When you have a blog or any type of website on WordPress, there always comes a time when you have to resort to using some plugins. These add-ons are often needed to improve not only the performance of your web space but also to be able to add additional features that maybe the template or WordPress itself does not support. This is why I thought it would be useful to have a short guide in which to discuss the topic, discovering together how to choose the best and how to install WordPress plugins in the right way.
How to choose the best plugins for your website
Plugins are indispensable tools for anyone who creates or manages a site on WordPress as they are capable of greatly improving the performance of this platform. Generally, whether it is done personally or delegated to someone else, the choice of the main most important plugins is the next step after installing the template (the graphics of the site). In the post “how to create a successful blog” you can find explained all these steps. Once you understand the importance of plugins, you have to decide how to choose them from the myriad of them that arise every day plus those that already exist.
First of all, it evaluates only and exclusively those that are really essential in order to improve your web pages. Then remember not to install two or more plugins that have the same functionality. Then based on the main features that you find on the Add plugin page immediately under the name of each plugin:
- Update. Only consider those that are updated often and avoid those with a latest update dating back years and years.
- Compatibility. Check that the plugin is compatible with your current version of WordPress.
- Download. Plugins that have 10,000+ installs tend to not create major problems as they are working on at least 10,000 different types of sites.
- Feedback. Opt for those with ratings of at least 4 or 5 stars.
How many plugins to install on a website
Very often during my consultations for bloggers I am asked how many WordPress plugins to install. I want to clarify that there is no certain limitation on the number of extensions to be used but in any case having too many is known to lead to a significant slowdown of the entire website. For this reason, I always recommend installing a maximum of 10/15 consciously chosen and that are of excellent quality. All this to avoid malfunctions or various incompatibilities that occur very frequently and then create a lot of trouble in identifying the problem. Alternatively, having an excellent high-performance hosting could help in better supporting a disproportionate use of plugins. Nevertheless, thinking with a nice “few but good” it is difficult to go wrong.
How to install WordPress plugins
The first method is a very easy and intuitive procedure made available to us by the platform itself. It consists of automatically installing WordPress plugins in a few simple steps:
- Access the WordPress Dashboard.
- Go to the Plugins section located in the left column (Usually it is just below the Appearance section).
- Enter Add New.
- At the top right click in the “Searching for plugin …” field and type the name of the plugin to install.
- Once identified, click on the Install Now button and wait for it to finish.
- After installation, the new plugin will appear on the Installed Plugins page and must be activated by clicking on the Activate button.
At this point the new plugin is working and ready to manage its settings as we prefer according to our needs.
How to install a plugin in .zip format
In case we decide to rely directly on the WordPress plugins directory, these will be saved on our computer in .zip format by clicking on the Download button on the page of the plugin we have chosen. Do not worry, there is nothing strange or extremely difficult. The .zip file is simply a compressed folder that will be uploaded to the WordPress dashboard like this:
- Access the WordPress Dashboard.
- Go to the Plugins section in the left column.
- Enter Add New.
- Click on the Load Plugin button located at the top left immediately next to the Add Plugin heading.
- Now click on Choose file… and search our computer for the .zip folder you just downloaded.
- Select it and click Install Now.
Just like for automatic installation, the plugin will appear on the installed plugins page and we just need to activate it.
How to install a plugin via FTP
The last method to install a WordPress plugin is to upload the file directly to the website server via an FTP client. I would like to clarify that this procedure is suitable for the more experienced who know where and how to get their hands inside their cPanel and file management on the server. Having said that, proceed with downloading the plugin .zip folder via the WordPress plugins directory and then unpack it on your computer. At this point we proceed as follows:
- Access the website via FTP.
- Locate the folder named /wp-content/plugins.
- Open it and load inside the entire plugin folder you just unpacked.
By accessing the WordPress Dashboard and going to the installed plugins page we will find the new plugin uploaded via FTP installed and ready to activate.
! The unpacked plugin folder must be loaded complete exactly as it is without in any way modifying, moving or uploading the individual files inside it one by one.
How to manage WordPress plugins
Once all WordPress plugins have been installed and activated, we can manage them independently by going to the Installed plugins section. On this page we will find the alphabetical list of all our plugins and we will be able to perform various actions. Activate them, deactivate them, enable or disable automatic updating, change their settings and uninstall them. I recommend they should be checked often in order to keep them constantly updated. To update them, just click on Update plugin every time notified will appear.
! To permanently delete a plugin, always remember that it must first be deactivated by clicking on the appropriate Deactivate item immediately below its name on the installed plugins page.
I hope I have been helpful in discovering the world of WordPress plugins and for more information or if there are any steps that are not clear to you, I remain at your complete disposal.