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How to Install WordPress Plugins for Total Beginners

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Installing Plug-ins in your WordPress Web Site

If you have already checked out our guide on installing WordPress themes you feel very familiarized with the methods to install plug-ins. Despite we are talking about very different features of a blog or site – with very different goals – the paths to follow to install a plug-in are not that much different from the one to install themes.

Likewise, we will have 3 different methods to install them and each one of them has its own advantages, even though we are going to emphasize some pros and cons about each one of them, related not exactly to the methods but to the kind of plug-ins more likely to be installed following one or another of these paths.

Plug-ins are some of the most troublesome elements in the template of a site when the matter is security. When they are coding sensitive data of your site or gating the access to equally sensitive paths inside your server, they have to be as reliable, well designed and trust worthy as possible.

Some of the main issues of using free CMS platforms are the security concerns because everything related to restricted, confidential data is protected by content developed by a cooperative effort of thousands, millions of users programming products that are open sourced and free. You have to be always really careful about the plug-ins you are going to install in your site and we will likewise going to instruct you about how to select only the best ones while you learn how the installation process happens.

Method #1: Installing from the WordPress Directory

Among all the free content WordPress provides to its users, there are thousands of free and paid plug-ins available in the system of the platform and you can very easily find and install them into your site.

The plug-ins available there are some of the things that makes WordPress the best CMS platform for you to develop your web site or blog: all the content is created by users or private developers and, regardless of the developer’s source, all them are reviewed, analyzed and approved by WordPress to be used by other users like you.

This procedure is very important to ensure that the content the platform is providing to you is reliable and safe, especially the paid content, so using plug-ins available in the site is one of the safest ways for you to install this kind of content.

The procedure to find the available plug-ins is quite simple:

  • Access the Administrator area of your site
  • Click on Plugins
  • Then, click on Add New

You will see some tab options to explore, like Featured, Newest, Popular, Favourites and the search bar. You can check any one of them, especially the search option where you will be able to filter all the available content in the platform following your criteria.

We are going to work here with the installation of the Disqus plug-in. It will enable a comments section in your site so visitors can post their feedback, interact with other users, perform a fiasco, start a controversial topic, all that bringing awareness and profit to your site ;).

Once you have found Disqus in the search section:

  • Click on ‘Details’ to check further information about what this plug-in does so you can have an idea how this informative section works with any other plug-in. You will be able to seen a detailed description, screen shots, features included, check if there is any kind of programming methods or codes that will conflict with your current site theme and more. Always read carefully the ‘Read Me’ file the developer is providing to know anything specific you should do to complete the activation of the plug-in.
  • Click on ‘Install’
  • A window with a confirmation message will show up, click ‘OK’ if you want to proceed
  • When the installation is complete, you will be given two options: ‘Activate’ and ‘Return to Plug-in Installer’. Click on ‘Activate’
  • If there are any complementary steps instructed by the developer to perform upon the activation, follow the guidelines to ensure the plug-in will work properly. In the case of the Disqus plug-in, you have to create an Disqus account, with user name and password, to be able to access the settings options of the plug-in where you will be able to customize how the posts will show up.

Method #2: Uploading your Own Plug-in

Just like with themes, WordPress enables users to upload their own content or content that is downloaded/purchased somewhere else out of the WordPress platform. Remember what we were talking about previously concerning security.

If you are not too much experienced is really recommended to you to do not go so easy for free plug-ins out there, especially the ones that are not too much popular. This is not about trends, but safety.

WordPress is a huge community. If you see a lot of positive comments around and the developer’s source of a plug-in is a reliable one – the kind that is an Advanced User in the forums, renowned in the community and the field – then you can feel more confident and give it a try. Otherwise, always be very meticulous selecting what you are going to use.

Likewise, often purchased plug-ins have a reliable source. Many solid web design firms develop great plug ins to be used in a WordPress ambient, just be sure to know the company is really a respectful one.

Once you have the plug-in downloaded – it will be available as a “.zip” file – do the following:

  • Repeat the steps 1 to 3 mentioned in the previous method
  • Instead of browsing a plug-in in the WordPress directory, click on the ‘Upload’ option
  • Now, click on ‘Choose File’ option
  • A Desktop window will be opened for you to select the “.zip” file. Do not select the files unzipped, WordPress works with them in the compressed format and performs the installation automatically. Select the file and click on ‘Open’
  • WordPress will perform the installation while you can see the procedure in a pop up window. When it is completed, you will have the option to ‘Activate’ or ‘Return to the Plug-in Installer’ just like in the previous method.
  • Click on ‘Activate’ or follow the guidelines of the developer to properly activate the content.

Method #3: Uploading via SFTP

We recommend you once again to check our guide on how to install themes so you can check how the FTP procedure works. The uploading of plug-ins using the SFTP method is a direct, quite convenient way to upload files for users who are constantly changing and editing content.

  • Open the following path on your SFTP client: /wp-content/plugins/
  • Once the folder is opened, you can drag and drop the unzipped files there.
  • Wait for the upload to be completed, get back to your browser and access the Admin area
  • Get to the ‘Plugins’ section as we instructed previously.
  • Click on ‘Installed Plugins’. You will see your plug-in there
  • Then, click on ‘Activate’ to enable it, and voilá, we are done!

Note that unlike themes, you cannot preview plug-ins so it will be a try and test process to know if the plug-in is really fit to your own needs. Whenever you feel it is not really helpful and, especially, when they get outdated and start to conflict with your theme and WordPress version, you can access the ‘Installed Plugins’ and deactivate them.

Plug-ins available inside the WordPress directory will be automatically checked and you will receive an ‘Update Available’ notification whenever there is a new patch provided by the developers. Note that not all creators are committed to update their content, so keep track of your site and always be sure everything is working properly and deactivate incompatible content to avoid the malfunctioning of your site.

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