How to Install a WordPress Plugin - dummies

How to Install a WordPress Plugin

By Wendy Piersall, Heather B. Armstrong

Many plugins are available to mom bloggers who use WordPress. Plugins can add so many features to your blog that it may be hard to figure out which ones to use. Mostly, you won’t know what you need until you need it.

Here are a few WordPress plugins that everyone will find useful:

  • Google Analyticator: This plugin makes it easy to install Google Analytics scripts so that you can track your visitors to know how they find your site and what they read the most.

  • Fast Secure Contact Form or cForms: WordPress doesn’t come with a built-in contact form, so you can choose any of several plugins to add one. The Fast Secure Contact Form plugin is quick and easy. cForms is much more robust and for experienced users, but it’s one of the absolute best plugins available.

    It’s very important to have a contact form on your blog so that your readers and potential advertisers can get in touch with you!

  • Google XML Sitemaps: This plugin creates a sitemap of your blog and automatically sends it to all the major search engines. A sitemap is like a directory of all the posts and pages on your blog, which helps the search engines find your content faster and easier.

  • TinyMCE Advanced: WordPress already has a lot of editing features already built into its text editor. But TinyMCE Advanced gives you some features that make it more like a word processor, such as adding tables and a find/replace function. If you do a lot of writing, these tools make your job ten times easier.

  • WP Super Cache: Because WordPress works by pulling information from a database, the more features and content you add, the slower it may run. This can get frustrating for readers, and if your site is too slow, it may even get demoted by the search engines. WP Super Cache speeds up WordPress blogs considerably by limiting the number of times WordPress needs to pull information from your database.

You can also browse for plugins on the site or from your own WordPress blog at

When you know what plugin you want to install, here’s how to do it:

  1. From your WordPress Dashboard, choose Plugins→Add New.

  2. Search for the name of the plugin you want to install by typing it into the text field and clicking the Search Plugins button.

  3. Review the plugin for usefulness and compatibility.

    If you want to learn more about the plugins that are available from your search, you can click the Details link to get the plugin description. Some plugins also have additional installation instructions and screenshots of the plugin in action to help you determine whether it does what you want it to do.

    This plugin details page will also contain instructions on how to configure your plugin after you install it. So make a mental note of how you found your plugin in case you need to refer to this information later.

  4. The Install Now link appears in two places:

    • On the plugin detail page, you see the red Install Now button in the top-right corner. When you click the Install Now button, the plugin is automatically installed on your site.

    • On the plugin search results page, you see the Install Now link directly under the plugin name. When you click the Install Now link, a pop-up window appears confirming you want to install this plugin. Click Yes.

  5. Activate the plugin by clicking the Activate Plugin link.

    When the plugin is done installing, the screen changes and the Activate Plugin link appears.

  6. Configure your plugin.

    Every plugin setup is unique, so there is no one way to configure the new plugin. Most of them have instructions or an options page that enable you to make the plugin work the way you want it to. Usually, the options page can be found in the Settings or Plugin menu to the left of your WordPress Dashboard. You can also find this information on the plugin Details page.