Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 11.23.54 AMWordPress plugins are pieces of code that are designed help your site perform specific actions, such as adding security, curbing spam, helping visitors find your site, 

creating a contact form, 
displaying photos in sliders
…and many, many more tasks

There are numerous blog posts about the “top” plugins, but plugins change or fall away quite often, so trust your gut and only use ones you need. Click on the links in the names below to read more about each plugin, and you can also download them if desired. These are some plugins I recommend installing:

JetPack – this can be installed from the dashboard and comes with a huge number of options that save you from having to upload multiple plugins, including a contact form, makes your site mobile friendly, adds security features and ways to engage your visitors and share your content. Read about the different options and only activate them if you think it would be of use. Once you have activated an element, you may then have to add information to make it work.

Database Backup – you schedule intervals to get the backup files stored on your server or sent to an online account. Should something dire happen to your site, you can use these files to restore your site.

SEO by Yoast – this plugin will guide you through optimizing each page for your chosen keyword and how to use them. It has just started offering and XML sitemap option, so you can avoid uploading a separate plugin.

Better WP Security – there are numerous settings to choose, and their dashboard will detect and help you close any loopholes that unwanted visitors might try to use. Take care of the “red alert” warnings, but be careful about some of the others and read carefully what you are doing. If in doubt, don’t change the settings.

…and some plugins you might find useful:

Advanced Image Styles – allows you to format the distance text is placed around your photos

Imsanity – resizes your photos as you upload them so they are the correct size to use on your site

Coming Soon page – when turned on this hides the content of your site unless you are logged in. It is helpful when you are building your site and it is changing frequently, or if you decide to do major updates.

Don’t panic! Even if you don’t add a single plugin your site will work. You can add plugins one by one and as you see the need for them.

How to add a plugin to your site.

(This is much easier than it sounds!)

Go back to the side bar and click on Plugins>Add new:

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You will arrive on a page with lots of options already displayed, and a space to type the type or name of plugin you want. There is also a button saying “Upload Plugin” if you have already downloaded a plugin to your computer.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 11.24.10 AMThe search results page will take you to a selection of plugins that will help with the words you entered

  • Click on the plugin you want
    • Check it works on your version of WordPress
    • Check it has been updated recently
    • If in doubt, try another plugin that is more current
  • When you have selected your plugin, agree that you wish to install it then follow any instructions that pop up to activate the plugin

When you go to Plugins>Installed Plugin you will see a list of all the plugins currently installed on your site

Setting up plugins

Many of the plugins are fine as they are when you have uploaded and activated them. The designer will have set it up to perform the functions, but if you want to make changes, click on “Settings” and look for that plugin. You may have one or two check box options to consider, or a series of tabbed pages to look through. As a general rule of thumb, if you don’t know what is being asked, back away and leave the default settings in place.

If something on your site changes after setting up a plugin, go back to the page where you see them all and “Deactivate” it. Remember the site will work OK without any of these plugins, so nothing bad will happen if you turn on off!