The way to increase the things that WordPress can do is through the use of plugins. These can be a great idea and a bad idea all at the same time. Way too many times, and I’ve even done this myself, too many plugins are added to websites. They are fun, and I recommend playing around with them, but there are a few things that you should know about their use and their functionality.
Before I forget though, sometimes the theme you are using will handle the functions that the plugin you are installing is meant to do. So check and see. You make a change, for example, to not show page titles, but they are still showing. Check your Theme’s settings, because there may be a function in there that overrides the plugin, and is set to ‘On’. I am using a theme called Quantive from Rockettheme, and it does just that.
In general terms, the rule that applies to plugins, is less is more. You decide what you want your website to be. Is it a blog? Is it for e-commerce? Is it just a place to put pages of what you do? Whatever it is, select the best plugins designed for your type of website, and install them. Check out a few of the links I have provided to give you an idea of the different types of plugins. I hope to cover a few plugins per week as to their functionality, and if they really help your website or your business.
When you go to the dashboard of your WordPress website, there is a menu item on the left hand side that allows you to search for and add new plugins, but there are a few things to look at before you install any plugin. You can always find out what plugins are being used extensively and work well. Stay with these if you can because if there are a lot of satisfied users, then that plugin will have good support and good updates.
It is worth your while to look at the reviews a plugin has, the number of downloads, and any other documentation you can find before committing to it 100%. Even the most used and sworn by commercial plugins will get cranky from time to time. I always suggest to write to the author of the plugin when you install it, letting him know that you have done this, and see what the response time is.
If I design your site, then most of this will already have been done for you by me. In a separate post I have listed some of my favorite plugins, and why. Don’t get me wrong, there are what I would call some must haves in my book that a lot of WordPress developers wouldn’t touch. It is personal preference.
I will be coming back to show you how to install a plugin later, but let me finish this piece with the best way to get the most from your plugins. Since WordPress is a platform that hackers love to attack, and don’t be alarmed, this happens to a lot of platforms, the good people at wordpress.org update the core platform often to handle any security issues. They do this to keep ahead of the hackers, and when they do this, your plugin developer will also put out an update if necessary to keep it working with your current version of WordPress. This is the main reason why you want to use reputable plugins.
Most, if not all, of WordPress plugins are developed by third party developers, and they are connected to the WordPress core developers closely enough to know what the changes are going to be before it is deployed. They will usually be right on top of it, so make sure you visit your dashboard regularly to update your WordPress, and any plugins that need updating. WordPress will tell you when it is time to do so.
There are plugins that will update WordPress automatically, and ones that will also update your plugins automatically. I will be describing these in future blogs so stay tuned.