WordPress comes packed with incredible features to customize your website design. The base installation is often more than enough for many individuals that seek a simple platform to share their ideas, feedback, and thoughts. Likewise, there are many free themes within the WordPress directory that gives a great amount of flexibility and uniqueness for businesses seeking an online presence.
However, there is always more to be desired.
WordPress plugins extend the features and flexibility of the platform. The plugins are created by a spectrum of talented individuals with many different ideas to improve the base installation of the CMS platform. Plugins can range from a simple tweak to add a visual calendar or go as far as to create entire membership sites with a few simple clicks!
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves – let’s understand how to install these plugins and a proper way to keep them updated.
Installing a WordPress Plugin (the Easy Way)
WordPress plugins can be installed through two different methods:
- Within the WordPress dashboard
- Uploading through your web server and FTP
Unless you’re the type that needs ultimate control over the code you will only use the dashboard for installation because it serves its purpose well.
With that being said – there are two places we’d recommend for finding WordPress plugins:
The official WordPress.org plugin directory houses the most extensive listing of available plugins for WordPress users. Here you can refine your search based on your needs or use other parameters such as “most popular” to see what others are using on their sites.
We have a list of recommended WordPress plugins but the ultimate decision lies on your shoulders; your plugins should be used as a tool for accomplishing one of your goals or ideas.
Note: You should refrain from going too overboard with plugins since too many will slow down your website speed.
With that begin said, we’d recommend that you start your quest for WP plugins from within your dashboard which houses many search features you’d find in the WP directory.
Step 1: Open the Plugins menu from the dashboard sidebar
Here you will see a few different options for adding plugins to your WordPress site, such as:
- A search box (if you know the name of the plugin you’d like to install)
- Tags – for finding what’s hot in the directory
- Upload – if you have a plugin file you’ve found elsewhere and would like to install
- Featured – these are hand selected from the directory
- Popular – the popular plugins
- Newest – the newest
- Recently update – as the name implies
Generally, you can place a keyword into the search box and find what you seek whether it’s “gallery” if you’re in need of a gallery plugin or “pagination” if you’d like to have an easy page navigation within the post listings.
Note: If you purchase or download a plugin from an external source and receive a file you will need to use the ‘upload’ link in order to add the plugin to your installation.
Step 2: Install
Suppose you found a WordPress plugin you’d like to install.
All that is required is to click the Install Plugin link located within the listing, click OK when prompted whether you’d like to confirm the installation, and then Activate Plugin once it’s finished.
From there you will have access to the WordPress plugin from within the side panel of your dashboard.
Yup, it’s that easy.
Updating Your WordPress Plugins
This may come as biased but we’d recommend that you manually update your WordPress plugins rather than using tools to do so automatically.
Why? Well, because there may be times when an update to a plugin may break your website due to faulty code or a clash with your website.
It’s not always the case but it does happen from time to time.
Manually updating is as simple as opening the Installed Plugins from with the Plugins tab on the side panel, and then browsing through your list of installed plugins to see whether they have an update available.
Simple choose Update Automatically and it will download, installed, and reactivate the plugin within a few moments.
WordPress has a ton of great, built-in features but if you want to take your website to the next level than you’ll want to explore the endless possibilities through WordPress plugins. You’ve seen how easy they are to install and update now see what you can do for your business by browsing what’s available.