Starting WordPress is a series I am going on how to use wordpress in easy to understand terms. I found the Codex to be helpful but felt that it was very technical. These are my instructions in a more non-technical way. Visit the series page for a list of all the topics in this series.
What is a Plugin?
A plugin is additional code that you can use to add extra functionality to your website. These extra functionalities will more than likely be a feature that WordPress doesn’t offer, or your theme doesn’t have built in, or even to replace a built in function with one that you like more.
Plugins allow developers to create additional content either for free or for a fee and offer it to those of us who cannot code or would prefer not to reinvent the wheel.
An example of a plugin.
I use Easy Google Fonts to quickly change a bunch of fonts around my site without having to edit my style.css sheet. While you would still have to know the element name, you don’t have to write code which some users prefer.
The WordPress Repository allows developers to create and add WordPress plugins for users to download and use, free of charge. You can search the Repository here for free plugins.
There are also individual developers who might offer or sell plugins from their own web stores. These plugins can be free or paid but they may not come with automatic updates or update notifications.
The best advantage to getting a plugin through the repository is that WordPress automatically notifies you when there is an update, or you can turn on automatic plugin updates. While some people recommend this, I prefer to read the changes and update plugins on my own. A plugin I used in the past on another site, broke my site with an update last year and it took me a while to figure it out since I just updated everything automatically.
Option 1:From the wordpress repository via WP-Admin
- In your WordPress Admin page [Dashboard] go to PLUGINS > ADD NEW.
- Search for plugins, if you know the name or enter what you would like to do. E.g., searching for Google fonts will probably bring up all plugins that mentions Google Fonts.
- Browse the plugins available. When you see one that interests you, you can read more information about it by clicking “More Details”.
- Confirm that the plugin is compatible with your version of WordPress. This makes it easy by displaying that information on the plugin’s card. “Compatible with your version of WordPress”.
- If it was in the repository before WordPress updated, it might not be compatible and would say, “Untested with your version of WordPress”.
- When you find a plugin you have decided to install, all you need to do is click, “Install Now”.
- WordPress will install your plugin and then as you to activate it. Do so by clicking “Activate”.
- Search the web for plugins to do what you need.
- When you find one ensure that it’s compatible with your WordPress version.
- You can check the developer’s website or contact them to see what version it is compatible with.
- You can check your WP Version by checking your Dashboard
- Purchase and / or download your plugin from the developer’s site. It should be a zip file.
- Do not unzip it.
- From your WordPress Admin page go to PLUGINS >ADD NEW.
- Then click “Upload Plugin”.
- Click “Browse” to locate the zip file on your computer.
- After you have chosen you file, click “Install Now”
- WordPress will install your plugin and prompt you to activate it.
- Activate your plugin by clicking “Activate”.
using your plugin
In truth, it depends what type of functionality was added to your wordpress, to determine where you will be able to access your plugin. Most average plugins will add a screen to the TOOLS tab to give you access to editing the features however, it could go into APPEARANCE or even POSTS.
If your plugin offers automated updates and you have automatic updates turned on, you don’t need to do anything to update.
If your plugin offers automated updates and automatic updates are turned off, when you log in to wordpress it will notify you that you have updates. Click the updates under DASHBOARD > UPDATES, click update next to the update you want to install or check all and update all.
VIA WP ADMIN
- Go to PLUGINS > INSTALLED PLUGINS.
- Locate the Plugin you want to update.
- Click “Deactivate”.
- Click “Delete”.
- Agree to remove all files and content.
- Follow the Steps in Installing Plugins to reinstall your Plugin using the updated file.
- Note that Plugins from the Repository will not require manual updating.
If you are familiar with FTP or have your access information…
- Use an FTP client to connect to your website via FTP. I use File Zilla.
- Navigate to your Plugins Folder and rename your plugin Folder something like Plugin-OLD.
- Unzip the updated Plugin in the plugins folder [that has the OLD plugin not in the OLD plugin folder]. That’s it.
uninstalling a plugin
To uninstall a Plugin follow steps 1-5 of the Manual Updates VIA WP Admin.
Jetpack is a plugin offered by WordPress.com. I recommend this because it has a lot of plugins built in like comments, subscribe, embedded videos, photo galleries, visit statistics, sharing of articles, auto publishing of articles, etc.
I also like the WP Editorial Calendar that gives your Posts a calendar view so that you can visually see when your have posts being published. If you don’t schedule posts then this will probably not be useful to you.
Child Theme Configurator is a great plugin to create child themes from your current theme. As I mentioned in themes you are better off having a child theme if you are making any customisations especially change to the functions.php file or to the style.css, otherwise, this changes may be overwritten when the theme is updated.
Loginizer is a plugin that blocks IP addresses that are trying to hack your site after the get X number of wrong passwords. You might think well no one wants to hack my site but people just love to do this to prove a point and cause you trouble.
That’s it for today.
Please check back next time when I’ll be talking about posts and pages.