Extending WordPress’s Capabilities

By Lisa Sabin-Wilson

The most exciting and fun part of running a WordPress website is exploring the flexibility of the software. Hundreds of plugins and themes (designs) are available to let you create a blog that functions the way you need it to.

If you think of your website as a vacuum cleaner, plugins are the attachments. The attachments don’t function alone. When you add them to your vacuum cleaner, however, you add to the functionality of your vacuum, possibly improving its performance.

All WordPress websites are pretty much the same at their core, so by using plugins, you can truly individualize your website by providing additional features and tools that benefit you and your readers. When you come upon a WordPress website that has some really different and cool functions, 98 percent of the time you can include that function on your own website by using a WordPress plugin.

If you don’t know what plugin that website is using, try dropping the website owner an email or leave a comment. WordPress website owners usually are eager to share the great tools they discover.

Most plugins are available at no charge.

In addition to using plugins, you can embellish your WordPress blog with templates and themes. WordPress comes with a very nice default theme to get you started. Check out the default Twenty Fifteen theme, created by the team from WordPress, which is displayed by default after you install and set up your blog for the first time.

Start a new WordPress website with a theme.

Start a new WordPress website with a theme.

The theme’s default style is a minimal, with a handy application built in to the preferences that allows you to change the colors and insert an image to use as a header image.

The Twenty Fifteen theme includes all the basic elements that you need when starting a new WordPress blog. You can extend your WordPress blog in a hundred ways with plugins and themes released by members of the WordPress community, but this default theme is a nice place to start.

Using some of the thousands of plugins and themes available, you can truly manage many different kinds of content on your website. WordPress is not just for blogging anymore (although it does still excel at it!).

Although WordPress became well known as a blogging platform, you can use it to power diverse and dynamic websites that allow you to do things like develop an e-commerce site (selling products online), create a members-only site where your content is curated only for those who have registered and become members of your site, or create a large corporate business site like the one you can see on the Microsoft News Center.

Using WordPress as a CMS — content management system — frees you from running only a blog on the platform.