Revised & updated from Oct 13, 2014
WordPress has created an integrated plugin system to help drastically increase the level of customization possible.
Recently this site has touched on a few different ways to use plugins to improve your WordPress experience but didn’t go into how to actually download the plugins you find useful. So in this post we’ll show you how to do just that, if you follow the steps outlined you’ll be able to unleash the full power of your WordPress site.
Log Into Your WordPress Dashboard
If you have already used your site’s blog features yourself then you’ve seen your dashboard. It’s the page you log into in order to edit your WordPress pages, creating blog posts, adding pages, changing the appearance of your site, moderating comments and more.
If you don’t know where your dashboard is or how to access it there are a few different paths you can take. If you simply can’t remember where it is try typing in the name of your site followed by “/wp-admin” in your browser’s navigation bar, without the quotation marks. You should arrive at a page asking for your username and password. If you have trouble remembering either you can click “Lost your password?” near the bottom of the page to start the password recovery process.
If you do have trouble finding your login page, username or password you should be able to find an email with all this information in it. Search your email archives for a message titled “Your new WordPress” which should have arrived soon after you set up your page. If you didn’t set up your own page contact the person who did.
Finding the Plugins Tab and the Plugin You Want to Install
Now that you’re on your dashboard check out the vertical bar to the left with the icons and labels of all the major features. The 9th item down, between Appearance and Users, should be an image of a plug with the word Plugins next to it. If you hover over it with your mouse you should see Installed Plugins, Add New and Editor. For our purposes you want to click Add New, though you can also explore the other options if you want to see what you can do with any plugins that has been installed already.
You should now be on a page labeled Add Plugins. Here you can search for plugins, upload .zip files of plugins and look at some of the new and popular plugins. If you don’t already have an idea of what plugin you want to install this page can be overwhelming since there are thousands of plugins out there. If you want inspiration you can check out our post on popular website backup plugins, visit the WordPress plugin directory or click on the different tabs and tags on the Install Plugins page to see if anything stands out to you. The easiest way is to use the search function on the top right of the page and search for a plugin you want by its function you want to accomplish.
It’s best if you take some time to explore your options, looking at different plugins, seeing what they do and reading reviews, before deciding to install anything. Most plugins are safe to use but since there are so many of them WordPress can’t check out all of them manually so make sure you know what you’re getting before you install a plugin.
Installing The Plugin
By now you should know what plugin you want to install. We’ll be going through the quickest and easiest way to install it. On your Add Plugins page within your dashboard you want to type the name of the plugin in the search bar. You will automatially get a number of plugins that fir your search term. You’ll get the name, version, rating and description. Below the name you’ll see Details and Install Now. If you haven’t read all you want about the plugin click Details, otherwise it’s time to choose Install Now1 and you’ll see an installation page. Depending on the size of the plugin this process may take some time or it could finish almost instantly. The package should be downloaded, unpacked, installed and labeled a success.
From there you simply need to click the button labeled “Activate”
Where to Go from Here
Congratulations! If you’ve followed the above steps you should now have a new plugin running on your site. But this is just the start, as soon as you install a plugin you should check its setting to make sure everything is set up to your liking.
Remember that installing a plugin just sets it up on your site. There may be other steps you must take before you or your visitors actually see the effect of the plugin. Here the process is different with each plugin so be sure to read the documentation and follow instructions carefully.
Installing and setting up your first plugin can take some time but each time you do it you’ll find it’s quicker and easier. It won’t be long until you can start making amazing changes in a matter of minutes.
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