What are Plugins? They’re files, or packets of files that make use of the WordPress Core’s architecture to do some pretty impressive things.
They can do everything from creating a new Login Widget for the homepage to creating a fully fledged E-commerce Platform. Your site with iKarra.com will come with plenty of Plugin added extra functionality and once you take ownership of the site you can add in your own Plugins.
This does come with some warnings and best practices to bear in mind when installing new Plugins. But first, where to find your Plugins.
The Plugins Menu
Take a look at the picture below:
Here you can see that you have 3 new options:
- Installed Plugins – Shows the Plugins that are already on the site, whether they’re activated or not
- Add New – Takes you to the page where you can search for and install new Plugins
- Editor – Don’t go here unless you’re a coding guru! You can tweak and manage the functionality of any of your installed Plugins from here. Seriously, don’t touch this!
Take a look at the picture below:
From this you can see that there are a few Plugins installed on this site. Your WordPress site will come installed with a few Plugins by default (Akismet, Hello Dolly, WP-Super Cache and Mojo Marketplace).
In the top left corner you can see a button labelled Add New, clicking this takes you to the Add New Plugins page (more on this in the next section).
Below this you have a set of search filters:
- Drop Ins
In the top right you have a search box to search through all of the Plugins on your site.
Below your search filters you have the Bulk Action selector. This is a great tool for making a change to multiple Plugins (for example when you’re upgrading the WordPress Core manually you need to Deactivate all Plugins). You’ll notice the checkboxes next to the Plugin names so you can select a few of them individually or you can check the box at the top of the list to select them All and then go up to the Bulk Actions drop-down and choose from:
They’re all pretty self explanatory so I won’t go into detail on them. When you do Update your Plugins you’ll go to a new page where the WordPress Core takes over and makes the changes; you can let it do it’s thing and it will let you know when it’s finished. It will also let you know if there are any issues with specific Plugins that you need to address.
Adding New Plugins
The picture below shows the Add New Plugins page:
Now, notice at the top on the left you have an option to Upload a New Plugin. If you’ve purchased a Commercial Plugin from a Developer then this button takes you to where you need to go to install it. Your Plugin file needs to be in a .zip format for WordPress Uploading. If you’ve extracted the file to your computer and you have an ftp client you can upload it that way too but it takes longer!
You can search for new Plugins by using the Filters along the top:
- Featured – The default search option when you get to this page
- Popular – A good way to find what’s hot in the Plugin world!
- Favorites – You can mark Plugins in the WordPress Repository as Favourites and use your WordPress.org login deets to view them and install them. Handy if you start a new site and need access to the same set of reliable Plugins
You can see that there’s a certain amount of information available in the Plugin’s Blurb. You can also directly install the Plugin without reading further by clicking Install Now (only do this if you really trust the Plugin!) otherwise you can click the More Details link to view a detailed breakdown of the Plugin.
I recommend doing this rather than just blindly installing a Plugin you like the look of.
Viewing Plugin Details
Check out the picture below:
This picture shows a whole bunch of stuff that’s very important (and has a huge warning about compatibility which is handy for this guide!)
Along the top you have tabs (not every Plugin will have the same set of tabs…):
- Description – either a brief or quite lengthy description of what the Plugin does
- Installation – details of how to install the Plugin (usually just use the WordPress installer and upload the .zip file)
- Screenshots – good Plugins tend to have screenshots of their Admin sections and how it will look in the Front-end
- Changelog – details from the Developer about the tweaks they’ve made to the Plugin in response to user feedback and changes to the WordPress Core
- FAQ’s – many users have asked the Developer the same questions so they sometimes collect them all here
- Other Notes – some extra useful information
- Reviews – end users can review the Plugin and leave their comments for other users to use as a guide
Along the right you have some vital information to be aware of. Always check this before you install the Plugin.
- Version – version number of the Plugin
- Author – details of the developer of the Plugin, often a website address
- Last Updated – VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION: some Plugins are updated regularly, others less frequently and some are long abandoned. Always check the date the Plugin was last updated, it will stop your site from falling over!
- Requires WordPress Version – ALSO VERY IMPORTANT: tells you the bare minimum version of WordPress you need to run the Plugin
- Compatible Up To – shows the top most version of WordPress that the Plugin is compatible with
- Downloaded – shows how many times the Plugin has been Downloaded by other users (a good Plugin is downloaded lots of times, this is always worth a look)
- WordPress.org Plugin Page – takes you to the Plugin’s page in the WordPress Plugins repository
- Plugin Homepage – takes you to the site of the Developer
There are other details below this including Average Rating and Main Contributor details.
Once You’re Satisfied
If you’re happy that all the details of the Plugin (compatibility with the Core, how recently it’s been updated etc) then go ahead and install it.
Once it’s installed it may or may not have a Settings page and this page may or may not have a buttload of settings to configure! You should check with the Plugin Developers for any guides on configuring their Plugin.
I hope that helps with understanding how to install and manage your Plugins. Any issues and confusion get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.