How to Use a Plugin in WordPress? Beginner’s Guide

how to use a plugin in wordpress

WordPress plugins serve as invaluable resources for augmenting and optimizing WordPress websites, offering the ability to introduce new functionalities and enhancements without delving into coding. This guide is designed to furnish you with straightforward, step-by-step directions for the installation and utilization of WordPress plugins. It encompasses various installation techniques, along with guidance on activation and configuration of plugins, plus advice for addressing any arising complications.

With a vast repository of over 55,000 WordPress plugins at your disposal, selecting the appropriate ones enables you to unlock additional features tailored to your website’s unique requirements. Regardless of your objectives, there’s likely a plugin—or several—that can assist in achieving them effortlessly. Incorporating WordPress plugins into your site to boost its functionality is a straightforward process. Within just a few minutes, you can effortlessly install, activate, and start leveraging WordPress plugins to enhance your website.

Introduction to WordPress Plugins

Understanding WordPress Plugins

WordPress plugins are pieces of software that can be added to your WordPress site to introduce new features and extend functionality. From adding simple form templates to creating an entire ecommerce store, plugins make it possible to customize and enhance your WordPress website without direct coding.

The Importance of Plugins for Enhancing Your WordPress Website

Plugins are pivotal in transforming a basic WordPress site into a powerful online platform. Whether it’s optimizing your site’s SEO with Yoast SEO or with any other SEO tools, speeding up your site with WP Rocket, or adding social media networks connectivity, plugins offer a plethora of options to boost your site’s performance and user experience.

Step by Step Guide to Install WordPress Plugin

Installing plugins in WordPress can be achieved through several methods, each suitable for different needs and technical abilities.

1. How to Add Plugins Directly from the Dashboard

The simplest way to install WordPress plugins is directly through the WordPress dashboard. This method is ideal for beginners and allows for searching, installing, and activating plugins within a few seconds.

  1. Navigate to the WordPress Dashboard.
  2. Click on Plugins > Add New.
  3. Use the search bar to find WordPress plugins or choose from the featured, popular, or recommended plugins listed.
  4. Click Install Now on the plugin you wish to add, followed by Activate.

2. How to Add Plugins Manually

For premium plugins or plugins downloaded from third-party sources, manual installation is required.

  1. Download the plugin’s zip file to your computer.
  2. Go to Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin in the WordPress dashboard.
  1. preview of add plugin on wordpressChoose the zip file from your computer and click Install Now, then Activate.

preview of choose file button when uploading plugin to wordpress3. How to Add Plugins via File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

Installing plugins via FTP is beneficial for those with technical knowledge or when facing restrictions from the hosting provider.

  1. Unzip the plugin file on your computer.
  2. Upload the plugin folder to the /wp-content/plugins/ directory on your server using an FTP client.
  3. Navigate to the WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins > Installed Plugins, find the plugin, and click Activate.

Troubleshooting Common Plugin Issues

1. Identifying and Solving Plugin Conflicts

Plugin conflicts can cause your site to behave unexpectedly or not function at all. To solve these issues, deactivate all plugins and reactivate them one by one to identify the culprit. Once identified, you may need to choose an alternative plugin or seek support from the plugin developer.

2. Dealing with Security Vulnerabilities

Keep your plugins up to date to protect your site from security vulnerabilities. Regularly updating your plugins helps patch security flaws and keep your site secure.

Further reading: 9 Annoying WordPress Issues and How To Fix Them

Optimizing Your Site with Plugins

– Improving Site Speed and Performance

Plugins like WP Rocket can significantly improve your site speed by caching pages, optimizing images, and reducing loading times.

– Best Practices for Optimizing Images and Enhancing SEO

Optimizing images with plugins such as Smush and enhancing SEO with Yoast SEO are crucial steps in improving your site’s performance and visibility on search engines.

Advanced WordPress Plugin Usage

– Implementing Custom Code Through WordPress Plugins

For those who need to add custom code to their site, plugins like Code Snippets provide a safe and easy way to implement custom code without directly editing theme files.

– Creating Custom Post Types and Taxonomies

Custom post types and taxonomies can be easily created with builder plugins, allowing for more complex content organization and display on your WordPress site.

Keeping Your Installed Plugins Up to Date

– The Importance of Regular Updates

Regularly updating your installed plugins ensures that you have the latest features and security fixes, keeping your site running smoothly and securely.

– Automating WordPress Plugin Updates for Security and Performance

WordPress offers options to enable automatic updates for plugins, ensure your WordPress security and performs well without constant manual oversight.

FAQs About Using WordPress Plugins

1. How many WordPress plugins should I use on my site?

The number of WordPress plugins you should use on your site isn’t fixed and largely depends on your website’s hosting capabilities, the quality of the plugins installed, and the specific needs of your site. While there’s no upper limit, it’s crucial to only use plugins that are necessary for your website’s functionality to avoid potential performance issues. Every installed plugin, especially those not optimized, can add to your site’s load time and potentially affect its performance. The key is to focus on quality over quantity, ensuring that each WordPress plugin serves a specific purpose and contributes positively to your site’s user experience.

2. Can I use premium plugins on multiple WordPress sites?

The ability to use premium plugins on multiple WordPress sites usually depends on the licensing agreement provided by the plugin developer. Some premium plugins offer single-site licenses, while others may provide multi-site or unlimited use licenses. It’s important to review the license terms of each premium plugin to understand where and how you can use it. If you plan to use a premium plugin across several sites, look for options that offer developer or multi-site licenses to ensure compliance with licensing agreements.

3. What should I do if a plugin breaks my site?

If a WordPress plugin breaks your site, the first step is to deactivate the plugin. You can do this by accessing your WordPress dashboard; if you’re unable to access the dashboard, use an FTP client to rename the plugin’s folder in the /wp-content/plugins/ directory, which will effectively disable it. Once deactivated, check your site’s functionality. If the issue resolves, contact the plugin developer for support or look for an alternative plugin. It’s also beneficial to regularly back up your site to restore it to a working state in case of major issues.

4. How do I choose the best plugin for a specific functionality?

Choosing the best WordPress plugin for a specific functionality involves several considerations. Start by clearly defining the functionality you need. Then, search the WordPress plugins repository or look for recommendations from reputable sources. Evaluate potential plugins based on user reviews, the frequency of updates (to ensure compatibility with the latest WordPress version), and support options. Testing the plugin on a staging site before deploying it on your live site is also a good practice. For more complex needs, you might consider custom plugins or builder plugins that offer flexibility and customization options.

5. Are there any risks associated with using too many plugins?

Yes, there are risks associated with using too many WordPress plugins. Excessive plugins can lead to slower website performance, security vulnerabilities, and potential conflicts between plugins or with your WordPress theme. It’s important to regularly review and assess the necessity of each installed plugin, keeping your WordPress site lean and efficient. Focus on essential plugins and consider using multi-purpose plugins or builder plugins that offer multiple functionalities in one package. Additionally, always ensure that your plugins are up to date and from reputable developers to minimize security risks.

Further reading: 15 Reasons Why WordPress is The Best CMS (Most Updated)


Plugins are integral to leveraging the full potential of your WordPress site, offering countless ways to add functionality, optimize performance, and enhance user experience. By following this guide, you can confidently navigate the world of WordPress plugins, from installation to optimization. Remember, the key to a successful WordPress site lies not just in the plugins you choose but in how well you maintain and update them.