Mmm, plugins. We couldn’t do half of what we do on WordPress without them.
99% of all WordPress plugins are developed by programmers in their spare time, working only for the good of the community and the possibility of a donation. So if you see a donate button on a plugin you use all the time, why not buy them a cup of coffee for their efforts? If they’re sustained by donations it means they’ll keep developing new features, so it’s in our best interest to support the amazing programmers that make these plugins possible!
Two Options for Installing WordPress Plugins
Throughout this site we link to the official WordPress site for the plugins we’ve thoroughly tested for features and ease of use. If you’ve download a ZIP file, then all you have to do is go to Plugins > Add New > Install to find the ZIP file on your desktop, then upload and activate!
Second option is to click Add New and Search for a particular function. You’ll instantly see lists of plugins available, their ratings and links to install.
Finding and Testing Plugins
Personally we like to search for plugins directly on the WordPress plugin site. The reason for this is that when you see search results, in addition to the ratings, you’ll also see the last update and the amount of downloads. You should always compare downloads to the star rating — if a plugin has a high rating, but low number of downloads, it might mean that it has only been rated a few times. A high number of downloads likely means a lot of people are using it.
Regarding the date of updates — generally speaking you should never install something more than a year old. This is usually a good sign that the programmer has stopped developing the plugin. (In rare occasions it might mean upgrades aren’t necessary, but this is unlikely.) WordPress is a constantly evolving software, so you should look for plugins that are being updated frequently.
Install, Test, Scrap
The plugin you’re looking at might sound great — maybe it has all the features you want, but you won’t know how it really works until you install it. Not to worry if it’s not what you’re looking for. Test it out and it fails to pass muster (OR pass the mustard) simply deactivate it, trash it and move on to the next. No harm done. Usually…
Once in a while you’ll come across something that doesn’t work with your template or conflicts with other plugins you’ve installed. The first thing you can do is try a quick search in the WordPress Forums to see if others have encountered a similar problem.
Forum Search Tip: sometimes adding the plugin name at the beginning of your search narrows down the results. For example:
[Plugin: NextGEN Gallery] images don’t link
If you can’t get a quick answer, the best thing to do is just move on, because there is likely another plugin that will work for you.
It is highly recommended that you keep your plugins up to date. Changes to the core WordPress software (which you should also update whenever you see the notice at the top of your WP admin window) often requires plugin developers to update their code as well. Fortunately the process is super easy and doesn’t require special training.
P.S. Make sure to scroll down all the way for a special note at the bottom of this page.
Everything You Just Read in a WordPress Tutorial Video
After Installing Plugins…
This isn’t mentioned in the video, but is an important step to do once in a while. If you’re a Site Sparker customer, then you have the Database Backup plugin installed. Whenever you install a NEW plugin, it’s a good idea to update your Database Backup settings. Don’t worry, it’s easy.
Simply go to Tools > Backup and scroll down to the Scheduled Backup section.
Under “Tables to include in the scheduled backup:” simply check any boxes that are unchecked, then click the Schedule Backup button to the left. That’s it!
(We’d explain this process in more detail, but it’s more boring than waiting in a dentist’s office with year old magazines.)