Plugins are like mini-apps that connect to your WordPress blog and do a myriad of things. Plugins are developed by hardworking coders, so give them some PayPal love when you can’t live without your fav plugin.
If you have just started your blog, you can test drive a plugin and not harm anything. Click on Plugins in your left navigation bar. See the Hello Dolly Plugin? Go ahead and activate it. This plugin will randomly select a line from the song, “Hello Dolly” and display it on your admin screen. Silly? Yes, but a good way to practice Plugins.
For some more complex Plugins, you will need to secure an API (Application Programming Interface) Key which are unique to each user. WordPress will let you know if you need one, and how to get one if you don’t already have one. You do not have to start a new, free blog at WordPress.com to get one, BTW, just register then look in your email for the info.
To find a particular Plugin, get the name of the Plugin and the author, then go to your dashboard, select Plugins, and “Add New.” Armed with the exact name and author, you should be able to find the Plugin you are looking for.
For example, if you are looking for the Database Backup I recommend, the name of it is WordPress Database Backup and the author is Austin Matzko. (I have my favorite Plugins listed here.) Use the Add New button, use the drop-down menu in the search field and select Term and cut and paste WordPress Database Backup into the space, click Search Plugins. You will see a list of Plugins and one in particular by Austin Matzko. Use the Details link to find out more about the Plugin. If you are ready, use the Install Now button.
It’s a good idea to look at how many downloads the Plugin has, screen shots of how it works and any user feedback.
Below are some of my favorite Plugins. But before you install or upgrade a Plugin, make sure you either backup (there’s a good Plugin for that) or export your content, just in case the Plugin doesn’t play nice with others.
Plugin Name and Author
- Akismet By Automattic
- Contact Form 7 Takayuki Miyoshi
- FV All in One SEO Pack By Foliovision
- Google Analytics for WordPress By Joost de Valk
- WordPress.com Stats By Automattic ~ I love this Stats program. There are days when I visit it hourly.
- WordPress Database Backup By Austin Matzko ~ Don’t make any big changes without it! (Look for WP-DB-Backup.)