This post is part of my guide about how to start a blog. Read the full guide to learn all the steps involved in creating a blog from scratch.
Now that you chose and installed a theme for your new blog, it’s time to learn how to install WordPress plugins to extend the functionality of your site.
Before getting into practice, let me help you understand what a WordPress plugin is and what is its role.
- What is a WordPress plugin?
- How to install WordPress Plugins
- How to choose the plugins?
- How many wordpress plugins are too many?
- What’s next?
What is a WordPress plugin?
A WordPress plugin is a script designed to extend the functionality of WordPress without having to edit the core code.
The purpose of a plugin can be to add new features to WordPress, for editing some of WordPress current features, or even for improving or altering the functionality of another plugin.
Plugins are the solution if you want to turn your WordPress site into a mini social network, add a forum, expand the SEO capabilities of WordPress, turn your blog into an online store, add a visual editor to your site, and so on. There are WordPress plugins for almost any task.
There are many free and premium plugins for WordPress.
The majority of the free plugins are available for download on the official WordPress plugin directory.
At the moment I write this post, there are 52,890 plugins available on the official website.
Besides that, there are also a lot of companies, and online marketplaces specialized in selling WordPress themes and plugins. The number of existing WordPress plugin is really impressive.
How to install WordPress Plugins
WordPress has made the plugin installation process extremely simple. You don’t need any technical knowledge, and you can upload, install and configure a plugin directly from the WordPress dashboard.
A. How to install a premium plugin (or a free plugin that’s not in the official plugin directory)
The installation process between a premium plugin and a free plugin that it’s available on the official site is slightly different. When you purchase a premium plugin or if you download a plugin that is not available in the official WordPress plugin directory, then you will receive the plugin as a “.ZIP” archive and you’ll have to upload the plugin to your web host.
Don’t worry, there is nothing complicated, and everything can be still done from the WordPress admin dashboard.
First, log in to your WordPress site with a user account that has administrator rights.
Next, go to “Plugins–>Add New” menu.
Click the “Upload Plugin” button from the left-top of the page.
Click the “Browse” button (if your web browser is in another language, then you might see another label for this button) and locate the “.zip” plugin archive. After you select the archive, click the “Install Now” button.
Wait a few moments until the plugin is uploaded (if you have a large plugin and a low upload speed, it might even take a few minutes). After the plugin has finished uploading and if everything is ok, you should see a “Plugin installed successfully” message.
Click the “Activate Plugin” button to enable the plugin.
That’s all. Your plugin has now been uploaded and activated.
Some plugins might require you to configure some settings before the plugin can be activated, so follow the notifications you see on screen.
B. How to install a free plugin from the official WordPress.org plugin repository
Unlike the case “A” when you have the plugin downloaded to your computer as a “.zip” archive, if you install a plugin that is in the WordPress.org plugin directory, you don’t have to download the plugin to your computer and then upload it to your web host.
Instead, you can search for the plugin by name, and the plugin will be automatically uploaded and installed directly from the WordPress dashboard.
Below are the required steps.
Log in to your WordPress site with a user account that has administrator rights.
Next, go to “Plugins–>Add New” menu.
Enter the name of the plugin you want to install in the search form from the top-right side of the page.
If the search returns more results, locate the desired plugin in the plugins’ list and click the “Install Now” button next to the title of the plugin.
Wait a few seconds until the plugin is downloaded and installed and click the “Activate” button when appears.
That’s all. Your new plugin should be installed and active.
You can see all the installed plugins under “Plugins –> Installed Plugins” menu. From this page, you can activate, deactivate, and delete the installed plugins.
How to choose the plugins?
Just as for the WordPress themes, you have to choose your site’s plugins carefully.
The majority of the WordPress sites are hacked because of the poorly coded plugins and themes, or because their admins upload items that intentionally contain malicious code.
The WordPress plugins available on the official WordPress.org website are usually safe to use because these have to pass an initial verification before being accepted in the directory.
Avoid as much as possible the plugins that haven’t been updated for an extended period of time since those might break your site.
Never use “nulled,” “cracked” or “warez” plugins or themes. Not only because you are susceptible to be sued by the rightful software owners, but very often the sites providing this kind of scripts will include malicious code in the source code of the software.
These kinds of plugins are never updated and your site might be hacked or can stop working at any time.
How many wordpress plugins are too many?
If you have too many active plugins, your WordPress site will become slow and will consume a lot of your server’s resources, but how many WordPress plugins are too many?
That’s a good question, but there’s not an exact answer.
In fact, not the number of the plugins is important, but what these plugins are for and how the plugins are coded and optimized.
You can have 1000 active plugins, and your site’s performance might not be affected at all, and you can only have a single WordPress plugin, and your site might be extremely slow.
Most of the plugins will need to store and get information from the database, and these are the tasks that usually will slow down your website.
Besides reducing the performance of your site, there are cases when conflicts between some plugins can occur.
I recommend you only to install the plugins which you really need and resist the temptation of installing every plugin you see.
The plugins which are not active will not hurt the speed of your website, but those will still occupy space on your web server. So, deactivate and delete the plugins you don’t use.
You can do that from “Plugins –> Installed Plugins” menu.
Click the “Delete” link to completely remove a plugin from your server. This link will appear after you deactivate the plugin.
You have now learned how to install WordPress plugins, which is the role of the plugins and how to choose what plugins to use for your site.
In the next post in this series, I will make a list of the plugins I use for the majority of my WordPress sites.