Welcome to the fifth installment of WordPress 101! This week we tackle plugins!
What Are Plugins?
Plugins are one of the best things about using WordPress as your CMS (Content Management System). Plugins let you do pretty much almost anything with your WordPress site. Want to prevent spam comments? There’s a plugin for that. Want an email pop-up? There’s a plugin for that. Want to sell things? There’s a plugin for that! Whatever you want to do with your WordPress site you can probably find a plugin for. Plugins are simple additional extras that give your site some sort of extra function, but instead of hiring a developer to create that function for you, you can simply install a plugin. No coding, no technical knowledge is required.
Where Can You find Plugins?
The best way to find WordPress plugins is to search the WordPress Plugin repository. It’s easy, just head on over to your Dashboard, hit up the plugins option in your admin menu and then go to add new. Once there WordPress shares with you an assortment of plugins which are popular and they recommend. If none of those suit your fancy, you can easily search for a plugin, read reviews and information and install your plugin.
Many WordPress plugins are free. Some offer both a free version and a premium paid version which usually offers more support and improved features. For the blogger just starting out and with little budget you can usually find free plugins that will suit your needs. However, you may find that as you grow you might need to upgrade to premium plugins or that the benefits of the premium plugin far outweigh the cost.
How do you install plugins?
Installing plugins is easy and requires little knowledge and no technical expertise. There is one thing you should do before you go ahead and install that plugin though. That one thing is: back up your site. Chances are everything will be fine, however, themes and plugins and plugins and other plugins don’t always play nice together. So it’s better to be safe than sorry and back that site up. Now that your blog is safely backed up here’s the easiest way to install a plugin:
- Go to Plugins > Add Plugin
- Find the plugin you wish to install in the repository.
- Click “Install Now”
- Activate your plugin. (Important! If you don’t activate your plugin it won’t work. Be sure you activate it to turn it on!)
It’s that easy! An alternate way you can install your plugin is by requiring your plugin file (it will be a .zip file) and using the upload option. This works just like uploading a file to any sort of site, just go to “Upload Plugin” and add your file. Then follow steps 4-5 as above.
But…what plugins do I even need? There are so many!
I know, there are so many! And more added every day! It’s hard to know which plugins are right, so I’ve written a little suggestion of some awesome plugins that every single site should have. Check it out here! You may find that over time you want additional functions or find new and awesome plugins that you need, that’s cool! Don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment to find what you need, or ask other bloggers. Other bloggers are one of the best ways to find out about cool and useful plugins for blogging!
What are your favorite plugins? Do you have any plugin related questions? Chat it up in the comments!
PS. Stay tuned for next week’s WordPress 101 which will show you how to install Genesis/StudioPress on your blog!