WordPress is a powerful open source, free website-blogging tool set on a smart content management system (CMS), which is powered by MySQL and PHP. It is the most widely used platform of its kind, comprising the framework behind nearly 75 million websites in the year 2014 alone.
It is used frequently to develop new websites and blogs by coders because of its ease of use and its layman interface. Meaning once a website designer “hands-off” the finished product to their client, the client can then manage it without having to be extensively versed in CSS, HTML or other coding.
If You Want a Specific Feature, Just Plug It In
WordPress has many user-friendly features for both bloggers and website owners to use to customize their site. This includes such elements as: themes, widgets, multi-user functionality, tracking and plugins. Themes are the “dressing” of a WordPress site and can be installed free of charge. Premium themes are available for purchase. Widgets are an easy-to-use “drag and drop” sidebar elements that allow customization without any coding. In addition, WP allows for multiple authors/users and has a traffic tracking feature.
One of the most powerful elements are called “plugins”. Essentially, these elements are pre-constructed by developers. There are more than 17,000 plugins available to users which extend the functionality of a site powering everything from image sliders to SEO management.
Using a WordPress Plugin on Your Site
Unfortunately, for those using WordPress.com, this feature isn’t available. The company states it is reasons for disallowing the feature is due to security concerns. However, anyone with a website built on WordPress.org can access tens of thousands of plugins.
There are three methods for installing plugins: automatically, manual upload, or hosting FTP upload. For purposes of this tutorial, we’ll explain the “automatic” method. Before using the automatic feature, be sure to have your server set to accept modifications to your site.
How to Install Plugins
Log into your WP account and go to the dashboard. Select “Plugins”, then “Add New”. Then enter the name of the plugin or search for it in the search box. You can search by name, developer or features. Once you have found what you are looking for, then you can install and activate it. Remember, installing the plugin does not mean it will automatically appear on your site. It will remain “inactive” or dormant until it is activated for use.
Click on “Install”, the link to the right of the plugin’s description, which follows the rating, version and name. The plugin will download and “unpack”. Once it is unpacked, there will be a message stating the download is successful. Click on “Activate” next to “Action:” to make the plugin go live on your site. Type “Ctrl + F5” to refresh the page, then view your site to see the results live. If you’re plugin contains images, be sure to resize them to make them uniform in size.