After starting a WordPress blog the first thing that comes to mind is increasing the functionality of the website. And this thing can be done with the help of plugins. In this article, we will be learning how to install a WordPress plugin in the right way.
Before we start with this guide let’s first understand
What is a Plugin?
A plugin is add-on software that is installed to boost or add new features to your website. The plugin makes it easier for WordPress users to add extended features without even worrying about coding.
There are tons of free plugins available in the WordPress Plugin Repository that can add any function to your website that you think of.
Be it securing your blog, adding animations, slideshows, videos, photo galleries or adding the features of an e-commerce website. You can just add any feature to your website by installing plugins.
There are 3 types of plugins
A WordPress plugin that is available on the WordPress directory and can be used by everyone at free of cost. When you have recently done a fresh WordPress install and just starting out, it is good to know that without paying anything extra you can extend the features of your website.
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Each of these plugins is tested before they are added to the free plugin list. You can also get free plugins from third party websites. But until the source is trusted, I will not recommend downloading and adding any such plugin to your website.
It can spread malware to visitors and compromise the security of your blog. And you don’t want that.
There 2 other important things to keep in mind before installing a free plugin
- Checking when was the plugin last updated
- Is it compatible with your version of WordPress?
Both these things are very easy to check and it can be done by either visiting the online WordPress repository or by using the plugin search in the WordPress dashboard.
- Checking the compatibility and the last update using the WordPress dashboard plugin search.
In the above image, you can clearly see it was last updated 2 weeks ago and is compatible with the version of WordPress currently in use.
- Checking the last update status and compatibility through the WordPress repository.
In order to check this visit WordPress.org and search for the free plugin.
And when you select the plugin, on the right side you can see it tells you about the last update and compatibility.
What is the reason behind checking this?
There is a very simple reason if a plugin hasn’t been updated for a long time there is a chance the creator has abandoned the project and it may cause security issues as hackers can find loopholes.
And in case the plugin hasn’t been tested on your version of WordPress, then there are chances it can break your website and you don’t want that.
So it is very important to install add-ons from trusted sources, frequently updated and compatible.
Also, when you install free plugins they do not generally come with technical support. You may have to search the forums or read the installation instructions that come with the plugin.
Premium Plugins are the ones that require you to pay a certain cost or a subscription charge in order to use them. These plugins can be bought from their respective websites or various marketplaces that sell them.
You cannot find these plugins in the WordPress plugin directory.
And one of such plugin is Analytify. It helps you manage your analytics from the WordPress dashboard
One of the best thing about premium plugins is the quality of code and technical support. In case you face any problem, there is a customer to help you out and solve your problems.
As the same suggests it is the mix of both free and premium plugin. The base plugin is free to download but some features are only available for premium users. When you pay for the additional features it turns into a premium plugin.
Just like the free plugin, you can download these plugins from the WordPress plugin listings, dashboard plugin search or from third party websites.
One of the very popular freemium plugins is Yoast SEO. It helps you optimize your website for search engines and it is recommended by us.
You can download the free Yoast SEO plugin using this link.
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Now that we have discussed the difference between different types of plugins, it is important to understand if you are a WordPress.com user, you may not be able to access plugins on the dashboard.
The reason behind this is simple, you have to pay a subscription charge and you have limited control.
How to Install a WordPress Plugin- Step by Step guide
1. Installing plugin using search in WordPress dashboard
This is the easiest and most common way to install a plugin in WordPress website. Only free or freemium plugins can be installed using this process and the plugin should be available in the WordPress listings.
To install plugins using this method, go to your WordPress dashboard and click plugins >> add new.
In the above image, you can see the search box. Enter your query or name of the plugin in the search and press enter. Also, you can see there are 4 other tabs on left of the search box.
- Featured– These are the plugins that are recommended by WordPress and on the bottom of the page you can see a tag cloud. It is the list of most popular tags in the plugin directory.
- Popular– These are the plugins that are the most used. The plugins on this list are sorted based on their popularity.
- Recommended– The plugins on this list are recommended based on your previous installations.
- Favorites– In case you have marked any plugin as a favorite on WordPress.org, it will show up on this list.
For demonstration purposes, I will be installing the UpdraftPlus plugin. It is a very useful plugin that helps you easily backup your WordPress website data.
To add the header and footer plugin, I searched for the query WordPress backup plugin. And it returns a list of plugins as you can see in the screenshot above.
Select the plugin that fits your specifications. You can read the description of the plugin before installing it so that you know it fulfills your requirements.
As we are looking for the plugin that eases the process of WordPress backup and the description matches our requirements. All we need to do now is install the plugin.
Click the install now button. The next step in the process is activating the plugin. Once the plugin has been downloaded and installed, you’ll see the Activate button. Click it.
And it will return a message “Plugin Activated” or “Thank you for installation”.
You can check for the plugin in the list of installed plugins.
And that’s it you are done adding the plugin using the WordPress dashboard plugin search.
But before we jump to the second way, it is important to know you can search for plugins based on authors and tags.
In case you want to search for the plugin based on the author or tag, you can simply click the drop-down menu and select the relevant option.
2. Installing the plugin through Upload plugin option in WordPress Admin
Using this method you can install the paid plugins and the plugins you may have downloaded from the third party websites.
I would again like to let you know to download free plugins only from the trusted websites else at all costs avoid it as it can be a risk to the security of your website.
In order to upload the plugin using this technique, go to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Plugins >> add new.
You will see a button named upload plugin. Click the button and it will take you to a new screen where it will ask you to upload the plugin you have downloaded which is in the zip format.
Once you have uploaded the file click the install now button.
When you click the install now button it will take you to a new screen where it will show you the progress of the installation. It will take a few seconds to complete this step and you will get a message just like the image below.
Once the installation is complete you can click the Activate plugin button on the bottom of the screen to activate the plugin.
It will return a message saying “Plugin Activated”.
Once you have received this message you can check for the plugin in the list of installed plugins.
And you have successfully installed the plugin using the upload plugin option.
3. Install a WordPress plugin using FTP
The last and final technique on the list is for advanced users. Although this method will be rarely used. But it’s still important to know in case you are unable to install the plugin using the other 2 methods.
Before we start with this process you need to install an FTP client on your machine.
I prefer using Filezilla. It is available for free and you can download it from here.
After you have downloaded and installed the FTP client, you need to connect with your host using the FTP username and password.
In case you do not know your username or password contact your web hosting support.
Once you have all the necessary information to connect, open the FTP client and use the username and password to connect.
When you enter the required details, you will be able to access your web host remotely.
Navigate to /public_html/wp-content/plugins and upload the plugin zip file as you can see the screenshot below.
Now that you are done uploading the plugin, its time to check the list of installed plugins.
You can see the plugin has been installed. All you need to do is activate the plugin by clicking the Activate Plugin button below the plugin name.Learn How to Install a plugin in #WordPress- The 3 right ways Click To Tweet
Over to you
Now that you have learned the 3 ways to install a WordPress plugin, it is important to keep 3 things in mind.
- Never download or install a plugin from an untrusted source.
- Remove the plugins that you are not updating or using for a long time.
- Update your plugins on a regular basis.
I prefer using the first method to install plugins as you can search, install, activate, deactivate and manage plugins using the WordPress dashboard.
After learning how to install plugins, the next step in the process is learning things to do before changing WordPress theme
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