New to WordPress? Then you might have many queries in your head. Often beginners come to us with questions like… What is a WordPress Plugin? Will Plugins really work? How Important are WordPress Plugins? How to get WordPress Plugins? Well, to solve all these queries we thought to have a Beginners Guide on WordPress Plugins, where you can get all the info regarding these Plugins.
Before going into the actual content let me make you aware that ‘WordPress plugins are a crucial part of the WordPress community, and they are very helpful in building great websites’. In this beginners guide we will try to place all the knowledge we hold about WordPress plugins. So, without wasting our time let’s get into action!
What Exactly is A WordPress Plugin?
Plugin is a sort of code which is added to the self hosted WordPress websites. Hosting a site has always been an issue for many beginners as most hostings do not support the plugin incorporation, here’s how to step up hosting on WordPress for better results.
Anyways let’s get to the point. To put it simply, plugins are something which add more functionality to your website, not only this it can also improve the existing functionality of your website.
They behave just like the apps which you install on your devices like smartphones, laptops. PCs, iPads, and others for some functionality.
How Plugins are Related to WordPress Core?
WordPress content management system’s software is termed as WordPress core. This generally provides the primary functionality for publishing your content online and managing users. As said Plugin is a bit of extra code, this means it’s a piece of software, which is especially made for WordPress.
All these plugins are written in php, as that of the WordPress.org websites, to make them compatible with the software and add the desired functionality.
How Many WordPress Plugins are Available?
Well, there are about 50,000+ plugins available in the Plugin directory. And many more are provided by third parties like Github and Terraform. You can use any sort of plugins on your CMS dashboard and make the most of them.
What WordPress Plugins Can Do?
From small tweaks to advanced changes on your site, plugins can make everything possible with just a few steps. For example,
- Some plugins can change your site into an e-commerce store. Ex: WooCommerce plugin (8).
- Some plugins can convert your site into a Business directory. Ex: Business Directory plugin.
- You can turn your site into a photo gallery to show off your photography skills. Ex: Envira Gallery plugin.
- There are also plugins that can help improve SEO. Ex: All in One SEO (5) for WordPress (AIOSEO) plugin, or Rank Math SEO plugin (3).
- And whatnot…!
It’s not extravagant to say that ‘whatever you wanna do on WordPress, there is a plugin for that!’ No matter what you are trying, it is always possible.
How Do WordPress Plugins Work?
Plugins are made such a way that any developer can add his code into it and make use of them. These plugins will access the content stored on your CMS database and add the functionality to the same according to the code of the plugin.
Whatever plugin you add, it gets registered into your WordPress database. Where you can always activate or deactivate them as per the need of time. Whenever a user visits your site, WordPress will load the software, along with the active plugin installed on your database. All this happens in the background between the server and your base, then the user can enjoy your content.
Where To Find Plugins?
Many free Plugins are available in the plugin directory of WordPress.org and you can always reach them from your admin dashboard directly. Here are some steps to follow,
Step-01: Loginto your WordPress.org account and get to the dashboard.
Step-02: Head over to the Plugins option and click on the Add New button.
Step-03: You can search for the plugin or the functionality you are looking for in the search box available.
Step-04: You will get the plugins list, review the results and install the plugin you want by clicking on the install now button.
As said, the easy it looks, the less productivity it shows. Similarly the plugins directory only gives you free plugins with some limited functionality. It’s better to get paid plugins from a reputed third party. However for a beginner it’s always confusing to select the best plugins for the site. We recommend following tutorials from YouTube, or searching for plugin recommendations.
Things To Consider Prior Installing WordPress Plugins
You need to be very careful about which plugin to install. Because a wrong choice can lead to many things like,
Your site may get vulnerable to cyber attacks and hackers can get hold of this.
Some plugins can slow down your site.
An unexpected error may occur on your site.
So, to protect yourself from these you can follow the below listed rules,
- Always take plugins from the wordpress.org directory, if not satisfied you can take from reputed third party developers like GitHub, CodeCanyon, and Terraform.
- It’s better to go through the reviews section before getting and installing any plugin.
- Check if the plugin is dead, or the last time it was updated. Because many plugins are not maintained for the time being.
To be honest, we can’t assure the productivity of this method, because it depends upon the individual who follows.
How To Install A WordPress Plugin?
There are 3 ways to install a plugin.
1. Plugin Installation Via Built-in Plugin Installer
Any plugin from the WordPress Directory can be installed using the built-in plugin installer. Let’s not make this boring for you. You can simply follow the below steps to install any WordPress plugin.
Step-01: Visit your WordPress.org Admin panel.
Step-02: Go to the Plugins option, click on Add New.
Step-03: Search for the Plugin you need and click on the install button.
Step-04: After this, don’t forget to activate the plugin and customize as you need.
2. Installing A WordPress Plugin From A Zip File
You can buy plugins from third party providers and install them on your WordPress using the Upload Plugin option.
Step-01: The 1 and 2 options are the same.
Step-02: Instead of searching for the plugin, click on the Upload Plugin button on the top of the page.
Step-03: Now, click on choose file, search the downloaded zip file and click on the Install Now button.
Step-04: Finally click on the Activate Plugin button and configure the setting.
3. Manual Plugin Installation
However this is pretty rare, but it’s worth knowing. Rarely you may need to install plugins by getting the files onto the server, when your server isn’t supporting the automatic installations. Usually this goes with an SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol, also known as Secure FTP) client.
Step-01: If you have a zip file, unzip the contents and extract the files. If it is already a folder you can skip this step.
Step-02: Open the plugin folder and search for the readme.txt file.
Step-03: Have a check on the file and confirm if that is the plugin you need.
Step-04: Now, connect the WordPress server with the SFTP client.
Step-05: Copy the plugin folder to the target folder ‘wp-content/plugins’ in the WordPress.org directory.
Step-06: Open the plugins section and check for the new plugin you installed, you should see there. If not, then you haven’t done the file transfer properly.
Step-07: Now, click on the Activate link for that plugin.
Step-08: That’s it! Your plugin is installed and activated successfully.
Warning: This process is very risky, and may put your site at risk! We recommend to back-up the site before performing the plugin installation.
How To Handle A WordPress Plugin?
Handling a plugin and keeping them up to date, with getting any errors on the site is a huge task ahead for web developers, as you are new in this field it’s better to understand this concept in-depth so that you feel less confused while selecting your plugin and managing it. Here we go..,
1. Keep An Eye on the Plugin Updates
The developers update plugins once in a while, and those updates are made visible to you on the admin panel (only if any). If you find an updated plugin, never forget to get the updated version right away. How to do this?
Step-01: Click the Plugins option on the left nav bar from your dashboard.
Step-02: Look at the list of installed plugins, if you find this line ‘There is a new version…’, then it’s time for the update.
Step-03: Now it’s time to click on the view version link and view all the details. You may get all the info regarding the new version and how it is different or updated from the older version.
Step 04: Have a look over that, if you found it pleasing, click on the Update now button to update the plugin.
2. Checking the Plugin Compatibility
There may be two reasons that the plugin is incompatible. One, you haven’t updated the plugin when it should have been done, second, its compatibility may be unknown.
Incompatible plugins are nothing but just scraps for the website, the plugin you have installed should always have to be compatible with the WordPress version you hold. To know more about the compatibility of an installed plugin, you can follow the below step,
Step-01: Go to the Plugins section from the dashboard.
Step-02: Each item on the list will have a View details option, click on that.
Step-03: You can have a look over the Plugin’s compatibility with all sorts of versions.
How To Add Plugins To Favorites?
Yes! You can list all your favorite plugins under the favorites list, you can always view, and manage them with a single go. Follow these simple steps to make it happen.
Step-01: Login to the dashboard, go to the plugin’s page.
Step-02: View a plugin and click on the heart icon next to the download option.
Step-03: Once done the plugin will be listed to your WordPress.org profile.
How To View A Particular User’s Favorite Plugins?
You may think, is this really useful? Yes! It is. Using this feature you can get plugins from a particular user, he may be your friend, or any other random guy, or even some popular websites.
Step-01: Go to the admin panel, and visit the plugin section.
Step-02: Click on Add New button.
Step-03: Now click on the Favorites option, click on the ‘Your WordPress.org username’ and type the username of the person you want.
Step-04: Click on Get Favorites, you will get a list of plugins. And each plugin also has an Install Now option, by which you can get these to your site’s dashboard.
How To Uninstall A WordPress Plugin?
Often beginners will install a WordPress plugin which isn’t necessary. If you have done the same thing, how are you going to get rid of that plugin? Here’s how,
Step-01: Open your WordPress dashboard.
Step-02: Navigate to the Installed Plugins section.
Step-03: Go to the plugin you wish to deactivate, and click on Deactivate.
Step-04: The final step is to delete it from your dashboard.
What To Do If You Found A Troubleshooting Plugin?
Some WordPress plugins may not function as expected, and may misbehave. There isn’t any proven way to get rid of this troubleshooting, but the below resources might help you.
- Review the documentation, and check whether you have followed the instructions properly.
- You can always search the WordPress Support Forums regarding the issue you face.
- You can also search the Plugins Directory for a particular plugin’s notes, and resolve your issue.
- You can even search over Google or YouTube, this may help you out a little.
If you were not able to detect the issue, try reinstalling the plugin, and if the issue is persistent, it’s better to remove the plugin and search for an alternative.
Is it A Good Idea To Have More Plugins?
A common misconception you may have seen is, having too many plugins makes your site slow, thus improving the loading time which might affect your ranking. This isn’t technically true…but a beginner it is better to have only what you need. More the plugins, the more work to be done, which is hectic for a beginner. Don’t just install a plugin if you feel it’s cool.
Have more to ask? Our comments section is always open for you, feel free to place your query, and we will try to respond quickly.