How to Install a WordPress Plugin
This post is part of a series of posts I’ve created for my clients. While the information herein will likely be useful to just about anyone getting to know WordPress, it may contain specific functionality that only applies to clients of ClickNathan.com.
One of WordPress greatest features is its plugin architecture. Essentially, you can choose from literally thousands of plugins that exist already, the vast majority of which are provided completely free of charge, and in most cases install them quite easily. Plugins can do everything from add an e-commerce store to your website to Facebook Like buttons. Those are just some examples, there are way too many of them out there to ever list in one place.
A good starting point for discovering plugins though is the WordPress Plugin Repository. Plugins listed there must go through a review process and should therefore potentially be more stable than those downloaded from direct websites, though in both cases, your mileage may vary.
It should be noted that plugins can seriously break your website. Installing any plugins on your own is not part of any contract you signed with ClickNathan and I am not responsible for any damage they do to your website. I’m 100% happy to review and install, configure or tweak any plugins you might be interested, at an additional cost of course. 🙂
Installing a Plugin
Once you’ve found a plugin you want to add to your site, it’s typically a pretty painless process.
If the plugin you want to install is on the WordPress Plugin Repository, it’s quite simple (What if it’s not?).
- In your WordPress installation, go to Plugins > Add New
- Enter the name of the plugin in the Search box and click Search Plugins
- You’ll be presented with a list of plugins which match your search, along with their 1-5 star rating and some other details. The rating can help you determine if the plugin might be more of a pain in the ass than a boon to your site. If you’re ready to move forward, click Install Now and agree to the little popup that appears.
- Next, go to the actual Plugins page (click Plugins in the left navigation).
- Find the plugin in the list and click Activate underneath its name.
Your plugin is now activated. For many plugins, this is all you need to do. For others, they require some setup. Refer to the documentation that comes with a plugin (often in a readme.txt file if you downloaded the plugin yourself, or via the Installation or FAQ tabs on the plugin’s page in the WordPress Plugin Repository). Plugins that require additional setup usually do one of the following:
- Provide a Settings link right below their name on the Plugins screen.
- Create a new menu option under the Settings tab in the left navigation of your WordPress installation.
- Create a typically yellow or red alert box near the top of every WordPress screen informing you of any additional setup necessary.
- Some plugins create an entirely new navigation option on the left side of the screen, and often have some type of settings screen therein.
These settings can be as simple as making a few choices, or they can require some serious effort on your part. Some plugins will look out of place when implemented on the front end of your website, while others may break your website’s layout altogether. A good plugin will allow you to uninstall it and your site will be just as it was before. However, it is very possible that you can do permanent damage to your site, including having content deleted, your database seriously thrown out of whack, or shut down your site completely. Proceed with caution!
“Third Party” Plugins
Not all plugins are listed in the WordPress Plugin Repository. Only free plugins can be listed there, and some developers choose to charge for their plugins or simply want to manage plugin delivery themselves. If you’ve purchased or downloaded a plugin from anywhere other than wordpress.com, you’ll need to manually add it to your site.
Again, this is often very easy to do. As long as your website host doesn’t make things difficult for you, you can go to the Plugins > Add New screen again and this time instead of using the search feature, click the Upload link near the top of the page. That’ll allow you to upload a plugin (still in ZIP format) to your site. WordPress will unzip the file and make it ready for you to use automatically.
Again, all of the warnings above not only apply here as well, but are more applicable in these situations as there’s no guarantee that anyone has reviewed the plugin or its functionality in any way.