WordPress comes with a bunch of standard functionality that makes it easy to create websites and get you to start your own online business. To add more functionality to the already versatile website system, you will need to install WordPress plugins.
In this tutorial I will explain you what a WordPress plugin is all about, what you can do with WordPress Plugins and how many plugins your site needs.
What Is A WordPress Plugin
Granted, WordPress comes standard with a lot of functionality. Perhaps you would never need a WordPress plugin, or would you?
WordPress offers all the tools to write content, to categorize and tag it and display it to your visitor. You can use one of the many freely available themes to give your website character and style. By the use of menu’s and widgets, you further add functionality and navigation to your site.
Plugins Add Functionality
What about if you want to add a shop to your site? What if you want to have interactive social media sharing buttons that keep count of who shared to your site? Not all extra functionality comes with the chosen theme, so for the extra functionality one often needs to install a WordPress Plugin.
A WordPress plugin adds functionality to your site. In the WordPress Plugin Repository there are many free and partly-free plugins available to download and install to your site. The options are endless and there are many thousands of plugins available.
Which WordPress Plugin Do I Need?
Essentially you do not really need a WordPress plugin. The need is defined by what you want to have on your site. Don’t think about adding it just for the sheer fun, for every WordPress plugin takes in a bit of space on your website and can potentially slow your site down. Keep the choice to a few plugins that truly add the functionality to your site that you (absolutely) need or want.
For example if you would like to offer a web shop on your site, you could add a plugin named WooCommerce. To add social sharing buttons there are MANY plugins to choose from. I don’t even dare to mention one here, because this is truly a personal choice.
Want to add a page where people can write a message to you and it will appear in your mail? Perhaps you want to add the plugin named Contact Form 7 (there are many others) and get started with custom build contact forms.
How Many Plugins Is Too Many?
It is very difficult to determine how many plugins is too many for your website. It all depends on the size or difficult functionality that the plugin adds to your site. If you end up having 12 plugins on your site, there is a good chance you got some major slowdowns because of them.
I advice people to not go beyond the total number of 5 plugins, but even I have a site running that has 6 plugins. If you got 5 truly light-weight plugins, it isn’t going to matter all that much then 5 extremely resource heavy plugins.
How To Install A Plugin
Now that we got the basics about plugins out there, let me show you how you add a WordPress Plugin to your website.
First of all you login to your WordPress Dashboard. Then you go to Plugins. On the plugins screen you see the plugins listed that you have already installed (if any). You also see at least one button that says Add New. Click on this to install a new WordPress Plugin.
Now you will see the screen of the WordPress Plugin Repository, listing all the free plugins you can install and activate. Some plugins listed here have a premium option, which means that you can add more functionality to the plugin when you decide to buy the plugin. Most free version plugins do allow enough functionality for your needs.
When you have found a plugin that you would like to install, you click on the plugin and click on Install. As soon as the installation is completed, you have to activate the plugin before you can start working with it, using the Activate button.
Sometimes the plugins will automatically redirect you to their customization page after successful activation, while at other times you need to do this manually. Yet other plugins do not have any form of customization. This is very individual, so I cannot advise you properly on this.
All I can say is that most plugins require some form of customization or settings that need to be set before the plugin will function properly. If it doesn’t happen by itself, there can be a settings option on the Installed Plugins screen or there might be an additional “plugin-name” menu-item in your WordPress Dashboard Menu.
How To Add Custom Or Premium Plugins
Plugins that you buy from premium plugin websites are not available through the WordPress Plugin repository and need to be uploaded manually.
Also if you have developed a plugin yourself (either by a third party or all by yourself), you will need to upload the plugin to your site.
I will now cover for you how you add a plugin to your site that is coming from an external source.
First of all you need to go there where you find your plugins and go to the plugin repository. On the top of the page, you will find a button to upload a plugin. Click on that button and now you can select (choose plugin) from your local PC. Click on Install to upload and install your plugin.
Be sure to activate the plugin after successful installation. After activation there is a good chance you will need to configure a few settings, before the plugin will work properly.
How To Remove A Plugin
First of all, when a plugin isn’t the right kind for your website, you should deactivate them first. Deactivating plugins, means that they will no longer be on your website and meddle with the resources. Deactivating a plugin doesn’t physically remove the plugin code from the web storage space however. I will explain here how you actually remove a plugin.
We need to go back to your installed plugins screen, which you do by going to WordPress Dashboard – Plugins.
If you haven’t already, first deactivate the plugin you want to remove. Now that the plugin is deactivated, an option to delete the plugin has become available. Click on this to physically remove the plugin from your website.
If for some reason the plugin doesn’t want to be removed from your website and you happen to have access to your website via FTP, there is also a method to remove plugins from your website through FTP.
In this tutorial I have explained you what plugins are and what functionality it could add to your website. I have gone into detail how to find and install new plugins and configure them for usage. I have also given you advice as to how many plugins your site can handle, before it has an impact on the speed of your site.
In the last part of this tutorial I have explained you how to add a custom or premium plugin and how to remove them when you do no longer want to a WordPress plugin on your site.
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