WordPress Plugins Tutorial
About This Lesson
Welcome to my WordPress plugins tutorial! In this lesson I’ll be teaching you the basics of WordPress plugins, including,
- Giving you an introduction to what plugins are
- Showing you the types of things plugins can do and some of their limitations
- Showing you places you can go to find plugins
- What you need to know about installing plugins and setting plugins up on your site
- And how to delete plugins if you no longer want to use them
Before starting this lesson, I recommend that you go through the What Is WordPress? lesson.
And you’ll obviously need to have installed WordPress on your site, if you haven’t done that yet, go through one of my lessons below,
Read All About It
What Are Plugins?
Simply put, WordPress plugins allow us to add extra features and functionality to our WordPress website.
But what does that even mean?
Well, the main install of WordPress is basic. And intentionally so.
When we install WordPress, we install a core piece of software that lets us,
- Add pages and publish them on the web
- Insert images and other media
- Arrange content into categories
- Allow people to comment on our pages
- Have multiple users for our site
All the main features we need to be able to create a basic website or blog.
But that’s it.
However, WordPress is built so that extra features and functionality can be “plugged” into it.
So by default, WordPress doesn’t come with a contact form, but we can install a plugin to add this feature.
By default, WordPress doesn’t have the ability to create a slideshow, but we can install a plugin to add this feature.
There are over 35,000 plugins like this, that we can add to our site.
This opens up the possibilities of what our websites can do and means we can transform our site into almost anything we can imagine.
It also lets each website owner choose what features they have on their website.
Think of it this way, WordPress and WordPress plugins are similar to the iPhone and the app store.
When you first get the iPhone, you get a basic set of features, but you can use the app store to download lots of different apps, which expand what you can do with your iPhone. The core of the iPhone is made by Apple, but the apps are made by lots of individuals and companies.
With WordPress, you install the core of WordPress, then you can download plugins to expand what you can do with your website. And again these plugins are made by individual developers and companies.
Currently there are over 35,000 free plugins. There are also plenty of premium plugins you could add to your site too.
(As a reference, at the moment I’m only using free plugins on my site, although I have paid for many plugins in the past. Plugins range in price from free, up to $297. Most premium plugins are around $49 – $99.)
What Can Plugins Do?
As described on the WordPress site,
Plugins can extend WordPress to do almost anything you can imagine
With plugins you can add things like,
- Contact forms
- Image galleries
- Pricing tables
- Email sign up forms
- Membership areas
- Shopping carts and order forms
- Social media buttons
- Add much, much more
Did I mention there’s over 35,000 plugins you can choose from. Oh, I did. I just wanted to make sure you could see how powerful WordPress is!
The Limitations Of WordPress Plugins
WordPress plugins are great, but they’re not perfect!
Even though there are over 35,000 plugins you can choose from, you might not find a plugin that gives you 100% of the features you need.
It’s like lego. Yes you can build lots of cool things with lego, but you can only build things with the pieces that are available to you. With plugins you’re limited to the options the plugin developer decides to put into their plugin.
So for instance, let’s say you install a contact form plugin and it only has 2 features,
- Feature 1: The ability for visitors to fill out details such as their name, address, phone number and their message
- Feature 2: Once they hit submit, the details of that form get sent to you via email
But let’s say you want your visitors to be able to upload an image in the contact form, if the plugin doesn’t already have that feature, you’re unable to do that.
(Although that’s a bad example as there are lots of contact form plugins that give you that feature. I’m just using that as an example of the limitations of WordPress plugins!)
If you think about it, plugins are made for tens of thousands and in some cases millions of people, (yes millions!) so the developers are building something for the masses, their not custom built, to your exact needs and requirements.
This might mean that at times you’ll have to make some compromises and leave out some features that you wanted. (Or hire a developer to build those features for you.)
If you need a really custom or unique set of features, you may not find that in a plugin. That’s just something I want to make you aware of!
But I don’t want to scare you too much, after all, there are lots of plugins out there. For instance, a quick look in the WordPress directory tells me there are over 100 different contact form plugins, so the chances of you finding the features you need are pretty good!
How To Find Plugins
There are three main places I recommend going to when you want to search for a plugin.
1) WordPress Plugins Directory
This is the main plugins directory. There are 35,000+ plugins which have been downloaded over 970,000,000 times. And all the plugins in this directory are completely free.
Here’s an example of searching through WordPress for a plugin – in this case, searching for a slideshow.
First you’ll need to login to the admin area of your site, then,
- Go to Plugins > Add New
- In the search box type in “slideshow”
- And hit enter on your keyboard
You’ll then get back a number of different plugins you can add to your site, like in the next section of this lesson.
2) Code Canyon
Code Canyon offer the largest marketplace for premium WordPress plugins. They have plugins like slideshows, navigation menus, calendars, booking systems, live chat, etc
Plugins at Code Canyon vary in price form $3 – $60.
When searching for a plugin on Code Canyon
Make sure you’re searching in the WordPress plugins section of their website, as they offer a wide range of other plugins and website scripts that won’t work with WordPress, such as “Joomla Extensions” and “Magento Extensions”, etc.
It’s pretty easy to search for WordPress plugins on Code Canyon, you can either click this link here, (affiliate link), or like in the image below, simply click the “WordPress” link in their navigation menu.
3) Independent Plugin Developers
It’s also worth noting that there are plenty of independent plugin companies and developers, (too many for me to list here), who you can get plugins from.
How To Install Plugins
How you go about installing a plugin will vary from plugin to plugin.
Each plugin will have their own unique requirements, but each plugin should also come with their own set of instructions showing you how to install them!
If You’re Installing A Plugin From The WordPress Directory
The first thing you’ll need to do is choose which plugin you want to use, because as you can see in the example below, after searching for “slideshow” there are over 500 different plugins I could choose from.
When deciding what plugin to use, first take a look at the description (1). See if it matches your needs.
You can get a feel for how good a plugin is by looking at the ratings (2). It’s rated out of five stars and when you hover over the ratings it tells you how many people have rated that plugin.
When you think you’ve found the plugin you want, click “More Details” (3). Here you’ll get a lot more details about the plugin, in some cases this will include some screenshots. (I’ll talk about the “More Details” in a moment).
When you want to install the plugin, click “Install Now” (4). WordPress will then install the plugin for you.
Note: 95% of plugins simply require you to click the “Install Now” button, however, sometimes a plugin will require you to install it in a specific way. To see how to do this, click the “More Details” tab (3 in the image above) and then the “Installation” tab (2 in the image below), to see instructions on what you need to do.
More Details On A Plugin
If you click the button for “More Details”, here’s an example of what you’ll see,
- This will give you more details about what the plugin does
- This will give you instructions on how to install the plugin
- This will show you some screenshots of the plugin
- If you decide you like the plugin, click the “Install Now” button
- This lets you know how many times the plugin has already been downloaded
- Sometimes a plugin will have its own website, so you can get more information and support
- This gives you a rough idea of how good a plugin is
How To Setup Plugins
Each plugin will require you to set them up in their own way, so it’s impossible for me to cover how to set up each individual plugin. Like I keep saying, there are over 35,000 plugins.
But to learn how to setup a plugin from the WordPress plugins directory, like I said above, click the “More Details” button, then the installation tab. This is where most plugin developers explain what you need to do, to set up their plugin.
If you paid for a plugin from Code Canyon or an independent plugin company / developer, they’ll give you documentation showing you how to set their plugin up!
How To Delete A Plugin
If you’ve tried a plugin but have decided it’s not for you, you can remove it at any time.
To delete a plugin,
- Go to Plugins > Installed Plugins
- Click “Deactivate” (you have to deactivate it before you can delete it)
Once that’s done, you’ll have the option to delete the plugin,
- Click “Delete” on the plugin you want to remove
And WordPress will delete it for you.
That’s it for this introduction lesson to WordPress plugins.
What’s next? Well I recommend you explore the plugins that are available.
You can also check out my individual tutorials, where I have a number of different tutorials showing you how to install, set up and use different WordPress plugins!