This is seventh lesson of WordPress tutorial for beginners. In this lesson we will discuss about Plugins.In previous lessons we have discussed every single option of WordPress. In case you missed previous lessons here is the link to last one for your reference.
What is a Plugin?
Lets understand concept of plugin by an example. You have bought a unfurnished flat. The empty flat can be assumed as WordPress framework. Te first criteria to have a home is space. Buying a flat is first step towards building a home for yourself. Similarly WordPress is first thing you need to create your online presence.
Now bare flat is not sufficient. You can not live in there without any bed or household items. You need basic things to comfortably live there. These basics items can be viewed as Plugins. To enhance functionalities provided by WordPress you need plugins.
The core WordPress framework is building block to create your website. But there are different types of websites. It is not feasible to ave functionalities for all those types in core framework. So concept to plugins was created.
Once you have installed core framework you can install plugins as per your requirement. For example if you want to create an online store then you need plugin which will help you sell your products. Similarly for Photography site you want plugins which will help you showcase your items.
How to install Plugins?
All plugins follow similar installation procedure. The most important part if finalizing which plugins to use. Installation process is same for all plugins.I will be writing series of articles on how to create different types of websites using WordPress.
Those courses will help you decide which plugins you should use. For now lets understand how to install a plugin. To install a plugin follow below steps
On your WordPress Dashboard you will see Plugins option. Click on the Plugins option.You will see options as shown in below image
We will discuss about options Installed Plugins and Editor later in this article. For now we will discuss Add New option. Click on the Add New option.You will see a page as shown in below image
Plugin Installation First Method
On the right hand side you can see option to Search Plugins. WordPress.org is repository of free plugins. There are more than 50K free plugins there. You can search plugins with Keyword, Author or Tag. For example if you search with Udinra you will get all plugins created by me.
You can also browse plugin repository by
You can use any one or all of methods to look for the plugin you want to install. Once you have located the plugin click on Install Now button to Install the plugin. Below image shows the install button on plugin listing if user searched plugin repository with keyword Udinra
Clicking on Install Now button will download the plugin from WordPress repository to your server. It will then install the plugin on your installation. The whole process takes place behind the screen. You will get notified once the plugin is installed.
Plugin Installation Second Method
You might have noticed limitation of first method. You can only install plugins in WordPress repository using first method. The second method eliminates this limitation. Using this method you can install plugins from other sources.
For example Pro plugins are not present in free plugin repository. So it is better to be aware of this method as well. Recall that on Add plugin page we have Upload Plugin option. You will see below page if you click on Upload plugin button.
You can click on Choose File button and select the plugin file you want to install. After selecting the file click on Install Now button to install the plugin. The plugin will be uploaded to your server and installed.
Plugin Installation Third Method
I do not recommend using this method. You should only use this if you are unable to use first two. In this method you do the tasks performed by above two methods manually.
- Extract the Zipped plugin
- It will create a directory with plugin name
- Upload the unzipped plugin to wp-content/plugins directory of your WordPress installation.
- The plugin is now installed.
This method works in all cases. Note you can download any plugins from wordpress.org as well. After downloading the plugins you can proceed with step 2 or 3 to install the plugin.
Things to check before installing a plugin
This is very important. Most of the times bad plugins are reason for site breach. If a plugin is not secure or well coded it can ruin your website. It is very important to verify your plugin before installation. In this section I will cover things you must check before installing a plugin.
- Always install plugin from trusted sources.
- For free plugins always use WordPress.org
- Never install free plugins available on any other site
- Prefer Pro plugins from authors who have profiles and plugins on WordPress.org
- Never install a plugin on your live site directly.
- Always test a plugin in local (for some days) and then use on Live site
- Always take backup of your site before installing a plugin
- Never install a plugin with encoded source code.
- Never install a plugin which is not updated in last one or two years
- Always keep your plugins updated.
Points 5 to 7 are more applicable for free and Pro plugins from unknown sources. If you have any doubt about plugin better to install it in local. That way you can test and see if it is detrimental. Most harmful plugins will try to send your data back to other server.
They may also put links in your website content. It can also be poorly coded causing slow load time.All these things can be easily spotted by installing it in local. Once you are satisfied by the plugin you can install it on your live site.
Also it is better to take backup of your site. Sometimes it becomes difficult for non developers to identify potential problems generated by a plugin.So in case of any issues you can safely restore your website from backup.
To avoid all these problems you should always follow points 1 to 4.
What to do after plugins installation?
By default WordPress install two plugins Akismet Anti Spam and Hello Dolly. After plugin installation you have to activate them. Before a plugin is activated it is not available on your site. To activate a plugin follow below steps
- Click on Installed plugin option under Plugins
- You will see list of plugins installed on your site
- Click on Activate link below the plugin name to activate the plugin
You can also delete and de-activate a plugin after installation. If you have activated a plugin then you will have to deactivate it before deleting. On the Installed Plugins page you can see Activate, Edit and Delete option for not activated plugin.
You can use delete option to delete the plugin. Note we will not cover Edit option here. Edit option is used to Edit the plugin. This is advanced topic where you may need to edit the plugin file to match your requirements.
After activation you can use the plugins. A plugin may have configuration options which you have to configure. These are plugin specific and do not follow generic rule. We will cover some important plugins under WordPress Setup guide.
Also under how to setup different types of website with WordPress we will cover important plugins and how to configure them. We will now move on to Themes. Themes are very important topic. We will cover themes in next lesson of this tutorial.