WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) as it offers greater flexibility and customization options to make your dream website. It is made possible with the help of thousands of plugins that can add wide range of functionalities and feature to your site.
WordPress plugins are small piece of software that add new features and functionalities to your website.
If you want features that are not present in your default WordPress website then you may have to install WordPress plugins that offers the features you want on your site.
There are many essential WordPress plugins that you may want to add to your website. For example, a contact form, table of content, a backup plugin, a security plugin, an SEO plugin, cache plugin and more.
To install a plugin you need to upload the plugin files into the wp-content/plugins directory. Once a plugin is installed, you can access the plugins from your WordPress Dashboard under Plugins >> Installed Plugins. You may activate or deactivate any plugins from the Plugins menu in your WP Admin area.
In this tutorial, you will learn how to install a plugin in WordPress using 3 easy methods.
Let's get started.
How to Install WordPress Plugins?
In this guide, I have covered three important but easy methods to install WordPress plugins. They are:
- Install from WordPress Plugin Directory using Search
- Upload a WordPress Plugin
- Install a WordPress Plugin using FTP
Let's get started.
1. Install from WordPress Plugin Directory using Search
As discussed earlier, there are thousands of plugins in the WordPress directory. From the WordPress Admin area (Dashboard) you can easily search for your required plugin and install it.
This is one of the easiest way to install a plugin on your site.
Log in to your WordPress Dashboard and navigate to Plugins and click on Add New.
If you know the name of the plugin, type the name in the search box. Else, enter the feature you want. For example, contact form, SEO, backup, security and others.
Let's say you want to add a contact form to your website so that your visitors can contact you. Just enter the search term - contact form, inside the search box. It will show you all the related plugins that offers contact form feature.
See the image below. For this tutorial, we will install contact form by WP Forms. It is one of the most popular plugins to add contact form on a website.
To install the plugin, click on Install Now (see the above image) and WordPress will now start the installation process.
After completion of installation, you will see that the plugin is not activated yet. To use the plugin, you must activate it first. To do this, click on the Activate button.
After activating the plugin, you can create contact form and add it to your site. That's it, you have successfully installed and activated your WordPress plugin.
To configure your plugin settings, navigate to Plugins >> Installed Plugins. Here, you can find all the plugins that you have installed on your site. To make any changes, access the Settings option of the plugin and make the required changes.
This is one of the easiest methods to install a plugin on a WordPress website.
Now let’s move on to the SECOND method.
2. Install the Plugins Manually
In this method, we will learn how to install WordPress plugin manually through the WordPress Dashboard.
This method is required when:
- the plugin you want is not available in the WordPress plugin directory but available for download on third-party directories
- you have purchased a premium plugin from the developer's website
To upload such plugins, WordPress has an alternative upload method to install it manually.
Let's take one example.
To speed up my website, I have purchased WP Rocket caching plugin from its official website - https://wp-rocket.me. Now, to install this plugin on my site, first I will have to download the plugin from its site. To know more, read my in-depth review on WP Rocket.
All premium plugins are downloaded in the .zip format. So, when I will download the wp-rocket plugin, it will also be downloaded on my computer as a zip file (see the image).
In Windows OS, Download folder normally contains all the files (including zip files) that you've downloaded from the internet. The WP Rocket zip file also gets downloaded in this folder. If you're on Mac, locate the folder where you have downloaded the zip file of your plugin.
To install the WP Rocket plugin, we will open the WordPress Dashboard and click Plugins >> Add New.
In this step we will not use the Search option. Instead, click on the Upload Plugin button.
Now click on Choose File to select your zip file.
On selecting the Choose File option, a window will appear where you would have to locate your zip file. Select your zip file and click on Install Now to install the plugin (see the image).
Wait for a few moments to complete the installation. After successful installation, Activate the plugin.
That's it. We have successfully installed and activated a WordPress plugin manually. The methods holds true for all the plugins that you buy from the developers website directly.
Thus, to install WordPress plugins purchased from a third party websites, always use the Upload Plugin feature.
Now let's move on to our final method.
3. Upload the Plugin using FTP
There may be situation where you're not able to install a plugin from the WordPress Admin area.
In such case, you can install a plugin manually using FTP clients like FileZilla, FireFTP or CyberDuck to install plugins on your website.
This method is little complicated as compared to the two methods we discussed earlier because you will need to learn how to configure an FTP client first.
But it is not hard to implement if you execute all the steps as mentioned in this guide here.
Let's get started.
In method two, we had uploaded the zip file of the plugin.
But here, we first need to extract the ZIP file of the plugin and save it to a folder on your computer.
We will manually upload this extracted plugin file folder (not the zip file) to your website through the FTP client.
After performing the above step, you will need to connect to your website with the FTP client FileZilla. You can download FileZilla for Windows from here.
Open FileZilla and enter your FTP username and password. If you don't have the FTP username and password, then contact your WordPress hosting provider and get the details.
Once connected, go to the /wp-content/plugins/ folder on your website.
Now upload the extracted folder of the plugin to the /wp-content/plugins/ folder on your website.
For better understanding of this method, follow the example given below.
Let's say, you have purchased GeneratePress Premium for your website and you've downloaded the plugin in a zip file. [GeneratePress is one of the most popular SEO-friendly WordPress theme. If you want to learn more, check out the GeneratePress review.]
Right click on the zip file and extract it in a folder.
Now open FileZilla. Enter your host, username & password and click on Quick Connect to establish connection with your web server.
Once connected, navigate to the following path:
- Under the Remote Site panel go to the wp-content/plugins/ folder
- Under the Local Site panel, go to the extracted plugin folder
Now, upload the extracted plugin folder from your computer to the wp-content/plugins folder on your server (see the below image).
Wait for the transfer to complete. After complete transfer of plugin files, the WordPress plugin - GP Premium will be installed on your site. But it will not be activated unless you activate it from the WordPress Dashboard.
To activate the plugin, launch the WordPress Dashboard and go to Plugins >> Installed Plugins. Locate the plugin - GP Premium and click on Activate.
That's it. You have now completed all the three important methods to install a plugin on a WordPress website.
I hope now you know how to install WordPress plugins on your site.
How to Use WordPress Plugins?
To use the plugin on your site, go to Plugins and click on Installed Plugins. It will display all the plugins that you have installed on your site.
Here you can see that there is a Settings option under each plugin. When you click on Settings, it will open the plugins page where you can access the plugin features.
If you are finding difficulty in using the plugin, click on View Details. It will take you to the plugins page, where you can find more information about the plugin and how to use it.
How to Select the Right Plugins for your Site?
There are more than 50000 plugins in WordPress directory. Plus, there are more plugins available on third party websites like CodeCanyon and also on the plugin developers website.
With so many plugins available, it may be difficult for beginners to figure out the best plugins for their site.
Below I have highlighted some important points that you may want to consider before selecting a plugin for your website.
- Don't install too many plugins on your site. Only install plugins that are required for your site. Here is a list of essential plugins that you can consider to add important features and functionalities on your site. Installing too many plugins may slow down your site.
- Don’t use premium plugins available from cheap GPL sources. It may break your website. There are many websites that are offering premium plugins at dirt cheap prices. Many are tempted to buy these plugins without even considering that it may badly affect your site. Only buy plugins from its official website.
- Don’t use plugins that are not regularly updated by its developers. Before installing any plugin make sure to check how often it is updated by its developer. A plugin not updated for a long time may become incompatible to your WordPress version and may break your site.
- Keep your plugin up-to-date. Developers of the plugin releases regular update that contains new features and bug fixes to keep it safe from hackers and malware. So, always update your plugins whenever a new update is released by its developer. You can also enable the auto-update feature in the WordPress Dashboard to update your plugins automatically.
- Don't install more than one plugin for the same feature. There are multiple plugins that offer the same feature. Only install one plugin for a particular feature. For example, many think that having multiple caching plugin will help to boost their website speed more than a single plugin. However, this is not true. In fact, having multiple plugin with same feature may cause errors on your site.
- Always check the last updated date. Plugins that are not updated regularly are prone to errors and hacking attempts. So, before installing any plugin, always check the last updated date. Plus, also see whether the plugin is compatible with the latest WordPress version. It will make sure that your plugin will work flawlessly on your site.
- Rating & Feedback is also an important factor. Always make sure to check the ratings and read the feedback of the users to know whether the plugin is right for your site or not. Also check the installation number for a plugin. Higher number of active installations will give you an idea about the popularity of the plugin.
I hope all the methods given in this tutorial has helped you to learn how to select the right plugin and how to install WordPress plugins to your website.
These plugins help to add new features and functionality to your site. If you're still not sure how to pick the right plugin, here are our top plugin recommendations and comparison articles:
- Best Security Plugins
- Best Backup Plugins
- Best Caching Plugins
- Best Lead Generation Plugin
- Best WordPress WYSIWYG Editors
If you feel that there are any other important methods to install a plugin, please let us know in the comments below.
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