How to Install & Update WordPress Plugins
Amplify the Functionality of Your WordPress Website with Plugins
WordPress is wildly popular for it’s ease of use and limitless possibilities. One of the things that makes WordPress so customizable is the massive library of free and paid plugins that allow a site to adapt to your needs. In this video, we’ll teach you how to install new plugins, and how to update the ones you have to keep your site running smoothly.
What are WordPress Plugins?
There are more than 450 million websites built on WordPress, and all of them are different. While the theme you choose for your website helps to inform how it will look and function, plugins are apps that allow you to add additional features or functionality to your WordPress website. One of our favorite plugins, Gravity Forms, for example, enables you to build customizable forms and integrate them with popular email marketing platforms.
With more than 55,000 plugins available – many of which are completely free to install and use – there are plenty of opportunities to improve your site as you get new ideas and expand your offerings. Plugins can enable you to:
- Add e-commerce to your website
- Protect your forms from spam submissions
- Collect leads and track conversions
- Improve SEO performance for pages
- Build pages more easily
- Enhance site speed
- Create a sitemap
- & so much more!
How do I Install Plugins on a WordPress Website?
Not every contact on your email list has the same level engagement with your content. That’s to be expected, though! Everyone interacts with your emails differently, thus the five-star rating system Mailchimp has created.
Let’s say that any contact with a three-star rating or below has a “low rating,” and explore exactly what that means:
- Featured – The plugins shown on this page combine what’s popular with what WordPress recommends for your site. You can click on each one to read reviews, see frequently asked questions, screenshots of the plugin in action, and more.
- Popular – This is where you can see the most downloaded plugins on WordPress. It can be a good jumping off point if you’re looking for plugins that will have a lot of articles about them or community support since they enjoy widespread use.
- Recommended – Here, WordPress will suggest additional plugins to you based on what you and other users like you have already installed on their sites. While this can help you find plugins that are commonly used together, it can also help you find alternatives to your current apps if you find that you’re looking for a change.
- Favorites – As you browse for new plugins, you can mark the ones you like as your favorites and return to them later in this tab. This is a helpful feature if you’re trying to narrow down a broad search to just a few contenders, or if you want another team member to review plugins before they are installed.
You can also cut to the chase and use the search feature to find exactly what you’re looking for. Whether you’re searching for a specific plugin or want to see all the available options in a particular category, the search feature helps to distill down the thousands of WordPress plugins to display what best matches your needs.
Once you’ve found a plugin you like, simply click Install and then Activate and you’re ready to start using it!
Don’t see the Plugins option in your WordPress dashboard? You may not have permission to access it. Every user on a WordPress website is assigned a role that comes with a set of corresponding permissions. Administrators and Super Admins are the only roles with the capability to modify plugins. As an Editor, Author, Contributor, or Subscriber, however, you won’t have access to add, edit, or manage the site’s plugins. Ask a site administrator to adjust your role if you need access.
Always do a backup of your site before adding new plugins or updating existing ones. Sometimes your existing elements will conflict with a new or changed plugin, causing pages or other functions to break. In case this happens, a backup will allow you to simply revert back to the way things were before you installed the new plugin or updated one, instead of having to manually rebuild everything that broke.
How Often Should I Update My WordPress Plugins?
Just like the updates your computer prompts you to install, updates to WordPress plugins can do wonders for patching problems and introducing improvements. Keeping your plugins up to date can ensure the security and performance of your website are at their peak. Letting old versions remain can compromise your site because of lingering vulnerabilities, or lack of version support from the plugin’s developers.
Often, when troubleshooting issues with a site’s functions, the first thing we check is if the plugins powering those features are fully updated.
Want to Learn More?
Check out these on-demand sessions to learn more about planning, updating, and maintaining your WordPress website.
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