As a blogger starting out with WordPress website, the first thing you must do after you have successfully installed your WordPress website in your host is to install plugins in your WordPress website.
Plugins are very compulsory if you must set up a successful WordPress site. Plugins basically, add more features and extend the functionality of your website.
There are are thousands of great free and premium WordPress plugins out there that you can use and extend the functionality of your site.
Premium plugins are paid plugins. The basic difference between a free plugin and a premium (paid) plugin is that a premium plugin has more features that are not included in the free plugin.
This is a step by step guide on how to install plugins on a WordPress website.
The first thing you must know is that WordPress plugins are available to only self-hosted websites that are powered by WordPress; and not to free-hosted websites (websites that end with .wordpress.com).
If you are using wordpress.com, you can only install plugins on your site if you upgrade to a business plan.
That being said, lets now see what a WordPress plugin really is.
What is a WordPress plugin?
This is a big question with a simple answer. A WordPress plugin is a software installed as an add-on on your WordPress website in order to build-in some features and functions into that website.
Since they are written in PHP programming language, they interact seamlessly with WordPress to deliver the need of the user.
It will interest you to know that for whatever feature or function you want to enable on your website, there is a WordPress plugin out there that can do the work.
You’ll only have to find out. According to WPBeginner, there are more than 48,000 FREE plugins available on the WordPress.org plugin directory. Wow!
How Does a Plugin Works?
Now you know what WordPress plugins are, let’s get down with how these plugins work.
WordPress plugins are not for blogs alone. You can use a single plugin to create wonderful e-commerce websites, photography websites, job boards or even a Wiki website and lots more.
To enable any of such functionality on your website or blog, simply:
- Search for the WordPress plugin you want its function or feature
- Install the plugin
- Activate the plugin
- Go to Settings in your Dashboard to configure the plugin.
When this is done, the plugin is registered in your WordPress database. You can deactivate and activate a particular plugin of your choice any time you wish.
A detailed guide with screenshots on how to install plugins in WordPress will be discussed later in this tutorial.
What to Consider Before You Install Plugins in WordPress
Plugins on their own are fully coded programs. Installing them on your WordPress website implies adding a third party code to the already existing WordPress code.
You must understand the implications to install plugins in WordPress, especially installing wrong or malicious plugins.
Before you install a plugin on your website or blog, you must ensure that the plugin is compatible with your version of WordPress. You must also have enough disk space in your cPanel as to contain the plugin.
Otherwise, an error will arise on your site. This means you might not be able to access your WordPress dashboard, thereby hindering you from managing your website until the erroneous plugin is uninstalled.
Be concerned about the developer of the plugin too, before you install. A plugin from an untrusted developer could be a huge hindrance to the speed of your website.
I believe you know the implications. Do well to go through the plugin reviews before you install the plugin.
Plugins could make your website’s security be compromised.
This is unintended by you, but malicious developers out there may be seeking to exploit your innocence. Again, make sure you’re installing a plugin from a trusted developer which have received good reviews from people.
Also pay attention to the last time the plugin was updated, to make sure it is still being maintained by the developers.
To some, installing a WordPress plugin may not be easy. Hence, I will be showing you how to easily do that using 2 different ways.
WordPress plugins can be installed in two major ways.
- Directly through your Administrators Dashboard, by searching for the Plugin.
- Plugin Upload from your Administrators Dashboard
There are other ways of installing WordPress plugins. However, this is the most common and simple way of doing it, especially for beginners.
1. Install through Plugin Search from WordPress Administrators Dashboard.
This is the most common way to install a plugin. It is probably the easiest way to add the function or feature you want to your website.
To install a plugin via this method, follow the steps below:
First, log in to your Admin dashboard with an administrator’s password.
While in the WordPress dashboard, scroll down to your Plugin tab at the left pane of your admin dashboard and click on it. This will take you to your Plugin page.
You will find the Plugin tab towards the middle of the tabs immediately after the Appearance tab.
Next, select the Add New button at the top of the Plugin page. This will take you to a page where you can add any plugin of your choice.
Next, while on the page where you get a list of plugins, use the search box on the top right of the page to find any plugin of your choice.
For instance, let’s say you want to install the Gutenberg plugin. All you need to do is type it in the search box. This will bring a list of all plugins named Gutenberg.
You may not find the plugin you seek at the top of the page. In this case, you will have to scroll down till you find the plugin you seek.
After you find the plugin you seek click on the Install Now button in front of the plugin name, to install the plugin to your website database.
Next, click the Activate button, this will activate the plugin on your website.
After you have done this, the plugin is up and running. Some plugins like Jetpack and Yoast SEO may require further configuration to begin to function. This you will easily do through the Settings button.
The above tutorial is relevant when installing a free WordPress plugin to your site. However, you may not be able to install a premium (paid) plugin through that method.
Hence, the method below will guide you on how to install a premium plugin or plugin you could not find through WordPress plugin search from your dashboard.
Install through Plugin Upload from your Admin Dashboard
It is not all plugins that are listed on the plugin search results on WordPress Add New Search. Paid plugins are not listed.
However, you will have to download the plugin sources file from the sellers. The file is usually in zip format.
It is by this method that you will be able to install paid plugins by uploading them to your website directly from your admin dashboard. To do this, follow the steps below.
First, log in to your Admin dashboard with an administrator’s password.
From your admin dashboard, scroll down and click on the Plugin tab.
Next, click on the Add New button at the top of the Plugin page.
Just above, click on the Upload Plugin button to add the already downloaded plugin’s zip file.
Add the plugin file you already downloaded to your computer. The plugin must be in a Zip file. To do this:
- Click on the Choose File button. This will open your computers File manager where you choose the plugin file (already in Zip format)
- Click on the Install Now button to begin installing the plugin to your website.
After the installation process is completed, you will have to click on the Activate Plugin button to activate your plugin. You’re done.
That is all on how to install a WordPress plugin to your WordPress website/blog.
If you follow this tutorial carefully, you will be able to Install both free and premium (paid) plugin to your site. I hope this helps?
Now that you know how to install plugins in WordPress, the first plugin you must install in your site is the Jetpack All-in-One plugin. Learn more about the benefits of installing Jetpack on your site.
Don’t have a website yet? See our beginner’s guide to create a WordPress website.
Where you able to install a plugin through this tutorial? If you have any challenges while installing a plugin on your site, leave a comment. I’ll be happy to help.