How To Add A Plugin To WordPress (Beginners Guide)

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Now that you’ve installed WordPress and explored the WordPress Admin Panel and Dashboard, I bet you are ready to begin building your website! One of the first steps to do this is knowing how to add a plugin to WordPress.

By now, I’m sure you have seen that the front end of your WordPress website isn’t looking that great and I’m sure you would like to change that! 

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a beautiful and professional coming soon page that your clients and website visitors will be directed to while you build your website in the background? 

Have no fear! 

With a WordPress plugin, we can easily add a coming soon page to your website. While your coming soon page is active, anyone who visits your domain will see an awesome welcome page instead of a half-finished website.   You will also be able to add your contact details, logo, etc so if your visitors need to reach you in the meantime, they can. Pretty cool, right?!

One of the great things about coming soon pages is that you can leave them up until you are 100% happy with your site design and functionality before launching your website. You will also be able to use your coming soon pages plugin if you ever need to do maintenance on your site and would prefer your clients not to see the work you are doing while you are busy updating, upgrading, or redesigning your website.

To add a coming soon page to WordPress, we will need to use a plugin.

What is a WordPress Plugin

A WordPress plugin is a piece of code that was written by a developer or coder to add additional features, functionality, and customizations to your website. Think of it as a piece of code that plugs into the default WordPress code to make it better.

WordPress plugins are tools that can help you enhance the functionality of your website, without the need to learn coding. You can think of them as apps that give you more control over your content. 

WordPress

Because plugins add extra features, functions, and customizations to your website, you will be able to build just about any type of website you like without any coding knowledge. It doesn’t get much better than that!

The Plugins Admin Interface

Before we begin, let’s take a look at the WordPress plugins menu.

The WordPress Plugins Menu
The WordPress Plugins Menu

The Plugins menu contains two submenus: “Installed Plugins” and “Add New”.   

Click on “Installed plugins“. 

When the page opens you should see two plugins that are already installed:  Hello Dolly and Akismet Anti-Spam.

You will also see lots of options available to you on that page.  Let’s go through each of them.

Plugins Summary Menu

At the top of the page, you will see a summary menu where you will be able to see the status of all the plugins that you have installed.  You will see the following items:

  • All
  • Active
  • Inactive
  • Update Available
  • Auto-Updates Disabled

Each item will show how many plugins you have that are either active, inactive, or need updates. 

It looks like this:

Plugin Summary Menu
Plugin Summary Menu

You can click on any of these items to see which plugins fall into each category.

To the far right of this menu, you will see a search box that says “Search installed plugins…”.  You can use this search box if you would like to search for a plugin that you have already added to WordPress.

Update Notifications

There are three places where you will see update notifications for your WordPress plugins.

  • In the main WordPress menu.
  • In the plugins summary menu.
  • Below the plugin itself.
WordPress Plugin Update Notifications
WordPress Plugin Update Notifications

Note: It is really important that you keep your plugins up to date. Updating your plugins regularly helps keep your WordPress website secure and safe from vulnerabilities. So, when you see these notifications in your WordPress admin dashboard, try to do the updates as soon as you can.

Plugins

Each plugin that you have installed on your website will be listed here. 

Plugins can either be active or inactive.

  • Active – The plugin is active and its code is being used on your website.
  • Inactive – the plugin is inactive and it isn’t having any effect on your website.  It is good practice to delete any inactive plugins you have on your site so if you don’t think you will be using a specific plugin again it is a good idea to delete it.

In the plugins section, each plugin has a number of options. These include activating, deactivating, or deleting specific plugins, turning auto-updates off and on, viewing the details of each plugin as well as important notifications about specific plugins.

WordPress Plugin Options
WordPress Plugin Options

Bulk Actions Menu

The bulk actions menu contains options to help you sort and manage the plugins you have installed on your website.  There are the following options:

  • Activate
  • Deactivate
  • Update
  • Delete
  • Enable Auto-Updates
  • Disable Auto-Updates

The Bulk Actions Menu allows you to manage more than one plugin at a time

To use it, you need to select the checkbox to the left of each plugin.  After you have selected the plugins you want to modify, click the Bulk Actions Menu and choose what you would like to do.  Then click Apply.

An Example! How To Use The Bulk Actions Menu

I personally don’t use either of the plugins that come installed with WordPress by default.  So I usually go ahead and delete them right away.  Let’s do that now. 

On the plugins page, click the checkboxes to the left of the Hello Dolly and Akismet Anti-Spam plugins. 

Click the Bulk Actions menu dropdown and select “Delete”.

Click “Apply”.

How To Use The Bulk Actions Menu For WordPress Plugins
How To Use The Bulk Actions Menu For WordPress Plugins

You will receive a popup message asking if you are sure you would like to delete the selected plugins and their data.  Click “OK”.

Both plugins will now be deleted.

Note: If a plugin is active, you will need to deactivate it before you will be able to delete it.

How To Add New Plugins To WordPress

Let’s go ahead and install the coming soon plugin to WordPress now. 

To add a new plugin, click the “Add New” button at the top of the plugins page. Alternatively, you can click the “Add New” menu item on the main WordPress admin panel menu.

You will be taken to a page with a long list of plugins that are available for you to download and install.

We will specifically be looking for a plugin called “CMP – Coming Soon & Maintenance Plugin”.

In the search box at the top right-hand side of the page type “CMP”. 

WordPress will automatically search for the plugin and the following screen will be displayed

Add The Coming Soon Plugin To WordPress
Add A New Plugin To WordPress

You will notice that each plugin has a section just underneath it that shows the stats for that plugin. Here you will be able to see how the plugin is rated, when it was last updated, how many WordPress users have installed it, and whether or not it is compatible with the WordPress version you are using.

The CMP plugin should be the first plugin that is displayed. 

Click “Install Now”.  If you would like more information about the plugin and what it does you can click “More Details”. 

The “Install Now” button will now change to “Activate”.  Click Activate.

Congratulations!  You have just added your first plugin to WordPress!

You will see that a new menu item has been added to the main WordPress admin dashboard menu.

CMP Plugin Settings
Plugin Settings

Note: Not all plugins will add a new item to the main menu.  Some of them will add their settings menu to the Tools or the Settings menu items

Tip! If you can’t find the settings for a specific plugin in the main WordPress menu, you can also go to the Plugins page and you will find the settings option under the plugin name as well.

Conclusion

Adding a plugin to WordPress is quick and easy! And by using plugins, you will add some amazing functionality to your website! 

In our next article, I will show you how to set up and use the CMP – Coming Soon and Maintenance plugin on your website so that if anyone visits your site while you are still building it, they will be taken to a professional landing page.

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