In the last number of posts, I’ve been walking you step-by-step through the tech “how-to” of starting a blog.
With that done, let’s turn our attention to plugins.
What Are Plugins And Why Use Them?
So let’s start by talking about what plugins are and why they are important.
A plugin is a piece of software that makes it easy for bloggers to add features to their site without needing to know any code.
There are literally thousands of free WordPress plugins available for you to choose from.
There are also tons of amazing paid plugins available from third-party companies and developers
Now it’s important to note that just because you CAN add tons of plugins to your blog, doesn’t mean that you SHOULD.
To understand why this is the case, you need to know that WordPress is an open source software. So every developer has access to the code that makes up WordPress.
That means that WordPress themes and plugins aren’t limited to the WordPress company itself. Any third-party developer can create them.
Because of that, WordPress makes no guarantees on how good a plugin is (ie. whether it’s well coded or not) or whether they actually work the way they say they do.
So what’s a blogger to do?
Below are some tips for managing plugins.
Tips for Managing Plugins
In order to make sure that you help rather than hurt your WordPress blog, keep these tips in mind:
Only Add Trusted Plugins To Your Blog
If you are not familiar with a plugin, and if the plugin is not being recommended by someone you know and trust, then make sure you do your research before you add it to your site.
Ensure The Plugins Are Compatible With Your Version of WordPress
A plugin that is not compatible with your version of WordPress can break your site.
Make Sure The plugin is Regularly Updated
No software is 100% bug-free. Plus there are new threats all the time. That means that any piece of software should be regularly updated. Before you install a plugin (which I talk about later in this post) check to see when it was last updated.
Ensure You Update Your Plugins When You Are Notified Of Updates
Remember, when you add a plugin you are adding extra code to your site. A plugin that has not been updated can put the security of your site at risk.
You will know whether or not there is an update as soon as you log in to your WordPress Dashboard.
Don’t Add More Plugins Than Necessary
Everything you add to your site has the potential to affect the speed of your site.
This is isn’t usually an issue with well-designed plugins. However, if you overload your site with plugins that haven’t been well designed you can significantly slow down your blog.
A slow blog frustrates your readers, and will actually be penalized by search engines.
As a general rule, I recommend you follow is to only add the plugins that you need.
Delete all plugins that you are not using
An unused plugin takes up space and opens the door to blog issues, especially if it’s not being regularly updated. That’s why it’s better be safe than sorry. If you are not using a plugin, delete it. If you change your mind, you can always re-upload it.
Video Tutorial: How To Install And Uninstall WordPress Plugins
* If you can’t see the video tutorial please refresh the page*
Step by Step Photo Tutorial: How To Install WordPress Plugins
There are two ways that you can install plugins onto your self-hosted WordPress blog (this doesn’t work for free WordPress blogs).
The first way is directly from the WordPress repository. The second way is to download a third party plugin and then upload it onto your WordPress blog.
How To Install WordPress Plugins From the Repository
The plugin repository can be accessed directly from the WordPress admin area.
Step 1. Select Plugin and then “Add New”
This will redirect you to the “add plugins” page. On this page, you’ll see some of the featured plugins (what you see on your screen may be different than what you see below – that’s normal).
Step 2: Search for the Plugin You Want
To search for a plugin, enter the name of the plugin if you know it, or a keyword for the plugin, into the keyword search bar (see the red arrow in the image below).
NOTE: if you search by keyword to find a specific plugin, make sure you take a close look at who the plugin is by. This is important because sometimes different plugins from different sources will have the exact same name – so you want to make sure that you select the correct one.
Step 3. Click the “Install Now” Button
When you are ready to install your plugin click on the Install Now button for your selected plugin. This will install the plugin on your blog.
You will notice the text on the button change from “Install Now” to “Activate.” Click the activate button.
Once the plugin is active you will be redirected to the plugin page and you will see it there.
You will know it’s active because below the plugin name you will see two links – one that says deactivate and one that says settings.
How To Install WordPress Plugins By Uploading Them Directly
Now let’s take a look at how to install WordPress plugins by uploading them to your WordPress site directly.
When would you do this?
When you download a plugin from a third-party site.
This could be either a free plugin or a premium plugin.
The process is simple.
Step 1. Go To Plugins Then “Add New”
Step 2. Click On “Upload Plugin”
Step 3. Click On “choose file.”
Step 4. Select The Plugin You Want To Upload
A window on your computer will open up. Navigate to the folder on your computer where you downloaded the plugin. Make sure it is still in its .zip format, and click open. You will see the plugin file displayed beside the choose file button.
In the example below, I am uploading a plugin called “WPTasty Pins.” The file name is tasty-pins.0.7.1.zip.
Step 5. Install The Plugin
Click on the “Install Now” button.
Once it’s installed you’ll see a screen that looks like the one below. Click on “activate plugin,” and the plugin will be activated.
You will then be redirected to the Installed Plugins screen, as before.
How To Uninstall Plugins
The last thing I want to look at in this post is how to uninstall plugins.
As I mentioned earlier, whenever you no longer need a plugin, it’s a good idea to delete it completely from your blog.
There are 2 steps to deleting a plugin.
Step 1. Deactivate the Plugin
In order to uninstall a plugin, click on the deactivate link.
Step 2. Delete the Plugin
You’ll see the links beneath the plugin name change to “activate” and “delete”. Click on delete and the plugin will be completely removed from your blog.
You will then be redirected back to this Installed Plugins screen.
There you have it! You now know how to install and uninstall WordPress plugins onto your self-hosted WordPress blog. In the next post, I’m going to go over the WordPress plugins that I use and recommend.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll respond within 24-48 business hours.