WordPress: Installing Plugins

WordPress is powerful on its own, but does not automatically support all the features that you might want for a web site. As a result, WordPress allows you to install plugins: new and expanded features developed by other people and companies. Some are free, some are not.

Once you have installed WordPress, you can see what plugins are installed on your WordPress site through Plugins > Installed Plugins. From here, plugins can be activated, updated, or deactivated. A deactivated plugin is installed but not operational; however, you can only delete a plugin if it is deactivated first.

For DTC 355, you are required to install, activate, and configure a set of core plugins on your site. These represent the basic types of plugins you should install on any WordPress site, even if you choose other plugins for your sites outside class.

You can install new plugins through your WordPress administration panels, by going to Plugins > Add New. The basic steps are:

  • Install the plugin:
    • Search for the plugin you want in the WordPress repository by typing its name, or searching by topic.
    • Install the plugin, where it will now be listed in your Installed Plugins, but not yet operational.
  • Activate the plugin to make it operational.
  • Configure the plugin, which may require registering for a license or authorization code, even for free plugins.

WPBeginner has a good video introduction about installing plugins, using the WPForms Lite plugin as an example:

The list of plugins is below, as reviewed in class. They are all free, although paid versions are available that provide even more features or support. The links below go to the plugin description page on WordPress.org plugin repository. However, you should still search for them and install them through your own WordPress installation.

  • Security:
    • Wordfence — firewall and anti-hacking
    • Akismet — anti-spam filter for comments
    • Safe SVG — sanitizes SVG graphics to make them usable in WordPress
  • Data backup
    • BackWPup — schedules regular backups of your web site data
  • Acceleration
    • W3 Total Cache — optimizes and caches your site HTML, CSS, etc., for speed
  • Metadata
    • Yoast — adds additional metadata for OpenGraph, social media, and search engines
  • Analytics
  • Social media
  • Forms
    • WPForms Lite — allows you to create email forms for Contact pages and other purposes
  • Slider/carousel
    • Smart Slider 3 — lets you create slide shows of images and other HTML content; after installing, read the page about using it.
  • Assisted scrolling
    • WPFront Scroll Top — automatically adds a “scroll to top” button to long web pages
    • Page scroll to id — updated WordPress’s jump to custom IDs to provide a smooth scrolling effect
  • Pagebuilder
    • Beaver Builder — advanced layout options, including support for 12-column grids; after installing, read the page about using it.

* For DTC 355 students: Google Analytics and AddThis plug-ins should be connected/authorized to the accounts you created with your HTML web site.

There are also a few optional plugins that you may find helpful:

  • Duplicate Page — to easily duplicate an entire page or post of content
  • Enable Media Replace — to replace an image sitewide
  • Smush — to optimize large images through compression and resizing
  • Password Protected — locks your entire web site under a single password to all visitors unless they are administrators on the site.
  • Coming Soon Page, Under Construction & Maintenance Mode — puts up a temporary “coming soon” or “maintenance mode” page to all visitors unless they are administrators on the site.
  • Collapse-O-Matic — provides WordPress shortcodes to make sections of text expand and collapse, though you will likely want to format the CSS yourself.
  • Server IP & Memory Usage Display — adds tiny text the footer of your dashboard page to provide basic technical information about your web hosting server, which can be useful when you’re installing or upgrading new plugins

With any plugin, there are risks:

  • Some plugins are not updated as often as WordPress. So, you may get locked into an older version of WordPress if a new WordPress version is not compatible with your plugin.
  • Sometimes a plugin is abandoned by its developers. If you look at the plugin’s description page on the repository, and the “last updated” information is more than 6 months ago, the plugin might not be supported anymore. Look for alternatives. (Wordfence will also notify you if a plugin appears to be abandoned.)

General information about plugins is available at WordPress.


Resources related to WordPress:

  1. Install WordPress on Reclaim Hosting
  2. Install and Customize the Astra Theme
  3. Install Plugins
  4. Understanding and Managing Pages and Posts
  5. Using Gutenberg
  6. Using Beaver Builder
  7. Menus
  8. Using Smart Slider 3
  9. Using AddThis
  10. Using W3 Total Cache