A Beginner’s Guide to WordPress Plugins

A Beginner’s Guide to WordPress Plugins

A Beginner’s Guide to WordPress Plugins

A Beginner’s Guide to WordPress Plugins

Did you know that the WordPress official plugins directory alone has more than 59,000 plugins at the time of writing this blog? Add to that the thousands of plugins sold by third party developers, and you know why WP is so popular. However, using plugins the right way is essential to getting the maximum done with them. Read on for a few tips from our Perth SEO team on how to use WordPress plugins for beginners.

What are WordPress plugins?

A WordPress plugin is a software that you can download and add to your website. They help extend existing functionality or add new functionality to your website. Plugins are basically pieces of code and can be created by anybody. There are lots of premium and free options, but if you are new to plugins, the best place to start is the official WordPress.org directory. If you go for a third-party plugin, download it from a reputed developer like codecanyon. If you are not sure about the right option, take the help of a professional web developer.

How to add WordPress Plugins to your website?

1. Adding plugins from the Plugin directory

  1. Login to your WordPress dashboard and go to the Plugins tab.
  2. Click Add new at the top of the page
  3. Search for the plugin in the categories box
  4. Click on Install Now against the plugin
  5. The plugin may take some time to install. Once done, click on Activate.

2. Adding plugins from a third party

  1. Download the plugin
  2. Login to your WordPress dashboard and go to the Plugins tab.
  3. Click Add new at the top of the page
  4. Click on Upload Plugin
  5. Click on Choose File and select the zip folder from your computer.
  6. Click on Install Now.
  7. Once installation is done, click on Activate.

Few points to remember while installing a new plugin

  • Always take a backup before the installation.
  • Activate only one plugin at a time. Once you ensure the site is functioning properly, activate the next one you need.
  • Test the plugin on a staging site to ensure that there is no conflict with existing plugins before installing it on the live site.

Types of WordPress Plugins

With the sheer volume of plugins available, it is nearly impossible to classify them. However, we have tried to classify them based on how popular they are into the following categories:

1. Security plugins

WordPress security plugins are equipped with malicious IP blacklisting, active monitoring and firewall features to protect websites from malware and other vulnerabilities.

2. Ecommerce Plugins

Ecommerce plugins help you to add new features to your online store, customise the product pages, add Gift Cards and enhance your customers’ experience. Read our blog for the best eCommerce plugins.

3. SEO Plugins

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is indispensable to optimise the content on a website and attain higher rankings in search engine results. SEO plugins help optimise your website content to improve organic traffic and transform visitors into clients.

4. Website optimisation plugins

If your website takes more than three seconds to load, you may end up losing about 35 percent of potential clients. Website optimisation plugins speed up loading time and enhance overall performance.

5. Google Analytics Plugins

WordPress plugins – Beginner's guide - CAG

Tracking website performance is integral to assessing the strengths and shortcomings of a website and implementing necessary measures to fix any issues. Google Analytics plugins help you do just that.

6. Image optimisation plugins

High-quality images that do not slow down the loading speed of your website can amazingly enhance your content aspect. Image optimisation plugins have been designed to help you with it.

7. Contact forms plugins

With contact form plugins available from hundreds of sites, you can easily customise the contact form to enhance the user experience.

This is just the tip of the plugin iceberg. There are innumerable plugins available to cater to every imaginable need. Evaluating the specific needs of your website and researching your options will lead you to the right plugins.

Things to remember while using plugins

If you use WordPress plugins that you are not totally sure about, the result may range from unstable to disastrous. To enjoy additional functionalities without compromising performance, here are some tips to remember while using plugins on a WordPress website:

1. Update the plugins

Did you know that outdated plugins can make your website an easy target for hackers? To ensure that your website scores high in terms of functionality and security, regularly update your plugins. Most reputed developers will provide regular updates to ensure security. So if you have any plugin that has not been updated for a long time, it would be best to remove those. Try using update managers that automatically update plugins.

2. When not in use, deactivate backend plugins

Is every active plugin on your website being utilised? If not, you must consider deactivating those plugins that are not in use. Remember that plugins can put additional strain on your website. Keeping unused plugins deactivated can improve website performance.

3. Premium is not always the best

Most people assume that free plugins are not worth it, while premium plugins can be excellent investments. Since anybody can create a plugin and sell it online, there are plenty of paid yet pathetic plugins out there. Fortunately, there are an even bigger number of free, exceptional plugins available on the WP directory and from reputed developers.

4. Prioritise quality, not quantity

A large number of plugins on a site can often lead to a plugin conflict. You can avoid this problem by keeping things simple and adding quality plugins that are essential to the proper functioning of your website. Pay attention to plugin factors such as ratings, reviews, developers’ name, functionalities, and popularity before adding it to your website.

Summing up

WordPress plugins are amazing when it comes to maximising features in your website, but don’t become overwhelmed by the huge number of plugins available out there. Only download the ones that you need. Always choose high-rated plugins from trustworthy sources such as the WordPress Plugin Directory or the websites of reputed plugin developers. Browse through reviews of plugins and observe if these have been updated lately. Better still, test all those plugins you are not sure about before actually adding them to a website. If you are not sure about the authenticity of a plugin or face any issues installing it, take professional help.

We hope this beginner’s guide to using plugins will help you with useful tips. Need help with plugins? We are a click away. Contact us to speak to a consultant.

Jargon Buster

Third-party plugins – Plugins that are not developed by WordPress.com. These can be found on the WordPress.org repository or directly from the developer’s website or marketplace.
Google Analytics – A web analytics software by Google that tracks and reports website traffic and performance.
SEO – The process of improving the organic traffic to a website from SERPs

David Brown

David is the Development Services Coordinator for The Computing Australia Group and he manages all programming projects. DB is a keen Ruby on Rails developer who is a triple threat – he can code, listen to heavy metal and consume enormous volumes of caffeine simultaneously! Hit David up if you want to discuss your next app concept or to take a deep dive in The Computing Australia Group coding approach.

David Brown

David is the Development Services Coordinator for The Computing Australia Group and he manages all programming projects. DB is a keen Ruby on Rails developer who is a triple threat – he can code, listen to heavy metal and consume enormous volumes of caffeine simultaneously! Hit David up if you want to discuss your next app concept or to take a deep dive in The Computing Australia Group coding approach.