Now that you’ve got an understanding of WordPress plugins, the next thing we’re going to do is install plugins in WordPress 3.9 which is really easy to do. All you do is click Add New. You can also upload one from your computer which I’ll show you how to do in a moment.
Plugins at wordpress.org
Most people search wordpress.org for plugins because most of the plugins that you will want to use are at wordpress.org. You can also look at featured plugins, these are ones that WordPress happens to like and feature. You can look at popular plugins and these are ratings based on downloads. You can look at the newest plugins which is probably the worst possible way to pick a plugin and you can look at favorites.
If you’ve got a wordpress.org username and you’re logged in you can favorite plugins as you’re browsing through them. Then you can come back here later and get your favorites by putting your username in which is a fairly useful thing.
Install Contact Form 7 Plugin
We’re going to install the Contact Form 7 plugin now so I’ll search for that one here. This is a contact form I recommend. When I searched for that wordpress.org got all the results that it thougth were appropriate. So we’re seeing all kinds of different contact forms and there are lots of them to choose from but I like Contact Form 7.
I’m going to hit Install Now and then your WordPress site automatically downloads the plugin. Then you can activate the plugin and now you see over here we’ve got this Contact menu item that’s showing up on the left. Looking at the dashboard again you can see it’s light blue with the blue line showing that it’s active and it also doesn’t have any updates.
Upload and Install a Plugin
We’re going to install one more plugin and this one we’re going to upload instead. We’re going to upload BackupBuddy from my computer. I’m going to come over here to downloads and scroll down to BackupBuddy and select it. Say open, install now and it goes through that same process.
It goes through the process of uploading the plugin and setting it up. You can hit activate plugin, and the plugin is activated and now BackupBuddy shows up down here in my list on the dashboard. Those are the relatively easy ways to add plugins and chances are, any plugin you add you’re going to add one of those two ways.
Using Contact Form 7
Now, before we move on I want to come over here and take a look at the contact form. Hit contact forms. You see that this one Contact Form 7 automatically creates “Contact form 1” for you. If you hit edit it’s got all the basics, your name, your email, subject, message and submit. I’m not going to discuss how to do this in detail here but I have lots of videos on how to use Contact Form 7, like this Thesis video and Genesis video, on the site that you can watch. It’s an excellent plugin.
Create a New Form
What we’re going to do is to create a new contact form so we’ll select Add New and I’m going to give it a title, I’m going to say “Ask Me a Question”. I’m not going to make any changes to this at all, I’m just going to hit save.
Let’s come back over to our list of contact forms and now you see we’ve got “Ask Me a Question” and “Contact form 1”. So we’ve created a new contact form and what I have over here is the shortcode for this contact form.
How to Use the Shortcode for Adding Contact Forms
Now I want to show you how the shortcode works. Select it, copy it and now we can use the shortcode to insert this contact form into a post or a page. I’ve got this About Rick Anderson page and we’ll add a contact form here.
Click edit and as you see I’ve got some text about me. I can just come down below that and paste the shortcode. Hit update, view the page and now you can see that I’ve got this nice little contact form added to my page. The reason it was added is because of this shortcode.
Shortcodes are very useful and many plugins use them. It allows you to add content to a page or functionality to a page and there are all kinds of plugins that add shortcodes.
For example, you can add NextGen Galleries. This is not added using a shortcode but you can add NextGen Galleries to a page using the NextGen shortcode. You can add sliders to a page using slider shortcodes. Many plugins have shortcodes that allow you to add their content to a page.
Using Shortcodes in a Text Widget
Well, the same thing can be true in many themes for text widgets. Let’s copy this shortcode here and come over to our Appearance and Widgets panel and drag a text widget into our secondary widget area. We’ll say, “Ask Me a Question” for the title and I can paste that shortcode in there. Hit save and many themes will parse that and there it is.
Let’s go some place where we’ve got a lot of content. So we’ve got the “Ask Me a Question” sitting here and I’ve got a nice little contact form and it will just sit right there in the widget area.
Now, not all themes support shortcodes in a text widget and you may be using a theme that doesn’t but as a general rule they do. And that wraps up what I have for installing and adding plugins.