WordPress Plugins: An Introduction

Last updated: August 6, 2018 at 23:56 pm

The WordPress Web Platform started as a very simple blogging platform. But plugins have made just anything possible: from chatrooms to eccomerce and much more. Understanding WordPress plugins and how to use them is crucial in building a great website using WordPress.

Bear in mind that when you’re looking for a plugin to get a job done on your WordPress website, you will have to choose from a long list of options. That is because many developers are churning their very own creations that aim to do the same job. They are all fighting for good ratings and possibly and upgrade which is payment to unlock additional features.

Here are some factors to take into consideration when you have to choose between multiple plugins which do the same job.

  1. Last updated – when was the plugin last updated? If a plugin was not updated recently, then there is a possibility that the creator might have abandoned the project. Plugins that are not frequently updated leave loopholes for virus attacks on your website. Choose a plugin that has very recently been updated, if  possible.
  2. Rating – Another factor is rating. When people are genuinely satisfied with how a plugin performs, they give it good ratings. The more five star ratings a plugin has, the better the chances that it really does deliver.
  3. Reviews – People will talk about how a plugin performed on their site, and this will give you the pros and cons of using it. If there is an overwhelming number of good reviews, but just a very small fraction of bad ones, then you can ignore the bad ones and safely assume that the plugin is good – there will always be a handful of bad reviews for some reason or the other.

Great, so in this tutorial, we’re going to install the Jetpack Plugin. Actually Jetpack is not a plugin. It is a “suite” of plugins. And the Jetpack suite of plugins does a very good job in serving a number of purposes on your WordPress website. It is recommended that almost all WordPress websites install the Jetpack suite of plugins. So let’s go ahead and do that.

But first, let’s take a look at the all the plugins we currently have installed on our WordPress installation. To do this, we log into our WordPress dashboard as usual and then click on “Plugins.”

This will show you the plugins that you presently have available for your website.

As you can see, we just have 3 plugins installed. And only one is activated. That is, the Loginizer Plugin that WordPress prompted to install during setup. By the way, we still have to go and configure the settings for the Loginizer Plugin.

The Hello Dolly Plugin that you see there is just a toy. It doesn’t serve any useful purpose. So I’ll either delete or leave that as it is.

The Akismet Plugin is a very complicated story which I will narrate later.

Now that we see that we have installed, it’s time to go install our Jetpack Plugin. And we have to now go a different route. We have to access what is called the “Network Administrator Area.”

So hover over My Sites, the Network Admin, the click “Plugins.” We’re now taken to the Dashboard that makes it possible for us to search and add plugins to our website.

This page in the network admin area is a bit different from the one we visited before. It now gives us the option to “Add New” plugins. So let’s click on the “Add New” button.

As you can see in the screenshot above, we’re now taken to the page where we can browse for plugins that we need or search by keyword. So let’s type in “Jetpack” into the search bar. There is no need to hit search or enter or anything. Once you type the keyword in, the relevant plugins load automatically.

As you can see in the screenshot above, the Jetpack Plugin has appeared at the top of the results and it has 1 million + active users and over 1000 ratings. And more importantly you can see that it was created by the WordPress team itself.

But there’s more! It was updated just 7 days ago! And you can bet that this awesome plugin will be constantly updated!

So to install this plugin, we just have to click the “Install Now” button.

I do that, and the plugin has been installed. It now asks me to Network Activate the Plugin.

I’ll do that by clicking the Network Activate button.

And as you can see, our Jetpack Plugin has now been activated.

You know what that means? That means, that, as part of the many features of the Jetpack Plugin, the Facebook Page Integration Box will be available now as a widget for us to drop into our sidebar.

So let’s head back over to our website’s dashboard. Click on My Sites >> The Amazonas Hotel in Lethem >> Dashboard.

When I land on the Dashboard, I see that, as a result of the WordPress plugin being activated, a lot of changes has already taken place on my Dashboard area.

A closer look.

And you know what? I’ll follow this prompt and go ahead and set up Jetpack right now. So, see you in the next lesson, “Setting Up the Jetpack Plugin.”

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