WordPress is extremely user friendly. If you know how to install programs on a computer than you can build a modern website that looks feels professional. After you figure out how to join WordPress and find hosting, all you need to do from there is install themes and plugins to build virtually any type of website you can imagine. If you are already familiar with themes and plugins are, go ahead and skip down to the guide.
If you are new to blogging or WordPress in general, keep in mind that there is a difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Most people start off with WordPress.com – the free version of WordPress and move on to WordPress.org. You can’t install plugins on WordPress.com.
What are Themes and Plugins?
According the to WordPress Codex a theme is defined as:
A Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical front-end interface with an underlying unifying design for a site. A WordPress Theme modifies the way the site is displayed and designed, without modifying the underlying core programming of WordPress. While some associate a WordPress Theme with “skinning” your site with a design, a WordPress Theme contains programming code that influences the design, changing it with each generated page view based upon the programming with PHP, WordPress template tags, WordPress conditional tags, and CSS.
Basically themes are site templates. Software templates have been around for ages and really make things easy. There are all sorts of different themes for niche websites as well as all-purpose or multipurpose themes that are flexible enough to build a wide variety of websites. A plugin is defined by the WordPress codex as:
A Plugin is a group of PHP functions that can extend the functionality present in a standard WordPress weblog. These functions may all be defined in one php file, or may be spread among more than one file. Usually, a plugin is a PHP file that can be uploaded to the “wp-content/plugins” directory on your webserver, where you have installed WordPress. Once you have uploaded the plugin file, you should be able to “turn it on” or Enable it from the “Plugins” page in the administration interface of your weblog. The WordPress source code contains hooks that can be used by plugins.
The idea of plugins have been around for quite some time as well in the realm of software. You can find them in all sorts of programs from Pro Tools to Photoshop. In WordPress, plugins can carry out all sorts of functions such as generating contact forms, creating sliders, managing user accounts and pretty much anything you could think of.
Often time’s plugins are bundled with themes. Plugins can also have extensions (also known as add-ons) which can add functionality. Below is a step by step guide on how to install themes and plugins.
How to Install a WordPress Theme
Now lets get to the good stuff. Installing is very easy and takes only a few clicks. First login to WordPress so you are in your dashboard.
On the side panel menu of your dashboard navigate to Appearance>Themes
Click on Add New
You could add one of the featured themes, search for themes, or upload one you have already download. Since I’ve already downloaded a theme from the developer, I am going to choose upload.
Click the Choose File button to find the .zip file containing your theme, then hit the Install Now button to begin the installation.
Wait a moment for it to install. It shouldn’t take too long, but the wait will depend on your internet connection speed. When it’s installed you will see the following screen. You can choose to activate it or hold off.
If you navigate back to Appearance>Themes you will see the newly installed theme. You can also activate it here as well.
Import Demo Content
That’s all there is to it! Congratulations you have installed a theme. I will create a companion guide on how to get started with themes. If you are a novice WordPress user, installing the demo content is a great way see the architecture of a site. Going through the pages can help you learn how to build your own sites. Also don’t forget to read through the documentation.
I recommend just finding a quiet place to sit down and spend a whole day learning how to use your new theme. It will pay off big time. If your site comes with demo content, we will show you how to install it. Just as advertised on CodeCanyon you can literally import demo content with the click of a button. See below for a quick guide on that.
Once you install your theme it will be visible in the side panel menu. In this case we have Enfold installed. From the Theme Options panel, click to open the Show all Options tab.
Scroll down to the bottom where the demos are located and hover over the demo you’d like to install. Click the button that says Click to Import. That’s it, in a few moments you will have a fully built demo site to get you started.
How to Install a WordPress Plugin
Installing a plugin is just as easy as installing a theme. Notice a trend here? Things are very simple. There are thousands of plugins for WordPress, some of them good and some of them not so good. WordPress is open source, so anybody can build plugins. Below is a step by step guide on installing plugins. Get ready because this will only take a minute.
From your site’s dashboard navigate to Plugins>Add New on the side panel menu
You will be brought to the following page where you can choose from featured, popular, recommended, favorites or search. I am looking for a specific plugin so we will use the search feature this time. The one I am looking for pops up and as you can see there is an Install Now button ready for you to click.
After you hit the button, if things went right you will be notified that everything was installed. You can activate the plugin from here or go to the plugins panel and activate it.If you navigate to the Installed Plugins item on the side panel menu, you’ll see that your new plugin is there. Here you can choose to activate or deactivate a plugin, as well as manage the plugin’s settings. Most plugins will show up in the side panel menu of your dashboard after activation although some do not.
Dive in Deeper
Congratulations! You now know how quick and easy it is to install a WordPress plugin. Have fun trying out different free and premium to try out on your WordPress website. Check out our plugins section to get the skinny on all sorts of useful WordPress plugins.
While you don’t need to know any coding to use themes or plugins, it’s always a good idea to spend some time learning how. While themes and plugins can save a lot of time, we are talking months of development here, there is usually a better way to do things with some custom coding. Dive in and enjoy these extremely powerful design tools. Drink it up my friends.