How to Find and Install Plugins to Suit Your Purpose

You’ve got this idea for your site, right?  You’re pretty sure you’ve seen it done somewhere before, or maybe you think you just thought up something really great on your own.  Here’s the thing, there’s probably already a plugin for that.  Seriously, these people think of everything!  Now, how to find it.

I’ve stopped Googling plugin functionality first.  That’s only because some people are great at landing on the first page of Google but that doesn’t mean they’re great at making plugins, and vice versa.

I like to go straight to the source.  Go to the land of all plugins.  There, you’ll see how many times each plugin has been downloaded and the ratings it’s been given.  When a developer has 10,000 people submitting tickets to fix a bug in the program, you’d better believe they’re on it.

Search a few different keywords, stay flexible.  For example, I wanted an Etsy follow button and I wanted it fast.  Side note: when I’m in the zone, it’s hard for me to switch tasks.  That day I was in Etsy Zone, not WordPress Zone.  I knew I’d probably forget to add it on later if I didn’t do it at that moment so a quick and easy, well-supported plugin was the way to go.  Follow my lead:

  1. Login to your WordPress site
    • Typically sitename.com/wp-admin
  2. In the left hand menu, go to Plugins, Click Add New
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  4. Search for the functionality you’d like.
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    • *Side Note*  In the “Etsy follow button” example, guess what I typed.  Yup, “etsy follow” allowed me to scan popular plugins with that functionality.  I landed on the plugin Crafty Social Buttons, 4.5 stars, “…includes craft-related social sites like Ravelry, Etsy, Craftsy and Pinterest…”.
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    • Click the Details link (under the Plugin name) to find out more.
    • You’ll see on the right hand sidebar when the plugin was Last Updated (WordPress will show a warning here if it’s been awhile or if the plugin has not been tested with your version yet), how many times it’s been Downloaded, and the Average Rating to name a few key points.
    • *Side Note 2*  I pay special attention, and make sure to avoid, any plugins that cause WordPress to warn me that it’s been quite some time since the plugin’s been updated.  But I don’t always put a lot of stock in the “Not been tested with your version” warning because I stay on top of my WordPress updates (Safety First, People!).  If the WordPress update has only been out a few days or a week, the developers may not have even had a chance to take a look at it yet.
  6. Once you’ve found the right plugin for you, click Install Now under the plugin name
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  8. If you see a popup asking if you are sure you want to install this plugin, Click Ok
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  10. Click Activate Plugin
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  12. Some plugins are Activate and go, while most need some type of configuration.
    • At this point, you could take the left fork in the road which would be to explore your WP left-hand sidebar to look for the location and settings of the new plugin.
    • Or…
      1. …return to the Install Plugins page
      2. search for your plugin by name
      3. click Details

That’s pretty much it for this post.  Live a little and cruise around the Featured, Popular, and Favorites links at the top of the Install Plugins page.  Careful though, too many plugins will cause your site to slow down.  It’s good to make mental notes of what’s out there in case you need the functionality later, but don’t go overboard.

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Once you have equipped your site with a handful of plugins, you’ll want to download P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler). ← It measures your plugins’ impact on your site’s load time.  Site Load Time = Big Deal.