How to Add Plugins to WordPress

The purpose of this post is not to help you learn how to add plugins to WordPress but I try to cover most common pitfalls about WordPress Plugins and it does not matter if the post is long, I try to add navigational links to take you where you want.

Anyway here I am going to discuss the following topics

What is WordPress plugin

A WordPress plugin is a code written in PHP language (same language used for coding WordPress itself) inside a component (called Plugin) that extends the functionality and features of WordPress, I consider plugins to be the brain of any WordPress site, remember I did not say the heart of WordPress site as any WordPress can live without plugins but they will live a dull life.

Why do you need to install plugins

Think about it this way, I was looking at my installed plugins on this website (I have 20 plugins as of writing this post but I am planning to add more later) at least you still need very few plugins like Akismet plugin to filter out spam from your comments so you can focus on other tasks.

What if you need to add contact form to help visitors send you questions/inquiries, WordPress does not come with features, it comes with the ability to build pages and add posts to your WordPress site.
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How to install WordPress plugin

There are 5 different ways to add plugins to WordPress, I will start with the easiest way going to the hardest, sometimes I had to follow the hardest way for certain reasons, anyway here I go

  • Method#1 Add plugins from within WordPress by clicking on Plugins menu to the left then click on sub menu Add New button (Step 1), Add Plugins page will show up, type your keyword where you expect to find your features or functionalities (Step 2) e.g. if you type SEO (stands for Search Engine Optimization) then the Add Plugins page will show up Yoast SEO and other plugins all related to SEO, then click on Install button (Step 3), same button will display Installing on its label (Step 4) then it will switch to Activate once it is done (Step 5) after that it will show as Plugin activate (Step 6) WordPress-how-to-add-plugins-from-add-new-menu
  • Method#2 Add Plugins in WordPress by clicking on Plugins menu to the left then click on sub menu Installed Plugins button (Step 1) then Plugins page will show up click on Add New button (Step 2) this will show up Add Plugins page, type your keyword where you expect to find your features or functionalities (Step 3) then click on Install button beside the desired plugin (Step 4), same button will display Installing on its label (Step 5) then it will switch to Activate once it is done (Step 6) after that it will show as Plugin activate (Step 6) WordPress-how-to-add-plugins-from-installed-plugins-menu
  • Method#3 This process is little bit tricky than the previous two but they are all done within WordPress itself, add plugins from within WordPress by clicking on Plugins menu to the left then click on sub menu Add New button (Step 1), Add Plugins page will show up click on the Upload Plugin button (Step 2) then click on Choose File button to upload your Plugin as zip file (Step 3) remember to download your plugin as zip file you can read this topic under previous post on how to install WordPress core, plugins and themes updates on your local PC WordPress-how-to-add-plugins-upload-plugin-button
  • Method#4 Another way completely outside the WordPress dashboard is by going to your web hosting account (I display  here Siteground because that’s what I use) , log in to your web hosting account and go to File Manager (Step 1), this will load all the folders under your web hosting account, click on your website name (assuming your created a folder same as your domain name) (Step 2), click on wp-content folder to go to WordPress folder where it stores all plugins (Step 3), then click on plugins folder (Step 4) then you have to manually create your plugin folder name (it will be the same name as the one extracted under your local PC) by clicking on the Folder button and make sure you click on this newly created folder name to go inside the folder (Step 5), after that you can click on the Upload button (Step 6), unfortunately you have to upload one file at a time (Step 7)Siteground how to add plugins using file manager

  • Method#5 This is the hardest one as it requires a lot of activities like creating FTP account and downloading FTP software like FileZilla , first click on FTP Accounts button (Step 1), this will take you to the FTP accounts page where you will be able to type your FTP username (Log in) and specify your password (Step 2), after that you can scroll down a little to confirm that your account has been created, click on Configure FTP Client button and this will load all extra FTP software where you will be able to download XML file which contains all your account credentials, from the FTP software itself you can import this file to get a connection to your web hosting ready for you (Step 3) Siteground how to setup FTP

How do you disable a plugin in WordPress

Sometimes it is called deactivate a plugin so it is the same term, you want to stop a particular plugin from functioning whatever you want to keep it for future use or deleting it, to disable/deactivate a plugin just click on Plugins menu to the left then click on sub menu Installed Plugins button (Step 1), look for the plugin which you want to disable/deactivate and click on its Deactivate button (Step 2), after that Plugins page will load showing under this plugin Activate and Delete buttons (Step 3), it is up to you to click on Delete button to completely remove it from your WordPress

I only keep few plugins as deactivated if I plan to work on multiple plugins with same features/functionalities to compare between them later where I switch one by one and then once I decide which plugin to use, I deactivate the rest and delete them

Do WordPress plugins slow down your website

I read lot of posts that claim so many plugins slow down your WordPress site while I agree that lot of plugins mean more code to load but what kind of code, a quality code will not slow down your WordPress site.

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Actually there are 3 main activities that some plugins do

  1. First activity is loading scripts like Javascript libraries and CSS on every page that loads and not when required where all loaded scripts require an HTTP request (requesting data between your web server and your browser), the best way to load scripts is by either loading scripts asynchronously (a term which means together with loading the page) so you don’t have to wait for scripts to finish loading or by stopping plugins from loading scripts which are not required for that page.
  2. Second activity is making extra database queries on each page as few plugins are not careful as they make extra database calls to track things.
  3. Third activity is performing complex operations like Full Text indexing for every posts to display related posts at the end of your post, so these plugin work in the background to perform Full Text index on every post to generate relevant keywords to match with other posts.

How many WordPress plugins can you install on your WordPress site

You are not limited to a number but you have to consider what features/functionalities you want to add and stay away from installing similar plugins like same plugins for social media if for example one plugin shows social media on top while another shows on left (choose one over the others)

Do WordPress plugins affect your website performance

This question is similar to my question about if plugins slow down your WordPress site, read above the 3 main activities, yes few plugins loading scripts, making extra database queries or performing complex operations can impact your WordPress performance.

Do WordPress plugins have an impact on your website security

No and Yes, meaning No as well coded plugins should not impact your WordPress security

What if any of my plugins gets discontinued

Plugins mostly are developed by volunteers to the WordPress community, yes it can happen that a plugin does not get the appropriate update to work with latest WordPress releases but you have to consider what features and functionalities you want to get and look for alternatives, some plugins can be replaced by 2 or more but still you will not be left behind.

How to choose the best plugins for my WordPress site

Well I suggest to pick one plugin of each kind, for example you need at least to install search engine plugin like Yoast SEO, plugin to filter spam on comments and then protect your WordPress site with security plugin and then a plugin to boost performance also a plugin to analyze your site on internet like Google Analytics

For a complete list of what to install (from my perspective as I currently have them installed on this WordPress site) you can read about my post on the essential plugin to install on your WordPress site

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