any installation or styling work required by your developer.
A shortcode is a piece of text you can enter into the WordPress editor which, when the page or post is published, will call some code to create custom content such as a table of product data, or to provide some functionality such as a button to open a contact form. These shortcodes are normally provided by plugins. WordPress comes with a ‘gallery’ shortcode which will generate a picture gallery as seen below.
Whilst plugins enable rich content and powerful functionality to be added to a Website quickly and cheaply, as with all third party software, they can unintentionally lead to maintenance issues and, rarely, security issues
For security reasons specialist WordPress hosting companies will allow WordPress to update it’s core scripts automatically. This ensures the latest patches and bug fixes have been loaded keeping the application secure. As plugins are supplied by numerous independent sources they are not always in tune with the latest updates and occasionally these incompatibilities can cause minor formatting issues or even stop the Website from working.
Coming from many different suppliers occasionally one plugin can have code that conflicts with other plugins and the plugins may malfunction.
Modern software is complex and consequently bugs will sometimes be found in plugins. As with any software that is downloaded over the Internet, hackers will look for opportunities to fool users into downloading virus infected code. Plugins must always be sourced from reliable suppliers.
Your website consists of structural elements (HTML) and styling (CSS) that is applied to these elements. The plugin will generate HTML for which your website but the CSS on your website is unlikley to have suitable styling. Consequently content from the plugin could look drastically different from the rest of your website.
As a result of the above potential problems you may have to call on your Website developer who will fix unexpected issues on an hourly rate basis. Olooma charge £30 an hour.
Complex WordPress set-ups with many plugins or regular problems may require a monthly maintenance contract to keep the Website functioning reliably.