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Understanding WordPress Plugins + Why You Need Them

If you’ve ever spent time on WordPress, you’ve probably learned a bit about plugins. Today, I’m answering the most common questions about plugins and explaining what they can do for your site.

What is a plugin?

Software installed on your WordPress website that increases or advances the functionality of your site. Some plugins will give your site the option to offer e-commerce, membership, or social sharing icons, among others. Other plugins help advance the design aesthetic of your site.

How many plugins should my website have?

Keep the least amount of plugins to achieve what you need. Make sure the plugins you’re using are purposeful and serving your site. If you have too many plugins, they can slow down your site. If you’re not updating your plugins, it could be a potential security risk.

How can I tell the good plugins from the bad?

My gauge is looking at the number of download and reviews. When these are high, chances are it’s a good plugin. But I also like to ask around to get the good ol’ word of mouth recommendations, too.

Why do I need to update my plugins?

Every time WordPress releases updates, plugins need to update to continue functioning. Sometimes, developers need to address security issues. Updates make the plugin work better, faster, and with better quality.

Learn how to properly update your plugins here.

How do I find my plugins?

  1. WordPress Dashboard > Plugins
  2. You will see all the installed plugins, but only keep the plugins you’re using.

How do I delete plugins?

  1. WordPress Dashboard > Plugins
  2. Check unused plugins > Delete

How do I install new plugins?

If it’s a paid plugin in, go to developer’s website and purchase. Then you’ll need to upload the zip files accordingly and follow the developer’s install instructions. If it’s a free plugin, you can go to:

  1. WordPress Dashboard > Plugins > Add New
  2. Search for the desired plugin, taking special note of high install numbers and reviews.
  3. By clicking on the title, you can view screenshots from other users and view more information about where the plugin comes from and what it does.
  4. Lastly, click Install and then Activate.

How do I learn about new plugins?

My favorite way is word of mouth. I love asking for recommendations in trusted Facebook groups and researching my options from there. But just because everybody else is using a plugin, doesn’t necessarily mean you need it, too. Always keep things simple and purposeful.

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Hi! I'm Katie. I'm a web designer and brand strategist who specializes in blending clean + crisp design alongside smart strategy for professional coaches + consultants.

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