The fine grain ability to customize and breathe soul into your WordPress website is one of the WordPress platform’s greatest advantages. The heart of that customizability lies in the humble plugin. WordPress plugins give you the power to instill your site with feature-rich interactivity but require little more effort on your part than a child might spend adding another lego to their creation.
The main feature that makes WordPress stand from the rest is plugins.
Plugins lets you add features to your WordPress site without hiring a developer or playing with coding. There are thousands of free and premium WordPress plugins out there.
And the great part is, installing a WordPress plugin is insanely easier.
All you need to is following some simple steps, and you are done. Here I’ll be sharing different ways to install a WordPress plugin.
As WordPress is open-source software, anyone with the skills and the experience can create a plugin. Therefore, it is important to choose a plugin from a trustworthy and reputable source.
Before diving into the tutorial, let’s see what a WordPress plugin actually is.
What Is a WordPress Plugin?
A plugin is a simple software written in the PHP programming language that contains functions. It integrates with WordPress seamlessly, and the functions included helps you add different features without touching a line of code.
Any function you can imagine, most of the time, WordPress has a plugin for that. WordPress has almost every type of plugin you’ll need to successfully run a WordPress site, from SEO to website design.
Now let’s see the things you need to check before installing a plugin.
Things to Check Before Installing A Plugin
The WordPress Repository is the official reservoir of plugins. Every plugin in the repo has been designed following detailed guidelines and has gone through a series of initial tests to ensure malware-free. The repo is monitored and moderated to ensure continued compliance with the guidelines, but as always, when acquiring any software from the internet, use common sense and good judgment. Bad eggs exist.
As I said, thousands of plugins are already available for you to install and activate on your site.
Don’t miss the many great themes available to you as well.
But first, there are few things to consider before installing any plugin. After all, you will find multiple plugins that help you do the same thing; here is how to choose which one to install on your site and which to ignore.
- Last Update: When was the plugin last updated? If it was updated in a few weeks or months, it’s a good plugin to install. If the plugin has not been updated for two or more years, avoid the plugin.
- Version Compatibility: Is the plugin compatible with your current version of WordPress? If not, then why bother and install it on your site. Ignore it, and find one that is compatible with your site.
- Reviews: What do other people think about the plugin? Read the reviews and decide.
Once you’ve found your desired plugin, it’s time to install it. I’ll show you different ways to install a plugin.
Install WordPress Plugin With Official Method
This is the simplest way to install a plugin. A matter of a few clicks will do your job.
The only pre-requisite is that the plugin you will install should be available on the WordPress repository.
Now let’s see how to install a plugin by using the search method.
At first, go to your WordPress admin area and then click on Plugins > Add New.
After that, type the plugin name in the search box, and WordPress will start showing the plugins according to your search. Most of the time, your desired plugin will be on top of the list.
Then simply click on the ‘Install Now’ button and activate the plugin.
WordPress will then download the plugin and unpack it. Once that’s over, it’ll ask you if you want to activate the plugin.
Up to this point, your WordPress database has not been modified by the plugin, nor does the plugin have any access to your WordPress database. This is similar to uploading the plugin folder in your wp-content/plugin directory. Only when you activate the plugin will it have access to your database.
If you want to activate the plugin right away, click on Activate Plugin. You can also return to Plugins > Installed Plugins and click on the Activate button.
Install WordPress Plugin Using Upload Method
This method is perfect when you have a plugin not available in the plugins directory, like paid plugins that are not available in the plugins’ directory.
And it is simple to add plugins without them being in the plugins directory.
After you have the plugin file downloaded (in a zip file), The next step is to go again to your WordPress admin dashboard > Plugins > Add New.
After that, you click on the ‘Upload Plugin’ button available at the top of the page beside Add Plugins.
Then you can drop the file or browse to add the file.
After that, WordPress will unpack the file and install it.
You can then activate the plugin and go to the settings page to configure it.
Install WordPress Plugin Using FTP Manager
The most concrete and fail-proof way to install a WordPress plugin is using the FTP method. You need FTP access to your server. Most web hosts and managed WordPress hosting companies provide you with FTP access, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Login in to your FTP server using an FTP client like FileZilla and navigate the WordPress installation directory and into the wp-content/plugins folder. The complete path would be:
Extract the plugin archive and paste the plugin folder (and not the contents of the folder) in the wp-content/plugins folder. If you upload the archive, WordPress won’t be able to recognize it.
Next, upload the folder you extracted from the zip file to the
/wp-content/plugins/ folder on your web server.
After uploading the files, you need to visit the WordPress admin area and click on the admin menu’s Plugins link. You’ll see your plugin successfully installed on the plugins page.
To activate the plugin, we navigate to Plugins > Installed Plugins, find the plugin we uploaded, and click on Activate.
Upon activating, you may need to configure the plugin settings. WordPress plugins come with their own settings, which differ from one plugin to another, so we will not describe them here.
You could however upload the archive and extract it using a suitable file manager provided by your web host.
Shared hosts like HostGator and BlueHost provide you with cPanel, whose powerful File Manager can extract zip archives in a breeze, amongst other essential file operations. FatCow provides a custom file management software, which also supports archive extraction.
You now have the knowledge you need to turn your WordPress website into whatever you want it to become! With over 56,000 plugins in the repository, you have a daunting yet exciting time in front of you. Be sure to look at the Showcase section of wordpress.org, where many other WordPress websites are on display. It’s a great way to collect ideas for what you can do with your site.
Adding plugins is an essential part of customizing your WordPress blog without needing developers to do everything you need.
And adding it can’t be easier. In this post, you discovered different ways to install plugins on your site.
Now, start adding plugins, but don’t add too much so your loading speed isn’t affected.
Have fun, be creative, and the best of luck designing your masterpiece. Any questions on how to install a WordPress plugin? Feel free to ask away in the comments below.
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