The Ultimate Guide to WordPress Plugins

WordPress is powerful, easy to implement, highly flexible and has thousands of plugins that take WordPress sites way beyond standard design and functionality.

It’s really easy to start a website and customize it with WordPress Plugins according to the need of a site.

Millions of websites are relying on it to deliver their content.

And in this post, I will cover the most important thing you must know about WordPress plugins.

Plugins play an important part in creating outstanding WordPress websites. They enable customers to add functionality to their websites without having to know a single line of code.

For example, you could use a plugin to add a Social share button to your site. Or, if you run an ecommerce business, you might install a plugin to maintain inventory or assist with payment gateways or allow visitors to book appointments online.

There are also plugins that can help you enhance your contact forms, make beautiful sliders, and backup your site in case of data failure.

Over 58,000 plugins are available to download from the WordPress plugin directory.

You can install, activate, and begin using WordPress plugins in a matter of minutes as per your website requirement.

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With lots of merits, unfortunately, WordPress plugins have unsavoury side effects, if you are not careful.

But not to worry, just consider these tips to make your website secure and perfect.

1. Update Your Plugin

It is important to maintain your plugins up to date if you want your website to be safe and secure. Hackers are extremely interested in out-of-date plugins.

Out-of-date plugins are vulnerable to security flaws and may break when newer versions of WordPress and other plugins are released.

Apart from updating them, make sure that your plugins themselves are updated.

It is strongly advised to uninstall any plugins that have not been updated in a long time (from the past 1 year).

2. Quality Always Beats Quantity

You should be very selective while installing a plugin for your WordPress website.

Plugins won’t only add extra features to your site but are also responsible for the behaviour of your entire website.

Poorly coded plugins can crash or slow down your website.

They may look very tempting while installing but gives you err feelings after installing and may leave the footprint behind, which will be difficult to remove or delete.

So you must check a few keys such as:

  • Average ratings
  • Reviews
  • Number of downloads
  • Developer team
  • Developer support

You should also decide whether the plugins you are installing are really needed for your website.

3. Premium Doesn’t Mean It Is Best

Along with free, several plugins are premium, but it doesn’t mean they are the best. It is a psychological factor that people believe expensive items are superior to free items.

The fact is, there are plenty of premium plugins readily available on WordPress, which are full of craps that may look great, but the reality is totally different.

However, well-coded premium plugins are the best.

If you are installing the premium plugins, which have been developed by reputed developers, then you will enjoy the functionality.

So don’t just google and don’t go with whatever it shows up. Check the developer details and reviews before installing it.

4. Number Of Plugins Installed

Does it really matter?

Not at all.

Plugins are extra code that provides additional functionality and features to your website.

Therefore, the number of plugins you have installed is necessarily not a big issue. However, it depends on how well coded they are.

It would be far better to install five lightweight plugins than bloated, resource-intensive, and vulnerable plugins.

However, using too many plugins on your website can cause conflicts and slow down your site’s performance.

This is a problem that plugin developers face regularly. That is why they keep updating their plugin. So that it will function properly with your WordPress website.

Before installing any plugins, I recommend that you first examine the reviews, compatibility, and developer team details of the relevant plugins.

5. Deactivate Them If Not In Used

Every plugin put some strain on your website and is responsible for your website performance.

So, deactivate your back-end plugins if it is not in use.

There is no point to put unnecessary strain on your website by keeping the plugins activated if it is not needed.

6. Keep Updating Your Deactivated Plugins Or Get Rid Of It

Yes, this is true, even inactive plugins can cause a severe security threat to your WordPress website if you left them out of date.

So, it will be great if you keep them up to date and the same advice goes for the theme you have installed.

I would also suggest uninstalling all the plugins which are not active on your site and you have no intention of using them in the future.

Don’t just keep your website stranded with inactive plugins. Keep your website clean and tidy for better performance.

7. Outdated Plugins Can Put Your Site In Maintenance Mode

If you have installed a plugin created way back, suppose in the year 2005, make sure that it still works with the current version of WordPress.

A plugin that is not compatible with the current version of WordPress can cause an internal server error for your website.

8. Plugins Can Contain Malicious Code

WordPress.org’s team review every plugin before making it live on their website for users. So, it’s very rare that you will find the malicious plugin on WordPress.org.

However, installing the plugin from unofficial sources can be risky. So, before you download any plugin, be sure to look at the developer’s profile as well as the plugin’s reviews.

9. Some Plugins Are Vital For Almost Any Site

In most cases, the plugins you install will depend on the site you’re creating.

For example, an e-commerce store might require a shopping cart plugin, while a photography focused website may need an image gallery tool.

However, there are some plugins that almost every WordPress installation should include, no matter your site’s focus.

Must-Have WordPress Plugins

10. There Are Multiple Places To Find Plugins

If you’re new to plugins, the WordPress Plugin Directory is a good place to start.

However, this is far from the only place to find plugins online. Plenty of developers sell plugins through their own websites, and there are other directories with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of options.

Keep in mind that most plugins not on WordPress.org will be premium, which means you’ll have to pay a fee to use them.

Here are a few places to get started:

  • CodeCanyon: This is the largest directory of premium WordPress plugins online. You can get just about everything here for as little as $2.
  • WPMU DEV: This is another great place to get high-quality WordPress plugins in areas like analytics, security, design, social media integration, and more.

Let’s review the three ways to install WordPress plugins.

Add a Plugin To WordPress Website From The Dashboard

To get started,

1. Log in to your WordPress admin area, then visit the Plugins > Add new

2. In the upper right corner, search for the plugin using its name or functionality. A number of results will appear.

3. Once you find the plugin, click Install Now.

install plugin from wordpress dashboard

4. When the installation is completed, you’ll need to activate it. click Activate.

activate woocommerce plugin

This is how you install a plugin directly from the WordPress directory. You may also enable or disable any plugin at any moment.

To Manually Add a Plugin To WordPress Website

1. Download the desired plugin from a third-party source as a .zip file. If you’re getting the plugin from a third-party website, be sure the developer is authentic.

2. From your WordPress dashboard, choose Plugins > Add New.

3. Click Upload Plugin at the top of the page.

upload zip file in wordpress

4. Click Choose File, locate the plugin .zip file on your pc, then click Install Now.

how to add wordpress plugins

5. After the installation is complete, click Activate Plugin.

Now we will see:

How To Add a Plugin To WordPress Website via FTP

If you are familiar with FTP, this is a technical way to install plugins. If you aren’t, this is an excellent opportunity to become familiar with the procedure.

1. Extract (or unzip) the plugin file. The unzipped folder will appear with the same name as the .zip file.

2. Next, you’ll need to connect to your WordPress website’s server with FTP. To do this, you can use an FTP client like FileZilla that connects to the host server to transfer files.

3. Open the FTP client, and connect to your website with a username and password. You might need to obtain these credentials from your hosting provider.

filezilla login details

4. Once you’re logged into FileZilla, navigate to your website’s home directory in the top right quadrant. Look for the folder called wp-content, and within you’ll find the plugins folder.

5. Upload the unzipped plugin folder that you downloaded to the plugins folder.

upload plugin via FTP

6. Finally, you’ll just need to visit your WordPress dashboard and go to Plugins > Installed Plugins. Find your new plugin and click Activate.

How To Update WordPress Plugins?

It’s essential to keep your WordPress site up to date.

If you want your website to be safe and secure, It’s important to keep your plugins up to date. Out-of-date plugins are the prime target of hackers.

Older versions of plugins may be less secure and may conflict with newer versions of WordPress or your other plugins and themes.

Quality, active plugins are frequently updated by their developers, and when they do you’ll see a notification in your admin toolbar and admin sidebar.

plugin update notification

When you receive an update notification click on the icon and this will take you to the Updates page.

plugin update

Simply click on Update Now, and the plugin will update automatically. If you have a lot of plugins to update, you can also check the relevant boxes and update them all at once using the Bulk Actions drop-down menu.

You will also have the option of auto-updates, which will spare you the hassle of checking and upgrading plugins every time.

Enable auto updates of plugins

However, there are certain cases where you might prefer manual updates.

Sometimes, plugins that recently added a new functionality can be buggy. So only toggle automatic updates when you fully trust the plugin developers.

How To Delete or Deactivate WordPress Plugins?

There will be times when you might want to uninstall a plugin and the reason may be anything: you may don’t need them anymore or it is causing security risks or slowing down your site, etc.

To do that:

1. Navigate to Plugins > Installed Plugins.

2. Find the one that you want to deactivate or remove.

3. Select Deactivate. This step just disables the plugin and does not remove it from your site.

deactivating plugins

If you simply want to temporarily disable the plugin, skip the next step.

4. Select Delete to remove the plugin from your site permanently.

delete plugin

1. Check The Average Rating Of The Free Plugin 

The is the best way to examine any plugin. If the average rating of a plugin is above 4.3 then you are good to go.

average rating of yoast seo

Users give ratings to plugins based on their experience. If they like the plugin, they give 5 stars, and if the plugin is not good or negatively affects the website, they give 1 star.

For example, Yoast SEO is one of the top-rated plugins in WordPress. You can see the rating of the plugin in the above screenshot.

So always look for the average rating of any plugin before installing it.

2. User Reviews and Active Installations 

Not only rating, but you should also consider looking into the user’s review. Reading a handful of reviews of the plugin gives you an overall idea about it.

While reading each review, check for common issues. If you see so many negative comments, then refuse to install that particular plugin.

user review on plugin

However, if you find users are giving good reviews to the plugin, then you can use it on your website. See the user review of the Elementor Page Builder in the above example.

Coming to the active installations, the higher a plugin’s number of active installations, the more it is trusted by the website owners. Consider the plugin with at least 2000 active installations.

New plugins, on the other hand, have a lower number of installations. After all, they have to start from somewhere. In that case, check the developer’s profile and install it wisely.

3. Compatibility and Updates

We have already discussed it earlier, but again you should be very attentive. Because when a plugin is not regularly updated, it’s less likely to be secure.

With every update of WordPress, the plugin should ideally be updated with the compatibility of the latest version of WordPress.

Fortunately, the WordPress plugin repository displays the plugin’s most recent update and its compatibility with the latest version of WordPress.

plugin compatibility

You can even see what updates the developer has done in the changelog tab. If it is incompatible with the most recent version of WordPress, it may cause your entire website to crash.

So, I strongly advise you to pay close attention to the compatibility and updates of free plugins.

4. Support Overview

The support area of the plugin page’s sidebar provides a fast summary of the number of support threads opened for a plugin in the previous two months.

It will also indicate how many of these threads have been resolved.

support resolved

If a plugin has a large number of unresolved threads and the author has not reacted to any of them in the previous two months, this might indicate that the author has lost interest.

The plugin may still function well for you, but it may no longer be supported in the long term.

5. Check FAQs and Other Notes

Remember to read the FAQs and Other Notes sections below the plugin description (Some plugins may not have them). These sections often offer helpful instructions on how to use a plugin.

plugin faq section

You may also find out plugin author’s advice on how to add your own CSS styles to plugin output.

It’s also possible that you’ll discover some more useful information there.

What To Do When a Plugin Doesn’t Work 

Sometimes plugins may conflict with other installed plugins or themes, which may break down your website.

In that scenario, deactivate all the installed plugins and switch the website to the default WordPress theme.

Then start activating all the plugins one by one and check which is conflicting. If all the plugin works smoothly, then it’s a theme which is getting conflicted with the newly installed plugin.

Once you’ve identified the culprit, contact the plugin/theme creator and request assistance.

Be noted: Free plugin comes with no warranty, and the author doesn’t require to answer all the questions.

I hope you found this article helpful, and I’m sure you have some great advice to offer, so please don’t hesitate to share it with me in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions on WordPress Plugins

Yes! you can install your own plugin to your WordPress website.

You just have to upload the zip file of the developed plugin in the plugin directory and you are all set.

WordPress allows you to install as many plugins as you wish, and there is no predetermined number of plugins that you should install.

However, the more plugins you install, the more likely they are to impact your website’s performance. Its totally depends on the plugin quality.

You could install a dozen high-quality plugins and experience no issues, but one poorly coded plugin will destroy your website performance.

For these reasons, you should only install plugins when necessary and uninstall any plugins that are no longer in use.

Never assume your safety is assured. Some plugins may be badly designed, while others may be incompatible with one another or with your theme. Hackers can potentially cause issues on a website by using poorly coded WordPress plugins.

That is why it is important to use plugins from recognised plugin repositories or trusted third-party plugin developers.

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