WordPress comes with a power Plugin architecture that enables users to extend the site functionality. With WordPress plugins, you can develop the site to do almost anything you want. Nowadays, countless of plugins are available online and you can be free to choose it for personal usage.
In order to help people easily select an effective and proper plugin, we have reviewed hundreds of options and come out the best ones according to the below standards:
- Practicality and effectiveness
- Easy to install and configure
- Requirements and compatibility
- Affordability and functions
- Updates and technical support
- User reviews and ratings
Install WordPress Plugins
WordPress plugins are helpful tools used by users and developers to extend WordPress abilities beyond the core installation. They provide new additions to WordPress blogs that either boost the existed features or add new functions that are unavailable before. By this way, plugins help WordPress to be one of the most popular and powerful CMS.
There are many free and premium plugins available on the Internet, but some beginners are confused about how to properly install WordPress plugin to extend functionality. So we come out the detailed tutorial with step-by-step guidelines and illustrations, with which even newbies who have little technical knowledge can manage the process with ease.
Get WordPress Plugins
There are thousands of WordPress plugins available online, where to find them? Simply, you can get a large number of free plugins on WordPress Plugin Directory, which contains more than 30,000 options ranging from SEO, security, to content displaying. As specialized for WordPress, these plugins are considered thoroughly tested and secure.
In addition, there are many developers and designers devote useful WordPress plugins. So you can browse and download a free or paid one on the third party websites. As there are a set of good and bad choices, we suggest you choose a reliable plugin on in above, which are completely reviewed by users and our editors.
Install Plugins in WordPress Dashboard
This is the easiest way to install a WordPress plugin, but you should note that it is only suitable for plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory.
Login into your WordPress Dashboard, go to Plugins -> Add New, you can see the screen as the below screenshot, where you can find a search box that you can search for specific plugins in WordPress Plugin Directory.
To showcase the detailed process, we install All in One SEO Pack as an example. Type the plugin name in the search box and click the Search Plugins button, you can get a series of similar results.
Once find your plugin, click the Install Now button and a pop-up appears, asking if you are sure to install the plugin. Click on the OK button and it will start to install the plugin.
When it appears the following screen, the plugin is successfully installed. Note that you need to activate the plugin first, then you can feel free to configure the settings for specific usage.
Install Plugins by Uploading Installation
Sometimes, you may want to install some premium plugins from third party websites. In this condition, you cannot achieve the process by installing it on WordPress Dashboard, but should upload its installation.
First of all, you should download the plugin installation onto your local computer. Then, back to the WordPress Dashboard, go to Plugins -> Add New, click on Upload, then you can see the below screenshot. Click on Choose File button to select the .zip file on your desktop and WordPress uploads it automatically.
You will be taken to activate the plugin once installed successfully. Simply to activate the plugin and set the configurations to match your personal needs.
Manually Install Plugins with FTP
This is the least user-friendly way to install a WordPress plugin, especially for newbies. If you are new to WordPress and have no idea about FTP Manager, we don’t recommend you utilize this method.
First of all, you need to prepare the plugin installation and unzip it locally. Then, access to your host through the FTP Manager, go to /wp-content/plugins/ and upload your plugin file there.
Once uploaded, you can click on the Plugins tab in the WordPress Dashboard, click on Installed Plugins to find the one installed just before, activate it and configure the settings.
Update WordPress Plugin
WordPress developers keep releasing new versions for a plugin so as to enable more functions. The regular update for all plugins becomes a unique method to get more features from the latest versions. This guide /backup-wordpress-website/mentions the way to update WordPress plugin in both manual and automatic way so as to help readers complete updates with ease. Before everything, make sure that you have made a fresh backup of your website to safely update plugins.
Update WordPress Plugin Manually
Manual plugin renewal makes it clear on what have been updated on your website and that is also a means to accomplish all updates in a flexible way. Here come two methods for the purpose of updating plugins manually. Check details as below.
Method 1: Update Plugins via WordPress Dashboard
That is a handy method to update plugins, especially for beginners. Log into your WP admin and go to Plugins. This is where to check the status of all plugins on your website. Focus on the marked plugins with a notice said “There is a new version of xxx available. View version or update now”.
After having a rough idea about the new version details, click “Update now” link. It would take a few seconds to fulfill the update. When prompted, you have successfully upgraded the current plugin to a new version. Continue to update the rest plugins.
Perhaps, if there is a large number of plugins coming with new versions, it is really a troublesome business to update all of them one by one. In this case, having those plugins updated in bulk is a great option for you. Focus on the “Update Available”, which includes a list of plugins to be updated. Check “Plugin” to select all plugins included in this page and then expand Bulk Actions drop-down list. Select “Update” and click “Apply” to start the update process.
Method 2: Update WordPress Plugin Using cPanel
Since most webmasters integrate their sites with cPanel, we would like to show you the way to update plugin via this powerful control panel. First of all, download the latest plugin version from WordPress.org/plugins/ and then extract the zip file on your computer.
Log into cPanel and go to Files > File Manager. The document root for your plugin directory should be /public_html/wp-content/plugins. Once accessing to the folder, right click a plugin to be updated and check “Delete”. Having the old plugin version deleted, you should set about uploading the new version.
Click Upload to jump to the Upload Files page and choose the new plugin folder from your computer. The plugin with new version will be uploaded to your website a few seconds later.
Note that, an FTP client, like FileZilla, can be an alternative for cPanel. That is great for users who are used to uploading files to website via FTP instead of control panel. The way to update plugin via FTP is much the same as that via cPanel. Log into FTP client and target the plugins directory. Delete the old plugin version and then upload the latest one you’ve downloaded just now. That’s it!
Update WordPress Plugin Automatically
For some webmasters lazy about manual update or lacking time to do so, the automatic plugin update should be a great idea on this occasion. The use of an automatic update plugin gives you a leg up and simplifies matters greatly. The selected method in this guide is Advanced Automatic Updates, which enables build-in automatic update feature on your website.
Search and install this plugin via WordPress dashboard. An option “Advanced Automatic Updates” comes under Settings. Go to Settings > Advanced Automatic Updates and check “Update your plugins automatically” option. By the way, if there is a need to enable automatic update for all themes, then you are required to check the option “Update your themes automatically” as well.
Override the site admin email if needed and you’d better not to disable email notification for which sends fresh update information to you timely. Leave the default way to receive debug information and then save all changes.
When receiving an email for all updates, you need to go back to your website and check if anything goes well as before. If so, all plugins have been updated successfully. There are some other automatic update plugins achieving the same purpose, like Automatic Plugin Updates, WP Automatic Updates, Easy Updates Manager, and so on.
Do Plugins Affect Your Website Performance?
In this case, you have to use the plugins in a proper way so as to reduce the impact to the large degree. And also, don’t forget to remove the inactive plugins if it’s not needed any more.
Control the Number of Installed Plugins on Your WordPress Site
When it comes to the WordPress plugins optimization, you firstly need to control the installation number. After all, if you have too many plugins added to your site, these tools will make a lot of HTTP requests to load all the files and assets. In this case, the website performance and the reading experiences can be affected negatively.
Now, you might be wondering how many plugins is proper and how many of them are too many. Frankly speaking, there is no accurate answer. Generally, the bad and poor-coded plugins will load lots of files at one time. And the truly quality plugins will keep the loading files to the minimum level. Here, we can only give you some suggestions when installing the plugins.
- You need to go through all the plugins you have installed on your WordPress site. And then, you should deactivate and remove all the useless ones.
- When choosing the plugins, you should find those coming from the reliable resource platforms. Also, you should consider the downloading time and the rating star. If a plugin is merely downloaded and the rating star is not satisfactory, it is likely to be the bad one that may add dozens of files and data for loading.
- It is possible that some plugins have the similar or the overlapping features. You should avoid this situation. For instance, you only need one plugin for the caching optimization. Thus, there is no need for you to install both the WP Super Cache plugin and the W3 Total Cache plugin.
Optimize the Plugins Manually
Frankly speaking, the manual method is too complicated for common webmasters. In this case, we highly recommend you to keep the number of installed plugins in a moderate level, remove unnecessary plugins and opt for the quality options only.
Install and Configure Each Plugin Properly
The process of plugin installation and activation is really simple. The WordPress dashboard helps you finish it via some simple clicks. However, the issue is that not all of you will set up for these plugins properly. In this case, your plugins may fail to perform with the best function and efficiency.
Actually, the proper and comprehensive plugin installation can benefit the performing and running of your website a lot. You should go through each configuration option and choose the best suitable one based on your real needs. Sometimes, you can even check the plugin manual or the documentation to learn the details of plugin each setting.
WordPress Plugin VS functions.php File
This is a common question we have received from many readers. Later on, those who are faced with the same question can directly find a professional answer from this article. It is often be misunderstood that adding code snippet to functions.php files is always better than installing a WordPress plugin. But there are some instances where you should install a plugin. In fact, both have their own pros and cons. The solution you are going to use should be according to the specific situations.
WordPress Plugins VS functions.php File
Two solutions are often used to extend the functionality of WordPress: via plugins or via code in functions.php file. Different roads will lead to the same goal. And everything goes well with either of them. But which one is better for WordPress performance catches the attention of most readers.
What comes after installing too many plugins are often the worries of slow speed and low WordPress security. With the use of code, there is also a worry to mess up a WordPress site but have no ability to fix the errors.
Discussed in the following is the detailed comparison between WordPress plugin vs functions.php file. It can be learned from our further discussions which is better for your WordPress site.
Pros and Cons of functions.php File
Developers are more willing to edit functions.php file, which enables them to add any custom functionality for their own theme. In most cases, however, a WordPress plugin features a fixed functionality.
- In admin area lies a built-in theme editor with which you edit functions.php file easily.
- In one file, all code snippets can be copied and pasted.
- Constant coding practices will increase your knowledge of how code works.
- What you have done to theme’s functions.php file will fail to work when you use a new theme or update your old one.
- A child theme is required for your WordPress before making changes to your theme.
- With the passage of time, you will have more trouble telling them code and custom code apart.
- Additional scripts and stylesheets are necessary for some code snippets to work properly.
It is a fact that many tricks are available for you to edit functions.php file. But code snippets cannot apply to all cases when there are proper WordPress plugins. With the same code, functions.php file and the WordPress plugin will have an identical influence on performance.
And a great possibility exists that you cannot add new features and functionality to WordPress by editing the functions.php file. A custom code can be a typical example which might need additional scripts and styles. But functions.php file is better for developers to add theme based functionality.
Pros and Cons of WordPress Plugins
Theoretically speaking, plugins in WordPress work the same way as apps in your smartphone. With code contained, WordPress plugins will simplify your process to add new features and functionality. Chances are that beginners can build a powerful WordPress website with the help of them.
- Once your theme is changed, a WordPress plugin still works as usual.
- With the same code, a plugin will have the same impact on performance as functions file does.
- You are free to put a plugin in a certain state: activate, disable, reinstall, and more.
- Under the guidance of the detailed description, the goal can be easier achieved with a plugin.
- When the new updates come, you have the need to keep up with the changes.
- Free plugins are easy to be abandoned in the future for some reasons.
- Plugins will reduce the chances of practising your coding skills.
When to Use WordPress Plugins?
A plugin which comes with the same code is more recommended for WordPress.
On one hand, it will save you much time and energy to arrive at the same end. Things will be much easier when you are relying on a proper plugin in comparison with editing every single of line. Moreover, the plugin developers will probably fix the vulnerability, add more features, optimize the performance, and many more. Under this circumstance, there are many benefits brought by new updates. On the other hand, there is no difference on WordPress performance no matter where the code loads.
It is easy to found yourself stuck in the middle of sea, because there are thousands of plugins in the market. We would like to recommend some best WordPress plugins so that you can make quick and right choices.
When to Edit functions.php File?
When no plugin is available for you add the functionality you need, you can add simple code snippet to your theme’s file. And such is the case with the functionality which has a relationship with your child theme or WordPress theme.