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Before installing any plugins, you want to do a bit of investigating.
There are the open source plugins that are free and available through WordPress Plugin Directory. There are also plugins that offer support and more bells and whistles, for a fee, from other sources.
You can search the plugin directory from within your WordPress dashboard by going to:
Plugins > Add New
Whether you are in the Directory or searching on your site you want to check that the plugin is compatible to the version of WordPress you are currently running.
You also want to review the support forum for the plugin and see how attentive the plugin author is. You may need their help down the road. The user rating will give you a good idea as to the quality of the plugin and the author’s support levels.
Run a website backup first!
There are so many themes, plugins and unique setups out there that installing a plugin could cause a compatibility issue and cause your site to break. That’s why you backup everything before installing or updating your plugins.
How do you install a WordPress plugin?
Here are the three simple steps involved in installing WordPress plugins:
- Once you’ve reviewed a plugin and decided you want to try it on your site, click the blue download button. Make note of where you download that file on your hard-drive.
- Back in your WordPress dashboard click on Plugins > Add New > Upload
- Find the .zip file you just downloaded and upload it to your WordPress site.
If after activating a new plugin you find that your site is different or something is not working right — you have a conflict.
This can happen sometimes and it’s nothing to panic about (and why you want to make sure you always back-up everything before installing or updating anything).
When a conflict occurs, all you have to do is deactivate the offending plugin to solve the problem and try another plugin that has similar functionality.
Don’t install too many plugins.
A final consideration is the number of plugins you should have on your WordPress site. While there is no definitive number, plugins do use resources and the more you have, the more you increase your chances of a conflict. I try to stick around 20.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to update your plugins when WordPress notifies you that an update is available.
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