Anyone who is getting started with WordPress needs to understand how plugins can benefit them and how to install them correctly to start reaping the benefits from them.
In this guide, we will be exploring what a WordPress plugin is and how it can benefit you whilst showing you a step-by-step guide to installing a WordPress plugin.
There are also times where it is necessary to understand how to uninstall a WordPress Plugin so I will also describe how to deactivate plugins and uninstall them.
What is a WordPress Plugin?
A plug-in is software that adds features and/or functionality to your website, whether it be to add a photo gallery to your website, or a social media plug-in that allows your visitors to share your content on Facebook or Twitter.
There are a high number of free and paid ones available to cover any aspect you want to add to your website, but there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself before installing one as going for a free one does seem appealing but they tend to not come with technical support.
So, always check how long has the plug-in been in use and is it compatible with your version of WordPress, what is the rating it has been given by other users and does the support it offers respond to questions at all.
Plugins on WordPress.com sites
If you happen to have a free website on wordpress.com the you cannot install plugins unless you upgrade your plan to a paid one. If you do want more functionality in your site, it is probably best to transfer it to a self-hosted WordPress.org site. I use the SiteRubix platform, learn more here.
Step-by-Step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin
If it is a free plugin you can use the search function which will be described below. I will also cover how to upload a plugin as some paid plugins require you to upload it. This is relatively simple, but slightly different.
Using the Search function
Once signed into your administration account of your WordPress website, from the side menu you select plugins and select ‘Add New’.
Using the search bar at the top right, you can search for your desired plugin. I am showing AMP for WP. This is a great plugin for making your website mobile friendly due to recent changes to Google. As more searches are being completed on mobile devices, it makes sense to make sure your site is mobile friendly.
You can see it shows at the top of the search, it has had 10,000+ installs and is compatible with my version of WordPress.
The next stage is to click install, this will take a few seconds. After that the button will change from install, as per the example of minimal AMP to activate.
Now that is something key to remember, just because you have installed it doesn’t mean it is active. Several plugins require you to complete some kind of setup, which will be unique to each plugin.
Now click activate, once complete your plugin is now installed and active on your site.
You can also do this from the plugin page, the example below shows how the option below is activate.
The plugins page will show you the plugin, the way to know it is active is there is an option for you to deactivate it.
Installing a Plugin, you have downloaded
If you have downloaded a paid plugin, this will not show on the search bar, therefore you will need to upload it.
On the plugin ‘Add New’ page, next to the words ‘Add Plugins’ is a button labelled Upload Plugin.
Click this button and it gives you the option to select a file, same as you would attach a document to an email.
The plugin you have downloaded will be a zip file, normally, and you select this file and click install now.
After this stage, you activate the plugin from the plugin list and you have now installed your plugin and it is ready and active on your site.
Things to think about with Plugins
However much plugins are great to increase functionality of your website, too many plugins or rather poor quality plugins that slow down your website can have a negative impact as visitors might get frustrated if your site takes ages to load and choose to navigate away.
Just something to think about when installing a high number of unnecessary plugins that could be slowing you down. So, that is why it might be necessary to uninstall a plugin. I had Google Analytics Master active, but then found that if I just added some code to the header of a site then I wouldn’t need it active at all.
How to Uninstall a WordPress Plugin?
Go to your admin area of your site and select plugins from your menu, click installed plugins.
Underneath each plugin will be several options, if the plugin isn’t active it will display activate. If the plugin is active, it will display deactivate.
The first step is to deactivate the plugin. Click the word deactivate and that way it is deactivated, you can also then check if it has had an effect on your website. if you are replacing a plugin straightaway then the impact will only be for a minimum, but still worth a check.
Now the plugin is deactivated you can either leave it there in your plugin list, in the case where you may plan to reuse it or you have deactivated it to review whether it is having an impact on your site speed before turning it on again.
Or you can choice to remove it. Once deactivated the plugin will now have the option to delete the plugin. You can always choose to reinstall it using the steps above later.
Hope that you have found this useful? If you have comments or questions about installing or uninstalling a WordPress plugin, then please leave them in the comments below.