WordPress needs no introduction. It has been in the world for quite a long time. And up till now, it has given a tough fight to leading web development technology. The main reason behind its remarkable success is, it is highly customizable and also SEO-friendly. Other benefits include open-source technology, security, user-friendliness, and the thousands of free plugins it offers.
Talking of WordPress plugins, are a piece of software that enables you to add more features to the website. They are easy to integrate into your website and don’t hamper the performance of the site. WordPress, as a leading technology, has to offer many out-of-the-box plugins.
However, not always the WordPress would be able to meet your all needs. Hence you have to customize the WordPress plugin to provide you the functionality you wished. WordPress Plugins are easy to install and customize. You don’t have to build the solution from scratch and that’s one of the reasons why small and medium-sized businesses love it. It doesn’t need a hefty investment or the hiring of an in-house development team. You can use the core functionality of the plugin and expand it as your like.
In this blog, we would be talking indepth about the plugins and how to customize WordPress plugins to improve the functionality of your web applications.
What is the working of the WordPress Plugins?
Developing your own plugin requires you to have some knowledge of the way they work. It ensures the better functioning of the customized plugins and avoids any mistakes that can hamper the experience on your site.
Plugins operate primarily using hooks. As a hook attaches you to something, the same way a feature or functionality is hooked to your website. The piece of code interacts with the other components present on the website. There are two types of hooks: a. Action and b. Filter.
If you want something to happen at a particular time, you need to use a WordPress “action” hook. With actions, you can add, change and improve the functionality of your plugin. It allows you to attach a new action that can be triggered by your users on the website.
There are several predefined actions available on WordPress, custom WordPress plugin development also allows you to develop your own action. This way you can make your plugin function as your want. It also allows you to set values for which the hook function. The add_ action function will then connect that function to a specific action.
They are the type of hooks that are accepted to a single variable or a series of variables. It sends them back after they have modified it. It allows you to change the content displayed to the user.
You can add the filter on your website with the apply_filter function, then you can define the filter under the function. To add a filter hook on the website, you have to add the $tag (the filter name) and $value (the filtered value or variable), this allows the hook to work. Also, you can add extra function values under $var.
Once you have made your filter, you can execute it with the add_filter function. This will activate your filter and would work when a specific function is triggered. You can also manipulate the variable and return it.
Shortcodes are a good way to create and display the custom functionality of your website to visitors. They are client-side bits of code. They can be placed in the posts and pages like in the menu and widgets, etc.
There are many plugins that use shortcodes. By creating your very own shortcode, you too can customize the WordPress plugin. You can create your own shortcode with the add_shortcode function. The name of the shortcode that you use would be the first variable and the second variable would be the output of it when it is triggered. The output can be – attributes, content, and name.
Other than the hooks and shortcodes, you can use the widgets to add functionality to the site. WordPress Widgets are a good way to create a widget by extending the WP_Widget class. They render a user-friendly experience, as they have an object-oriented design approach and the functions and values are stored in a single entity.
Related Reading: Top 10 Blog Widgets Plugins For WordPress
How to customize WordPress plugins?
There are various methods to customize the WordPress plugins. Depending on your need, and the degree of customization you wish to make in the plugin, choose the right option for you. Also, don’t forget to keep in mind that it requires a little bit of technical knowledge too. So find an expert WordPress plugin development company in case you lack the knowledge to do it by yourself.
1. Hire a plugin developer
One of the best ways to customize a WordPress plugin is by hiring a plugin developer. There are many plugin developers listed in the WordPress directory. You can contact them and collaborate with world-class WordPress developers. It is quite easy to find a WordPress plugin developer.
Since it is not much work and doesn’t pay well or for the long term a lot of developers would be unwilling to collaborate but, you will eventually find people.
2. Creating a Supporting Plugin
If you are looking for added functionality in an already existing plugin go for this option. It is a cheap way to meet your needs and creating a supporting plugin takes very little time as it has very limited needs. Furthermore, you can extend a plugin to a current feature set without altering its base code.
However, to do so, you have to hire a WordPress developer as it also requires some technical knowledge.
3. Use Custom Hooks
Use the WordPress hooks to integrate some other feature into an existing plugin. You can add an action or a filter as per your need and improve the functionality of the website.
If the plugin you want to customize has the hook, you don’t have to do much to customize it. You can write your own plugin that works with these hooks. This way you don’t have to build a WordPress plugin right from scratch. If the hook is not present in the plugin code, you can contact a WordPress developer or write the code yourself. It may take some time, but it works.
Once the hook is added, you just have to manually patch each one upon the release of the new plugin update.
4. Override Callbacks
The last way to customize WordPress plugins is by override callbacks. You can alter the core functionality of the WordPress plugin with this method. You can completely change the way it functions with your website. It is a way to completely transform the plugin. By adding your own custom callbacks, you can create the exact functionality you desire.
We suggest you go for a web developer proficient in WordPress as this requires a good amount of technical knowledge and the working of a plugin.
What not to do?
Now that you have the key to transform the experience on your WordPress website, it is now time to implement them. As a WordPress developer or novice, there are a few things that you must take care of.
Altering the functionality of a plugin is a difficult task. A few mistakes can mess up the working of your website. It is advisable that you back up your website before beginning the process. It would help you restore your website, in case something goes unexpected.
Related Reading: Top 10 WordPress Backup Plugins For Your Website
Even if something goes wrong, it can be remedied. However, it takes time and money and is going to be stressful. These issues can also make you lose motivation. So, save the original code, and save yourself from all the unintended workload.
The next thing which is highly recommended is using a staging environment. When working on customizing a WordPress plugin, or writing your own code, you must ensure that the functionality of the website is not compromised. Since user experience is an important aspect of your website, and business success it is uncompromisable.
What to do when WordPress plugin updates go wrong?
The previous section would help you avoid any mistakes in the development process, once it is done successfully. All that remains is implementation.
You cannot be too careful when you are updating the plugin. There would be a few bumps that we think you should be prepared to encounter.
The first issue that we would like to address is the issue called “white screen of death or WSoD”. A lot of developers have got this error. It occurs when there is a PHP error or memory is limited. There are various ways to solve this issue, and it may take some time to get resolved. Here is how to get past this issue:
- Disable all the plugins
- You can enable them one by one to see which one is causing the error.
- Once you have found it, check for any syntax errors.
- If everything is okay, then increase the memory limit or check the file permissions.
The next common issue on the list is “The Internal Server Error.” It is caused by a corrupted .htaccess file. You can resolve it by following deactivating and reactivating the plugins one by one.
Getting Support from our developers
There would be errors and issues which are not addressed in the blog. If you get stuck in one of those, simply contact our WordPress support team. They are very efficient and they would help you detect the problem and resolve it. They have fast support system.
Go for a custom web development
Websites are becoming more and more dynamic, it is not a game of functionalities, features, and user experience. There is a huge chance that even after customization you don’t get what you wanted. It is often the small details that would hamper the experience on the website. Go for custom web development if that is the case.