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1: Intro To Plugins

Running Time:  8:51

At the end of my video I show the different ways to keep your plugins up-to-date. This is one of the simplest – and most important – things you can do to protect your site from being compromised.

Check out my list of the 21 Most Popular WordPress Plugins.

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Transcript Of This Video

OK, let me give you a little intro to plugins. This is going to be a very big section of my WP A to Z course. So first of all, what is a plugin? I always tell people it’s like an app. An app to a cell phone, or to a tablet, things like that. Apps extend what the device does by default, same thing with WordPress. Plugins extend what WordPress does by default. Everything I’ve shown you up to this point if you’re following along in the first four modules is without a plugin. From this point on, I am going to use plugins for the WordPress site that I’m building, and I’m going to show you plugins that are not part of the site that I’m building. OK, so what types of plugins are out there? There are a lot of them. There are what I call “Utility plugins” that will do things like backup your website or speed up its performance, or do all kinds of things that you would do for any site. There are plugins that add forms to your site, some of the well-known ones are Contact Form 7, Ninja Forms, Gravity Forms. You have to pay for it, but it’s fantastic. Many different kinds of plugins to add forms to your site. There are search engine optimization plugins, the most well-known ones, the Yoast SEO plugin, but that’s not the only one that will help index your site with search engines. There are page builder plugins, such as Elementor or Beaver Builder or SiteOrigin page builder. These are designed plugins that will help you build the pages and posts and other kinds of content for your site, make it more of a whizzy-wig environment. There are metrics plugins, in other words, plugins that will do all kinds of measuring for your site. I think the most well-known one would be something like for Google Analytics that connects your site with Google Analytics so that all the tracking patterns, and how people go through your site and how long they stay on a page, and where do they go from one page to the next.

That’s all part of metrics, and there are lots of different plugins for that. There are e-commerce plugins, the most well-known is the WooCommerce plugin, and that turns your website into a store. So, yes, a plugin to do that. There are plugins to connect you with third-party services, and in fact, this is what many plugins do. For example, if somebody subscribes to a newsletter on your site, you may want the email address, and other information go to your email provider. Constant Contact or MailChimp or [AWeb], or whatever it is. There are plugins that will connect you to those third-party services, and then there’s Jetpack. It’s a swiss army knife of a plugin, in that it’s got a package of plugins. It just so happens that Jetpack is a plugin which is developed by Automattic, it’s the company that manages the development of WordPress. All this does beg a question which is, “Do all these plugins play nicely together?” There are about 50,000 different plugins out there. Most of them are free, or at least there are a “Try before you buy” concept in all of these plugins or many of these plugins, and do they all work well together? The answer is, “It depends.” If it’s a well-known plugin, chances are it will. If it’s an offbeat plugin that hardly anyone uses, maybe not. What I always suggest is that you test or try out your plugin or a new plugin for your site on a test site. Don’t ever install plugins that you don’t know what they’re going to do on your site. Better to have a test site, a staging site, a mirror site, whatever you want to call it. That is not your live site where you can experiment and try out new plugins. Where do you get plugins, and how do you install them? I’ll take up the matter of installing them in the next video, but the most common place or the easiest place to get a plugin is within the WP admin. You can also go to where they have a plugins repository, also called “The repo,” and you can download a plugin from there. Just about all 50,000 plugins will be found there. Then many people develop plugins where you go to their site, and you download the plugin from there. Once installed, there are four things you can do with any plugin. You can activate and deactivate the plugin, and you can always tell if it’s active if it’s got this little blue bar right over here like this.

So, that’s easy to tell, “That’s an active plugin.” In this case, over here, there’s another plugin over here, and you can see that it’s not active. It’s pretty easy to tell if a plugin is active or deactivated. Then you can update a plugin, and I am going to show you how to do this in a minute because updating your plugins is key to keeping your site safe and sound. Of course, you can also delete. Now I should say, in order to delete any plugin you must first make sure that it’s deactivated, and then you can go ahead and delete. OK, we’re going to have a look at updating your plugins. It’s not very hard to do, but you do need to do this, as I said, to keep your site safe and sound. So this is the site that is my prototype site for this course, the site that’s been already built, and I’m just going to log in– I’ve already logged in, so I go to the dashboard and the thing I noticed right over here it says “Update” and a little four next to it, which means there are four somethings to update. Now it could mean that our theme needs to be updated or WordPress itself needs to be updated, in this case, it says over here “Plugins–” I have four different plugins that could be updated. You could do this, check this off and then click “Update” anyway you go. Now, word of caution before you update anything make sure your site has a backup, because what happens if you do an update and there’s something with a new plugin that’s not compatible, and you’ve got an issue? Make sure that your site is backed up before you do the updating. OK, but I’m not going to do it this way. The way I’d like to do it, it’s just my preference, I go to plugins, and again I see the four over there, and I go to where it says “Install plugins,” and here you can see it’s really easy to identify. Because you can see right over here that this plugin needs to be updated, and this plugin needs to be updated, your Elementor needs to be updated, Jetpack needs to be updated. One way I could update a plugin, let’s say I didn’t want to update all of them at once, or I just wanted to update one for some reason, I would do this. Just click “Update,” and you can see it’s updating. I have three plugins that need to be updated, and it even turned the number over to three right over here. I could check off, and I could do it this way, I could go to all the plugins that need to be updated. In fact, I usually do it this way, I go to all the ones that need to be updated and check on them. By the way, it’s very possible that an inactive plugin needs to be updated too. In my case, all my plugins– Here’s an example. Jetpack is currently not active, but it says I need to update it. I could click on those three the way I just did and then go to “Bulk activity” and click on “Update.” I’m not going to do it that way, and I’m going to do it a little more efficiently. You could click on right over here where it says, “Updates available (3).” Perfect, and now I’m going to select all three like this. It’s just a lot easier. This time I’m going to click on “Bulk activity” like I did before, but I’m going to do it now. I’m going to click on “Update,” and I’m going to click “Apply,” and you will see in short order all three of these plugins are going to be updated. Now if I go back to “All,” where all the plugins are, you’ll now see that nothing needs to be updated. That’s great. OK, good. Like I said, keep your software– That means your plugins, up to date.

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