What Are Plugins and Do I Need Them?
At JumpSIX Marketing, our team of SEO, digital advertising, and web design professionals encounter all sorts of tech-related buzzwords on a daily basis. It can be all too easy to take for granted that terms like “keyword integration”, “clickthrough rate” and “web plugins” are understandable. For most people, the internet is a place to make their job easier for shopping or for keeping in touch with friends and family. However, the JumpSIX Marketing team can also help simplify some of these everyday terms for those who don’t spend most of their day in front of a monitor.
In this blog, the JumpSIX Marketing digital professionals will explain plugins. What are they? What do they do? Does your website need them? Should you be blocking or disabling them? Find out here!
What Is a Plugin?
A plugin (or plug-in, depending on your preference) is a piece of software that’s added to a computer program to provide additional features. Your web browser is the best example of a piece of software that is designed to allow the addition of plugins. Whether you use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera or any other browser, it’ll let you activate — or deny — certain plugins. The addition of plugins allows for expanding the abilities of a piece of software, although this can sometimes make it vulnerable to security issues.
Adobe Flash is a good example of a plugin that even casual users have likely heard about. Flash allows sites to display animated images in your web browser as long as it’s enabled. Flash is also an example of a plugin that’s offered and maintained by a third-party developer. Browser extension such as password managers and chat clients are another example of common plugins.
Keeping Plugins Updated
If you’re a little more savvy about digital developments, you might be aware that Flash is used much less these days than it used to be. Many browsers, including Chrome, come with Flash automatically disabled.
This highlights the importance of keeping plugins up-to-date. If a plugin is installed on a website, it needs to be updated whenever required. Letting updates fall behind will mean elements of a site that previously relied on something like Flash, or the more modern equivalent HTML5, will stop working. It also potentially makes them much less secure.
Can Plugins Be Dangerous?
When it comes to security, the safety of plugins can be impacted by them not being kept updated or coming from all sorts of third-party developers. If you’re installing plugins from a source you don’t realize — either for your browser or for the back-end of your website — you’re potentially taking a major risk.
Part of the reason Flash has fallen out of favor is because of security concerns, and a lot of browser extensions require access to a lot of info you frequently enter into websites without thinking about it. If any plugins or extension seem suspicious or unfamiliar, JumpSIX Marketing’s advice is to avoid installing them. Searching online will typically bring up a wealth of information about what a particular plugin does and whether it’s cause for concern.
Does My Website Need Them?
Now we come to our core question. If you have a website, are additional plugins really necessary? Like many other questions we’ve posed in previous JumpSIX Marketing blogs, the answer depends. A number of essential plugins will make designing and maintaining your website easier and make for a better user experience.
Excessive plugins will make things more complicated and risk crashing browsers or even flagging your website as a security risk. If you’re building a website, read up on the plugins your site’s platform offers and additional ones that would be genuinely useful. Think about whether or not you need them, and what it would add to your site for you and your users.
Drop JumpSIX Marketing a Line
Hopefully, this makes things a little bit clearer when it comes to plugins, their uses, and their potential hazards. As always, there’s a lot to think about with this topic. If you’re still looking for help with the digital aspect of your business, whether it’s promoting and advertising or helping it grow, contact our digital marketing team today. We can help you every step of the way, and we are always ready to work with you to get the results you want.