Plugins – How to find, choose, install and use a plugin

A lot of people are feeling ignored! There’s plenty of talk about more advanced WordPress features and functionality but nowhere near enough about more entry level tasks. Such as, how to find, choose, install and use a plugin.

This article will take you, in a step by step kind of way through everything a beginner needs to know about WordPress plugins including some examples of popular plugins.

Plugins -How to find, choose, install and use a plugin

Just as there’s a right way and a wrong way to setup a WordPress website, once setup there are certain kinds of plugins that every WordPress website should have. For all of the typical features or functionality that can be added to WordPress there are wide number of available plugins from different providers. Every plugin exists to do a job and there are certain jobs that need to be done on every WordPress website.

Typical plugin types are:

And so on, the list is long and brings us to the first challenge; how to choose. Best practice is that you should carefully manage your use of plugins, don’t get carried away by installing plugins that you are you not going to use just because they’re free. Every plugin needs to be learned and maintained. Remember, do your own research.

How to how to find, choose, install and a plugin

Find – Add New Plugin

The best way to find a plugin is through your WordPress admin dashboard, so right there on the left hand side dashboard menu, sitting beneath ‘Appearance’ is ‘Plugins’. After clicking on Plugins you’ll see a list of all of the plugins that are currently installed. On the dashboard menu beneath Plugins and also at the top left hand of the page you’ll have the option to ‘Add New’. Having clicked on Add New you now have the option to upload a plugin or search for a plugin in the WordPress Repository (this is arguably where all of the best plugins reside – i.e they’ve had a level of approval from WordPress)

Be as accurate as you can with your search term. If you know the particular plugin that you want then try to find out the plugin author so you can check this against the list of search results to make sure you choose the correct plugin i.e. Askimet is by Automatic.

Choose a plugin – do your research

To choose a plugin you need to initially look at some priority criteria:

  • How many installs has the plugin had?
  • What is the star rating?
  • How many people have rated the plugin?
  • When was the plugin last updated?
  • Is it compatible with your version of WordPress (we’re hoping here that you have the latest version installed)

Install a plugin

Once you’ve done your research and satisfied yourself of the plugin’s suitability go ahead and hit Install Now. Give the plugin some time to install and once that’s complete you’ll need to click the ‘Activate’ button (if you haven’t activated the plugin it won’t be available to use)

Using your plugin

So, now you’ve been able to find, choose, install and use a plugin here’s where it gets interesting. Every plugin is in itself a bespoke piece of software and is different to every other plugin. You’ll need to find where on the dashboard to access the plugin settings and how to use it. A little time doing your research will pay dividends and help you to get up and running quickly. Depending upon the nature of the plugin, once activated it can usually be found on the left hand dashboard navigation menu. It may be under Tools or Settings, have a good look around to locate it. Then click to open up the plugin settings.

Plugins are one reason why WordPress has become the force that it is today. Carefully choose, install and use a plugin that works for you and see just what you can achieve.

WP Quicklaunch comes with important plugins installed for you with video instructions on how to use them. Use the Quicklaunch platform to fast track your website.