Have you ever come across the term WordPress plugin and wondered what it is, how it makes WordPress a powerful web publishing tool, and how one installs it into the WordPress site. Well, this very article is dedicated to answering all these curiosities in much more detail. WordPress Plugin is yet another great tool that makes WordPress such a favorable and most powerful web publishing out there. It makes web publishing easy and affordable for beginners to seasoned users.
In simple words, WordPress Plugin is a piece of code that plugs into a WordPress site to extend its existing functionality or add new features to it. Unlike WordPress Themes, they or not mandatory on a WordPress site. However, adding one will make your life easier as a web publisher. As a child can build visually appealing toy houses or trains using individual pieces of Legos, A Web Publisher can build attractive and fully functional websites by adding different sets of WordPress plugins.
You can turn a simple WordPress site into a powerful eCommerce platform, or an engaging social networking website using a WordPress plugin without needing to write even a single line of code. There is a handful of plugins available to achieve these goals like WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads for creating an eCommerce website, and Buddypress for creating a socially engaging website. There is a saying in the WordPress community “There’s a plugin for that”. You can turn a simple web project into a full-fledged business. Be it a simple portfolio website or a content-rich magazine site. The possibilities are endless.
How to Install & Update a WordPress Plugin
Installing & Updating a WordPress Plugin is a very straightforward job. There are two preferred ways of installing a WordPress plugin – via WordPress Dashboard and via FTP/cPanel. Installing via WordPress Dashboard is the most preferred way of installing and updating a WordPress Plugin. However, sometimes this method might not work due to insufficient privileges provided by the hosting provider. If that’s the case we can always opt-in for an alternate way i.e. via FTP/cPanel.
Install/Update WordPress Plugin via Dashboard
- Login to the WordPress Dashboard.
- Go to Plugins > Add New.
- Here you may either upload your custom plugin zip file by clicking on Upload Plugin Button or, search for the one by entering keywords in the search field. For example, if you are looking for a social icons plugin you might be entering “Social Icons” in the search field.
- Different set of plugins will be fetched in the search result based on the keyword you entered.
- Install & Activate the plugin that suits you the best.
Updates for the plugins are released on a timely basis by the plugin authors. For checking if the updates are available
- Go to Plugins > Installed Plugins
- You will find an update option for the plugin in a light yellow notification if available.
- Click on update now link to update the plugin.
Install/Update WordPress Plugin via FTP/cPanel
This is another alternative way for installing/updating the WordPress Plugin. This method should be used if the previous method (via Dashboard) doesn’t work.
- Go to WordPress Plugin Directory.
- Search for the plugin of your choice in search field.
- Download a zip file of the plugin into your pc.
- Extract the the downloaded zip file.
- Now, log in to your FTP/cPanel using the user credentials provided by your hosting provider.
- Navigate to the folder /public_html/wp-content/plugins/ and upload the extracted folder to this location.
For updating the WordPress plugin
- Go to WordPress Plugin Directory and download a copy of new version available for your plugin.
- Extract the downloaded zip file into your pc.
- Now, jus as before log in to your FTP/cPanel using the user credentials provided by your hosting provider.
- Navigate to the folder /public_html/wp-content/plugins/ and delete the older folder of the plugin and copy the newly extracted plugin folder into the location
How safe is WordPress Plugin
In the field of Web Development & Software, nothing is 100% safe and secure. And this holds very true for WordPress Plugins too. There are always loopholes and security flaws for hackers to exploit. Being said that, should we stop using WordPress plugins? No, not at all. However, one should be mindful of choosing plugins from reputed plugin authors and regularly updated plugins only.
There are some safety guidelines one can follow to keep the site safe and secure. Like using two-way authentication for the site, Setting strong admin passwords, and so on. In fact, there are some popular plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory like Wordfence, All in One WP Security, etc which can help you ensure best security measures for your site.
Where to find WordPress Plugins
WordPress is the most preferred and popular CMS (Content Management System) out there. It has a very big community. Web developers all around the world are actively contributing to WordPress. WordPress Plugin Directory alone has more than 59,000 plugins and all of them are free to use. This is a major source for WordPress Plugin. One can find any kind of plugin here.
Another popular source might be Codecanyon which currently serves more thatthan 4,900 premium plugins. One needs to pay for using these plugins. Codecanyon has strict guidelines that plugin author needs to follow before submitting the plugins. So plugins by Codecanyon are very secure and of premium quality.
Some of the Best WordPress Plugins for Beginners
For a beginner choosing the right plugin for the site can be a daunting task at first glance. Here are the list of some plugins that might save you time in the journey of Web Development.
For website building
- Elementor (Free)
- ElementsKit (Free)
- Spectra – Gutenberg Blocks (Free)
- Pagebuilder by Siteorigin (Free)
- Elementor Pro (Pro)
- Visual Composer (Pro)
For Contact Forms
For Ecommerce Website
For Search Engine Optimization
In conclusion, WordPress Plugin can be defined as a piece of software that plugs into a WordPress site to extend the existing functionality of the site or add completely new features to the site. The introduction of the WordPress plugin has made it possible to build a complex website possible. One should be aware of adding and managing a WordPress plugin to a site if he/she is looking for making a career in WordPress Site Development. Be it a simple portfolio website or a full-fledged eCommerce system, the WordPress plugin can help web publishers build any kind of website without needing to write even a single line of code. Only the sky is the limit.