Finding And Installing Those Pesky but useful WordPress Plugins
So you’re starting to understand WordPress a little more as time goes on. But wait a second, where are all your plugins?
We’re guessing you don’t even know where the hell to find your plugins. We will explain exactly where to find them, along with how to test, download and activate them.
Useful WordPress plugins enhance a website’s UX, or user experience, by adding a function to it that didn’t already exist, like contact forms, WordPress backups and added SEO. The reach of plugin possibilities doesn’t stop there.
Let’s take a break from reading for a minute and imagine a function that your site may need, maybe something another site has that yours doesn’t…
Have you thought of one?
We’ll guess what? Most likely there are useful WordPress plugins for that.
Why are there so many WordPress plugins? One simple answer…
It’s because any Joe Schmo can create a plugin, as long as they have some coding skills and plenty of time on their hands.
What’s great about having so many plugins at your fingertips is that for any design problem you come across, WordPress can solve it by offering you a wonderful plugin to guide you in the right direction.
But first, get out a pen and paper and write this down!
We are going to give away a few of our favourite plugins we love using. Ones which are for beginner WordPress users like yourself, and experts alike.
3 Useful WordPress Plugins
By enabling 30+ tools when needed, JetPack is an all-in-one plugin. With features like site verification, contact form and custom CSS, JetPack is a one-stop-shop for those starting up a website.
We always like using this plugin, especially for the site verification feature.
Site verification helps google Webmaster, Bing webmaster and Pinterest verify our websites without having to figure out where to embed any code (because that can get pretty messy if you don’t know what you’re doing).
2: Simple Backup
Simple Backup is a great way to back up your website, as long as it is under 500mb, which makes it great for smaller sites.
The reason we like this one is because it’s so bloody easy to use. First you back-up, then download the files to your computer and hopefully you’ll never ever have to use the restore button. The ease of mind from having the files safely backed up onto your computer is what makes this useful WordPress plugin a winner.
3: WP Google Fonts
Sometimes we don’t like the font options that the WordPress theme gives us, so we use WP Google Fonts plugin to change them.
It’s not the most flexible plugin, but it’s easy to use and does give you a good number of fonts to choose from and the option to change your paragraph and header fonts for your pages and posts.
When we look to add that personalized touched to each website we create, WP Google fonts is usually where we begin.
Now, put your pen down and pay attention because we’re going to show you how to find all the useful WordPress plugins you could desire.
Note: This page displayed in the picture above, is where you’ll find all your downloaded plugins and is where you can activate, deactivate and also delete them.
Step #3a. Search for the right Plugin:
You can search through the menu bar that includes ‘Featured’, ‘Favorites’ and ‘Recommended’, or search with the ‘Search Plugins’ section.
Research never hurt anybody, so don’t be scared to get your hands dirty and look around for the right one. Always have a plan before an action.
Rifling through thousands of plugins in the WordPress library seems a little daunting at times, but luckily they’ve put in a rating system of some sort.
When searching for the useful WordPress plugins of your dreams, there are 3 things you should look for:
- An accurate description: The description tells all and should be clear and accurate. If the plugin doesn’t have a description that makes sense or is incomplete, it usually means that the programmer isn’t very serious about the plugin.
- Look for a good star rating: The system is based on customer’s ratings and could possibly be a little diluted at times with dishonest answers, but for the most part is pretty accurate. A good plugin rating doesn’t lie.
- Recent Updates: This is an important one. You want to use updated plugins. If the developer of the plugin doesn’t have time to update the app, they are probably not too serious about it, which means you probably shouldn’t be either.
Using these 3 simple rules, along with a bit of research and common sense, you’ll start to figure what plugin will best suit your site.
Before uploading a plugin onto WordPress, test it!
Always test the waters before jumping into a marriage. If you’re not careful they can end up taking everything from you, leaving you without a pot to piss in.
Meaning: if you don’t test the plugin offline first, it could possibly create problem on the live site and even end up crashing the site all together.
Test it by using a website called ‘This is Tap’, a WordPress hosting site where you can test everything from themes to plugins without compromising your live site.
Upload the plugin to your ‘This is Tap’ hosting site and see if there are any issues with it before adding the plugin to your real site.
How to add a plugin to your WordPress site
First we will explain how to upload them through the ‘plugin’ section of WordPress. Then, we will show you how to upload a zip file off a trusted site (Yes! Please only use trusted sites) and then how to simply upload it to WordPress.
When you find that perfect plugin through the plugin section of WordPress (we showed you how to find plugins above) all you need to do is click ‘Install Now’ and then click ‘Activate’.
So, easy-peasy, right?
Follow these steps:
Note: BuddyPress is one of the many Plugins for WordPress; we are just using it as an example.
Step #6a. Click ‘Activate Plugin’
DANGER WILL ROBINSON! DANGER!
Click ‘Activate Plugin’ only if you’ve tested the plugin already! If you haven’t tested it yet, make sure to head over to ‘This is Tap’ and test your plugin!
There you have it! You’ve activated your first WordPress Plugin.
Now, if you can’t find the plugin through WordPress you can download a zip file off of a number of sites.
Once you’ve downloaded a plugin zip file (from a trusted site, right?) and are ready to upload it to WordPress, it’s as simple as this:
Step #7b. Click ‘Activate Plugin’
Again, if you haven’t tested this plugin before this step, PLEASE DO!
You can have 99 problems but your plugin shouldn’t be one.
Note: We are using ‘Social networks auto poster to Facebook, Twitter’ plugin just as an example.
Now You’re a WordPress Plugin Jedi
Congratulations! You now know how to successfully upload and activate a plugin to WordPress. Your site will never be the same again.
When activated, some plugins will run behind the scenes and already be optimized so no need for adjusting the plugin but some others will need some customizing.
All we have to do now is find these buggers!
Once a plugin is activated, it’s time to use it. You might have to adjust its settings.
So where do you find them?
In the side bar? Yes, sometimes…
But there are a few other places they may be.
If the plugin settings isn’t found in the main WordPress sidebar, you can most likely find them in these 2 locations:
Every plugin is different and will need adjusting to make it fully functional, so you may have to do some research (the dreaded 8 letter word) on how to make them work to their full potential.
Remember you’re a web designer now, which means a life of constant learning. There is no fairy that will pop out of your screen, and do all the work for you. So man up (or woman up), keep adding to your knowledge and try to make it fun!