Choosing and Installing a Plugin
One of the biggest advantages of using WordPress is installing and utilising plugins to extend the functionality of your website. This workshop will explore how to search, review and install the right plugins to meet your needs.
- Recognize the variety of plugins available to extend your site’s functionality.
- Search, install and delete a plugin.
- Review and select well-built plugins.
- Identify how to find support for a particular plugin.
- What additional functionality or features would you like to see on your site?
- How do you identify plugin conflicts?
Good day and welcome to Learn WordPress. One of the biggest advantages of using WordPress is installing and using plugins to extend the functionality of your website. There are a variety of plugins available that can be used to add extra functionality around social media, analytics, security, marketing, SEO, and the list goes on. These plugins can help you get more out of your WordPress website and make it more dynamic. Maybe you would like to add a map, a feedback form, a contact form, to launch a multilingual website in minutes, build an e-commerce site or increase the speed of your site with caching. All of this can be achieved with the right plugins.
You can view all the 1000s of plugins available when you visit wordpress.org and browse through the plugins directory. While all of the plugins mentioned are free and available in the wordpress.org plugin repository, they may also have premium versions available at a cost that provide more functionality.
But let’s see how to choose and install a plugin when we are in our WordPress dashboard. Let’s make our way to Plugins and select Add New. This will open up on the featured page and you have the option to view the most popular plugins, recommended plugins and the favourites tab refer to any plugins that you or other WordPress users have marked as favourites. When you are ready to find a suitable plugin, use the search function at the top right of the page. If you type SEO for example, the repository gives you a list of plugins based on what you searched.
Now let’s talk about what to look out for when choosing a plugin. Let’s compare the three top plugins as all three are very good options based on the information presented. There are four important things to take note of. Firstly, the star rating. That refers to feedback from customers who installed the plugin. Secondly, when it was last updated. This indicates it is actively being supported and worked on. So I would suggest avoiding plugins that have not been updated in a long time. Thirdly, active installations. This indicates a popular and well-supported plugin. And then lastly, compatibility. Make sure the plugin is compatible with the version of WordPress you’re running. So as you can see, you can’t go wrong choosing any of these three plugins. They all have really good star ratings, they’ve been updated recently, they have lots of installations, and they are compatible with the version of WordPress I’m using, which is the latest version.
When you click on more details, you will be able to see how well supported a plugin is. There is also an area for frequently asked questions and a place where you can read reviews. Let’s search for a different plugin as an example of how to install and activate a plugin. We will go ahead and search for a forms plugin. Once again, there are various options to choose from. Contact Form 7, Contact Form by WP Forms and Ninja Forms all look like really good options based on the available information. I will go ahead and install Contact Form by WP Forms, and once it’s installed, you have to click on activate. And then of course, it’s time to set up the plugin. And when your plugin is set up, it’s a simple task using your Block Directory to add the form wherever you wish to.
Please note you can also easily add a new plugin by uploading a zip archive of the plugin from your local computer. Many premium plugins can be downloaded outside the WordPress plugin directory.
If you would like to stop using a plugin, you can go to your plugins section and click on deactivate, and once deactivated; you will have the option to delete the plugin permanently.
If you’re struggling to understand or set up a plugin, your best option for support is to go directly to the plugin’s creator to visit their support page. There you will be able to browse through all forum questions or create a new topic. For some plugins in the dashboard, you can find the support page and documentation page in the left sidebar, and for some, below the description. If you find the plugin that is causing a problem on your site, you’ll be able to isolate the specific plugin that caused the issue. There are two main ways to identify plugin conflicts on your site. Number one, manually deactivate plugins, and number two, use a troubleshooting plugin. I will add a few links to some troubleshooting plugins in the description below. But if you install well-built plugins and use the four criteria we discussed earlier, you won’t have anything to be worried about.
Plugins are awesome, and I trust you will find the right ones to meet your needs, and remember to visit Learn WordPress for more workshops and training material.
I am an Instructional Designer for the WordPress open-source project sponsored by Automattic. I am a strong supporter of the open-source movement. I have a background in education and content development. I am a husband, father, dreamer and lifelong learner.