WordPress is the most popular self-hosted content management system (CMS) mainly used for blogging. WordPress plugins are utilities that offer extra functionality to your WordPress website. There are two types of WordPress plugins, Free which you can get from wordpress.org, and premium plugins which are sold by many author’s on their sites and different marketplaces. Webful Creations also offer some premium plugins. We are here going to explain more about free plugins installation, but the procedure to install free or paid plugins is the same.
So let’s try to understand how to install a WordPress plugin properly. Please note people refer plugins as modules, utilities and patches as well. WordPress plugins are bits of software that can be uploaded to extend and expand the functionality of your WordPress site. They can expand capability or upload new functions for your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and combine seamlessly with WordPress as WordPress is also written in PHP.
To install a plugin you simply want to place the plugin directory with its files into the wp-content/plugins directory of your WordPress installation. Once a plugin is installed, you could activate it or deactivate it from the Plugins menu for your WP administration. In simple words, WordPress plugins are like apps for your WordPress website. They allow you to add new features to WordPress like some plugins to get started with, slideshow, shopping cart, and more.
Remember, WordPress users can only install their desired plugins on a self-hosted (WordPress.org) WordPress website. A website hosted on WordPress.com has some limitations with plugins.
What are plugins in WordPress?
Plugins are applications that you can install into your WordPress website to add new features to it, and also extend it to perform more complex functions. Plugins come in different categories which include:
- Free plugins: These are plugins that can be found on the WordPress plugin directory, made available to the public for free.
- Paid or premium plugins: Some paid plugins also have free version to unlock its premium features you have to purchase its pro version. Premium plugins are available on different sites and marketplaces.
- Custom plugins: If your WordPress website needs to have a particular feature, or you want it to perform a particular function, you can develop a custom plugin to meet that need, if you cannot find anyone that already exists. If you are looking for WordPress plugin development we may help you.
Install WordPress plugin through plugin search page
There are thousands of plugins available on WordPress.org and they are available in your WordPress administrator dashboard as well. You can just search for your desired plugin and click install that’s it. Once plugin is installed you can activate it. Let’s see this in steps.
Login your WordPress admin panel
Go to “Plugins” in your WordPress dashboard
Click on “Plugins” in the sidebar menu:
Click on “Add New”
You can find the “Add New” button near the top of the page:
What you’ll see next is a page that shows you a shortlist of featured/recommended plugins, and a handy search field on the right – this is the only one we’re going to use. Input the name of the plugin that you want to install in that search field. You can select the plugin that is best for you. Since in our search, we were looking for WPForms which is a good WordPress contact form plugin.
Now click the ‘Install Now’ button next to it.
WordPress will now download and install the plugin for you. After this, you’ll notice the ‘Install Now’ button will change into the ‘Activate’ button.
So the WordPress plugin was downloaded in your WordPress installation’s wp-content/plugins directory. But its not active yet and it will not work unless you activate it. So go ahead and click on the activate button to start using that plugin on your WordPress site. Once you activate the plugin, check and configure the plugin settings by heading to Plugins -> Installed Plugins.
That’s all, you have successfully installed your first WordPress plugin.
Install WordPress Plugin through FTP
When a plugin is not available in WordPress.org then you would either have to upload it or install it through FTP. The FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a good way to connect with your server. Once you are connected through FTP you can simply upload files to your server. This is a little complex way to install a plugin but its worth learning.
What you need is your FTP credentials in which you would require.
- FTP Host
- FTP Username
- FTP Password
- FTP Port (mostly its 21)
Once you have these credentials now you need a FTP client which can help you connect with your server. We would recommend you to use FileZilla that is a good and secure FTP client.
Not to worry – the following guide will walk you through the process step-by-step. All you need to do is simply follow the steps.
Step 1: Extract your plugin files in local directory
First please extract the plugin ZIP document on your local computer. When a ZIP file is extracted, some unzip software may add a parent folder outside of the plugin folder. In the following step, please make certain to add the plugin folder which directly contains the plugin files, not its parent folder.
Step 2: Connect your FTP and upload plugin
Now please connect FTP for that open FileZilla and enter the Hostname, Username, Password and Port. Now click quick connect button. You would see some directories appear on right side.
Once the FTP is connected you can see on right side the site folders mostly the WordPress is installed inside public_html/ directory if its related to your main or primary website of hosting. Some hosting setups refer public_html as httdocs as well.
Now find wp-content/ folder then enter inside that folder to enter in plugins directory. Once you are inside plugins/ directory you can see all other plugins directories there.
This is where you have to upload your plugins directory from left side. Note the left side shows the directories in your local machine or computer.
Step 3: Now activate the plugin
In the last step, please log into your WordPress backend, left menu, go to Plugins -> Installed Plugins, find the plugin from the list and click activate to activate it.
Install WordPress plugin from Admin page using upload plugin button
Well there is another simple way to upload a plugin into your WordPress. If you are not comfortable to use the FTP which was explained above. Then just try to upload plugin manually. If the plugin is not available in plugins search then just simply click Upload Plugin button. Let’s see this in following steps.
Before starting please make sure you have zip file in your local machine ready to upload and that zip file contains only the plugin files nothing else like documentation, assets etc. So only plugin’s zip file.
Now as you have the zip file of your plugin you are ready to upload it into your WordPress webstie. Simply, you need to go to the WordPress admin area and visit Plugins » Add New page. Along the Add Plugins heading of page you can see upload plugin button click on that.
After that, click on the Upload Plugin button on top of the page. So, we will click upload and now we can choose the file and select the plugin file you downloaded earlier to your computer.
After you have selected the file, you need to click on the install now button. WordPress will now upload the plugin file from your computer and install it for you. You will see a success message like this after installation is finished.
Once installed, you need to click on the “Activate Plugin” button to activate the plugin successfully. Your plugin is ready to use.
Install WordPress Plugin using cPanel
cPanel is a popular software used by many web hosting companies. It provides website owners with a simple web-based interface to manage their hosting account. Just like FTP in cPanel you have File Manager which gives you something similar to FTP but on your web browser.
Open the cPanel account provided by your web hosting company, and search for the file manager. Most of the companies display it under the Files section, but it’s not necessary. Depending on the company you have, the layout of cPanel can be distinct due to the fact each agency makes use of a unique layout template.
If you are going to install plugin into the primary domain then you need to open the public_html directory, due to the fact that is in which all your WordPress documents and folders are residing.
By default, you could see the home directory or an empty directory, however, you may navigate to public_html through the left-hand sidebar of cPanel. The WordPress plugins folder is installed inside the wp-content folder.
Search for the wp-content folder and click to open.
On this page, you can see the themes, plugins, and many other folders. Open plugins.
A new tab appears to you, “Select File” to pick the ZIP file you have downloaded on your computer and then upload it here.
Once the upload is complete, go back to the previous directory. Search for the ZIP file. Right-click and choose the Extract link. So the zip file you uploaded can be extracted and can be used by WordPress. After extracting it you should delete the .zip file so no one can download that from your server.
Now click on the Extract File(s) button. A popup appears which shows the progress and success message, click close, and refresh the page.
You have successfully uploaded a WordPress plugin without using the cPanel file manager. Log in to the WordPress Dashboard and then go to plugins and activate plugin you uploaded via cPanel.
In this guide, we have defined four methods of installing WordPress plugin in detail. Plugins are fantastic resources that enable you to build your site into anything you want it to be. No matter what feature or functionality you’re looking for, chances are there’s a plugin that can make it happen. Even better, installing plugins on your WordPress site couldn’t be easier. Personally, I prefer using the dashboard’s search and install the plugins.
Note: You should always keep your plugins updated and you should never use plugin from unverified sources. Plugins are very powerful pieces of code and they can even destroy your website if they are built for that purpose.
We also help you keep your website maintained and plugins updated. Checkout our WordPress maintenance service.
If you have any questions about the methods mentioned above, feel free to comment below.
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