Plugins are tools to extend the functionality of WordPress. They let you take WordPress in whatever direction best suits your business or website. WordPress core is designed to only contain the essential tools for creating a website, Plugins are for taking WordPress even further. Plugins offer custom functionality that let you tailor your website.

There are more than 20,000 Plugins available in the WordPress plugin repository. You can install all of these from your WordPress Admin Screens. Some examples of things you could add to your website are:

  • social media buttons and widget
  • contact forms
  • social networking functionality
  • forums
  • caching
  • project management tools
  • security tools
  • image galleries

Installing a Plugin from your Admin Screens Installing a Plugin from your Admin Screens

It’s simple to install Plugins from your Admin Screens. You can install both from the WordPress repository, or upload your own .zip files.

From the WordPress Repository

To install a Plugin from the WordPress repository, navigate to Plugins > Add New.

Search for the functionality that you want on your website, “twitter” for example.

a screenshot of the install plugins search box

The search will show up all of the Plugins that are relevant to your search term. Click on the “Details” link to get more details about the Plugin, and “Install Now” to install it.

a screenshot of the Details and install now links

To Upload a Plugin

To upload a Plugin click on the upload link at the top of the Install Plugins page.

Browse for the zip file you wish to upload and click Install Now.

a screenshot of the plugin uploads form

If you’d like to learn how to upload a Plugin manually you can check out the guide to Manually Installing Plugins in the WordPress Codex.

Top ↑

Staying Safe When Installing Plugins Staying Safe When Installing Plugins

Plugins are not always held to the same development standards as WordPress core. This is because the individual Plugin developer is responsible for making sure that their Plugin is stable and secure. Sadly, this does not always happen, so there are some things to be on the lookout for when installing Plugins.

a screenshot of the details displayed for a plugin when you click the Details link in the search results in the WP admin screens

From the WordPress repository:
  • Before you install a Plugin, always click on the “Details” link, this will give you useful information about whether the Plugin will work on your website. Be on the lookout for:
    • Last updated – find out if the plugin is being actively developed.
    • Compatible up to – find out if the plugin is compatible with your version of WordPress.
    • Star rating – gives you an indication of what users think of it.
    • Developer – is it written by a well-known or credible developer?
  • You can get even more information by visiting the Plugin’s page on the WordPress repository.
    • Find out whether the developer is actively supporting the Plugin.
    • Get more information about the Plugin’s rating. You’ll find a breakdown of how many of each star rating a Plugin has a received.
Uploading your own Plugin:

If you are searching outside the WordPress repository you should be extra vigilant.

  • Purchase Plugins from reputable Plugin developers and websites.
  • Unless you are visiting a reputable marketplace, always get your Plugin from the developer’s website.
  • Never download Plugins from warez or torrent sites – these can come loaded with spam and malware which can infect your website.
  • Be wary of websites that are redistributing commercial Plugins for free. The code may have been altered to include malware.

If in doubt about a Plugin, install it on a test site before you start using it.

Too Many Plugins doesn’t Necessarily Mean a Better Website

Just because there are 20,000 Plugins in the repository, it doesn’t mean that you need to install them all. In fact, many Plugins may be in conflict with each other. When searching for Plugins, you might be tempted to test a few, but once you’ve found the right one, make sure to delete the other ones. For example, to improve your Search Engine Optimization, you may be tempted to try 4 or 5 different plugins, but you only need one. Once you’ve decided which one you want to use, delete the other ones.