One of the core benefits of using wordpress to build both web sites and blogs is the huge amount of plugins available for the platform. Rarely do we have a need that can’t be done by an existing plugin.
If you’re new to all of this, a wordpress plugin is simply a tool that’s been created to do a specific job and add some functionality to the base wordpress platform. They are mostly free or donation-ware so often its a matter of finding the one you’re looking for, download it and you’re done.
The benefit of this is you can build sites really quickly, with loads of functionality without having to manually write a load of code.
So what can wordpress plugins do?
Well its probably a shorter list of what they can’t do, take a look at some of these for starters.
- Contact forms
- Shopping carts
- Sitemap generators
- Google analytics integration
- Image management tools
- Antispam for your contact forms
- Social bookmarking tools (twitter / facebook etc…)
As developers that build many sites in wordpress you do have your favourites, in fact we have built a custom installation that we use for our work that bundles wordpress together with a load of plugins that we use on almost every job, saving time and effort.
We do however come across new plugins from time to time that we grow to love really quickly.
FancyBox is a great example of this. After looking around for a while for a plugin to display images in a floating layer (ever been to the apple.com web site, you’ll know the effect we mean), we decided that FancyBox was the one that most suited our needs.
We use this right here on our site, click the image opposite to see it in action.
The great things about plugins like this is that you can install them, read the quick documentation and have a terrific effect working in less than 15 minutes.
Another reason that developing on the wordpress platform is faster and more efficient than building sites from scratch.
If you have a wordpress installation you can view the plugins you have installed in your wordpress administration screen, look for the “plugin” heading on the left hand side.