What are WordPress Plugins?
WordPress plugins are software applications or packages that can be added to a WordPress site to add extra functionality.
All WordPress installs will include some default plugins. Additional plugins can be installed from the WordPress plugins directory.
Many plugins are free but there are also paid commercial plugins.
The ones I use on most of my sites are:
- All in one SEO pack
- Updraftplus or on older installs I used WP-db backup
- Spam free wordpress -If I allow Comments
- Very Simple Contact Form
- Simple Sitemap
Installing and Upgrading WordPress Plugins
To install and upgrade plugins go to the plugins page, and click the add plugin tab.
Clicking add new takes you to the install plugin page where you can search for a plugin.
If you are just browsing then a good place to start is the popular plugins page.
To install just click the install now link and the plugin will be installed.
Many plugins will add new tabs to the WordPress Admin control panel so that you can configure them.
Most WordPress plugins are actively maintained which means that from time to time you will need to upgrade to the latest version.
You will see a notification on the left hand side of the control panel when updates are required.
Click the plugins link to go to the installed plugins page and locate the plugins that need updating (red line see screen shot).
Enable the plugins for updating by clicking the check box.
Then select Update plugin from the bulk action menu, and click APPLY to update the selected plugins.
You should see a progress screen like the one below which details all the plugins that have been updated and their status.
Manually Installing A Plugin
If the plugin isn’t in the WordPress plugin directory you can manually install it by copying the plugin folder and files into the plugins directory.(screen shot below).
To do this you will need to use FTP to transfer the files to your website hosting space.
Compatibility on Upgrades
WordPress is updated quite frequently, and it is important that when you update that you make sure that your plugins are supported by the new version.
For this reason I tend to wait a few weeks after a new WordPress upgrade to let the plugin developers update their plugins.
Plugin Overload and Security Notes
Try not to install to many plugins. Only install plugins you need to use and remove the ones you don’t use.
Also make sure they are updated even the ones that have been deactivated.
Common Questions and Answers
Q- Do I need to use FTP to install plugins.
A- No not normally. Most plugins can be installed from the plugin directory by clicking on a few links.
Q- I can’t see a plugin Option to add a new Plugin
A- You probably don’t have site admin permissions
Q- Should I remove plugins I don’t use?
A- Yes for security reasons it is better to remove them.
Related Articles and Resources:
- Understanding and Using Themes
- Adding A Contact Form to WordPress
- WordPress SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Basics