A plugin, much like a theme, is a set of file(s) and folder(s) that you can add to your website to enhance the user experience.
There are a variety of plugins out there for you to install on your website. Check out the WordPress Plugin Repository page and see what comes to your liking. There are security plugins, popup plugins, and even contact form plugins. Depending on what you need, you can mostly find what you are looking for through their repository.
All plugins that are listed through the plugin repository are pre-approved plugins verified by WordPress staff.
However, you are not limited to just the repository page. That’s the beauty of WordPress being open source; anybody can make and market their own plugin. Some examples are Gravity Forms, WP Rocket, and Slider Revolution. Code Canyon is another third-party platform where one can market their plugin.
The flip side to WordPress being open source is that anybody can make and sell a plugin. Before you download from a third-party source, do your part and research where that plugin is coming from.
Once you have logged in to your WordPress account, go to the left-hand navigation, hover over Plugins, and click on Add New. When taken to the Add Plugins page, you can do one of the following:
With this method you can upload any zipped plugin folder that is on your computer without having to go through the plugin repository.
Click on the Upload Plugin button at the top left corner.
Click on the Choose File button.
Locate the zipped plugin folder and select Open.
Click on the Install Now button.
A plugin that is installed on your website is a plugin that has been uploaded on to your website, but is dormant. Click on the blue Activate Plugin button to enable the plugin.
This method is a little more conventional as the search only looks for plugins that are hosted on the plugin repository. The benefit of these plugins are that they are free to install and activate.
Search for any plugin within the Search plugins… field.
The page will dynamically alter its display to show you the related plugins based on the keywords you have entered.
Do not hastily install a plugin you know nothing about. Treat this process as if you were shopping for a new car. Research the plugin by checking its description, development, support, reviews, FAQs, and screenshots (if screenshots were provided).
Just because these are free plugins hosted on the plugin repository, does not give them a free pass in terms of what the plugin offers.
Once you have come to a decision on a plugin that you want on your website, click Install Now.
Once the plugin installs, click on Activate. The plugin will become enabled on your site and you will be redirected to the overall Plugins landing page.
Just as a side note: Even though these WordPress plugins are free, some developers might have set up their plugin as a freemium service where certain features within the plugin are free while other settings can be unlocked if you purchase the “Pro” or “Premium” version from their website.
Congratulations! You have successfully uploaded, installed, and activated a WordPress plugin. Pretty neat, right?
The plugins you installed and activated on your website are not permanent, so do not think you are stuck with the plugin once it is on your site. In our next tutorial, we will go over how to properly deactivate and uninstall a WordPress plugin.
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