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4: WP Plugins

About Plugins

Plugins are 'add-ons' that add new features and extend the functionality of a WordPress website. There are some 50,000 free and premium (paid) plugins created for different purposes.

Every modern WordPress website uses plugins for features such as contact forms, social sharing buttons, image compression and SEO.

However, do clog your WordPress website with dozens of plugins. Doing so will damage the site's performance. Keep your WordPress optimal by installing only essential plugins and keeping them updated with their latest versions.

Themes and plugins

What is the difference between a theme and a plugin? These is often alot of cross-over between features found in themes and plugins. However, best practices are:

Installing a WordPress plugin

As with themes, you can add plugins by using the inbuilt WordPress installer. Here are the steps:

  1. In the vertical menu at the left of the screen, click the Plugins option and then Add new.
  2. On the next screen, at the top-right, click the Search plugins... field, and locate the plugin you want to install.   You can search for a plugin based on name, category, or function.   You are then shown the results from the official WordPress plugins directory.
  3. When you see the plugin you want, click its Add Now button and then the Activate button.

At any time, you can click the Plugins option in the vertical left menu to view active plugins, and to deactivate or delete plugins.

Managing WordPress plugins

Follow these steps to update your installed plugins:

  1. On the left side of the dashboard, click on the Plugins option and then Installed Plugins.
  2. Next, you will see a list of your installed WordPress plugins.
  3. Click the Update button on any plugin that is out of date.

WordPress will automatically download the most recent version of the plugin and install it. You can repeat this process if you need to update more plugins.

If you have a large number of plugins that need to be updated, you will find it easier to select all plugins. Then, under the bulk Actions menu, choose Update.

Popular WordPress plugins

Next, you will install some popular plugins that are considered essential for every WordPress website.

Visual page builders

A special category of plugins for WordPress are drag-and-drop page builders. These plugins help you create stylish pages using only a visual editor.

Page designs you create with these are (mostly) independent of your website's current theme.

Top three visual page builders

Here are the most popular visual page builder plugins.

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