One of the first things you’re going to want to do on your WordPress site is install some plugins. Plugins are extensions for WordPress that add extra features and functionality, like contact forms, shopping carts and image galleries. There are thousands of plugins available for WordPress, some free, some paid. In this guide, we’re going to show you how to install a plugin on your site.
Before you begin
This is very important. If you are using wordpress.com for your site, you won’t be able to install plugins. There is a difference between hosting a site on wordpress.com and self hosting a wordpress.org site.
With wordpress.com, you’re very limited and can’t install plugins unless you upgrade to their business plan, which costs hundreds of dollars a month. On the other hand, with a self hosted wordpress.org site, you are free to install whatever plugins you like.
Right, now we’ve cleared that up, let’s take a look at how to install a WordPress plugin on your site.
Install a plugin using the WordPress plugin search
By far the easiest way to install a plugin is using the built in WordPress plugin search. Here you can search for a plugin, install it with one click and then activate it with one more click. What could be easier? The only downside is that you’re limited to plugins that are in the WordPress Plugin Directory. I say limited, but at the time of writing there are over 56,500 plugins in the directory, so you’ll be spoiled for choice. All of the plugins here are free, but they can sometimes be more limited in terms of functionality than paid plugins, provide limited or no support and on occasion the plugin developers can stop developing, leaving you with an out of date plugin. Note – I say sometimes – there are a lot of really good plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory, you just need to be picky about what you choose!
To install a plugin using the built in WordPress plugin search, you just need to follow a few simple steps:
- Inside your WordPress admin area, go to Plugins -> Add New
- In the top right corner of the page, you will see a search bar. This is where you’re going to search for a plugin. You can search for plugins by name or functionality. Let’s say for example that you want to install a plugin to add a contact form to your site. You may have a plugin already in mind, like Contact Form 7, in which case you’d search for “Contact Form 7”, or you may want to see what plugins are available, in which case you’d search something like “contact form”.
- As you type in the search bar, WordPress automatically displays plugins that match your search criteria. Each plugin will show:
– The plugin name
– A thumbnail of the plugin (a pretty little picture designed to catch your attention)
– A short description of what the plugin does
– The plugins rating (out of 5 stars)
– The number of active installations the plugin has
– When the plugin was last updated
– Whether the plugin is compatible with your version of WordPress
Browse through the search results until you find a plugin that you like. You’ll need to use the information mentioned above to help you decide which plugin to install. You can view more detailed information about a plugin by clicking on “More Details” underneath the Install Now button.
- Once you have chosen which plugin to install, click on the “Install Now” button for that plugin:
- This will install the plugin to your site. You’ll notice that the “Install Now” button will change to “Activate”. Once installed, you still need to activate the plugin for it to start working, so go ahead and click the “Activate” button.
- That’s it, you’ve successfully installed and activated a WordPress plugin on your site. The next step is to configure any settings for the plugin. This varies depending on the plugin (and some plugins don’t have any settings to configure), so we won’t be covering that in this guide.
Install a plugin using the WordPress plugin uploader
Paid plugins are not included in the WordPress plugin directory, so you won’t be able to use the WordPress plugin search to install these. The good news is that WordPress has another simple way to install plugins that works with plugins that you have paid for elsewhere, like plugins from CodeCanyon or WooCommerce. To install these plugins, you just need to follow these steps:
- First things first, you will need to download the plugin from where you have purchased it from. This varies depending on the plugin, but if you struggle to find where to download it, you’re best to contact the store where you purchased it from and they will be able to point you in the right direction. When you download the plugin, it should be in a zip file.
- In your WordPress admin area, go to Plugins -> Add New
- At the top of the page will be an “Upload Plugin” button. Go ahead and click it.
- This will show the plugin uploader. Here you need to click on “Choose File” and select the plugin that you downloaded earlier.
- Once you’ve selected your file, you can click on the “Install Now” button
- WordPress will now upload the plugin to your site. Once it’s finished, you will see a success message with an “Activate Plugin” button. You’ll need to activate the plugin for it to start working, so go ahead and click on the “Activate Plugin” button.
- That’s it, you’ve successfully uploaded, installed and activated a WordPress plugin on your site. The next step is to configure any settings for the plugin. This varies depending on the plugin (and some plugins don’t have any settings to configure), so we won’t be covering that in this guide.